Category Archives: Transportation

Oh, the places you’ll go with a bike & SEPTA


Several years ago, there was a lonely bus rack. Purchased by cycling advocates to encourage people to use SEPTA buses in conjunction with their bikes, most of the time this bus rack stayed in the back of a dark garage.

lone rack
We agreed to store this bus rack, which ended up being pulled out to the sidewalk each morning. New bikes built were displayed here for passersby, providing a constantly changing street-side display.  This worked well for a number of years.  And I noticed this bus rack turning invisible. No one noticed it. Those that walked in commenting on the bike on display outside, right on the bus rack, didn’t even know it was a bus rack.

In conversation, though, we discovered that many people didn’t know quite how to get their bikes on a bus. More than we had realized. So we decided we needed a bus behind the rack to encourage questions and learning.

Then I saw Meg Lemieur post a photo of a garage door with a heart.
garage door with heart

Surprised, we called Meg, who agreed to paint a bus mural for us! And managed to create a very large mural in her very tiny studio.

Even the delivery of mural to our shop in her very tiny car was creative, with use of air mattress and shrink wrap.

mural delivery

The day Meg delivered the mural, our very loyal customer & friend Charles was visiting. And offered to help mount the mural on our outside wall. Follow Charles & Afshin’s installation here.

We soon discovered that this 2-dimensional work of art needed to fit the 3-dimensional world of the bus rack, which involved creating wooden bumpers for the bus. A week or so later, the bus rack finally met it’s bus!

Oh, the places you’ll go with a bike and SEPTA!

 

Papal enCYCLEcal – Get thee on a bike!


You may have heard that Pope Francis will be in town in a few weeks. All the media attention has been around the frustrations of limited car access to Center City Philadelphia. Our City’s Commerce Department has even opened a help desk for businesses to continue to flourish during the Pope’s visit. All understandable.

I’ve noticed, however, that many fellow cyclists have a different perspective, feeling this is a great opportunity to highlight the Pope’s message of the moral urgency to act on climate, and to care for the poor.  Many of us already choose to get around by bike or transit, whether we leave the car parked at home or simply can’t afford one.  For the rest of you, I invite you to try a few days of car-free living.  It’s quite catching, I hear!

So when the City begins closing down much of Center City to car traffic, let’s claim the streets for people-powered mobility! I’ve read about the Critical Mass movement, where cyclists spontaneously claim the streets, and the more planned  Open Streets project, which temporarily closes streets to automobile traffic so people can use the streets for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing and socializing. Just what the Pope ordered!

Open Streets isn’t new to Philly. The MLK drive is closed down each week, since 1980, I discovered. For years, there was annual BikePhilly every September, which invited cyclists to pedal through Center City with a rolling police escort, savoring the streets and the fine old architecture.

Like me, if you’ve never pedaled over the Ben Franklin Bridge, I hear there’s a bike & pedestrian lane.  On Friday September 25th, when the whole Bridge is shut down to car traffic, join us for the Ben Franklin Bridge Ride, which begins at Washington Square Park at 9pm.  Make sure your bike is well-lit & visible.

On Saturday September 26th, there’s the PopeRide, starting at The Porch at 30th Street Station at 10:00am. See coverage by NBC.

46354_bike_sharefIf you don’t own a bike, I highly recommend you explore our City’s bike-share system: RideIndego.Pedal-powered-Popemobile-web

If you’re unable to ride a bike, I hear there will be pedicabs for hire. There’s Velo-Ride and others.

Our own Bicycle Coalition is building a map listing routes to enter and exit the City via bike.  It’s called the PopeMap, and also lists the handful of places that’ll remain open and rent you a bike for that weekend, PHEW! being one of them.

PHEW! encourages everyone’s efforts toward a car-free Philly for this one weekend in September and more.

Better Mobility @ Phila Mayoral Forum Thu 3/19


better-mobility
It’s almost here, folks. In two weeks, Philadelphia’s mayoral candidates will gather at the Friends Center in Center City, Philadelphia, to discuss those issues near and dear to you and us: Mobility.

The forum, moderated by Philadelphia Magazine Deputy Editor Patrick Kerkstra, will feature specific questions about bicycle use, pedestrians, public transportation, and related issues.

Together, we can make mobility a priority for our next mayor—if the candidates see how serious we are.

And whether or not all the candidates agree to our platform, Better mobility 2015 will tell us where they stand, and whether or not they deserve our vote.

That’s why we need you to RSVP, and come to the Friends Center on March 19 at 6pm. If the candidates see how many of us there are, and how serious we are, we can make a real change in Philadelphia.

When you make your presence known on March 19th, every Philadelphia mayoral candidate will understand that we want safer streets, protected bike lanes, a better street paving schedule, better public transit, and a focused bike share effort.

Come out and help us make it happen.

What a year! ending with a visit with the ELFs


2014 has been a year to remember.  It’s been year 5 for PHEW!, when we sold quite a few bikes. Repaired many more.  Converted a number of old favorites to electric, ranging from Trek hybrids, Montague folders, tricycles, a few cargo bikes, and our favorites: the Breezer Uptown and Downtown bikes.

Looking back, we added a few brands to our lineup.  Jamis Bikes for their comfort bikes; Tern Bicycles for their exceptional folding bikes; Cleary’s lightweight children’s bikes; Haibike and then Felt Electric bikes with the mid-drive Bosch system offering some of the lightest electric-assist bikes. Thanks to all of you for supporting our adventures.

From May through October, we hosted Thrifty Thursdays, when we invited the community to use our space, tools and knowhow (for free) to do more with their bike. We even taught a few neighborhood children to ride a bike, one at a time!

In July, we installed solar panels to power ceiling fans in our showroom, reducing the need for air conditioning.  In September, we joined the thousands in NYC for the People’s Climate March.  In December, we rallied against the Dirty Energy Hub being planned for Philadelphia, sure to bring short term jobs and a lot more carbon emissions to our region.  Asthma, anyone?

And all year long, we purchased clean, wind-powered electricity generated from Pennsylvania wind farms, via Philadelphia’s own Energy Co-op.  Look them up, and check out their EcoChoice100 plan.

I personally am looking forward to shuttering the shop until mid-January.  We hope to slow down, hibernate a little, research some, and have plans to visit an ELF factory.

What’s an ELF? It’s been called a half-bike, half-car.  When we followed one down the road last year, we heard children call out…Car-bicycle! and Bicycle-car!  And that’s what it is: an electric velomobile; a human-powered vehicle enclosed for aerodynamic advantage & protection from weather.

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We’re trying to decide whether the ELFs make sense for our region.  Do let us know if you have an interest in these; it’ll definitely swing our decision about selling and servicing them next year!

Glow in the dark bikes…I likes!


I’ve often wondered why new bikes aren’t designed with reflective paint.  I realize many people like matte black bikes for that stealth factor, but most of us commuters just want to be seen.

There is one company, Mission Bicycle Company in San Francisco, that offers a custom bike with a reflective coating. Check out their Lumen.

For the rest of us with bikes we already own and love,  I learned of Hub Powder Works (another woman-owned company) in Boston via this Grist Magazine article: Night Proof Your Bike by Turning it into a Giant Reflector.8255813207_cd8fcbf6d3_z

You send Hub Powder Works your frame. They powder-coat it with the same reflective coating as Mission Bicycle Company.

As a bike retailer, I’d love to see mass produced commuter bikes; i.e. more affordable bikes, come with such a reflective paint.  Matte black feels so passé. If you’re a bike designer and considering this, it seems Halo Coatings is the supplier of the retro-reflective coating solutions for both Mission & Hub.

Welcome to the global economy or Who wants to build bikes in PA?


It’s a good thing we’re stocked up on bikes.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe current congestion at the West Coast ports means, for our industry, a lot of bikes log jammed.  It’ll be a while before those Made in Asia bikes get off the boats, to their respective warehouses, and eventually on a truck destined for Philadelphia.

So, though we’re out of stock on a few select models, notably the Dahon Mariner and the Dahon Briza, we have plenty of bikes at PHEW! electric, folding, hybrid, even used!

locally madeIn the meanwhile,  it’s got us thinking about more locally made bicycles. There’s Detroit Bikes and Brooklyn Bicycle Co, and an entire list of American Made Bikes. Who wants to make bikes in Philadelphia?  Let’s talk!!

E-Joe Anggun 2.0, reviewed


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So let’s say you’re a a restaurant delivery person, and you’d like to save on gas. So you’re thinking about what kind of fuel-efficient or hybrid car you can afford, when all of a sudden, lightning strikes in the form of a bicycle whooshing by.

newsimg_delivery driver

“Eureka! I’ll get an e-bike!” you exclaim. “By riding an e-bike for work, I’ll never have to buy gas again, and all I have to do is charge the battery when I get off work! I’ll have so much more money left over for my local organic fair trade homemade artisanal kombucha habit! Brilliant!”

 

Then you head over to Philly Electric Wheels and find that your dream has come true. We have an e-bike that even a delivery worker will be able to afford. It is high quality and costs only $1,899.00. Most good quality e-bikes will cost you at least $2,000.00. There are a couple of models that are lower priced, but their range (miles per battery charge) is smaller.

The Anggun 2.0 by e-JOE is actually ideal for restaurant delivery, because the battery can help you pedal up to 42 miles on a single charge. This range is also more than ideal for your daily commute (I hope!), as well as for going on a day or weekend-long ride in the country.

As the e-JOE website expounds, “add disc brakes, a premium front fork, puncture-resistance tires and numerous included upgrades and accessories, and you’ve got one great all-purpose electric bike.”

 

e-JOE came out with the Anggun in 2013, and they have now revamped it for 2015. Some of the improvements include a smaller frame (now 18″), a better charging port, better front and rear lights, and an adjustment to the Assist mode. In the earlier model, you didn’t have the option to not use the Assist mode; in this year’s model, you can turn Assist mode off and ride the bike as though it’s a conventional bike. This is nice because it puts the e-ness of the bike completely under your control.

So whether you’re a delivery driver, a commuter, or a leisure rider, come on in today for a test ride! The Anggun 2.0 is something to experience.

Why Should One Buy an Electric Bicycle from Philly Electric Wheels?


You’ve come to the decision to buy an electric bicycle. Through rigorous research or perhaps a flash of insight, you have decided that an ebike will meet your needs and desires. Great! But what now? How will you make the purchase? How will you purchase your ebike such that you are happy, confident, and satisfied? Well, you can get anything on the internet: one can purchase a whole bike, a conversion kit, or parts directly from China via the internet, one can purchase from a reseller such as Amazon, or one can purchase from companies based in the Fifty States who have an internet storefront. However, internet shopping does not jive well with confidence or satisfaction. One could also purchase an electric bicycle from the odd powersports store or local bike shop that is experimenting with electric bikes. And electric bicycles are available through some department stores as well.

Is that it? Is your only choice buy without a test ride? To buy without any comparison? To buy from someone who doesn’t know what they are selling? Or to buy online…? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a friendly local electric bike shop where you could walk in, meet the owners and employees, test ride the largest selection of ebikes in the tri-state area, and ride away happy with your purchase, confident that you will have all the support you need?

At Philly Electric Wheels, we believe an electric bike purchase should be similar to the purchase of a vehicle such as a car or motorcycle. We believe the customer has a right to touch and feel what they are purchasing, to test ride the vehicle that you are spending hundreds or thousands of hard-earned dollars on. We believe in support, that the customer has a right to meticulous assembly, qualified service, and long term support. We at PHEW! believe in personal relationships, in trust, and in access to professionals who care about you and care about electric bicycles. Try getting that over the internet.

This may sound idealistic, because we are a company of idealists. If this sounds like a sales pitch, that’s because it is, we are trying to get your business. Philly Electric Wheels is trying to sell you an electric bicycle. For so many reasons, we believe electric bicycles are a long-awaited solution to complex problems. In terms of transportation, ebikes have a lower environmental impact (carbon footprint, if you will) and are more energy efficient than any other option- including normal bicycles. Electric bicycles have some of the lowest operating costs over their lifespan of any powered vehicle. Electric bicycles inspire in riders the confidence they need to deal with traffic on crowded streets. Ebikes are darn good fun. The health benefits of regular exercise like cycling are well researched and adding electric assist negates none of them. The psychological benefits of cycling are less researched, however studies are available, and anecdotal evidence of riding versus driving is available. Its about being in the environment rather than being cut off from the environment inside a metal box. These points are arguable and we would love to talk to you about them! Come on down!

Yet another reason to shop our brick and mortar store, our well informed and affable staff would love to talk to you about bicycles, electric bicycles, electric vehicles, and your needs concerning them. In addition to our administrative and part time staff, Philly Electric Wheels employs a full-time electric bicycle mechanic, something no other shop in the area and few shops in the country can claim. And all of our staff is committed to and enthusiastic about electric bicycles and bicycling. We are simply the best trained and most qualified place to purchase an electric bike and the only place to service and support them. We have the largest selection of electric bicycles in PA, NJ, and DE. We have in stock, parts, supplies, accessories, conversion kits, and batteries for all of our models. We have relationships with a diverse set of suppliers which enable us to get whatever you need as quickly and economically as possible. We have ebikes to rent and ebikes to loan you whilst yours is in our shop. We also have a mobile service unit we can use to bring our shop to you, and a bicycle trailer to pickup your stranded machine should an accident occur. PHEW has dedicated service bays for your electric bicycle and is prepared with all the necessary tools for diagnosing and servicing electronic and electromechanical components.

Lest it go unsaid, PHEW is also a stellar bike shop! We pride ourselves on approachability, customer satisfaction, and service. From airing up your tires to custom builds, we at PHEW can meet all of your bike shop needs. We realize that great electric bikes should first and foremost be great bikes and we are committed to selling great bikes. Our staff is experienced and well trained to deal with any and all sorts of bicycles. Our premier mechanic has over 30 years of personal professional experience working on and with bikes in the greater Philadelphia area. We also specialize in folding bikes, cargo bikes, bike trailers, and make and sell exclusive bike panniers.

If you’ve made the decision to purchase an electric bicycle, Philly Electric Wheels is the best place to buy it. We believe that we can serve your needs better than any other physical location or internet storefront. We are committed to our customers and committed to supporting the products we sell. We have bikes in stock and parts in stock- the largest selection of either. We love ebikes and we love happy customers. And we love happy customers on ebikes! PHEW!

Come visit us at Philly Electric Wheels, 7153 Sprague Street, Philadelphia, PA 19119

the ELF at PHEW!


As I write this, an ELF is parked outside our shop.  The owner is returning home to Massachusetts from ELF HQ in Durham NC, traveling along theEast Coast Greenway, and stopped by PHEW! for service. elf at phew

We are thrilled to have a firsthand experience of the ELF, a 3 wheeled recumbent electric assist vehicle, though still confused whether to call this a car, a bike, a trike, or simply… an ELF.

BH Easy Motion electric bikes


I’ve been following BH E-Motion’s e-bikes for several years.  In the US, BH E-Motion is well known for their fitness equipment.  In Europe they’re also known for their e-bikes, which have 4 types of technology.

  • NEO RDS (Rear Drive System) Technology
  • BOSCH IBS (Integrated Bottom Bracket System) Technology
  • PANASONIC IBS (Integrated Bottom Bracket System) Technology
  • EASY MOTION FDS (Front Drive System) Technology

This past September, while at InterBike (the national bicycle convention), I had the opportunity to test ride all of these systems.

The revolutionary Neo RDS technology uses a 350W motor (1 on the diagram). This was a nice powerful motor in the rear of the bike with the torque sensor (2) located in the rear drop out of the frame. This registers the force exerted by the rider and sends a signal to the controller (4). This action is fast.