Back Country

    One of the reasons I love being on a bike is the pace. I’m never in a hurry on a bike as it’s already a step up from walking and I really do enjoy experiencing the environment I’m in. Slow is fine with me! My current route is really two parts. The blacktop has me riding at about 14 to 17mph and it’s a nice ride. But my favorite part of the ride, by far, is the gravel portion which is a narrow road with trees right up to the edges. At 9 to 12mph I’m really relaxed and enjoying the slow flow of trees around me and the ground under me. I’m a walker on a bike!
    Enjoying that slow pace also means that I’ll get better range off of each charge which is a nice bonus. On Tuesday I set out on a ride intending to add an additional 6.7 mile loop to my usual 32 miles. It was a fantastic ride! The new loop is about 4 miles of really nice gravel and a couple miles of pavement. The total ride was just short of 39 miles. On Wednesday I thought I’d try extending that loop around Perry Lake and that didn’t work out because Perry Lake is a private neighborhood with a gated entrance! I rode on up to HWY T then turned around and returned to my new loop ending up with my longest ride yet, 44 miles and 3.5 hours. That extra bit had the steepest hills I’ve ridden on the Rover with a grade at about 15%, maybe a bit more. Total elevation on the ride was 3,145. No problem getting up those hills using about 600 watts and peddling fairly hard in the granny gear. No way I’d do it without moderate peddling. Average speed around 12.5mph for the full ride and 40% battery capacity remaining.
    Having a chance to explore around Madison and surrounding counties has been a fantastic experience. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to be back on a bike. One note about my riding style, as much as possible I’m keeping to lower PAS levels 1 and 2 in part because I’m riding the bike and not driving it. At the end of the day I want to put in as close to 100% of my own effort and I think that’s more likely at those lower PAS levels. There might come a time when my knees are not healthy enough to pedal as much as I am now and then I’ll use the electric assist more but until that time I really enjoy putting forth the effort.
    Lastly, just to point out and emphasize the amazing efficiency of the bicycle and electric bike, I’m riding 30 miles on about a nickel’s worth of electricity and my own effort which amounts to about 1,000 calories of food each ride. It doesn’t get much better than that. 3-10

    Mileage for the two days: 3/10 38.9 3/11 44.2

    Peddling Fool

    2/28 31.3 miles 2/29 40.5 miles 3/1 38.7 miles 3/2 35.3 miles 3/3 34.1 miles 3/4 34.2 miles 3/5 34.2 miles 3/6 7.4 miles Rest day! 3/7 35.6 miles 3/8 33.2 miles 3/9 Rain and rest!

    So much fun on the bike these past few weeks! I forced myself to take a rest day on the 6th because I’d had 8 days straight riding 30 miles and it was a really windy day so I figured if I was due to give my legs a break best to do it on a day when riding wasn’t going to be as enjoyable. I did get in a short 7 mile ride though! Then today we had rain forecast for the whole day so I helped my dad with some shopping and took another rest. Back in the saddle tomorrow though!

    I’ve been cycling almost daily since the 21st of December and starting in February my rides started to lengthen to 30+ miles with the arrival of the Rover and it’s improved battery. The longer rides have been fantastic with the exception of by butt so, I finally took the plunge and bought 2 pair of padded cycling shorts. I’m really looking forward to some increased comfort starting with a longer ride tomorrow! Planning an extension of what has become my normal 32 mile ride to 38 miles and if that goes well will do another extension to 43 miles around Lake Perry soon after. We’ve got some rain in the forecast so I may have a few shorter days but I’ve got some new rain gear arriving soon, so rainy-day riding is something I’ll be doing a lot more of.
    In the past few weeks of riding I’m really taking my time with average speed per ride of 12 to 13 mph. I tend to do the 8 miles from home at PAS 2 and 3 at about 16mph as it’s the wider and well paved county road. Then the gravel and rough pavement of the next 8 miles at the slower PAS 1 and 2. This gravel road I’m riding is so fantastic I’m finding that I’m in no hurry to get through that part of the ride and just really enjoy the casual pace and quiet woods. I suspect that with that kind of riding the battery range increases dramatically as PAS 1 uses only 33 to 66 watts which equates to several extra hours of power. If I’m going slower and peddling that means a good bit of extra range. It will be interesting to see where the battery stands after 43 miles. I’m expecting that I can get 50 miles or a bit more with careful use.
    In my previous post I complained a bit about the gravel being too deep on the road is it got closer to HWY BB but I’ve since found it’s really not too bad to ride. It’s not as nice as the dirt but I’ll deal with it because it’s still a decent gravel road! Plus I’ll need to get used to it if I want to extend my ride further in this direction which I do as it leads me to the additional loop around Lake Perry and some other possible routes.

    One other thing to note since my last post which is that I’ve now got an occasional riding parter, Bryce who will also be helping with our Spokes and Folks group rides. Super nice guy and fun to ride with. Looking forward to more rides with him. He’s been riding around the county for several years and it’s going to be a blast riding some of his routes. There’s a lot more of Madison County to see after I spend a bit more time dipping my toes into this corner of Perry County!

    Rover Rides and more on Local Cycling Project

    First a few updates on the Rover! Lots of riding. February is at about 511 miles of riding with two more days left. I’ve ridden 1000+ miles since my first ride on the Lectric XP on December 22. Woot!

    2/20 15.8 miles 2/21 33.7 miles 2/22 33 miles 2/23 32.5 miles 2/24 16.8 miles 2/25 25.5 miles 2/27 32 miles

    I’m generally finding 30 mile rides pretty comfortable now. My butt get’s a little sore but not too bad. The upright geometry of the bike feels very comfortable. My knees feel great.

    Woodland Ride-4

    This new route is, by far, my favorite ride. It’s pavement for most of the first 6.5 miles then it transitions to mostly gravel for the last 6 miles. The whole 12 miles is county road with very little traffic and a mix of woodland and farmland on either side. When the road begins to transition to primarily gravel at about 6.5 miles the woods become denser and at about 9 miles it begins to feel less like a road and more like a wide bike path. No sounds but wind in the trees, birds and me. Had the great luck to see a fox cross in front of me on my Thursday ride. At that point in the ride I slow down from peddle assist 3 or 2 and settle in at 1 or 2 at 10mph. For the last 3 miles I’m at PAS 1 and 10mph or less. It’s the best part of the ride and if the packed dirt gravel went for another 10 miles I’d gladly ride it another 10 miles.

    I did venture down to HWY BB which is further along but the road becomes much rougher with too much gravel layered too deeply. In general it looses some of the smooth forest path character and not nearly enjoyable. There’s also a Y branch that goes north towards St. Francois County and it’s a nice gravel ride until the county change when it goes to blacktop. Still very nice. I rode that all the way up to Hwy T and looped back via East Castor River Rd one day which was a fairly nice 31 miles. Hwy T is a faster blacktop road with no shoulder. I didn’t encounter much traffic and wouldn’t want to as it’s a 50mph road though I was only on it 3 miles. East Castor River Rd isn’t all that nice to ride on, really rough and too much gravel in spots so I’m not sure when I’ll do this loop again.

    Our Livable Streets and cycling project are making steady progress. We presented to the City Council and County Commission. I’ve got updates on the Spokes and Folks News blog which is where I’ll likely post most of my future updates on the project. The local newspaper did a very nice story about our project. We’ve got our bicycle safety booklets and are looking at a couple grants for the bike racks. Rolling forward!

    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.


    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.


    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.

    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!!

    One Hour Adventure

    Today’s ride was a pretty fantastic one hour adventure. 1 hour and 11 minutes to be exact. I’d mentioned to my friend Russ a week or so ago that I was thinking of exploring County Rd 219 but was a bit reluctant. My primary concern with this particular route would just be lack of cell service and the unknown dog factor. Being the great friend that he is he offered to ride along on his motorcycle and it was an excellent ride. Much faster and a bit more difficult that my usual ride of 217 to town which is mostly flat and all paved.

    We did 20 miles, 10 miles each way. The plan was to ride to Womack which would have been 25 miles round trip but my battery was at 55% so we turned around just 2.5 miles short of the planned turn-around. This was super hilly terrain. It started with pavement, then went to gravel for about 30% of the ride. I was riding much faster than my normal speed since Russ was there on his motorcycle. Average speed today was 17.1 mph with an elevation gain of 1,300 feet.
    So, really hilly, lots of gravel and increased speed all add up to the funnest, most adventurous ride yet. This felt much more like mountain biking. To be clear, it was a road and not a trail, but due to recent storms some of this gravel was rougher than the a normal gravel road.

    By comparison my usual ride is fairly flat, recently paved and is very casual at about 14 mph using pedal assist 2.

    After the ride I did an additional 2 miles to a nearby lake south of our place and then the mile to my cabin for a total of 23.4 miles for the day. Battery was at 20% so I probably could have done another mile or two. Given the speed of the ride, the gravel road and hilly route I’d say that range is excellent. Were I to do the ride using pedal assist 2 at 14 mph I’d likely have a range of 35 miles. Total miles on the bike now at just over 300!

    [caption id="" align=“aligncenter” width=“4032”] There’s nothing better than a dirty bike after a fun ride![/caption]

    A last note, at the increased speed of today’s ride the bike handled very well on the rougher terrain and hills. Also, after today’s ride I’ve decided to stick with knobby tires.

    20x4 Fat Tires

    As I start this post I’m in the middle of my continuing e-bike/cycling obsession. Funny, a couple nights ago I actually dreamt about the bike shop I worked at in Memphis in the late 90s. Been having little flashbacks of that time period during my waking hours too. Was such a great time in my life, daily emersion in bicycles and bike culture.

    Anyhooooooo, back to the point of this post! As I’m riding and outfitting the Lectric with accessories I’ve also begun thinking a bit about tires. I should be fine with these for awhile though I suspect that if I continue riding as much as I have I’ll need new ones within a year. Alternatively, I could put some new ones on now and keep these as back-ups. The stock tires aren’t bad but they’re not the best on pavement as they don’t have a consistent center bead which is provides less rolling resistance. On our 1 mile rock road they’re perfect. But the 6.5 miles to town is paved so there are other options that would likely be at list a little better. That said, I’m finding there 20x4” tire options seem limited and thought I’d write a post that I can add onto in the future to track those options as a reference.

    So, the primary considerations are knobby or slick? Secondary are wire bead or folding bead? Wire beaded tires hold their form on their own and tend to be thicker and heavier. Folding bead tires are lighter, foldable and finer threaded (higher TPI, threads per inch) for a smoother ride as well as more expensive. I’m not sure I have a preference other than I’m looking for the most durable, puncture resistant and with a thread that does well on pavement but won’t be dangerous or unstable on our gravel road.

    All in all it seems like the selection for this sized tire is very small. And many of the places that do offer the tires listed below show them as being out of stock. My thinking for the moment is to continue riding the stock tires for the next few months. If I continue (as I expect I will) with lots of pavement mileage I’ll switch over to the Kenda Kraze unless something better comes along.

    Here’s what I’ve got thus far.

    Knobby Kenda Krusade - $35 at Rad Power Wire bead, 30 TPI casing Has Kenda K-Shield, puncture resistant layer. Has a better center bead than stock though still gapped. Reviews of this tire on Amazon are not great though, quick tread wear mentioned by several.

    Mongoose Fat Tire - $36 at Amazon Wire bead. The center tread is slightly better than the stock tires as pictured but customers report a different tread, hard to say if this would be an improvement. Some reviews report poor tread life. I’ll avoid this one but wanted to list it.

    Vee Tire Mission Command - $55 at Amazon Folding bead, 120 TPI

    Slick Kenda Kraze - $35 at Rad Power Wire bead, 30 TPI casing Requires 4.25 tube, $15. Has Kenda K-Shield, puncture resistant layer.

    Vee Tire Speedster Junior Fat Tire - $60 at Amazon More tread than the Kenda Kraze but still smooth. Folding bead.

    Low rider Tire Duro 20x4.25 - $64 at Amazon Like the Kenda Kraze will also need 20x4.25 tubes. Tubes are in the $15 to 20 range. Wire bead.

    Sunlite Tire - $35 20x4.25, needs 20x4.25 tube too.

    240 miles

    Apparently I’m making up for lost time!

    1/6: 20 miles 1/7: 19 miles 1/8: 21 miles 1/9: 6.5 miles (rain!)

    So, that’s about 240 miles in the three weeks of having a bike again. That’s all pedal assisted, mostly in pedal assist mode 2, some 3. Average ride time in January is 69 minutes. I know this because I have a spreadsheet. I have a spreadsheet because I am a nerd.

    Being on the bike has me remembering back to my cycling in Memphis and it’s every bit as fun as I remember. I’m happy that at 50 years old I want to be on the bike as much as I wanted to be on the bike when I was 28.

    I’m feeling pretty good about my knees. No pain or discomfort after 3 weeks. The electric motor is doing most of the work but I pedal constantly and, based on my heart rate and the battery level after my rides, I’d estimate that I’m adding in between 30 and 40% of the energy moving the bike forward. It’s not 100% as it was before but that’s still significant. My heart rate is consistently averaging 135 bpm during my rides.

    A last benefit to mention would be mental health. I can say with certainty that, simply put, cycling makes me a happier person which seems to contribute to an interest in the wellbeing of the people around me which is to say, more social.

    As I write this I’ve been off the bike for two days due to rain. 4” of rain in one night and persistent drizzle over two days. That’s not to say I won’t ride in rain and e-bikes are okay in light rain and small puddles but I’m less likely to ride in those conditions if I don’t actually need to. Anyway, the next few days look good.

    14 Days of E-Bike Fun

    I’ve had the bike for two weeks and I’ve ridden almost everyday. It’s been fantastic. Since my last ride update on 12/26 here’s a list of rides: 12/31: 14 miles 1/1: 13 miles 1/2: 12 miles 1/3: 19 miles 1/5: 13 miles

    180 miles in the first two weeks. That’s all pedal assisted, mostly in pedal assist mode 2, some 3. Average ride time in January is 67 minutes. I missed a few days due to heavy rain and some work I needed to attend to.

    I’ve added the Thudbuster suspension seatpost and that’s made the ride much more comfortable. It looks like I’ve got three or four days this week before rain comes in so I plan to get out a good bit.

    Also worth noting, I’ve now got my baskets and locks so I expect I’ll begin transitioning my shopping to the local grocery store for most of my groceries. I’ll still be doing my aunt’s weekly shopping at Walmart via the car but it’s a step!

    I’ve had a chance to explore a few corners of town that I’d not seen before and looking forward to seeing more. Small town cycling is really very nice as the traffic on the the small side streets is usually very low, almost non-existent. When there is traffic it’s just one car at a time and usually slow moving at 20 mph or so. I’ve got took keep watch out for loose dogs but that’s about the only thing I find concerning.

    The bike continues to perform very well with more than enough battery capacity for my needs. After 20 years away from the saddle I’m looking forward to making up for lost time!

    Rides 12-25 to 12-26

    My butt’s been just a wee bit sore so slightly shorter rides the past two days! Taking a break on Friday. I don’t really want to take a break but my rear end demands it.

    12-25 Just a ride up to Scoops and back, 13 miles on peddle assist 2 for most of the ride. Battery at about 75%.

    12-26 Same ride up to Scoops and back, 13 miles. Again, peddle assist 2 for most of the ride. I didn’t charge battery so started off at 75% and at about 50% now. Rode for about an hour, average speed around 13.

    Continuing to peddle a good bit but keeping the force applied light. That said the Apple watch for the past two days is showing about 45 minutes of exercise each day for the ride and active calories for each ride at about 250. So, it’s a big step up from my usual walks with the dogs.

    100 miles in the first 6 days! No knee pain or discomfort!

    New seat arrived today so next ride (tomorrow weather permitting) should be more comfortable. I’ve also ordered the Thudbuster which should help quite a bit with larger bumps in the road and on gravel or off-road.

    E-bike Ride Journal 12-24-19

    Tuesday 12-24-19

    Started at 10:30 am, finished at 12pm. Sunny and 50 degrees.

    I took the same route into town that I’ve been using, County Road 217 but then did a loop heading east of town then south then west. I did a couple small rectangles going from street to street then turned north and headed pretty much straight up towards Court Square and back past the grocery store and Scoops before heading home. The full route was just over 20 miles. For the first 2/3 I kept it at pedal assist 2 and about 12mph. The last third I bumped up to pedal assist 3 and hit the gas in terms of pedaling. I probably averaged 18 or 19mph. Battery shows about 50% at home. So, not too shabby in terms of a workout and the range.

    A few hills on this route but nothing crazy.

    No photos but I’ve got a map!

    12-24-19 Ride.jpeg

    So, 4 days of riding, averaging about 20 miles a day, puts me at 80 miles thus far. Will continue to take advantage of the good weather and current light work load as both are creating the ideal circumstance for lots of riding time. I suspect one or both of those will change in the next 4 to 5 days and I’ll have to take a break from my 2 wheeling!

    E-bike Ride Journal

    I’m hoping to be doing several rides a week but many of them will be the same or a very similar route so I’m not sure how often I’ll post once it starts getting repetitive. But as an extension of my initial review when I do post notes about rides I’ll tag the post as Lectric Ride Journal.

    And, here’s another!

    Monday 12/23/2019 I got on the bike around 11:30, 50°F and sunny. Today’s rides include a trip to Scoops and then up to City Lake which is where Fredericktown gets it’s water. I’d never been but it’s a pretty lake and a nice ride.

    6.4 miles to Scoops Coffeeshop, ride time about 18 minutes 2 miles to City lake 8.6 miles return to cabin via County Rd 211 then 217 for remainder Ride time about 1 hour, 45 minutes — 4 miles round trip to the “Slime Pond” 1 mile goofing off

    22 miles total for the day

    [caption id=“attachment_media-2” align=“aligncenter” width=“4032”]IMG_2243.jpeg One of the many bridges in Madison County[/caption]

    I did the first ride of 17 miles in pedal assist 2 and a slower average speed of 12 mph. I ended the ride with about 70% of the battery remaining. That looks pretty good as far as getting a full 50 mile range. I used the throttle a few times to boost past a chasing dog but this route had some pretty big hills which the bike handled very well with help from me. In fact, one was quite large and steep and I breezed up it with just moderate effort.

    I’m finding that by the time I’ve done 15 or so miles (90 to 105 minutes) I need a break for my rear end though I’m still wanting to ride. I’m really looking forward to the new seat. Would love to be able to do a 25 mile ride! I’ve also got my eyes on a better suspension seat post. Will wait to see how the new seat does with the current seat post.

    This is the third day of riding in a row and still, no knee discomfort and I put in a good bit more of my own effort today. According to my Apple Watch my first ride resulted in about 400 active calories and 64 minutes of exercise on the green ring. Much more than the rides on Saturday and Sunday.

    Lectric XP E-Bike Review

    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.

    Lectric Sunset.jpeg

    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.

    Riding Journal

    Saturday A beautiful sunny day. I got on the bike around 10:40, 45°F and sunny. Stopped off for a couple visits 1 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”

    Summary 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.

    Sunday 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

    Dairy Bar.jpeg

    Summary 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.

    [caption id=“attachment_media-9” align=“aligncenter” width=“4032”]IMG_2251.jpeg Look at those beefy 4” wide tires![/caption]

    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.

    [caption id=“attachment_media-10” align=“aligncenter” width=“3024”]IMG_2249.jpeg The front light works pretty well and our roads have been wet enough that I’ve already seen benefits from having fenders.[/caption]

    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:

    1. A side note about Saturday’s ride. I stopped to see my parents on my way out to ride as they were excited to see the new bike. My 70 year old dad who has not been on a bike in 30 or 40 years tried it out. I wasn’t sure I was going to get it back from him. He’s considering getting his own which is quite a thing for someone that was never a bicyclist. So, as happy as I am for myself I’m hoping that my dad makes the jump as I think he’d enjoy the same ride I took today and it would be great to have his occasional company. ↩︎