A one year ebike story – ditching the car
Originally published on electricbikereview.com forums – reposted with permission. This ebiker from San Diego tells his story about ditching the car:
Hello James… Great write up and review and a great thanks for taking the time and effort to put this together. I bought a [Specialized] turbo in January of 2016 and took a vow to ride it for a year. Like you I have been itching to find a way to ditch my car and be car free. I paid $3200 including tax and accessories and gave it a try for a month. My commuting ranges between 140 – 220 miles a week depending on how many trips I make. My long rides are 25 miles with a steep ascent on each end and several smaller hills towards the north. I carry about an extra 15 lbs of stuff I need for work. Books, the large charger and my laptop all go with me. I’m a bit different. I usually ride the entire distance on full turbo with exception to a few flat areas and the down hill area’s where I use regen and get 2% back. On the majority of days it is no problem maintaining 25 mph with a fair amount of effort. With traffic my commute time is generally about 1:15 but there are several long lights with a heavy amount of traffic through them. After the first month of grocery shopping and commuting to meet up with friends and to work, I found that ridding the Specialized Turbo was easy. I was confident that the technology wasn’t going to let me down so I ditched the vehicle and sold it on CraigsList. I’ve put roughly 7000 miles on it and it’s been a blast.
Here are a few tips that may help out anyone else looking to buy an ebike and is what I used to make my decisions with in January 2016. I’m in San Diego so I’m not worried about snow, but this is an el ninõ year and we’ve gotten some pretty intense storms that I’ve been surprised by. There were several models that I looked at trying to find an inexpensive bike. All of the lower end bikes that were sold by the local electric bike company were not well integrated. I don’t like to be stranded so I looked for a bike that didn’t have a lot of wires taped together. Lithium batteries are extremely volatile if they get too hot. A short with a lithium battery can cause some real problems. I’ve seen them go off including exploding or simply burning. A poorly integrated bike that has wires taped together is a hazard in wet environments. Specialized is a large bike company and put a lot of effort into their design. It’s well integrated. Like the majority of their work it is very detailed. The connections are water proof. There is very little chance of water getting into the connectors or wires touching metal or aluminum. The pedal integration is great! As I tried other bikes some were purely a throttle switch or a rotary switch that didn’t work well with hand brakes and switching gears. One bike even required contortionist moves to angle your hand correctly in order to engage the powered drive. The specialized turbo feels nearly natural, but it’s a lot easier if your a novice, and still easier if your an experienced cyclist. Admittedly however, when I ride my road bike on a commute with just a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and shoes in a small pack I generally average about 22-23 mph moving speed so I’m not an amateur. The motor makes it much easier to ride these distances week after week. It would be impossible to maintain any cognizance needed for my job at that distance on my road bike. I’d like to buy the engineers a beer for their work.
I did get a few flat tires. I learned a trick from mtbers and filled the tubes with green stuff. It works. I have pulled thorns and screws out of my tires since then and kept on ridding without loosing much air. The battery did cause me some problems but I took it into the LBS and they updated the software and made a few adjustments. Since then there hasn’t been any problems. I’ve noticed that the bike isn’t quite as fast as it was when I first bought it, but I haven’t seen the degradation that everyone is concerned about. Typically I charge the battery twice a day four days a week and generally from the 20% battery cut off back up to full. Charging with the large charger is much faster, although it is a beast to carry back and forth.
In previous years I generally averaged about 15000 miles of driving. Ditching the car was a real adjustment and I had to plan my day out a little better and I dropped some of my activities. In inclement weather I used uber and lyft and occasionally I used public transportation. I estimated that the vehicle, even though it was paid for cost an average of $400 a month including insurance , fuel, maintenance, and the occasional ticket for being a gringo who pays his bills. The car payments on the vehicle, when I was paying for it were $460 a month. The savings alone, if you can do it makes it worth it. The physical fitness, weight loss, is going to help if your not already in shape. And for the believers, if you drive roughly 1000 miles a month at 24 mpg you produce nearly 1200 lbs of CO2. That’s a lot of weight in ghg’s over a year.
Although all of these benefits are great. I really did this because of something much simpler. Something I’ve dreamed of doing for a long time. San Diego is for the most part a great place to travel by bike and it was one of the reasons I picked it. There’s nearly 1500 miles of bike lanes and bike paths and people are friendly towards cyclists. The greatest benefit of all though is being outside and free of traffic, getting to meet and socialize with happy people, and enjoying something I love nearly every day.
Cheers James. Hope to see you out there someday.