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

Bob Amlie, December 4, 2018 at 2:55 pm

O-Kay. Since you want to play word games, I’ll just say that Everything Is Political. After all, you are the one who started place-dropping “Portland” into the discussion, as though it’s a model for trying to redefine RABRAI & and; asserting that RAGBRAI must “evolve”, So, it is you that politicized the discussion. As far as participants on the rides in the past using alternatives to self-powered bicycle, there are seriously handicapped people doing the ride with arm-powered recumbents. There are those who jog or skate or ride unicycle. But see—they are choosing a way that is a real challenge, and a remarkeable accomplishment. . What the anything-goes-people equal-outcome are wanting is to allow the dumbing-down of RAGBRAI by the use of EBIKES. I guess are there to eat, drink, and be merry & and “the sense of community”. But, I don’t feel a sense of community with people–posers– who take the easy way, by riding Electric scooters(or EBike whatever word you choose to describe them) Whether they are defined as bicycles by state law, matters not. It is bad public policy, anyway. What is relevant to the discussion about RAGBRAI is that They are not self-powered. The annual ride is already pretty crowded. You know it is. So, if RAGBRAI is also accessible to more less-than-fit people come just to party & eat, like it’s just a huge consumer festival, like Mardi Gras or Burning Man, because they can just ride an EBike, and not worry about being fit. They are not real bicycling enthusiasts. Well, I’d bet then you’ll seeing problems like they never had before. I’m not insisting that no one should buy an EBike,to use as an urban commuter vehicle & in certain envirnments. just like I don’t insist that no one should ride one of those electric carts around in the store. It’s just that they don’t belong on RAGBRAI. I don’t want that kind of progress. See?

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Bob Amlie.

#1297078

Portland Cyclist PDX, December 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm

Wow. I politicized this? I mean seriously? That is not only incredibly bad deduction but disingenuous. I brought up Portland because there may be more electric bikes among cyclists here than anywhere else in the nation, since Portland has the nation’s highest bicycle mode share of any major city and e-bikes are everywhere here. We have empirical evidence here that mixing cyclists and e-bike users (at rates FAR higher than at RAGBRAI) in the same paths has not caused disruption. I bike commute every day among e-bike users. It was a completely relevant and logical tangent. You jumped in by making a direct political comment (“lefty”), and then went on a rant about how you view Portland as an immoral place (extremely laughable notion for anyone who lives here or has visited).

As far as RAGBRAI evolving, what do you call the addition of recumbents, tandems, unicyclists, skateboarders, those “bikes” powered by up to 10 people, Pork Belly Ventures and other similar services? Of course it’s evolving whether you or I like it or not. That, too, is self-evident.

What this comes down to, based on your last response, is that you view people who may have some sort of disability and ride ebikes as “posers” because they’re not challenging themselves enough. To me, that’s an incredibly insensitive comment. Neither of us have any clue as to the hardships some people experience. Not everyone with a disability can use an arm-powered bike, and not everyone with a disability should be forced to in order to participate in RAGBRAI. I don’t see any issue with the two of us riding RAGBRAI on traditional bikes, and being proud of a hard day’s work, and someone who used a pedal-assisted bike who may feel equally accomplished based on their confidence in their own capacity to ride. I don’t see why the latter does, and should, bother you so much. We can all be happy and share a beer at the end of the day!

Looks like we will agree to disagree on this one.

#1297092

Bob Amlie, December 4, 2018 at 4:55 pm

Like, Wow!( Cough, cough). Portland, Schmortland. As I said, Portland is your model for The Way Things Out to Be. Disingenuous? Look it up, before you use it, next time. I’m absolutely sincere, and truthful to the best of my knowledge. More Portland–speak: shaming language, such as “insensitive”. You are very disrecpectful of someone who doesn’t share your views about absolute equality. . But, I’m almost thinking you are a writer for the show: “Portlandia”, just trolling this forum for fun. So, we’ll let it go with a chuckle. I guess I must reinterate for your benefit that the huge difference between Equality bikes and those other means are: ” self-powered”. Powered by the rider, and only the rider(s). That’s the difference. Now, do you see? But, yes—I think the people who can’t arrive and set up their own tents are peculiar. I don’t share “a sense of community” with them, either. Just for fun, I may ride my 1986 Schwinn Passage with a “bagger” setup, if you don’t mind. Just to see if I can still do it. I expect to see you there—you’ll probably be riding the Equality Bike, Portland-Style(In the buff). Ha.

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Bob Amlie.

#1297094

Portland Cyclist PDX, December 4, 2018 at 5:40 pm

First of all, we’re talking about equity not equality. This is about access to cycling for people who want to participate at RAGBRAI but may not have the physical capacity to use a traditional bike.

Second, can we PLEASE move past your fixation with Portland? I merely mentioned the city I live in and my experience with e-bikes here, and you turned it into an obsession. You have such a warped view of the 2.1 million inhabitants of the Portland metro, and I don’t even know how to respond to some of those stereotypes you just threw out. And, your tangent is completely unrelated to the subject at hand.

Finally, if you want to be a bagger go for it! That’s exactly what I did this last RAGBRAI, and I had a blast 🙂

#1297100

Groeny82, December 4, 2018 at 6:21 pm

No matter what side of the argument you are on I think it is something that RAGBRAI will have to address at some point. As technology advances, access increases, cost decreases, and popularity rises in the e-bike it won’t be long until e-bikes can go long distances on a single battery without any pedaling required, or some entrepreneur will set up a battery exchange stand half way through the day’s ride to give the e-bikers a fresh battery. Is it still considered a bicycle if it has pedals but you don’t necessarily have to use them? An old Puch moped has pedals and can be ridden as a bicycle and there is a model with 1 horsepower, where does that fall into the equation? Is that technically a bicycle under Iowa law? If so maybe I will have to find one for this upcoming RAGBRAI to make it a whole lot easier on myself. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t necessarily have a problem with people using them on the ride if they have a legitimate reason to use them, but I see the point of both sides of the argument. Having people enjoy RAGBRAI that normally wouldn’t be able to is always a good thing, but where do you draw the line with what is acceptable and what isn’t? At least the runners, unicycles, skateboarders, roller bladers, recumbents, etc are all doing it 100% human powered. I don’t know what the right answer is but I wouldn’t be surprised if RAGBRAI is working on a solution, especially after the reactions to this thread. Oh, and I just registered so I’ll see everyone at the end of July. Thumbs up let’s do this!

#1297102

Low Rider, December 4, 2018 at 7:32 pm

. . just like I don’t insist that no one should ride one of those electric carts around in the store. It’s just that they don’t belong on RAGBRAI. I don’t want that kind of progress. See?

. . . But, yes—I think the people who can’t arrive and set up their own tents are peculiar. I don’t share “a sense of community” with them, either. . . .

I’m not sure why my use of an electric cart is a RAGBRAI disqualifier. While I can push my wheelchair around in a store, I can’t use a standard shopping cart. The electric cart has a basket for my purchases. As I reflect on my 6 previous RAGBRAI’s, which I did with no electronic attachments except for my garmin and gopro, I’m not sure how the tools I use for grocery shopping has any bearing on going end to end along the RAGBRAI route.

The other wheelchair users I have met on RAGBRAI are fairly secure in their emotional development and would probably join me in saying that we could give the exiting end of a rat’s alimentary canal that people find us “peculiar” because of some difficulty in traversing uneven terrain and setting up a tent. I’m not inclined to use stereotypes to prejudge with whom I will “share “a sense of community””. On the other hand there are plenty of folks with whom I won’t “share “a sense of community””. so the fact you have prejudices just means you have self selected into that group. No way to know which one of us is the worse off as a result.

I have heard T.J. talk about eBikes at the 2017 National Bicycle Tourism Conference. That makes this thread a fun read.

#1297104

Bob Amlie, December 4, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Well, then—why not just ride your electric grocery cart on RAGBRAI, then? Maybe you can start a trend. Adherents to your movement can subsequently topple the statues of Kaul & Karras & Pickard(if there are any)to obliviate their legacy, and rename the ride: “The Great Electric Vehicle Ride Across Iowa”. Then, it will be all-inclusive of the least-able people. How do you like that? Does that give you a warm fuzzy feeling? Sounds like it’s what you kids expect, in order to achieve Equality.

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by Bob Amlie.

#1297107

mootsman, December 4, 2018 at 9:26 pm

Bob & the like minded, you’re just feeding web trolls at this point. Most haven’t even ridden RAGBRAI if you look at their posts. 1 says he wants 500 miles and 16,000 feet but obviously doesn’t know that many RAGBRAIs have had over 16,000 feet of climbing. My first had 22,000+. And many with the loops get close to and some even over 500 miles. Another person posting says being against Ebikes is not in the spirit of RAGBRAI when we all all know the opposite is true. And others say RAGBRAI is anything you want it to be even though we all know its a bicycle tour. Don’t waste your time on them. Away with the trolls, go back under your bridges.

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by mootsman.

#1297110

Bob Amlie, December 4, 2018 at 9:29 pm

That’s what I suspected, Moot. But, I just had to have the last word on the subject. But, with Trolls, you can’t. Ha.

#1297112

mootsman, December 4, 2018 at 9:34 pm

Yes, they always need to get a parting shot in.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of bicycle
: a vehicle with two wheels tandem, handlebars for steering, a saddle seat, and pedals by which it is propelled

This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by mootsman.

#1297113

jelly0317, December 4, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Why don’t you two get a room?

#1297115

Cory Rood, December 5, 2018 at 6:03 am

Bob & the like minded, you’re just feeding web trolls at this point. Most haven’t even ridden RAGBRAI if you look at their posts. 1 says he wants 500 miles and 16,000 feet but obviously doesn’t know that many RAGBRAIs have had over 16,000 feet of climbing. My first had 22,000+. And many with the loops get close to and some even over 500 miles. Another person posting says being against Ebikes is not in the spirit of RAGBRAI when we all all know the opposite is true. And others say RAGBRAI is anything you want it to be even though we all know its a bicycle tour. Don’t waste your time on them. Away with the trolls, go back under your bridges.

I am well aware that there have been rides that have been over those totals. but it has been almost 20 years since the ride has pushed over 500 miles. Did I ever say there hasn’t been RAGBRAI’s over 500 miles/16,000ft?

Yes, they always need to get a parting shot in.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of bicycle
: a vehicle with two wheels tandem, handlebars for steering, a saddle seat, and pedals by which it is propelled

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/bikes/electric-bikes/domane/domane/p/24672/?colorCode=black_red

Please tell me how this bike does not fit YOUR description of a bicycle?
Two wheels? Yup
Handlebars for steering? Yup
A seat? Yup
Pedals by which it is propelled? Yup

#1297117

francoisvanzyl, December 5, 2018 at 10:30 am

My claim to fame — I chased, caught and dropped a guy on an ebike going up a mile long hill the other day. Not a big hill and it was a big ole guy so that little motor had to work. I was very impressed with myself and he and I had a good laugh about it. Ride what you want as long as you have fun and it does not endanger anybody.

#1297122

dalebob, December 5, 2018 at 10:57 am

A few years ago I rode the Big Bam, Missouri’s first organized cross state week long bike ride. It was set up using the RAGBRAI model and was by most accounts a success. I wanted to experience a ride that hearkened back to the early RAGBRAI years, namely smaller crowds and riding through towns that had never seen a bunch of crazy bicyclists riding out on the road. While there were many memorable events along the way, one I was not prepared for was finding myself basically alone on the route for miles at a time. Well, not exactly alone. There was always the truck traffic in both directions, and along with non-existent shoulders this made for some harrowing riding. My point? On RAGBRAI, we are such a force that, at least for that moment in time, we own the road. And by effect, we create a space for all manner of human powered propulsion to ride with us. Imagine the guys on skateboards out there by themselves on a July day. Or the virgins, or the youngsters riding with their parents, or that guy on the high-wheeler, or the strider riders, or that triple recumbent banana bike. They would be terribly out of place out on the highway with car and truck traffic whizzing by, yelling at them to get the @#$% off the road. Technically, some of those I just described are not legal to ride on the road, but as I said, we create space for them when we register and ride this rolling monster called RAGBRAI. So where does that leave us in regards to e-assist bikes? Personally, I believe they will dovetail in and be one more interesting object of curiosity amongst the throng of curiosities. The one argument I am most challenged by is the Karras loop. That to me is an extra effort, one that most do not attempt. Those that do earn respect and bragging rights and that patch as proof. It is not for me to say who can and who can’t, but of all the issues raised here this seems to me to be the most problematic.

#1297124

Low Rider, December 5, 2018 at 11:38 am

Well, then—why not just ride your electric grocery cart on RAGBRAI, then? Maybe you can start a trend. Adherents to your movement can subsequently topple the statues of Kaul & Karras & Pickard(if there are any)to obliviate [sic] their legacy, and rename the ride: “The Great Electric Vehicle Ride Across Iowa”. Then, it will be all-inclusive of the least-able people. How do you like that? Does that give you a warm fuzzy feeling? Sounds like it’s what you kids expect, in order to achieve Equality.

I prefer my personal RAGBRAI’s to be human powered. For my 6 previous RAGBRAI’s, on my team, all the riders used exclusively human powered rigs. People with visible physical deficits will be part of RAGBRAI despite and in spite of people with the invisible deficits of prejudices. Those of us with the visible differences pity and pray for people with prejudices. The deficit of prejudice is much more debilitating than any physical deficit. Sorry my human powered RAGBRAI participation offends you (as you have confessed), but not so much I won’t enjoy my next one. We will both have to live with your confessed prejudices.

#1297125

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