Monthly Archives: July 2010

The East Coast Greenway

There is a bike path in the works that will travel through Philadelphia. Where does it go, you ask? If you take a left, you’ll end up at the Canadian border. Take a right, and you’ll eventually find yourslf in Key West, Florida.

This is the East Coast Greenway, a project to connect existing bicycle paths and create new ones so that there is a continuous, car-free route all the way down the length of the East Coast of the US. Once it’s completed, this will be a great way to make long distance bike touring safer and more convenient  for more people.  Such a route could also be utilized by people who split their time between a job in one city and home in another.

If there is a concert or attraction in New York City, Baltimore, or Washington DC, Philadelphia users could jump on the Greenway and make it into a weekend of stress-free bike travel.

Of course, the Greenway is still far from complete, as the current route utilizes roadways for 76% of its length, while bike paths comprise the remaining 24%. The East Coast Greenway Alliance is working hard to get more bike paths built and are always looking for support. Check their support page to find out ways that you can help make a car-free Greenway a reality.

Sanyo Eneloop: In-Depth

Today we’re going to take a close look a Sanyo’s Eneloop electric bike and highlight some of its unique and innovative features. Sanyo is one of the leaders in the world of rechargable batteries and have engineered the Eneloop bike around a remarkably light and compact lithium-ion battery pack.

The bike also features regenerative braking, an integrated lighting system, and an easy-to-use control panel on the handlebar. Like the Trek Ride+ bikes, Sanyo  relies on a torque sensor which is used to apply a level of assist proportional to the rider’s effort. If you pedal softly, the motor will provide just a bit of power. When you really push hard, the motor will respond with a surge of power to get you up to speed quickly. The assist is controlled by a handlebar-mounted panel that simple and easy to read.

The panel includes a power switch, battery power guage, assist mode selector, and light switch.

The electric power is delivered in three modes: automatic, standard, and power-up. Standard provides a moderate level of assistance, Power-up offers more power (go figure), and automatic chooses the amount of power to use based on the rider’s pedaling effort.

The lighting system includes a bright headlight and taillight that draw power from the battery. The lights can be toggled on or off while riding, and the taillight automatically switches to an extra-visible flashing pattern while the brakes are activated to alert other road users that the rider is slowing down. The motor also switches into regenerative mode when the brake is on, adding some additional charge to the battery and help slow the bike.

The design of the bike itself is modeled after the ultra-practical European city bike with an easy step-through frame, upright handlebars, and a comfortable seat. There is also a three-speed internal-gear hub, sturdy stainless steel rear rack, metal fenders and a bell.

We have the Eneloop bike in stock here at PHEW, and as always we offer free guided test rides to give you an idea of what the bike can do. Come by anytime and we’d be glad to help you out.

Trek’s Electric Cargo Bike

Last week I wrote about Trek’s Ride+ Bikes and looked in detail about their Bionx motor and controller system. Trek has also recently announced their electric-assist cargo bike, the Transport+.

The Transport+ is what’s called a ‘longtail’ cargo bike, namely because the rear of the frame has been extended to allow extra space for side-mounted loading platforms and tough nylon bags to contain whatever cargo you can fit on the bike.

This design is very similar to XtraCycle, who has been making longtail conversion kits for some years now and recently teamed up with bike manufacturer Surly to create the Big Dummy cargo bike. The Big Dummy is similar in design to the Transport+ (minus the electric assist, of course) and you can get an idea of what’s possible with this type of design by looking at the wealth of pictures of loaded cargo bikes taken by pround owners.

from commutebybike

from Surly’s blog

The sky is the limit with this cargo bike design- they have  a big carrying capacity, and their design handles just like a regular bike, only longer. Because the bike is so long, the weight is closer to the bike’s center of gravity, which translates into hassle-free handling. The added bonus of the electric assist system means that you can get to your destination quickly and easily while loaded down. Suddenly those short car trips to the grocery store or Home Depot don’t seem to make sense!

The Transport plus also comes with an integrated front and rear lighting system, front disc and rear v-brake for reliable, strong stopping power, and a nifty front porteur-style platform rack.

The bike is slated to arrive at dealers in the fall, and price should fall within range of Trek’s current Ride+ offerings. We are really looking forward to this bike at PHEW and will be sure to let you know when we have one in the store available to demo.

Trek Ride+ In Depth

Back in March, we announced that we would carry Trek’s Ride+ line of electric-assist bikes. In the last few months, the Ride+ bikes have proven themselves a consistent favorite among our customers and staff, with good reason. Trek bases their line on established standard bikes like the Valencia, FX and 7200 models, then adds a Bionx-built rear-wheel motor, controller, and battery. This electric system has many distinguishing features, the most apparent being the user interface.

The system uses a handlebar-mounted LCD console that displays assist level, battery reserves, power meter, speed, and odometer. The rider can adjust the level of assistance on the fly by pressing the plus or minus button. This proves to be a handy feature since there are four levels of assistance, from a slight push to a powerful thrust that whisks you up hills or up to speed from a stop. Power is delivered smoothly and silently, with the motor’s torque sensor detecting the rider’s power output and multiplying it with electric assist. If you pedal softly, the motor will sense this and add just a bit of power. If you sprint and push hard, the motor responds and adds a healthy dose of power. The key word here is smooth– this system is really second to none in perfectly-modulated power delivery.

The Ride+ system also sports a very cool power-generating mode. The rider can select one of four modes that generates power through resistance, allowing you to put some power back into the battery and extend your range! This comes in handy on long or steep downhills where the rider can select a generating mode, whose resistance allows the rider to maintain or even decrease speed while the motor generates power.

In addition to the rider-selected power-generating mode, these systems also offer regenerative braking, which automatically activates the motor generator when the rider uses the brakes. The added resistance of the generator helps bring the bike to a stop faster, as well as adding around ten percent to the range of each battery charge. When the brake lever is released, the motor seamlessly switches back to pedal-assist mode.

If this all sounds complicated, I assure you it is not. The user interface is simple, clear, and intuitive, and requires nothing of the rider aside from switching it on and selecting assist level.

Aside from all of these great features, the system also uses a Lithium-Ion battery pack, with light weight and long battery life being the most important hallmarks of this cutting-edge battery technology. The battery mounts atop a special rear cargo rack and features a large, bright integrated tail light that, along with a powerful headlight, can be switched on from the console on the handlebar.

The bikes all feature a wide range of gears, between 24 and 27 gears depending on the model. The shifters and derailleurs are all reliable, high-quality pieces made by Shimano. The 7200+ and FX+ both feature strong V-type brakes, while the Valencia+ has disc brakes that provide reliable all-weather performance.

We currently have demos of all three models at the shop ready to ride, so satisfy your curiosity with a free guided test ride that will show you what these bikes can do. We guarantee these bikes will put a smile on your face.

Bike Philly: Dreams of a Car-Free Philadelphia

I think that all bicyclists have at one time or another wished that there were no cars to contend with on the street and they could freely cruise the streets without fear of getting intimidated, harassed, or stuck in car traffic.

Fortunately Philly area cyclists can indulge in their car-free fantasies with Bike Philly, where riders get to cruise on a set course through Center City and Fairmount park completely free of cars. This year Bike Philly is September 12, registration on the Bike Philly site. There will be mechanics on hand to help with any technical difficulties, snack stations along the way, and most importantly, the option of either ten or twenty miles of fully car-free riding.