A week after electrifying my old hybrid bike, how is the e-bike experience? I love it. Now I can climb hills at anything up to the UK pedal-assisted speed limit of 15.5mph, which is a darn sight faster than my usual uphill speed. And I no longer need to get off and push up the steeper hills, or the less steep ones when I’m carrying a few extra kilos of shopping or whatever. It means I can choose safer cycling routes on quiet backroads or off-road tracks, which tend to be hillier than the main roads that follow the rivers in this part of the world. Around town I feel safer too, because I can accelerate from junctions, traffic lights and zebra crossings as fast as the traffic, and keep up with it for more of the time, or at least travel at a speed closer to that of cars and lorries so those approaching from behind have longer to see me before they overtake.
I haven’t been very far yet as I’m still getting familiar with the controls. I don’t want to do anything too adventurous until I’ve developed the muscle memory to be sure I’ll cope with any emergency situation quickly and effectively, without having to pause and think what’s best to do.
I wasn’t sure I’d use the handlebar-mounted throttle, but I fitted it anyway. It powers the bike even when the pedals aren’t turning, but only up to 4mph. That means it can be used for “walk assist”, ie for pushing the bike up a steep hill when riding isn’t possible for some reason, but also for giving a little extra oomph when setting off from a standing start. I’m finding I use it quite a bit for the latter, as the pedal assist mode only works when the pedals have started turning (obviously). The extra weight of motor and battery on the bike, plus the fact that there’s now only a single 46 tooth chainring instead of the previous 28T/38T/48T triple set, means it can be hard to get going on a hill without a quick flick of the throttle. There are times when it would feel quite unsafe turning right across the traffic from a T-junction, or even moving off from traffic lights, without it.
I wish I’d done this conversion before our recent Dutch holiday. We could have covered greater distances and/or avoided me arriving at our accommodation every evening in a state of semi exhaustion. Talking of foreign cycling tours, the main drawback I can see from going electric is that it will no longer be possible to take this bike on a plane. But it’s been getting harder and harder, and more expensive, to fly with a bike in recent years, which is why we hired when we toured in Latvia in 2019 and in Denmark in 2015. Fortunately, there’s no problem taking e-bikes on ferries, although P&O did charge us for our bikes on the Hull-Rotterdam route this time whereas they used to travel for free.
The only thing that worries me a little is how I’d deal with a puncture away from home, or any other issue that necessitates turning the bike upside down. The throttle, control switch and display are all mounted on the top of the handlebars and would be easily damaged. The display in particular is vulnerable and too large to be able to rotate out of the way, and in any case, the wiring isn’t loose enough to permit it. (And if it were any looser, it would just get in the way while the display is in its normal position.) But punctures are a rarity these days, with Kevlar-reinforced tyres – I literally can’t remember when I last had anything more serious than a slow leak that could still be ridden on with occasional top-ups of air. I guess I’ll just have to push the bike to the nearest railway station if it ever becomes unrideable while I’m out and about.
More knitted lace
I have a small amount of the fine linen yarn left after making my Frosty Apples shawl, as well as plenty of beads. I’m hoping there’ll be enough yarn for a small scarf, using the Branching Out pattern from Knitty. In an effort to stretch it out I cast on with 6mm needles, but I’ve decided it looks too open. I’m going to have to rip it out and start again on smaller needles.