editor note: The following story was submitted by one of our readers, Tim McIntyre of Seal Beach California. Hats off to Currie for releasing just this year a fine line of rare purpose built electric bikes in their Izip line.
I have been talking about electric bikes for many years, ever since my commute to work doubled to 24 miles each way. The time I spent in my 1986 Honda Civic (no air conditioning or clutch) sometimes extended to 3 hours on some pretty hot days. Asked by friends when I was getting a new car, I’d say my next car will be an electric bike! On my 51st birthday I decided to make all that talk a reality and went out and purchased the Izip Urban Cruiser.
Price: $699.00 + $320 for extra external battery
Year: 2010 purchased 10/2011
Battery-1: 24V Li-Ion 10aH located in the down-tube (17.5 mile range)
Battery-2: (added battery) 24V 10aH Ping located on the back rack (24+ mile range)
Motor: 250W geared hub motor in the rear
Throttle control: TMM torque sensor, (PAS) no manual throttle control
Rider’s weight: 140 lbs
First, I am a former road bike person, so I was not real comfortable with the entire “cruiser” design. The big padded seat and the wide cruiser handlebars would have to go when I had the time. I found the torque TMM sensor really cool: Just start pedaling and get an automatic boost from the motor. This feature is often called PAS (Pedal Assist System).
My first long ride was an out-and-back 35-mile ride with a breakfast stop at 17 miles. I rode with no power for the first 8 miles, then turned on the power to max. The sweet spot for me was right at 16.9 mph. I could pedal really hard and get it up to 18mph, but it was not worth the effort. The 16.9 mph was plenty good for my riding group. The battery cut out about 18 miles later but fortunately we were around the corner from my brother’s house. I recharged for an hour, then rode the last 4 miles into a strong head wind at full power, and was surprised to be doing close to 16 mph.
This got me thinking about tackling my commute to work. 20 of the 24 miles is on the San Gabriel riverbed bike path. I could ride the first 18 miles on the bike path under power, and then when I ran out of power, I could get over onto the street and jump on a bus. I could do the reverse on the way home, and the wind (which can be very annoying and energy sapping) would not be much of a deterrent.
Over the next few weeks I did four round trip commutes (48 miles) on my Izip, and 2 on my road bike. I learned the following:
· A 50 lb E-bike with no power still goes faster than a city bus.
· The big padded seat is actually very comfortable, especially when riding upright or no handed.
· I could get to work 5 to 10 minutes faster with the road bike but was thoroughly exhausted (probably why I rarely rode).
· Head winds are no problem with an e-bike.
· I needed more range; 6 miles with no power each way was too much work.
After reading the Endless-Sphere forums and examining the battery and controller wires, I decided to purchase a 24V LiFePO4 10aH Ping battery, 10g wire, some Anderson connectors, a 30-amp fuse, a back rack and trunk bag. Total cost: $320. The controller is mounted under the crank, so I ran both the downtube battery and controller wires up under the seat, crimped the wires from both battery’s and the controller with Anderson connectors. I added a fuse to the Ping (thanks to everyone posting there, and showing how to solder and crimp on youtube).
Now I could switch between the two batteries and get to work under power the whole way. The first few rides I only used the Ping for 10 miles each way, but now it easily does 24 miles or more using the power-assist feature the entire trip.
This is what I have learned:
· Ping batteries are awesome, 24+ miles on a charge
· The Izip Urban Cruiser is a nice bike if you are not in a big hurry. You cannot get much more then 15 to 17 mph. It is also not good at climbing hills. I love the seat and the handlebars, and the simple pedal-assist torque device is really cool. It does well on flat ground and also in head winds.
· I can get to work 5-10 minutes faster than on my road bike and still be relaxed
· I know very little about bikes or electronics, and only have about 700 miles on the bike