Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: dayjack119 on April 24, 2017, 05:57:13 pm

Title: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: dayjack119 on April 24, 2017, 05:57:13 pm
Route Map and info -

It's finally time!  May 1st will begin my 6th bicycle tour (24,000 miles) since retirement, a coast-to-coast arc ride within the USA & Canada. STARTING at the Atlantic Ocean on Hilton Head Island, SC, I will endeavor to reach the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco sometime in August, staying with nearly 60 host families along the way.  But this trip will have an additional boost.  Having paid my dues, I have secured an Electric Assist Kit which adapts to my REI touring bike.  Looking forward to conquering the four major mountain ranges of my country along the route, Alleghenies, Rockies, Cascades, and the Sierra Nevada, I am tired of wasting time near the summits pushing my load up the worst of it, and in addition I want to be able to keep up with those younger legs who frequently join me for awhile.  One pedals as usual, but the electric kit gives a little added 'gas'.  There was only one company (EBO) confident enough with their product to work with me when I mentioned I wanted to accomplish an unusually tough goal and seriously abuse their unit.  These guys have e-bike experience with cargo, mountain and commuter customers in Colorado so who better to make the fit.  If 'electric' peeks your interest, I will be making no-BS updated posts to my Facebook ride-page, both good and bad, referring to mileage per charge, speed, and other variables.  I'm excited to try it and if everything works out, you will get so sick of my bragging!   Who had any idea that at 73 one can still be able to dream and participate in life at its fullest?   
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: canalligators on April 25, 2017, 09:40:03 am
The first thing I would ask the assist unit's vendor is about the charge capacity.  Does your unit have enough capacity to give you the required boost for the 3-5 hours that it will take to climb some of those passes?  Will you need to carry a spare battery?  Will the motor overheat at the required power for long periods of use?

Also, what usage strategy do they recommend?  I'm guessing here, but would imagine that optimum use is somewhere in the middle power range. 

For another rider's experience, see (
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: indyfabz on April 25, 2017, 03:05:07 pm
Who had any idea that at 73 one can still be able to dream and participate in life at its fullest?
My first tour was ACA's unsupported Northern Tier tour. The oldest participant was 76. He turned 77 during the trip. When it was finished, he started riding home from Bar Harbor, ME to the Philadelphia area until his wife said "Enough is enough!" and picked him up somewhere in CT.
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: hon_cho on April 25, 2017, 07:49:30 pm
July 2016 while biking along the Oregon coast, encountered an older touring cyclist riding a very sleek electrically assisted bicycle.  I spoke to him for a few minutes and he cited many of the same reasons as the OP for choosing an e-bike, namely he was getting up in years and wanted  a bit of help up the big hills. 

I own a hybrid bike, purchased used,  equipped with a 48v Bionx electric motor.  It's fun to speed around a bit but it makes me lazy!  The previous owner claimed it would go about 20 miles on flat ground before needing a charge but I've never ridden that far in a single ride because I have more enjoyable rides for long distances.  I'll consider adding a motor for touring when I can't make it to the top of a reasonable grade under my own power which hopefully is still a few years away.  While some may sneer at e-bikes, any device that helps people get out and enjoy bicycling is a good thing. 

We'll look forward to your reporting. 
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: BobG on April 26, 2017, 09:34:29 am
I'm only 68 but I recently had to ad an e-assist to my touring bike due to a permanently disabled femoral nerve that has grounded me for the past 3 years. As much as I'd like to resume bike travel again I don't think it will be possible unless battery range is greatly improved in the future.

I have the largest BionX D-500 kit with an 8 pound, 557 watt hour battery. It allows me to ride like a 25 year old again........for about 45 miles. It does not make me lazy. It's torque sensor rewards me more the harder I ride, thus I ride fast and hard again to reap the benefits. I use just moderate levels of assist with occasional higher level blasts over steep hills.

But 45 miles is just not enough range to embark on a loaded bike camping tour. I'm guessing that range would be even less after adding 25 pounds of gear. I'd need to find accommodations at that interval with electricity every night. That would mean no state parks, no USFS campgrounds, no hiker/biker sites and no stealth camping. I doubt that one would even find a motel every 45 miles. I'm hoping that regular riding locally with the assist will strengthen my leg so I can go back to unassisted cycling. My doctor says that will not happen.

Jack, I wish you the best and I'll be following your log to see how you make it happen.

edit: after reading canalligator's link I am a bit more encouraged. Limiting the assist to level 1 along with the BionX regeneration feature seemed to add a lot to that rider's range. That said, he was traveling light on a credit card trip and had a place to plug in every night.
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: dayjack119 on April 26, 2017, 12:55:56 pm
Thanks for responding, guys.  I wanted to add something that might alleviate some of your concerns in regards to distance and charging.  I will only be using this unit at power level one, with the exception of mountainous terrain or it begins to turn dark.  I want to pedal as much as possible for fitness and longevity so I will not be slacking that way.  I will need a charge every night so I looked to the obvious.  (I may add another battery along the way).  Hosts as much as possible, motels when I have to, and a bivy sack for those wide open spaces.  I began attaining hosts for every 60 miles of my route about three months before the blast off date.  This year there are 70 overnights and I have acquired over 60 host families to provide hospitality.  In addition, I would think you could go into certain places of business and ask them if you could charge the 8 lb. battery overnight.  The charger looks like my camcorder charger.  My purpose in posting about this is to provide info to those older or in firmed folks who can see a need for electric in their future but don't know where to start. (It's amazing how many jerk emails I've received on the subject.  Somehow this is cheating.)  I will be adding data, both the negatives and the positives, along the way.
Title: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: RonK on April 26, 2017, 03:45:49 pm
A point to keep in mind - if your touring plans include air travel you may not be permitted to carry a battery in your luggage.
Title: Re: Interested in 'electric assist' touring?
Post by: dayjack119 on April 26, 2017, 04:26:09 pm
I avoided any battery hassles at the airport by having it shipped separately as hazardous materials.  Fedex - $30.