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

Luv 2 Ski, January 30, 2019 at 8:20 pm

I recommend that everyone give up this thread. Go ride your bike, go to bed with your partner, read a book, go out to a good restaurant and have your favorite dinner, paint a portrait or jam on your favorite instrument to name a few. Anything but continuing this thread that has nowhere to go. I think most would agree that everything that needs to be said has been said. In the end, you are either Ok with ebike’s or you are not. Nothing more nothing less.

#1299020

KenH, January 31, 2019 at 8:23 am

Jason, I am an electrical engineer. I have long experience with Lithium batteries. I worked in the automotive industry for many years so I understand all manner of transportation systems well. I realize that there are many different Lithium chemistries out there but my earlier post was neither wrong nor misleading because it was addressed to the types of batteries commonly used in ebikes, Teslas, and many other consumer devices. We were discussing two known failures of such devices and there have been many others reported in the media over the years so I was not being alarmist, I was just discussing the facts and giving an engineering opinion on how a consumer could reduce the effects of a failure, if one should occur. I personally had two lithium batteries fail on me last year if you want to know, which is unusual because I have never personally had one fail before.

I have known about pedal assist for almost a decade. There is no need for me to study it further. I neither fear nor hate it. But I also pay attention to social trends and I am quite familiar with the history of technology and the rate at which it is adopted. I correctly reported a move in the Iowa legislature to declare electric scooters to be allowed anywhere bicycles are and I gave you the information on how you can hear the same information I heard, if that is not too much trouble for you. EV technology is an exciting technology that appears to be on the cusp of exploding into the consumer marketplace in ways that are difficult to predict.

I generally support EV technology in all its expressions but I also fully support the notion that RAGBRAI is fundamentally a human powered event and that there is great value in maintaining and defending that heritage. I don’t oppose the use of ebikes by those who need them as long as they do not take over the ride. But both technological and legislative trends are working to threaten exactly that and the current position of the RAGBRAI team is an inadequate defense in the face of the most likely medium term developments. As I have said the current RAGBRAI position is appropriate to the existing conditions but the situation is fluid and I hope RAGBRAI’s leadership team is keeping a close eye on developments. The podcast that I referred you to suggests that they are in fact doing that and depending on how you interpret what you hear on it they may be starting have some of the same reservations as I have.

#1299031

Jason Stoller, January 31, 2019 at 11:13 am

[quote quote=1299031]Jason, I am an electrical engineer. I have long experience with Lithium batteries. I worked in the automotive industry for many years so I understand all manner of transportation systems well. I realize that there are many different Lithium chemistries out there but my earlier post was neither wrong nor misleading because it was addressed to the types of batteries commonly used in ebikes, Teslas, and many other consumer devices. We were discussing two known failures of such devices and there have been many others reported in the media over the years so I was not being alarmist, I was just discussing the facts and giving an engineering opinion on how a consumer could reduce the effects of a failure, if one should occur. I personally had two lithium batteries fail on me last year if you want to know, which is unusual because I have never personally had one fail before.

I have known about pedal assist for almost a decade. There is no need for me to study it further. I neither fear nor hate it. But I also pay attention to social trends and I am quite familiar with the history of technology and the rate at which it is adopted. I correctly reported a move in the Iowa legislature to declare electric scooters to be allowed anywhere bicycles are and I gave you the information on how you can hear the same information I heard, if that is not too much trouble for you. EV technology is an exciting technology that appears to be on the cusp of exploding into the consumer marketplace in ways that are difficult to predict.

I generally support EV technology in all its expressions but I also fully support the notion that RAGBRAI is fundamentally a human powered event and that there is great value in maintaining and defending that heritage. I don’t oppose the use of ebikes by those who need them as long as they do not take over the ride. But both technological and legislative trends are working to threaten exactly that and the current position of the RAGBRAI team is an inadequate defense in the face of the most likely medium term developments. As I have said the current RAGBRAI position is appropriate to the existing conditions but the situation is fluid and I hope RAGBRAI’s leadership team is keeping a close eye on developments. The podcast that I referred you to suggests that they are in fact doing that and depending on how you interpret what you hear on it they may be starting have some of the same reservations as I have.[/quote]

Ken, having a title and being aware of something is not the same as owning and actually building something. With all do respect I have worked and helped maintain many aircraft but that does not make me a pilot, a flight engineer, or an air traffic controller. Yet I am certainly familiar with them all and can present intelligent information on each.

Even though you assert you are an electrical engineer with an automotive background, you are still lumping Lithium battery chemistries together when as an engineer should be specific because you should be aware chemistries vary and some are more dangerous and flammable than others.

As a Gentleman, this is my second polite request and strong suggestion that you drop this. I can assure you I will not be responding to you or anyone else in this post again.

You really shouldn’t confuse a title and speculations one makes about an object with the actual real experience of building, owning, and operating an object. Theory and Reality have shown themselves to be different on many occasions.

Have a nice day!

Jason

#1299048

mcpartla, February 1, 2019 at 6:48 am

wow … 289 replies as I view this Feb. 1 … lot of people interested. People choose e-bikes for a variety of reasons … health, disparity in abilities, fun. Same as you might choose the kind of bicycle you want to ride. Do you pick the heaviest bicycle or the lightest? Is it an unfair advantage to have a lighter bike or an e-bike? E-bikers have been accused of “cheating” … ha ha … cheating Father Time in my case. Friends on e-bikes tell me they would not be biking with the group without an e-bike and maybe not bicycling at all. Enjoy and have fun!

#1299094

Richard Arnopolin, February 20, 2019 at 6:51 pm

This will be my 6th RAGBRAI. The previous five were ridden on a Terra Tour (20″ rear) trike. Its a great time, very comfortable, but extremely slow; especially on hills. The last 4 tours I finished later than I would like to. It seemed I left at 6:30am, finished around 5pm, cleaned up, ate then went to sleep. While I am long gone from party days, it would be nice to see the apres ride aspect of RAGBRAI. So this year will be my first on a Catrike 559 with power assist. I hope to raise my average speed and finish earlier in the day. An electric assist still need to be pedaled. The battery and wheel are heavy, and the magnets in the motor create a drag slowing the bike/trike down. I bought a unit that theoretically will run for 85 miles IN IDEAL CONDITIONS. Others will become anchors much sooner. I don’t know why it matters to the non electrified ridership one way or another. See you in the pie line.

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Richard Arnopolin, February 20, 2019 at 6:56 pm

Its a ride, not a race. Is it an unfair advantage to who? I think its an unfair advantage that college age riders with their twenty something hearts and lungs are “competing” with us old fat farts! See you on the climbs….have fun!

#1299952

jayteeme, February 22, 2019 at 12:51 am

One of the girls on my team had a baby and wasn’t able to ride all year. She rented an e-bike and came and joined us on RAGBRAI for a couple of days. It was awesome to see my friend again!

There are people who think she shouldn’t have been able to do this? Who was harmed? There’s no way she would have been able to pedal the day and sitting at camp waiting for us to come in is not the same thing.

#1300009

mcpartla, February 22, 2019 at 3:23 am

We’ll miss you?

#1300011

mcpartla, February 22, 2019 at 3:40 am

“Amount of effort put in” depends on the weight of the rider and the bike. Why is it considered to be an unfair advantage if a rider chooses an e-bike but not if a lighter bike? For example riding a 14 lb road Bike is a whole lot easier than 25 lbs or more. A younger fit cyclist has a tremendous advantage over a senior over weight rider too but the senior probably puts in more effort on the same ride.

#1300012

mcpartla, February 22, 2019 at 3:56 am

Your analysis can easily be applied to light racing style bicycles which exist in significant numbers. Some of these riders exhibit the same characteristics … weaving in and out, going faster than the average …

#1300013

mcpartla, February 22, 2019 at 4:05 am

Au contraire but many e-bike batteries last 70 and even 100 miles today … Trek CrossRip rated for 70 to 75 miles and recharges in two hours … and nothing says I can’t carry the recharger with me and plug in to any convenient 110 outlet along the way. I can even turn the e off and pedal as a regular bike and save the juice for when I need it. Gets hot or gets windy or hilly justboost the power to Turbo! I have severe heart disease and COPD and an artificial knee but you wouldn’t know it looking at me especially when on a bike. But I promise to use care when passing and Ride Right The Ragbrai way.

#1300014

mootsman, February 22, 2019 at 8:42 am

All the recent posts in the last few days have been covered multiple times in the prior 290+ posts. So re-awakening this topic, sort of a waste of time at this point. No one is changing anyone else’s mind anyway. It seems to be about arguing for arguments sake.

TJ has already cleared this up although there is a gray area left. TJ experienced a class-1 e-bike which is allowed. He said those are fine. Iowa law allows both class-1 and class-2 ebikes to follow the laws for bicycles. The gray area for RAGBRAI is if they will allow Class-2 ebikes.

Class-1 — electric assist only, has to be pedaled to work. Motor assist cuts out at 20mph.
Class-2 — Same as class 1 but pedaling not required. Adds a throttle.
Class-3 — Same as class 2 but motor doesn’t cut out until 28mph. Must follow moped/motorcycle laws in Iowa.
Class-4 — Same as class 3 but speeds above 28mph, some are way above.

For those discussing the claims that its cheating its not about the speed. The cheating claim that is. It is about the idea that RAGBRAI is a bicycle tour (not an e-bike tour). And that means self powered all the way across Iowa. Very true that the motor assist opens up RAGBRAI to riders that would have issues otherwise. I think that’s a good thing. The discussion is about where to draw that line. There are an infinite number of activities that require certain natural abilities that some unfortunately do not have. How much accommodation is too much accommodation and changes the nature of the event. But this is a dead topic for RAGBRAI, class-1s are in.

#1300019

David C., February 22, 2019 at 9:17 am

What is your citation for the proposition that Class 3 devices must follow moped laws in Iowa? If you have one, other than People for Bikes, which doesn’t cite anything either, I’d be interested. I’ve not seen a case, statute, or administrative code reference that states this to be the case. And I consider a speed pedelec without a throttle to be a bicycle.

#1300023

Ken Reed, February 22, 2019 at 10:51 am

I’m seeing words like “advantage”, “disadvantage” and “cheating” used in this tread like they are talking about the Tour de France. The only competition on RAGBRAI is against yourself. RAGBRAI is what you make of it. You get there when you get there. Seriously, this thread needs to die already.

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