I mentioned the other day in my post on rural micromobility that I had ordered my first e-bike, the Lectric XP which is also the first bike I’ve owned since I sold my bikes in Memphis in 2000 after a knee injury made riding too painful.
A bit of context before I dig in to the experience of riding the Lectric. Up until 2000 I was a regular daily cyclist for recreation and commuting when I lived in Memphis. That was 100 miles a week and included rides to work, fun rides, grocery shopping and errands. Previous to living in Memphis I used a bike to do the same stuff while in college though at that time I didn’t do much recreational riding. It was all utilitarian but I rode almost everyday. In all, cycling had been a part of my daily life from 1989 till 2000. So, it’s been 19 years since I’ve done any regular riding on a bike. In the time since 2000 my primary exercise has been walking. Some years more than others. This past year I’ve averaged just above 11,000 steps, a bit over 4 miles a day. I weigh about 170lbs. I mention these things because it likely impacts my experience of the bike. For example, I’ll get better range on this than someone that weighs 240 and pedals less.
The Lectric arrived Friday at 2pm and I got busy unpacking. These are very well packed, no damage to the bike in shipping. They come assembled but with the handle bar folded down and the center frame also folded. I put the key in and released the battery which I took inside to warm up before charging. For best battery health don’t charge in the cold or extreme heat. A good rule of thumb is to charge at room temperature, give or take 10 degrees. The green light finally went on at 7 pm and I took my first ride! Just a quick three miles which was mostly gravel and a little pavement.
A beautiful sunny day. I got on the bike around 10:40, 45°F and sunny. Stopped off for a couple visits as I rode the first mile.
6.2 miles to Scoops Coffeeshop, ride time about 18 minutes
1.2 miles to Countrymart grocery store
7.4 miles return trip to the cabin
4 miles round trip to the “Slime Pond”
That’s about 18.8 miles. 4 miles of that is gravel road and the remaining is blacktop. Mostly level with a few small hills, slightly curvy. It’s fairly low traffic and really, for a cyclist, it’s a dream ride with several stream crossings, a mix of farmland and woodland. Very quiet. The 4 miles of gravel were done in pedal assist 1 or 2. The paved road was done in pedal assist 2 and 3 with occasional but minimal use of the twist thruster (no pedaling, motor only). Most of the pedaling I did do felt like no pedaling at all. It feels like the motor is doing all the work and I’m contributing very little. Usually my pedaling was in the highest gear though I think I shifted down a couple times on the hills which is when I contributed the most of my energy. A few times I actually felt as though I was exerting effort but I’d estimate that was less than 20% of the ride. No knee pain.
I celebrated my new bike with a fancy caramel mocha at Scoops then went another mile into town to check the grocery store for bike locking infrastructure (none) then headed home. I haven’t smiled this much in a day in a long, long time.
Average speed for the ride was about 16. At the end of the day the battery was at about 35%. Recharge time was about 5 hours.
8.4 miles to The Dairy Bar
1.5 miles goofing off around town
8.4 miles back home
4.2 miles to Hwy OO and back.
1 mile goofing off around the lake
So, around 23 miles on Sunday. Very similar ride in terms of route, speed, pedal assist, etc. Just a bit more riding. Oh, and an ice cream cone instead of coffee. No knee pain yet!
Currently at about 30% battery left. The folks at Lectric claim users should be able to get 25 miles with no pedal assist which seems about right given I’ve got 23 miles and still 30%. I’ve pedaled some but I’ve also been going at a higher speed and have several hills and the gravel road which in the winter is also really soft underneath so much harder for the bike.
Could I get anywhere close to the 50 claimed? I’m not sure but I suspect that were I to ride at only pedal assist 1 and 2 I’d think 35 would be pretty doable. Keep it at just pedal assist 1 on flat pavement and 45 to 50 would seem doable. I’ve got several days ahead in the 50s and 60s. I plan to push towards 35 miles at least one of those days and will report back.
After two days of riding, about 38 miles, I’ll say that riding the XP is a dream ride on pavement or fine gravel.
Bumps, tire pressure, suspension, technique
As many reviews have mentioned, there is no suspension on these bikes. If you’re riding on bumpy terrain you really feel it. Small gravel isn’t bad at all. A part of my road has a bit of larger, 2” gravel and it’s rough. I’ve got my front tire at about 18psi, rear is about 25. They can go as high as 30 which would be better on pavement for lower rolling resistance and better range. On bumpier terrain the tires can be taken down to 5psi for a more cushioned ride. But since the majority of my riding is on pavement I’m going to leave them at 18 and 25 for now. As a former mountain biker my suggestion to lessen the bumpiness is to stand a bit above the seat and let your body be relaxed. I hold the handlebars a bit loosely and let the bike bounce rather than fight it. I lean my butt back a bit behind the seat and bend my knees so that the back of the bike has freedom to move under me. I also gently squeeze my legs together, using my thighs to loosely hold the seat.
A suspension seat post helps but even better is to come up off the bike. Practice the technique a bit on non-bumpy surfaces to get a feel for it, then try it on the bumpy stuff. And I find that coasting or using the throttle/thrust is best so I’m not pedaling as much. In my case this rough ride is only about 100 feet of my regular ride. If I were going to sit for this portion I might even just turn off pedal assist or keep it at one for the slowest possible ride.
Setting the seat and handlebar height
On the topic of the seats and handlebars, it’s really important to adjust the height of these when you configure your bike. Proper seat height often seems higher than it should, especially for novice riders. How you know you’ve got it right: when you’re seated and riding the bike and have one of the pedals in the bottom position, your leg should be nearly fully extended but with just a slight bend at the knee. If your seat is too high your leg will fully stretch out and you’ll feel like you’re reaching for the pedal. If your seat is too low you’re leg will always be bent even when the pedal is in that farthest position. You want just a very slight bend. The result is that you’ll feel, at first, like the seat is too high when you are first getting on the bike to ride. When starting and stopping you should be off the seat not on it trying to touch the ground.
The handlebars should be above the seat height. My suggestion here is to do what feels comfortable. The higher you go the more upright a riding position you’ll have. Try different positions and see what’s comfortable. I tend to keep mine lower in a position similar to mountain biking.
At the moment my one critique of the bike has been mentioned by others. The key position at the bottom is tricky. I live in a tiny house which means I don’t have room inside for my bike. In good weather it will likely spend a lot of time on my front porch and when it’s wet I’ll keep it in a shed. But that means that in the winter months and the heat of summer I’ll be bringing the battery in daily to charge it. I don’t relish the idea of having to unfold the bike everyday to release the battery with the keys. I’m fairly healthy at 50 and I find this process a bit awkward. I can’t imagine my 70 year old father doing this. He could manage but he’d be cranky about it. All that said, I do appreciate that the battery is hidden in the frame and protected. For folks in mild climates or in a situation where they can bring their bikes inside without removing the battery it won’t be a problem. And I’ve only done this 3 times. I’m sure it will get a bit easier with practice.
Included features and likely aftermarket add-ons
The XP comes with very nice metal fenders and a solid back-rack capable of holding 50lbs. It’s also got a headlight and tail-light. It feels like a very solid, premium built bike.
The first thing many people buy is a new seat. The included seat isn’t bad and really, people who haven’t been riding much are going to have a sore bum in the first week or two of riding. It’s just a matter of getting used to it. That said, I went ahead and spent the $29 on a Cloud9 seat many recommend. When I figure out how I’ll lock this up at the grocery store I plan to use my bike for all my shopping so I spent $50 on these folding rear baskets. The stated capacity for the rear rack is 50lbs and those baskets should hold that. And they fold in when not in use. I’ve also got an old insulated fabric cooler thingy that I can strap on top of the rack for items that need to stay cold. And, locks of course for the 30 minutes I’ll be in the store. Some handlebar mounted side mirrors and a cup holder. I opted for a fabric, insulated cup holder, also handlebar mounted. A hand pump, patch kit, inner tube and under seat pack for tools. I’ve ordered all this stuff but won’t have it for a week or two.
How I plan to use the bike
In the foreseeable future I’ll still drive the car to town once a week as I do the shopping for my elderly aunt and uncle and much of what they need comes from the Walmart on the opposite side of town. I’ll switch my personal shopping back to the local store and do that by bike and at some point in the future I expect that I’ll only need to take the car to town when I need to buy big things such as 50lb bags of dog food. I’ll just get in the habit of doing a car run once every month or two and get all the big stuff at once.
I don’t commute for work (spoiled freelancer working at home) but I can see myself getting out on this 5 days a week for fun, exercise and errands that in the past I would have waited to do on my shopping day. In short, this opens up extra rides to town that I currently avoid due to climate change concern. Yes, there’s still CO2 that is being generated for the charging but compared to the emissions of a car it’s negligible. And, of course, eventually I’ll need to replace this battery. So, I’m not entirely oblivious to the environmental impact of an ebike but relative to the car it’s incredibly green and clean.
I plan to do at least one, probably several follow-up posts as I put more miles in. In truth, after two days of riding, less than 50 miles, this is really more of a first impression. I don’t think my opinion will change much but it’s possible I find a few more things to mention as I become more familiar with the ride and the bike. I may well also start a log of rides too. I suspect the bike itself will hold up very well. Time will tell on the battery and the hub motor.
Would I recommend?
In general, yes, definitely. It’s a new company that does not have a long track record. So, that’s something to keep in mind. That said, they’ve delivered an excellent e-bike which is selling very well. They’ve expanded their staff to accommodate much higher than expected sales. Reports by customers that needed support is that they’re getting the help they need. Aside from the electronic components it’s also worth mentioning that this is well built bike made with solid and standard bike components. It’s heavy as a standard bike but it still rides pretty well as a bike with no assist.
If, like me, you’d like to ride a bike but have knee or other health issues that limit how much pedaling you can do, I think the Lectric XP is an excellent choice. I’m doing a lot more pedaling than I expected and that’s a good thing. The fact that I can do it without strain means I’m also getting exercise and really, my legs feel great after a couple days. I think it’s just a natural urge to pedal when your on a bike like this. If you’re someone that needs more exercise this is going to be a fun way to do that and over time as health improves you can put in more of your own effort as you choose.
Further updates on rides will be tagged Lectric Ride Journal.
A few links of interest: