E-Bikers, A Few Etiquette Improvements

I was going up a hill with many other riders in the area. Passing some when I heard a woman on a 3 wheel trike yelling to move over to get past. So a bunch of us put in the extra effort to move out of the way only for her and her partner following her to come past using motorized ebikes (motors fully engaged). Maybe ebikers instead of demanding others get out of their way especially on extra wide 3 wheelers could just fit in while the rest of us under our own power make it up the hills. Instead of expecting us to put in extra effort to allow them to motor past us. I think there needs to be some rules of etiquette going forward for ebikers.

This was not a couple who had special needs for a motor assist. They just chose ebikes to make RAGBRAI easier for them

This topic was modified 1 year, 2 months ago by mootsman.

138 Replies

Joseph Schlau, January 12, 2020 at 1:40 pm

How do you plan to handle the mileage on RAGBRAI? My Trek CrossRip has a fast recharger weighing about one pound and takes around two hours to fully replenish. My bike goes 60-70 miles on the lowest ECO setting and maybe 20-25 miles on the highest (TURBO) and can be shut off on downhills and flat areas to extend the mileage.

I will probably get a second battery. I also have the rapid charger. Last year with the 39 mile day to Indianola 1 battery would do. The next day we started out 8 miles north of Indianola so the basic day was 93 miles.

Our team utilized housing exclusively so overnight recharging is not a problem. This year I would be looking to do the gravel and Karras loop.

I will work out the logistical details on the training rides and look at the mileages after the route announcement party.

In any case I want to have sufficient reserve power towards the end of the day to just get in safely when my focus is challenged by heat and exhaustion.

Right now I have a pair of JANDD panniers on the bike. They would hold a lot of stuff for the day.

My mileage has been about the same.

This reply was modified 9 months, 2 weeks ago by Joseph Schlau.

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Jose Medina, January 12, 2020 at 2:15 pm

I remember one year a girl on a moped . She had a full cast on her leg sticking out along side her moped. She obviously did not want to miss that year. That is dedication !!

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Michael Lallier, January 17, 2020 at 9:38 pm

I’m about to pull the trigger and send in my payment for the ride registration. But I have been reading the post about e-bikes. I am disappointed in some of the remarks. I suspect that the individuals that are not happy are still in their prime and probably have a nice cushy desk jod. I am an E-BIKE rider. Let me just say that before you put down anyone that rides an E-Bike think about what I’m going to tell you. I would not have fun riding or even doing this ride if it weren’t for an E-Bike. I’m now 67, worked in construction for 45 years and not at a desk! my body is burned out. Gave up riding many years ago till this past year now that I ride as e-bike. I get out to a few times as week now instead of sitting around the house. I also have a Harley but it doesn’t help me keep the weight off. The E-Bike helps keep me in shape for my age. When I need the need for speed I’ll take out the Harley. My battery lasts about two to three days because I don’t rely on power to go from point A to point B. I pedal as much as I can but when I reach my limit then I put it in the lowest setting to help me get home or to camp. When you get to the 70 mark you won’t give up riding it’s in your bood you’ll go to an E-BIKE and then have to defend your right to keep riding. See you on the ride!!!!

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mcpartla, January 18, 2020 at 5:36 am

Riding an e-bike is simply more fun than a conventional no power assist standard bike … and safer too because we’re less likely to push past our physical limits and we can fully focus on conditions. YouTube has a Trek commercial about e-biking “A Little More?”. Enjoy the ride.

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Joseph Schlau, January 18, 2020 at 9:44 am

“A Little More?”

Yes, there it is. If only our trikebiker had instead said “you alright, need a little push” everything would be just fine.

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Larry Klaaren, January 18, 2020 at 11:07 am

In my world, there is nothing I do without a naysayer. If you can get out to enjoy the ride, let go of all that and do it, peoples.

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mootsman, January 18, 2020 at 11:21 am

Some of the ebikers on this maybe need to stop thinking they are being picked on. No one is saying no to ebikes on RAGBRAI. And those that use to ride self powered and now use ebikes are no doubt skilled enough to know safety and etiquette. But there are others who can ride much faster without any previous experience at it on ebikes.

But plenty of ebikers that never had speed still need guidance on how to deal with faster speeds safely and politely. Why would you argue against safety and ride etiquette. Makes no sense at all.

Plus there are 2 camps here basically. 1) Those that ride self powered bikes and that is there passion, RAGBRAI is just a bicycle event they do. 2) Those that love doing RAGBRAI by whatever means needed. Those of us in camp 1 would quit RAGBRAI if the day comes they cannot do it self powered. Those in camp 2 get ebikes to continue doing RAGBRAI.

And for those who also invoke age, plenty of us are in the same age range and continue being self powered. I know riders well into their 70s still doing RAGBRAI self powered. And I enjoyed the stores of those in their 80s still riding it self powered. So enough of the age related pity party.

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Joseph Schlau, January 18, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Mike, I hear you on this. This thread started out as a call for sympathy for the victim of an alleged rude ebiker and her equally dangerous sidekick.

Rather than garner sympathy and incite a ground swell of anger toward ebikers, it brought out a number of riders of ebikes trading information on how they did or plan to cover the miles on limited power.

It also clarified 2 issues of interest, the legal definition of an ebike in Iowa, and the question on support by Ragbrai.

So those looking to Ragbrai or the State of Iowa to limit or ban ebikes also come away disappointed.

Last year the team of 25 I rode with had 1 ebike. This year at least 3, maybe more.

If anything, a few past riders may be visiting their local bike shop to test ride an ebike. Ragbrai may again become an option.

This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by Joseph Schlau.

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mcpartla, January 18, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Trek … “A Little More” …

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Joseph Schlau, January 19, 2020 at 9:27 am

No one is saying no to ebikes on RAGBRAI. And those that use to ride self powered and now use ebikes are no doubt skilled enough to know safety and etiquette. But there are others who can ride much faster without any previous experience at it on ebikes.

When you first start this thread you characterized all e-bikers as those who simply purchased their speed and never trained up. Now there seems to be a distinction between those who previously rode self powered and now ride an e-bike

Good to see you are coming around. Next step is to disguise yourself and secretly visit your local Trek e-bike dealer.

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Iowa_Born Eastern_River, January 19, 2020 at 10:01 am

Plus there are 2 camps here basically. 1) Those that ride self powered bikes and that is there passion, RAGBRAI is just a bicycle event they do. 2) Those that love doing RAGBRAI by whatever means needed. Those of us in camp 1 would quit RAGBRAI if the day comes they cannot do it self powered. Those in camp 2 get ebikes to continue doing RAGBRAI.

This is the sticking point for me personally — RAGBRAI is about a celebrating a tradition of cycling across Iowa. There is a personal challenge to doing that, and one that is nearly achievable by everyone (out of shape first-timers and 80-year-old veterans). That challenge — and accomplishment — is lost when you start using a motorized-cycle.

I believe this divide will only worsen as e-bikes gain market share. Organizers (not just RAGBRAI) will have to begin deciding whether they want a “human-power” event, or an open road tour “by any means necessary”. When the divide does become increasingly transparent, I’ll be happy to follow the “human-power only” camp.

The e-cyclists don’t see the concerns of riding alongside traditional cyclists, but I wonder how they would feel if they were told to get along in a field suddenly opened to Vespas and Groms?

This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by Iowa_Born Eastern_River.

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Joseph Schlau, January 19, 2020 at 10:42 am

The e-cyclists don’t see the concerns of riding alongside traditional cyclists,

You have not stated what your concerns are. Are they founded on actual experience on an e-bike.

You also use the term motorized cycle, what are you referring to?

This reply was modified 9 months, 1 week ago by Joseph Schlau.

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Iowa_Born Eastern_River, January 19, 2020 at 1:08 pm

You also use the term motorized cycle, what are you referring to?

A motorized cycle is any vehicle with two wheels and a motor — i.e., the e-bicycle’s under discussion.

My personal experience involves being passed by e-bikers on both non-motorized multi-user trails and on-road bike lanes; in both cases, e-bikes usually travel at speeds much greater than experienced cyclists, and in many cases, exhibit less stability or lane discipline than most experienced cyclists. The law allows for up to 20mph unassisted correct? Local A-Groups around here only average 20 mph for one or two hours at a burst — a ride like RAGBRAI, all but the Cat1/2/3’s are averaging far, far less than an e-biker.

But my concerns are also in regards to the shifting purpose and integrity of the event, i.e., shifting from a challenging and somewhat exclusive human-powered bicycle ride across Iowa into a rolling party, bring a motor and forget about the training. If I wanted to motor-cycle across Iowa, I would (and have) — but not on RAGBRAI.

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Jboz, January 19, 2020 at 1:40 pm

Iowa_Born Eastern_River – If you think people on ebikes are whizzing along at 20 mph for a 70 mile stretch, you are mistaken. They don’t blast up steep hills either, but they do allow people to climb at a steady pace without redlining their heart-rate. I suspect you are basing your very strident opinions upon very little fact, and a whole lot of false assumptions. The vast majority of e-bikes sold today are pedal assist…the assist is barely noticeable and requires considerable human effort in order to function. Of my stable of 7 bikes, 1 is an ebike which I have only ridden when I want to comfortably ride alongside my much faster son. On our first ride together, he wasn’t aware that I was on an ebike even when we side-by-side. I was pedaling hard, sweating and my heart rate stayed between 140 and 160…just as good a workout for me, instead of him riding ahead and then pulling over every 5 miles to wait for me, I could actually keep up with him the whole ride. I didn’t tell him at first, and he just thought his 62 year-old dad had gotten a whole lot stronger. We both had a chuckle when I fessed up at the end of the ride.

I have ridden RAGBRAI on my own power 4 times. I probably won’t be riding an ebike on RAGBRAI this year either, but someday I will probably need to. When that day comes, I will without hesitation. Some of us are getting older. I am in pretty good shape, but I’m not what I used to be. In fact, I never felt one iota of physical decline until maybe 5 years ago. A person can age well if they take care of themself, but there is no way you can stave off the aging process forever. The human body just doesn’t work that way. You wake up one day and it hits you. When that happens to you, you might change your mind. Ebikes are a godsend for those of us who still want to enjoy cycling, but for whom father time has taken a toll.

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Joseph Schlau, January 19, 2020 at 2:20 pm

A motorized cycle is any vehicle with two wheels and a motor — i.e., the e-bicycle’s under discussion.

No, an e-bike falling within the classification 1 2 or 3 is a bicycle under Iowa law. Even a class 2 e-bike with a throttle control has to have functional pedals. It takes more than just 2 wheels and a motor. There was a link to the statute in earlier posts. Maybe read the law.

You confuse the issue when you throw in references to Vaspa’s.

In any case, like it or not, Ragbrai will provide support to e-bikes. Ragbrai has no legal authority to exclude any vehicle from the route. Any bicycle, e or not may use the public roads of Iowa even if other bikes are on the route.

The only time you see bicycle exclusive routes is in some towns on a temporary basis. There the local police can restrict driving and parking cars on a city route or designate bike only lanes. E-bikes being bicycles would not be excluded.

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