Monthly Archives: May 2012

Why is everybody so excited about e-bikes this year?

It seems every bike maker is excited about this e-bikes this year.  At PHEW!, we started the year by bringing the Stromer to our showroom – an e-bike with the  battery placed inside the frame.

Earlier this spring, Specialized released this video of their electric bike, which also has the battery positioned inside the frame, a feature I like.  Digital displays also seem to be the trend, showing not only how fast you are going but also how much charge is left in the battery.  Similar to the BionX system, most new digital displays also let you change some settings on your bike. For some of us, this is fun. As a bike mechanic, I like the fact that these new e-bikes can connect to a computer for diagnostics, update the software and fine tune each bike’s action for the rider.

I know, I can just hear you saying we’ve made a simple bike too complicated. But I look at Apple and see how they’ve made sophisticated devices very reliable and simple to use for everyone.  Yes, Apple products are a little more expensive to buy but they keep their value and these days, everyone wants to have an iPod,  iPhone or iPad.

When people walk into our shop, one look at the Stromer and they’re in love. On Saturdays, when we are the busiest, we need to keep the Stromer in the back, otherwise I would be out providing escorted rides on the Stromer all day long!

Ideally, the next generation of e-bikes would have a battery hidden in the frame, making the bike look smart & also keep the electronics water-tite.

They would also have more advanced battery management hardware & software, to give more charges per battery, longer travel distance per charge and a more accurate reading of the battery capacity while riding.

Other features on our wish list are a simple on/off switch, more control over how much assist is offered, a quick transition between the throttle & pedal-assist modes, and a regenerative option to assist doing downhill & extend the range.

Even Trek is re-vamping their e-bike design. Check out the Trek Phase, their high performance e-bike.  And stay tuned for some snazzy looking e-bikes…

The bike maps are here! The bike maps are here!

Thanks to the Bicycle Coalition, we have a stack of the 2012 Philadelphia Bicycle Maps published by the MOTU (Mayor’s Office of Transportation & Utilities).

You’ll find the new map chockful of tips – Rules of the Road, Safety Tips, a section on In Case of Theft or Accident, Tips on Bike Parking, and using Bikes on Transit.

We particularly like the suggestion to contact your local bike shop with photo & serial number if your bike is stolen – having successfully reunited bikes & owners in the past.

The inset for the Wissahickon – Manayunk Bike Trail is great for those that haven’t yet figured out how to get from Forbidden Drive to Kelly Drive.

About the only feature missing is the Transit Map, which was on the flip side of the 2009 Bike & Transit Map, that we’re constantly reviewing with customers to suggest a Bike + Transit mix.

So, stop by and pick up your free copy… the bike maps are here!

Join us at the Ride of Silence

Tomorrow, the 3rd Wednesday in May, join us for the 10th annual Ride of Silence.  Our shop will close earlier, by 4pm, to participate in this ride.

This evening, at hundreds of locations across the world, cyclists will join in a silent slow-paced ride in honor of cyclists injured or killed in motor vehicle-related accidents, and to raise awareness about the rights of cyclists on public roads.

This is the 7th Ride of Silence in Philadelphia and about 500 riders are expected for the 8 mile ride.

Please join us 6:45pm at the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum on Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Helmets & lights are encouraged.

Starting with a brief pre-ride ceremony at 6:45, the ride will begin promptly at 7:00.  There will be a rolling police escort as we ride quietlydown the Parkway, circle City Hall, continue to Independence Hall, head over to West Philly via the Walnut St bridge, returning to the Art Museum over the Spring Garden Street bridge. The 8-mile ride will be approximately 1 and a half hours.

Contacts are

  • Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia | info
  • Ride leader Ray Scheinfeld | erayben at | 215-327-8315
  • Ride leader John Siemiarowski | tandemdad at | 215-837-0101

Montague folding bikes, now at PHEW!

We’re finally a dealer for Montague folding bikes. Never heard of them?

Montague is known for full-size folding bikes, making them a good addition to our selection of folding bikes: Dahon, known for their quick fold; Xootr, beautifully designed & manufactured locally; & Origin8, well-priced bikes for around-town.

The Montague bikes are rugged. Good to take anyplace.  And have a feature that’s omitted from all their literature: no rider weight limitations. I suppose this might be implied by the term Military Technology seen on their bikes, but we need to say it again.

There’s no limit on the rider’s weight. On any of their bikes.

So those of you that have gone to bike shops wanting to work off some of that weight and been told there’s no bike for you, there’s the Montague line of Pavement & Mountain bikes.  Again, with no rider weight limit. And easy to fold into the trunk.

A selection of Montague models can be found at PHEW!..stop by for a test ride.  They’ve been hard to keep in stock!

Who rents an e-bike?

Who rents an e-bike? Typically, it’s been people wanting to to experience how an e-bike would integrate into their daily commute.

This week, however, we got a call from an out-of-towner. He already owned an e-bike, a Pathfinder with throttle-assist, using it to get to work sweat-free. The Pathfinder is similar to the line of Hebb e-bikes that we carry.  In town for work-related training, he decided to site-see Philly on an e-bike. To give him a different e-bike experience, we set him up with a Trek 7200+, offering 4 levels of pedal-assist and regenerative braking.

His highlights? The ride to the Holiday Inn by the Stadium through the Wissahickon, Fairmount Park and along the Schyulkill River Trail; the current Sendak exhibit at the Rosenbach Museum in Rittenhouse Square, the Mutter Museum, the various beers from an 80-mile radius at Standard Tap in Northern Liberties, cheesesteak at Pat’s in South Philly, stuffed challah french toast at Sabrina’s in the Italian Market and lastly, a sampling of the house brews at Earth Bread & Brewery in Mt Airy.

His parting query was Is there a Bed & Breakfast near here for his next trip to Philly? There certainly is, Brent!  We recommend the Burbridge Street B&B on quiet Burbridge St in Germantown, run by Marnie Hague, who has lived car-free for decades, using a combination of her bike & SEPTA to get around.

PHEW! a neighborhood bike shop for Mt Airy

We’ve been quite busy this spring, attending to customers discovering us through our website or word of mouth. This morning, we got a love note in the mail. Yes, hand-written by a customer and hand-delivered by the mailman.  In essence, it said

I’m delighted with your work on my old friend of 37 years which has me happily spinning along again.  I feel great comfort in finding people I can trust. Thank you for rejuvenating my old friend for another 37 years.  Next time, charge me more for your services.  You deserve it.

A moment to share. And to pause, recognizing that we’re not just selling new electric-assist bikes, but also offering outstanding service from a tiny independently-owned shop.  That we’re offering something the big box stores never can: a long-term relationship with our customers, where we know not only their bikes but also their families.