Easter E-bike Sunday

April 9, 2012

I originally got into electric bikes to combat depression .   My therapy is riding my electric bike, and anytime I am feeling lonely or bored, I hop onto my bike and go. I actually rarely drive my car these days. Any errand or appointment within 10 miles of my house, weather permitting I take my electric bike. The e-bike you will see in my photos is one of 5 e-bikes I own, but is for some reason the electric bike I ride most often. It is not my fastest or best looking e-bike, but I guess it is my most convenient.  It has small wheels and a short wheel base and is fun to maneuver around in the city. When it is locked to a post I don’t stress it will be a target of thieves. It has ultra high gearing so I can pedal even when at its 30mph top speed. I have put over 3 thousand miles on this e-bike in one year.

Today was Easter Sunday, and I had just popped a meal in the microwave ready to settle in for a day of staring at some kind of screen.  But wait the weather is perfect, its Sunday Golden Gate park is closed to traffic and my electric bike downstairs is beckoning to go on a ride. I called my favorite restaurant in the middle of Golden Gate Park and they were open. It was a time for ride. I gave my microwave meal to my dog, hopped into my  riding gear  and headed for the front door.

The following is a document of what is a typical ride for me. I take this ride at least  twice a week.  I am lucky enough to live in the city of San Francisco, which is a beautiful city year around, and electric bike friendly.

Also in the spirit of Easter I would like to share that Ebike riding has been sort of a rebirth for me.


This is my e-bike at its “charging station”. The bike runs a 48 volt 10ah battery. Lipo batteries are not completely fire safe so I take precautions when charging.  Because I am charging the bike unattended, I make sure the e-bike is in a place that were if it does catch on fire it will not burn down my house.


Talking about taking precautions, I live and ride in a big city. Whenever I go anywhere I make sure I have my bicycle lock of choice, a Master Lock street cuff. They look like handcuffs and work great, and most importantly fit easily into my riding bag. They do weight about 5 pounds but weight is nothing I am concerned about when riding an e-bike.


Here you can see my beloved Downtube folding electric bike I built myself. It uses a 600w bmc geared hub motor, running at 48 volts and 25 amps. This means I am actually pumping 1000 watts to the motor which the bmc handles easily.  Notice I use a Schlumpf speed drive for a bottom bracket and an internal schlumpf 8 speed in the back. This combination gives me ultra high pedal gearing for 30mph cruising even though the bikes wheels are only 20 inches (small wheeled bikes are usually hard to gear up high). The 48 volt 10 amp battery sits comfortably on the rear rack which is built into the Downtube frame.  The e-bike features also an easy to step through frame and disc brakes.

Notice my old and rust car in the back…i have opted to drive an old reliable beater and use all the money I save to invest into my e-bike fleet.  I figure I save about $400 a month riding e-bikes. See story on how an e-bike can save you money here.

On my way out, I noticed my neighbor in his garage and he waved at me. I went over to check out his gas powered bike he is building and stopped to check on his project and take a photo. He really wants an electric bike, but he weighs 300 pounds and can not afford right now the $2500 that it would take to build the bike he needs to commute to work with his weight over San Francisco terrain. He is building a gas bike for now, but plans to convert it to electric when he gets his tax refund sometime next month.  I let him take one of my bikes for a spin through the park last week and now he is hooked. Talking shop and building and maintaining your own e-bike is one of the joys of owning an e-bike.


Finally I get to hit the road and feel exhilarated.  This shot is taken about 50 feet from my driveway, and what you are seeing is a down hill ending at the Golden Gate Park where I will ride through to get to my favorite restaurant.  Oh hills like this is when you are thankful you have disc brakes. I use avid bb5’s on this bike, but always wish it had hydraulic given how much I ride it….oh well works too good now to upgrade.

Down the hill I am not at the entrance of the Golden Gate Park.  I prefer to ride whenever possible where there are not as many cars, so I prefer the trails in Golden Gate park instead of the car roads, even if it means adding mileage to my ride. On an electric bike mileage is cheap and enjoyable.

This particular off road is a graveled trail, no problem except with my front wheel drive when the trail goes uphill, the front wheel tends to slip in the gravel. At this point the bike does become a bit unstable, but I am use to it and can deal with it. I normally just up my own pedaling when going uphill in gravel to compensate. Whati is great about a front wheel drive is you are a virtual all-wheel-drive and it forces you at times to exercise harder, especially when going uphill in off road conditions.

cycle analyst

It is at this point that I remember to reset my Cycle Analyst.  A Cycle Analyst is a wonderful tool that keeps track of your battery usage, not only that it keeps track of your mileage and speed. With the Cycle Analyst, I know exactly to within a few hundred yards of when my battery is going to die, if I remember to reset it at the start of the ride. I oftentimes forget, or remember in the middle of a ride. Luckily I havent used much motor at this point, so resetting now is almost ideal.

On hard trail conditions the front wheel BMC hub motor  performs much better than on gravel. I am lacking good tires and full suspension so ride safe and sane. The idea of this bike is just getting there..it is a pure commuter but is still a lot of fun even though I cant hit the off road trails super hard.

San Francisco is a pretty city…no doubt about that.  Golden Gate Park is full of ponds, lakes, and waterfalls.  And they make for nice spots to stop take a breather, take a smoke, take a drink of whiskey, or water….or whatever your preference is.

Here is one of those magical moments that an electric bike makes possible. These people are enjoying a picnic on their Sunday, and I am able to creep up on them silently with my quiet hub motor powered e-bike. This is something you could never do on a gas powered vehicle. To them I am an innocuous bicycle rider just passing by.  I always prefer that people do not know that I am on a motor vehicle, that I am just pedaling by on my harmless little folding bicycle.

Back on the trail again I feel the solitude and beauty of nature. One great thing about Golden Gate Park, is even though you are in one of the country’s great cities, it feels like you are in the midde of nowhere just enjoying the forest. The trails are well groomed as well.

Here I am silently rolling up on the dog park on my electric bike.  During the week days this park is slammed with dog walkers and many many dogs.  Inevitably I get a bunch of dogs chasing me and barking at the fence line. I am ok with it I love dogs and don’t mind getting them razzled.

Today I did get yapped at by these two monsters, but they ran away when I pulled out my camera.

I guess I make it a  bad habit of picking on small creatures on my e-bike.  Watch me roll up on this flock of birds:

Back on the trail again…I like the trails because there is rarely any people on them. It is weird but the people prefer to hike on the pavement….they kind of flock together like sheep.

Here I roll up on the famous  GG park Frisbee golf course.    This is another time I am thankful my e-bike is silent.   I have ridden through this course maybe 100 times, and have dodged many flying discs and have only been hit once.


Another shot of the frisbee golf course.


Golden Gate Park is  4 miles long,  but comparatively narrow. Every once in a while on my electric bike rides I am reminded that I am still in the middle of a city.

Golden Gate Park is closed to car and motorcycle traffic every Sunday. Electric bikes however are exempt since by city and federal law they are considered bicycles. No motor vehicles beyond that barricade ahead….exception = electric bikes 🙂



Now we have the whole road just for bicycles and pedestrians!  Lets sneak up and silently pass these bikers up here pedaling like a bat out of hell so they think I am athlete on folding bike:


The DeYoung Musuem is to the left. We are now in the center of the park.

Every Sunday the Lindy dancers gather in the park and dance their hearts away.  I always stop them to watch them for a few minutes when riding past on my e-bike. Today they were taking a break as I rode by but I got a picture of them standing around for you anyway.


No problem. Lucky for us they had a Brazilian celebration going on today, and I was able to get you a picture of some dancers. That is the Academy of Sciences in the foreground, our destination.

Rolling up on the music concourse and the Academy of Sciences.

The Academy of Sciences is a wonderful museum and usually you have to find parking or walk a great distance to get in, especially on Sunday when the main  park is closed to cars. Not for me, I am on an e-bike.  The trick to getting into the Academy of Sciences (normally $30) is eat lunch in the Moss Room restaurant.

Here we are at the entrance to the parking garage. There is an underground road that leads to the underground garage so cars are not even seen. Its expensive to park in here, but on an e-bike its free!  Also security is good so you don’t have to worry about getting your e-bike or your battery jacked (always a concern in the city).

The parking garage even has a beautiful ramp so I dont have to ride my e-bike down the stairs.


It’s a law in San Francisco that any public parking garage must provide free bicycle parking.  Notice the long line of cars looking futilely for parking. Straight across is the spot where I will lock my e-bike. Its not a big concern when riding this e-bike, but some of my e-bikes cost me over 6k to build and I like secure parking when I ride those.  Notice the bicycle parking is right next to the cashier. This is an example of secure e-bike parking.

This is my baby locked up.

My e-bike safely parked, that is me in the Academy of Sciences standing in front of the rain forest dome.


Flashback…2 years ago I saw this display while at the Academy of Sciences of the Optibike and it is what really juiced my interest in high end electric bikes.  This time last year I actually owned an Optibike like this one! I wonder how many bikes optibike sold thanks to this display.  Read my Optibike review here.

Finally I have arrived at my favorite restaurant, the Moss Room in San Franisco to celebrate Easter and another great electric bike riding  weekend.  I always sit at the bar here, and always drink wine. In fact I think next years goal is to buy the domain name wine.com which will pair nicely with electricbike.com. 🙂

On the ride home the weather got chilly, so I only stopped for a few photos.  Can you see the orange frisbee disc mid flight between the two frisbiers?

This is my bike at the foot of the big hill leading to my house. You can’t tell by the photo but that hill is big, and my e-bike has been up it over 100x and have never smoked a motor or a controller.  The 20 inch wheels are good for climbing because they effectively lower the gearing of the e-bike which equates to better climbing performance but less top speed. I am not sure if  I really want to go to much faster than 30mph on this frame anyway.

According to my trusty Cycle Analyst I used about half a battery pack, 5.2ah and traveled about 7 miles. That is about typical mile per amp hour range I get given the way I ride, and the terrain I ride.


My baby plugged into the charger, I then  enter the house to write this story. Once she is finished charging I pull her into the house where she will be safe and sound for the night.



Eric has been involved in the electric bike industry since 2002 when he started a 6000 square foot brick and mortar Electric Bike store in downtown San Francisco. He is a true believer that small electric vehicles can change the way we operate and the way we think.


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