Category Archives: Cycling

Roving with the Rad Rover

This bike is so much fun. That’s not to say that the other bike wasn’t fun. Just that the Rover, with the greater range, the front shocks and larger diameter tires provides a comfort that the Lectric did not. For example, today’s 27 mile ride, a new exploration on county  gravel roads starting in Madison County and crossing over into Perry County. No problem. I don’t have to worry at all about the range on a ride of this distance. A few days ago, the 16th, I rode 37 miles and still had more than 40% of battery left! That was on PAS 2 with an average speed of 14. Yesterday I was late for a meeting with one of our group cyclists so for the first time (with either bike) I cranked it up to PAS 5 for the whole ride to town. I covered the 6 miles to Scoops in 17 minutes with an average speed of 21.5 and had plenty of juice left over (about 40%) when I finished the day at 25 miles. Riding these distances and knowing I can go faster if I want or need to opens up the possibilities further which is exactly what I was hoping for.

2/16 37.5 miles
2/17 29 miles
2/18 25 miles
2/19 30 miles

321 miles for February, 727 for the year! Woot! Only slightly obsessed 🤓

So, the ride today: Gravel! And it was fantastic! As nice as a quiet paved road is for a ride I’m finding that gravel provides a sense of adventure that’s missing on blacktop. And actually, todays ride was as much packed dirt as it was gravel. Technically it’s a gravel road but the best parts of it were down to smooth dirt, all of it through a mixed forest, dominated by pine right up to the edges of the road. Closer to the width of a single vehicle, not that I saw any. Just me on the road surrounded by trees and birds. Quiet. Peaceful. The beauty of an e-bike is that it is nearly as quiet as a regular bike. The motor makes almost no noise at all. The sound of the knobby tires on the road is louder and at 12 mph it’s not all that loud. The whole ride was 27 miles, the best part of that was the 10 or so on the gravel and dirt.

This is my new favorite route and I expect I’ll be doing this ride several times a week until I find a better one. I had a client meeting today so I had to cut it short, only two hours. The next ride I’ll make sure I have 3 hours and I’ll go farther at a slower pace. Friday maybe. I can hardly wait!

Ride Updates

Ride Updates!

2/7 16.1
2/8 21.8
2/9 6.3
2/10 4 – First Rad Rover test ride
2/11 24.5
2/14 24
2/15 31.3

We’ve had some very wet winter weather which has kept me off the bike for a 5 days thus far this month. I snuck in a short couple of rides on some other rain days but they were brief. Still, 200 miles for the month! Knees are great! I have to remind myself to take it easy. I don’t want to push too hard as I did when I was riding back in Memphis 20 years ago.

My third full Rover Ride yesterday, Saturday, was my first ride over 30 miles. The Lectric’s reliable range topped out at about 28 miles. I was really impressed with the battery on the Rover as we had winds from 15 to 20 mph with some gusts possibly higher than that and even with the wind I ended the ride at just over 31 miles and 40% battery, mostly ridden at PAS 2, average speed of around 14 mph. Given that I’m going to speculate that on a less windy day I could safely get 40 miles or more at PAS 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if I could get close to 50. My ride today is set to be a nice one. 55 degrees and no wind so I might try to push to PAS 3 and see where the range lands me at an average higher speed.

Adding a new tag for my Rover Rides which will likely be the primary bike I use going forward.

Rad Rover First Impressions Mini Review

(Note: As I wrote this first impression it occurred to me that I’d like to also write a follow-up digging into what makes electric bikes so fantastic as a form of transportation in terms of enjoyment and efficiency. That will be next on the list.)

The new bike came on Monday. I had just enough time to get it assembled and out for a short, four mile ride. But the battery was at less than a 40% charge so I brought it home before giving it a real test run. The first three charges are supposed to be for 12 hours each to “balance” the cells. I did that and this morning added slime to the tires, tweaked a few things and then went out for a good and proper 20 mile ride. I took my usual route which consists of the quiet county blacktop roads 217, 219, 221 then back and up to the Slime Pond and then to the cemetery.

It’s a very nice ride. Too early to say if it’s everything I hoped it would be when I decided to get a second bike because a big part of that is hoping I’ll be able to get 35 to 45 miles per charge instead of the 28 I’m getting with the Lectric. It takes three 12 hour “balance” charges to get the batteries conditioned to something close to full capacity. After today’s 24.5 miles I’ve used 2 of the 5 bars. So, I’ll guess I’m at around 45 to 55% remaining. With the Lectric the same mileage has been leaving me at about 35%. The Lectric has 10 bars and also a voltage meter for more precise measurement. The Rover has 5 bars, no voltage meter so I’ll have to ride it a bit and learn more about how the five bars translate into range in real-world riding. My understanding would be that each bar represents a 20% range so 1 bar: 0 – 20%, 2 bars: 20 – 40%, 3 bars: 40 – 60%, 4 bars: 60 – 80%, 5 bars: 80 – 100%.

Another aspect of batteries and range also comes into play here. Something I’ve learned about the Lectric is that the lower half of the battery is not the same as the top half. Below 50% and it seems to drop more quickly and as it drops available power to the engine drops as well. So, in the top 50% I might expect to get 15 miles at full power. In the bottom 50% I can expect 12 miles with progressively less power. The last 20% of battery provides far less power to the motor. As I understand it some of how the rider experiences an electric bike will vary based on how the controller has been tuned. Each brand and model providing a variety of batteries, motors and controller means a different experience.

Since I’m on the topic of the electronic part of the bike I’ll go ahead and cover some other differences in that area. Namely that while I do indeed seem to be on target for more range there is also a significant difference in how the two bikes accelerate, maintain speeds and the levels of pedal assist. I expected this largely in part to the difference in while size. The Lectric with the 20” diameter wheels has more torque and feels much zippier from start. It’s also got a more limited 12-28 cog. In PAS 3 it tends to hover around 17-18 with moderate pedal effort. Pushing speed beyond 22 requires a good bit of effort. By comparison the Rover with it’s 26” feels slower from the start but it does get up to it’s cruising speed fairly quickly and once there is higher and easier to maintain. In PAS 3 it tends to run at about 20 to 22. I can push the speed up to 25 with the higher 6th or 7th gear with light to moderate effort.

I’ve got 7 weeks of riding with the Lectric and only a day with the Rover so I’ll really need to spend more time with it to get a fuller view of how it’s performing at the different PAS levels and how it performs in terms of speed and range. On the tail end of the first ride I tried the bike out at PAS 1 and 2 and found it similar to the Lectric. One difference being that I found that I wanted to use the thruster more at these levels, especially PAS 1 where the Rover seemed slower. I found that I could run it at PAS 1 and mix in the thruster at a partial twist to get a significant speed bump while also keeping the watt usage low.

A last bit on the electrical system that seems most significant to me is the display of data which is similar. One difference already mentioned is the less detailed view of battery offered by the Rover. But I like that the watts being used allow me to have a sense of what my range will be. The Lectric does something similar showing the amps being used. With the Lectric I find myself going back and forth between amps being used and current battery voltage. With the Rover I can only see the watts being used which is more limited but I almost preferred it. Not sure why.

On to the feel of the Rover and how that compares to the Lectric. The Lectric with it’s 20” wheels is shorter. It’s stand over height is way lower. It’s easier to mount and feels zippier. All benefits over the Rover. But even with the very nice suspension seat post the Lectric feels like a much rougher ride especially on our gravel which has some fairly rough patches. The Lectric feels like the ideal ride in a city space with busier streets, shorter rides and smoother roads.

The Rover has a much higher stand over height. It weighs about 6 lbs more. It has a longer wheel base. The feel of riding it is very different from the feel of the Lectric. I immediately felt much higher up off the ground and also in a more upright position, almost squished which is funny because it’s a bigger bike! The reason for this is that the distance between the front of the seat and the handlebars is significantly less. The Lectric stretches the user out with a distance of 19” compared to the Rover’s 16”.That may not seem like much but the rider really feels it! The only height for the Rover handlebars is 47” which is pretty high up but right for the geometry of the bike. This will of course mean a different feel for riders of different heights that adjust the seat according to height. The Lectric handlebar height is adjustable with a low of about 42” and a max of about 50” which is a nice feature as it allows for changing mid ride. In general though the Lectric feels like a smaller bike and I feel stretched out regardless of my handlebar height. A couple photos might help illustrate.

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The Lectric feels like a small speed boat. Highly maneuverable and fast but very bouncy on the waves. The Rover feels like a yacht (not that I’ve been on a yacht, I’m guessing here). Smooth and very stable! With the larger wheel base and suspension fork our gravel road is a much nicer ride. The bumps are far less noticeable and the overall ride felt far more stable. When I ride down our gravel road on the Lectric I find myself feeling cautious with fingers on the brakes. Same on the steep blacktop hill on my county road ride. On the Rover higher speed on hills feel natural and safe.

Overall comfort on the Rover feels better on a long ride. When I finished yesterday’s ride my butt was a tad more sore because I rode with the stock seat. But overall, I felt better. When I’m riding the Lectric I tend to have a little discomfort on the list 5 miles of my ride. I think it’s the result of the rougher ride and the geometry of the bike. I tend to feel a bit of back ache too. Not terrible but it’s there. I didn’t notice this on my first Rover ride.

So, two very different riding experiences and I’ll know more after I get more rides in with the Rover but my first impression is that I greatly prefer the increased comfort of the Rover to the zip and nimbleness of the Lectric. I wanted greater range for longer rides on these back country roads and I do think the Rover is going to provide that. Even better, it provides an overall smoother ride and higher cruising speeds with greater stability which will be noticeable on the hilly and rougher gravel roads. No doubt I’ll provide a follow-up after I’ve had another couple weeks with the Rover.

Spokes and Folks

spoke logoOkay, time for an update on our new cycling project. It’s seeming more real each week. We’ve got momentum. And really, it’s starting to feel like we, not me. My previous posts on the project all still apply to what’s going on with progress being made each week. I’ve now met with two staff of the local county Extension office with the most recent being a couple days ago. There is a third staffer that also works with youth and the 4H who is interested in what we’re doing so that will likely be an additional element in our project.

Next week I meet with the administrator of the local county health department. The following week I meet again with the economic development specialist at county extension (our second meeting) then the following week we’re on the agenda at city council and hopefully the county commission! First group rides will be in April. Possibly a cycling safety class in April too.

I’ve also been in discussion with Brent at the Missouri Bike Federation. I’m a new member there and wanted to say hello to him and let him know about our project. He’s very excited about our project shared some great information which leads me to my next bit… I’ve set up a little website for the project as a place to store updates, links, resources, event calendar, etc… and he was kind enough to post it on the MBF website. I hadn’t asked him to post but mentioned I was setting it up so he made a story out of it. Currently on their front page which is kinda neat because they’re a well established state cycling organization with a lot of members.

One project he mentioned that will concern Fredericktown and Madison County and it is a DOOZY, is the extension of the Ozark Trail System from the southwest of the state over to Fredericktown. The new system of routes being set-up will add 1,000 miles to the system and reaches up to Farmington and down to Fredericktown. The Farmington-Fredericktown loop is mostly set and has been vetted. On its own it is 300 miles and has the potential to bring a lot of cyclists to town. I’ll share more about this on the website and with you all as I gather the information.

Our new project site, Spokes and Folks, is now up and I’ve begun adding content to it. Will add more over the coming days. Kinda cool seeing it sprinkled in amongst the other stories around the state

Ride Updates

1/26: 22 miles
1/27: 22 miles
1/28 15.5 miles
1/29: 12.4 miles
1/30: 25.2 miles
1/31: 23.7 miles
2/1: 24.5 miles
2/2: 27.5 miles
2/3: 20.3 miles

Lots of riding since my last post! 72 miles in February. My total for January was 406. Total thus far since getting the bike in December is just over 600 miles. What a blast! My longest day of riding was 27.5 miles and I think that’s about the extent of the battery. I could have possibly pushed it to 30 but I’m finding that with three bars left the voltage is at about 43 to 44 which means there’s a lot less juice available for the battery and it really shows. The motor struggles to do much at all at that point. While my knees have been great I would not want to try to pedal this bike the last mile home on our gravel. The hills and softness of the wet winter road would mean I’d be pushing it for much of that. Worth noting that the 27.5 miles on February 27 was a warm 70ish day so no energy loss due to a cold temps. I was riding at PAS 3, about 18mph which seems to be the sweet spot. I could ride on PAS 2 at 13mph with similar terrain and temps and get 30 or more probably.

Loving it. That said, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was considering a new bike for longer range. I actually did end up ordering it but not the one I was thinking. Rather than go with a light road bike I went with another fat tire, but a 26” tire, the Rad Rover, which should be here tomorrow. It’s also a heavy bike at about 70lbs. I debated back and forth. Ultimately went with the Rover because it’s coming from a company with a proven 10 year track record and with progressive work culture (as far as I can tell) and great support. After doing a lot of reading and watching and comparing, it seems there are maybe 5 or so bikes in this category. The Rover is a slightly better deal price wise with very similar specs so it won out. I should be looking at 35 to 40 mile range with the better battery and larger tires. So, not a huge improvement but better. And, should I get to the point where I want to do 60 miles a day I’ll get another battery. This bike has the benefit of a battery that not only has more capacity but is fairly easy to change. A final benefit (which can also be a drawback) are the larger tires. Yeah, heavy compared to the thinner options I was considering but I think ultimately a good choice for the terrain in this area.

More soon. Next post will be a fun update about our local cycling project which is moving along at a good clip now with new support and a new website. I’ll have that up later today or tomorrow.

400

Ha! In my last post I was expecting bad weather for a few days. As it turned out, mostly not, so I was able to get out and ride everyday and I’ve had some great ones! I did miss 1/17 due to weather but then had 5 straight days of riding. Then we did get some actual winter weather, two days of snow, rain and freezing rain.

1/18: 9.5 miles
1/19: 11.7 miles
1/20 17.5 miles
1/21: 21.6 miles
1/22: 21.8 miles
1/25: 19.7 miles

Total is now up around 409 miles since getting the bike less than five weeks ago.

These were some great rides. I ventured up 219 to another county road 221 and then out to Hwy J which was a 15.5 mile ride and no dogs! A few nice hills and some great views of farmland from a distance. Will be a great spring/summer/fall ride. As with 217, 219 and 221 are very quiet with almost no traffic. Fantastic.

The bike continues to perform as expected. After 21 miles and starting with a full charge, I’m still at about 35% battery. Now, that said, I’m peddling the whole time. The last few rides I’ve mostly been in PAS 3 60% of the time, 30% in PAS 2 and the remainder in PAS 1 on the 2 miles of our gravel drive which is a slow ride. The rest has been blacktop but with lows of gentle rolling hills, a couple of steep hills. I’ve learned though that at 30% battery remaining, available power is less and drops far more quickly. So, the top 30% of a fully charged battery is not the same as the last 30%!

Letric’s user manual says I should expect 35 miles on PAS 3 on flat ground, 180 lb rider. With my winter clothes and boots I’m about 175. Add in another 12 lbs for my water, grocery baskets, pannier pack, lock, two small tool/phone packs. So, about 187 and fairly hilly. I’m going to speculate that I’d be good for 25 miles which is short of the 35 but I’ve got more weight and on hilly terrain. I’m not disappointed at all as that seems about right and is more than enough for the rides I’m currently doing. But…

All that said, I’m already thinking that in 6 to 8 months, if my knees continue to do well and if I continue riding as much as I hope to (300 miles/month) I think I’m going to look at adding another, lighter electric bike. Lol. I’d keep the Lectric to share with friends/family and to continue using as my town commute bike for shopping and meetings in town. I’ve got my eyes on a new bike that only weighs in at 38lbs (compare to the Lectric 63ish lbs). It would make a perfect gravel bike for longer distance rides around the county, handling blacktop or rock roads. The batteries are very light weight so I’d carry two extras and I think I’d have no problem going out for 40 to 60 mile rides, quite possibly 90 miles with the two extra batteries. The kind of bike I could go out for a day with and ride all these county back roads. At 15 to 18 mph, that’s potentially 4 to 6 hours of riding.

Funny, when I bought this bike I was expecting to use it to ride the 2 mile round trip to my parents so I could visit them more often without walking it all the time. I had no idea my knees would hold up so well to peddling nor that I’d actually be riding it 10 miles to town for fun rides. It was supposed to be a fun little utility bike for short range rides around the lake. That’s been the biggest surprise of having it. If the weather forecast holds for the next week I’ll likely have 400 miles just for the month of January.

And, last, all this has lead to me fully rediscovering the bike. As I’ve been writing about for the past month, I’m not only riding the bike as much as possible but also have jumped into the best way that I know to try to be active in terms of climate change and that is to create a local cycling project. Transportation will be a key cornerstone in how we deal or do not deal with our climate change problem. Getting active in promoting local cycling as a part of that solution feels like the best thing I could do.

Cycling Project Update

I’m really feeling optimistic about this project! Previous posts here and here. I sat down yesterday with our local extension council community and economic development specialist. She’s very enthusiastic and solidly supportive of the project. We met for 45 minutes to discuss the vision of such a project, goals, tasks and a basic timeline. Will be meeting with her in a month. She suggested we attend a city council meeting and a county commissioners meeting to let them know what it is we’re cooking up. Will be doing that in February.

We’ve set a goal of having our first group ride in the spring and possibly also a first bicycle safety class. So, I’ll be working on those as well as assembling a list of local cycling enthusiasts as well as assembling our initial order of cycling safety literature and checking in with the free bicycle helmet programs. Possibly a table at our local spring festival, Azalea Festival. These are all the short term goals. Other short to mid-term goals would be initial installation of bike racks and initial installation of bike share-the-road signage.

Mid and long-term goals still in the picture too and include advocating for the adoption of Livable Streets guidelines at city and possibly county level as well. Also development of bike and walking paths at city lake.

Still early days but this is moving forward. Woot woot!

Fredericktown Cycling Project

I mentioned in a post recently that I’d emailed the administrator at the local health department to inquire about a possible cycling project. She seemed interested and invited me to attend a meeting for the “Healthy Aging” group which I did on Tuesday. The response was enthusiastic! I’ll be again with one of those attendees next Friday to discuss further.

I’m hoping to see some progress as we move into spring. I suspect that agencies such as these move much more slowly than I’m hoping for but we’ll see. Certainly funding for larger project infrastructure would be gotten through grants which would likely be longer term tasks in the 12 month range. But I think shorter term tasks and goals might be achieved more quickly. I suspect the county Extension might be involved on some level which would be excellent.

My guess, based on Tuesday’s meeting, is that the next step is just sitting down to further discuss the needs of the community and how project goals would fill those needs. Basically the first steps in setting the parameters of a project that will need funding. I’m eager to get started and looking forward to creating a list of goals, tasks and a timeline.

Next Stop, 400 Miles!

1/13: 12 miles
1/14: 20 miles
1/15 23.4 miles
1/16: 4.5 miles

I took off a few days between the 9th and the 13th due to rain. A lot of rain. But I’ve had some great rides the past 4 days. Well, yesterday’s ride was a very short one due to the day being taken up with errands, family visits and a few work related tasks.

The forecast for the next 2 days is snow, freezing rain and rain so I’m doubtful I’ll get any ride time. That said, were we to get a couple inches of snow I’d love to go out for a couple miles of snow riding. Not so much if it’s covered with a crust of ice though! But chances are it’s mostly going to be rain. Followed by some pretty cold weather. Then more rain. So, sadly, my ride time in the next week or two will likely be diminished.

In any case, in the nearly four weeks with the bike I’ve got in just a bit over 300 miles and I’m looking forward to the next 100 and beyond. Woot, woot!!