Author Topic: e-thical issue  (Read 3155 times)

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Offline fastrog

e-thical issue
« on: February 05, 2018, 04:35:46 am »
Background: Have done marathons, ultras, mountain climbing, moderate bike tours (up to 129 mile day on Oregon coast). planned for years to do the Transamerica this summer. "Silent" heart attack in 2017 (at age 68), with some heart muscle loss and two MD scripts and a couple of naturopathic doc tablets. Planning 60 miles per day, supported. Upping the training and still believe I can do it. leaving mid-June. The dilemma: What if mid-May arrives and I see i cannot average 60? Time is not an issue, but snow is. To save my dream, I'm wondering about electric. I know that when I'm puffing along at 12 MPH and an electric bike flies by it bothers me a little. I certainly can't find too many bike-club and speedier riders who feel anything but disdain for e-bikes. But then some roadies and MTB types are hopeless snobs. I have found fellow Adventure Cycling folks to be much less so. Finally, the questions: Part of the reason I want to ride Transamerica is for the camraderie along the road, lunch picnics, campground beers, flat tires, etc. So, first question: On an e-bike, would I be a pariah along the route? Second question: Any recommendations for an e-bike with minimal weight as well as minimal assist? I do not want to ride a motorcycle, just maybe get a little boost with the headwinds and the steeper climbs. See you out there. And thanks.

Offline jamawani

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2018, 05:48:14 am »
Mr. Rog -

I see no problem with an e-bike in your situation - and I am an avid cyclist with 100,000 miles touring.
So, I think that qualifies me to speak on touring.
Anyhoo, "purity" went out the window long before Mae West.
("I once was Snow White, but I drifted")

Some us us tour like hobos - bikes loaded down - perhaps smelling a bit fresh -
with the occasional social worker-type person inquiring if we need assistance.
I am fortunate to have had the physical means to do so.
However, I am in my 60s and have had serious health issues - so I know where you are.
I think it is better to get out there in whatever fashion than stay at home watching TV.

That said - where are you going to charge the booger?
National park campgrounds may have one outlet in the bathroom.
And there are now signs saying - "No Charging" - because everyone has things to charge.

The other concern might be that e-bikes shoulder in on biking in general.
There is something soothing about human-powered travel - like a Tibetan prayer wheel.
In a society with more and more machines, electronics, and apps.

Most likely, self-service check-out will be everywhere in a few years - -
but I still like to speak with a human being when I finish shopping.
I think that may put into words some of the concerns of cyclists.

Offline staehpj1

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2018, 08:34:51 am »
If it works for you and keeps you going, then great, but...

I recall the TA not being all that conducive to easy use of an e-bike.  There are days with longish distances between services and multiple mountain passes.  I am not that up to date on the current state of battery technology, but it seems like a big ask for it to always be more help than hindrance on some of those days.  It means that you are hauling a fair amount of extra weight in motor and battery and that could be a big handicap if the battery is dead and you need to climb a pass.

I'd be inclined to pack really light and take the pace very easy on an non assisted bike if at all possible.  I didn't find it too hard to get my total load, bike gear and all (, for camping and cooking down to the weight of the typical e-bike unladen.  I read that e- bikes usually weigh between 38 and 70 pounds.  On my ST tour, my bike and gear were 38 pounds total, not counting food and water.  That was 24# of bike and 14# of gear and baggage.

Given a light load, maybe you can manage enough mileage per day if you just take the pace fairly easy.  I'd recommend doing that if you can.  If not and the e-bike makes the trip do-able there is no ethical problem IMO.

Offline John Nelson

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2018, 12:03:38 pm »
I see no cultural issues with using an e-bike. I doubt that other cyclists will treat you any differently. If anything, they will be particularly interested in your bike.

OTOH, using an e-bike and camping might be at odds. Even people who stay in motels every night have trouble keeping their e-bike going all day. And the heaviness of the e-bike might make getting up the hills very difficult or impossible when the power runs out. If you use an e-bike, strongly resist the urge to take too much stuff, and pedal as much as you can to keep the e-bike going all day. In hill country, plan for shorter days, although that's practically impossible in the West.

Are you starting in the East or West? I suggest starting in the East so you can get an earlier start, and where the services are closer together. Start in early May. You'll easily beat the snow even if you cannot manage 60 miles a day. In fact, I'd urge you to start even if you can only do 30 miles a day, if you think that you'll get stronger as you go.

If you'd really like to camp, then I'd advise skipping the e-bike and riding shorter days. Stretch the trip out over four, or maybe even five, months if necessary.

Offline Loader

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2018, 12:42:20 pm »
Quote
On an e-bike, would I be a pariah along the route?

Of course not.

Only I do not understand how you're going to charge your battery every 20 miles.

I have an electric scooter, which I made from a "Puch" moped. But it's only good going to the store for shopping, not for long trips.

I had a heart operation for recurring arrhythmias in 2004. My doctor confidently said that the bicycle works well on the muscles of the heart, if you do not overexert them too much.

So if you do not try to travel 60 miles every day, but only 35-40, then perhaps you'd better ride an ordinary bike to train your heart muscles.
God created the universe, and man created the wheel.

God invented our legs for us, we came up with pedals for our feet.

So the bike was born.

Offline zzzz

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2018, 12:58:23 pm »
Try doing a search on this : Topic: Electric Assist Kits

The guy who started the thread (DayJack) was preparing to do a big trip with the e assist. You might want to contact him directly and see how it went.

pm

Offline Galloper

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2018, 02:19:01 pm »
I'm a big fan of ebikes and have been riding them in various formats for about 4 years now.   I have a Kalkoff pedal assist which, in hilly country, will manage about 80 miles to a charge.   Reise & Muller do a bike with a double battery which will offer a greater range although I have found that the single battery Bosch system on my Cube MTB will generally only be good for about 60 hilly miles.

A lot, obviously, will depend on the nature of the terrain and the additional load you are carrying, my mileage results were on unladen day rides.   I don't use power on the flat or on gentle slopes as the bikes seem to roll well once away.   

As to the pariah question, I have never encountered any such problems.   On holiday in France, Germany, the Netherlands and UK, I see more and more ebikes in touring mode and riders all seem to be enjoying themselves, as you will, I am sure.

Offline fastrog

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2018, 07:25:31 pm »
thanks to everybody. my goal is still to use my own steam, but you have all helped with my e-bike considerations.

Offline RonK

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2018, 07:38:35 pm »
I would have no hesitation to use an e-bike for touring, and in fact on my last tour I encountered several people doing exactly that.

What would stop me is practical considerations - the main one being that under current IATA rules no airline will carry an electric bike battery (i.e. greater than 160Wh), so that limits e-bike touring to local loops.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2018, 07:56:36 pm by RonK »
Cycle touring blog and tour journals: whispering wheels...

Offline pmac

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #9 on: February 07, 2018, 06:40:54 pm »
While I have some touring, but never on an ebike.  I did get an ebike for my wife, a Haibike Touring pedal assist bike (ie if you're not pedaling you're not moving, just like a muscle only bike). The hope is that we can do some touring together.  She gets about 60 to 70 miles on her 400wh battery.  New Haibikes have 500wh batteries and you can purchase other quality ebikes with higher battery capacity.   The bigger the battery capacity, the larger the range.  Ebikes are heavy, in the 45 to 50 lb range, but a quality ebike can be pedaled without assistance just like a regular bike.   

I do think you would probably end up spending more nights in a motel, although many campgrounds have available outlets.  It will take a little more planning on your part, but the planning is part of the fun of doing a bike tour.

As far as the "ethical issue", most riders checking out my wife's bike are just interested in how in works.  While some people have a difficult time understanding the concept, an ebike, at least a pedal assist ebike, rides just like a regular bike, same gears, same shifting, same braking.    The difference is that you feel like you are having one of your really strong days.  She has never had any adverse comments about her bike.  Frankly, I've never understood the snarky "cheating" comments about ebikes from other riders that I have read about.  Riding a bike and going on a bike tour is fun.  Really doesn't matter what kind of bike you're riding.     

Offline fastrog

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2018, 07:18:38 pm »
thanks

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2018, 07:48:26 pm »
I ran into Suzanne and Don in Yellowstone a couple years after I cycled through there on the TransAm:

https://bicyclelife.topicwise.com/doc/?o=1mr&doc_id=9261&v=3QK

Offline Brian Phelan

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2018, 03:41:02 pm »
Planning 60 miles per day, supported.

You're already alienating the purists so you might as well go the whole hog. 

Offline fastrog

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2018, 04:23:21 pm »
Well, I don't think anyone who can pedal 4,200 miles from Yorktown, VA to Florence, OR under their own steam has anything to be ashamed of, and any "purist" who thinks so can kiss my selle. I think my cardiologist and/or my wife would lock me up if I proposed slapping 60 pounds of gear on the bike. I see no shame in her willingness to drive the camping gear and hang out and work on her latest book to be anything but a bonus for both of us.

Offline staehpj1

Re: e-thical issue
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2018, 05:29:05 pm »
Well, I don't think anyone who can pedal 4,200 miles from Yorktown, VA to Florence, OR under their own steam has anything to be ashamed of, and any "purist" who thinks so can kiss my selle. I think my cardiologist and/or my wife would lock me up if I proposed slapping 60 pounds of gear on the bike. I see no shame in her willingness to drive the camping gear and hang out and work on her latest book to be anything but a bonus for both of us.
A few comments on that...

First, I'll note that the "purist" comment didn't actually come from anyone who was espousing that view and I have no really seen much in the way of folks being judgmental about other being sagged.  Yes some folks don't find it to be their cup of tea, but if many folks look down their nose at folks for that I haven't noticed.

I think that 60# is a lot more than is needed.  You can pretty easily get by with 30# without resorting to ultralight gear or truly minimal packing.  So you could probably get by carrying your own gear with less hardship than you might imagine, especially if you take a sensible pace. That is if you should choose to.

If she wants to drive sag that is great, but I will warn that I met a few spouses who had become disenchanted with the slow pace and the tiny towns with nothing to do.  They became resentful a month or so into the trip.  You may not have that problem, but be aware that it is a possibility so that you can make efforts to guard against it.

One other thing...  You may be fine with it, but introducing a motor vehicle into the mix changes a tour in some fairly fundamental ways.  For one thing you will be more limited with where you will camp.  I also think you tend to make friends with other riders less easily and probably will interact with the local folks less.

None of that is to say you shouldn't follow your plan.  It may work well for you.  I just figured i would try to point out a few consequences that may not be obvious at this point in your planning.

I hope you have a great trip.  Riding across the country is a really special experience regardless of which way you choose to do it.