An Electric Bicycle Experience

Here’s a short description of using an electric bike for commuting to work from Charles of Transition Ipswich.

I cycled to work today, or should I say I went on my electric bike. I have a secondhand Ezee Quando that I bought in February 2006. I live on Tuddenham Road near the Woolpack and work on Ransomes Euro Park, near the Thresher pub.

The direct route through the town is about three miles, or I could stay on the level and go round the by-pass, which is about six miles. For people who do not know Ipswich, it is like a bowl and cyclists have to decide if it is better to down one side and up another, or cycle round the rim. I found going up the side by push-bike made me hot and sweaty, so I considered the alternative ways to get to work.

I could walk into town and take a bus out to work. (This costs £1.80 each way – 2010 prices)

I wondered how best to get up Bishops Hill and took out a subscription to the magazine A to B. At that time A to B magazine said that the Ezee Quandro was the best hill climber. Even to day, the magazine A to B says of it on their website:

www.atob.org.uk

“…The Ezee Quando is a single-speed folder. Usually we’d say ‘urrgh!’, but this one has astonishing hill-climbing abilities…..”

In addition, it was a folding bicycle, so it would fit into the back seat of our Toyota Prius car.

I bought one on e-bay secondhand for £399 + £25 p & p.

Being an expensive bike I wanted more that the standard bike lock to secure it and so I bought a motorcycle standard padlock and chain from Aldi. This was heavy, so I needed something like a saddle bag. I bought a lockable box in Felixstowe to go over the back wheel and filled with this with all the stuff needed for travelling by bike, such as lights, wet weather outfits, pump, etc. I also bought from Aldi a removable insulatated bag to hang off my handle bars for my packed lunch and also a speedometer.

So what is it like to cycle to work on an e-bike?

It takes a minute to unlock, check the bike, put on a reflective tabard and cycle helmet. Then I am off down Christchurch Street, freewheeling down the hill at 30 miles per hour to the cycle lanes. This means I do not have to queue at junctions on the gyratory system. Some of the road surfaces are good – such as Woodbridge Road – and within a couple of minutes I am through the gyratory and onto Bishops Hill. Here I pedal a bit in order to maintain a minimum speed of 10 miles per hour, as I understand the electric motor falls in efficiency below 10 miles per hour. Soon I am on the level and the speed limiter keeps me at 15 miles per hour. Door-to-door the journey time is 20 minutes, whereas by car it is about 30 minutes.

On the way home I often vary my route by travelling along part of Cycle Route 51, keeping to 10 miles an hour in the parks. However, be warned of a large pothole in Myrtle road. I recently went over this and broke my insulatated bag. I suppose I was lucky not to have suffered more damage, which would have been more of a problem as my non-electric bike has a rear wheel damaged by a pothole and it is still awaiting replacement.

Apart from going to work, I have used the electric bike to go on local journeys and have been as far as Shotley, and on one occasion I took it on holiday to Holland.

In terms of repairs since I have owned it, some broken spokes have been replaced, the saddle post broke and was re-welded and I broke the twist throttle by mistake and had to replace it. I have also replaced the nickel hydride battery with lithium ion as the nickle hydride one wore out.

Apart from being quicker, greener and cheaper than other forms of transport I find it far more pleasant – unless it is raining. One can easily stop and do a little shopping, or stop to chat to people.

If anyone wants to have a go on an electric bike do please contact me through Transition Ipswich.

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About spinningwheel

Promoting greener transport in Ipswich and around.
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