Electric assist bikes?

OK, here is something to perk up the forum. We have seen a huge increase in electric assist bikes around here, and I imagine we will be seeing an increase of said bikes on RAGBRAI this July. I have an opinion concerning this, but I am more interested in what the forum community has to say. Is this the beginning of the end? Will this allow folks who would otherwise not be able to ride to make it happen? Or does the answer lie somewhere in between? Are there any “rules” regarding their use on RAGBRAI? What are your thoughts?

396 Replies

mootsman, December 13, 2018 at 9:18 am

In case anyone is not aware of the wheel only options instead of a complete e-bike. Not meant to advertise but these are the options for buying just a motorized wheel which turns any road bike into an e-bike. Most are controlled via a smart phone app:

Copenhagen Wheel: Note top speed in specs is 25mph and has Turbo Mode (think that’s all electric).

The electron (20mph) wheel: https://electronwheel.com/technical-specs/

GeoOrbital (uses a throttle): https://www.geoo.com/

This one on walmart.com has 30+ mph top speed: The YUNZHILUN iMortor

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.


Bob Amlie, December 13, 2018 at 10:44 am

Thanks for the links, Mootsman. I’ve decided that since EBikes are Legal, and meet with Official Front-Office Approval, that I want to be a go along-and-get-along with the progressive movement that evidently is the dominant force, here. So, I will be “upgrading” the 1980’s, self-powered & therefore technologically obsolete bike I’ve ridden across Iowa numerous times, to an EBike, with one of those kits. . Yup!, as they say in I-o-way. Also, when I “upgrade” my bike with the motor(so I can be Cool & modern, instead of a grouchy, old-fashioned fogey), I’ll also find out what the very latest upgrades are, to upgrade my upgrade to increase the power output of my upgrade(E-motor). Yup! I can visualize myself joining pacelines of young, progressive whippersnappers all doing at least 45 mph+ on our EBikes, wasting no time in arriving at the next Beer stop. Yup! Doesn’t that sound like a REAL RAGBRAI, to you? Yup! See Ya There.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Bob Amlie.


mootsman, December 13, 2018 at 3:37 pm

No need to wait as I’ve seen several versions where out of the box the wheel is limited to 20 mph but the smart phone app let’s you change the default to the max for the wheel. Several were 30+ mph and the cost was only about $200. Those were for a 26″ mountain bike wheel. But with road tires they really fly along.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.


LawnchairMan, December 14, 2018 at 12:38 am

TJ, Thank you for finally chiming in. I am disappointed that you side with the e-bikes, but you are entitled to your opinion. I am one of those who think Ragbrai is supposed to be purely a physical challenge as it started.

There is one aspect of this issue that you did not address: should e-bikers receive a patch? Or could Ragbrai issue two patches, one for e-bikers and one for cyclists? That way we could all be recognized for the amount of effort put in.


LawnchairMan, December 14, 2018 at 12:44 am

Just had a thought, would anyone riding an e-bike do the extra loops? The point of the Karras loop is to see if you have the power to ride one hundred miles. Does an e-biker deserve a Karras loop patch?


LawnchairMan, December 14, 2018 at 12:51 am

I don’t mind people riding a few days of the week, but there again they shouldn’t get a patch that says they did the whole ride. The year I crashed I didn’t do the whole ride, so I didn’t claim my patch.


mootsman, December 14, 2018 at 9:21 am

TJ’s E-bike experience is not indicative of all E-bikes. You can convert a road bike to an E-Bike by buying the motorized wheel for only $200. And those can go up to 30 mph. And everyone including the RAGBRAI directors are well aware of the amount of drinking on the route some choose to engage in. Mixing motorized bicycles and drinking, what could possibly go wrong?

If innocent riders get mowed down and injured by drunk E-bikes traveling at higher speeds, no doubt lawsuits will follow. And the lawyers will use the release of liability we sign as they use Charmin if RAGBRAI allows motors that can propel riders up to 30 mph. That since the directors are well aware of the drinking. Lawyers always look for the deepest pockets to sue which will be the Register if E-Bikes are allowed. Depending on the outcome of those lawsuits the Register could in short order put an end to RAGBRAI. That’s why I hope the RAGBRAI directors decide to run this E-bike decision past the Register’s legal team including the fact that they can go well over 20 mph. Right now about 30 mph but they should not count on that being the limit in the future either.

Yes, plenty of E-bikes are still in RAGBRAI’s future with pirates and others just ignoring the rule. But if they are not allowed to register officially, then I think the Register gets off the hook.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.


mootsman, December 14, 2018 at 11:50 am

Actually even more important than the Register’s legal team, the insurance company that covers RAGBRAI would need to update the policy (premiums or just say yes or no).

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by mootsman.


Bob Amlie, December 14, 2018 at 12:41 pm

I’ve been reading up about the subject of EBike proliferation, online. One article stated that as EBike usage had greatly increased in the Netherlands, accidents involving bicycle-type vehicles had also had a very significant increase. Yup. In I-o-way, they use sayings to summarize, so here’s a few: Why take a wait-and-see approach, to the EBike issue? I believe it is opening a Pandoras’ Box to okay their use; it’s not easy to put the genie back in the bottle. Visualize this: the State Patrolmen, standing out there in the heat, with radar guns, to monitor the excessive speeds of cyclists on their supposed 20-mph EBikes. Basiclly, that would be problematic & a burden to enforce. Also, the expense of more Ambulances, to attend to crash victims. Even if you aren’t speeding on one, enabling a person to participate on an EBike, because they are too frail or lack conditioning to self-power, may lead to an increase in injuries. With all due respect, someone who is 70 or 80 or 90, with thinning bones, probably should not be out there in the heat with 10,000 other riders, on an EBike. Their bodies may not be crashworthy. Nope. Pandoras’ Box, folks.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Bob Amlie.


Bob Amlie, December 14, 2018 at 12:59 pm

Allowing EBikes equals opening a can o’ worms. Even without EBikes, the ride was full to the max with Participants, self-powering. So, if it wasn’t broke to begin with, why are they fixing it, by accommodating EBikes? Yup.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Bob Amlie.


Chad Frana, December 14, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Stay home BOB. Stay home. You’ll be safe there!!


Bob Amlie, December 14, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Stay home BOB. Stay home. You’ll be safe there!!

Well, this is a pretty typical response to the reasoned arguments against allowing EBikes. It does demonstrate the mentality of those who don’t seem to care what happens on RAGBRAI. Good Luck with that , young fella; You’ll need it! Yup.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Bob Amlie.


Chad Frana, December 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Last post on this topic…
E-bikes legal in Iowa
Electric bikes going over 20mph not legal on roads as bicycle.
Ragbrai on public roads.
Ragbrai HQ welcomes e-bikes.
Beating a dead horse on this one. Or an e-bike with a dead battery. Take your pick, you are not going anywhere.


Bob Amlie, December 14, 2018 at 3:52 pm

So, Chad—Tell us your story. What initially caused your dependence on EBikes, anyway? Did The Law leave you with EBikes as your only option in motor vehicles? Or what? Enlighten us with your perspective, please.

This reply was modified 1 year, 11 months ago by Bob Amlie.


dukester, December 14, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Don’t know about Chad but I’m riding an e-bike in my sixth RAGBRAI because it’s easier and more fun. I said “easier,” not easy. Dave Tolnai, a Canadian cyclist, wrote a review this week of his e-bike experience, and said,

“if you’re a somewhat fit cyclist, your speed on flats will not be much greater than what it would be on a regular bike. At times, I found myself getting dropped by fit guys on road bikes.”


So, Bob and Mootsman, the bike has left the barn. The dystopia you fear does not exist.


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