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Category Archives: Tech Reviews
Review: The EMazing Electric Bike
I live in Castro Valley, and I bicycle commute from my house to the BART station almost every day. From my stable of bicycles, my choice for commuting is easily the EMazing Electric Bike. It is an electric assist bike, which operates with a lithium battery. Each pedal stroke is made easier by the electric assist, so I can get to my destination without breaking much of a sweat. My bike is a single speed, but the newer Emazing Bikes have gearing and a stronger assist than what I have.
As a baby boomer, I was a kid in San Francisco, and experienced the bad drought (kids had to line up to use the bathroom at school and the last person flushed), Jimmy Carter (he had vision but the world wasn’t ready for him), driving 55, and the energy crisis. It was instilled in me to not waste energy (shut the lights!) and precious resources from a young age. I took to cycling as a mode of transportation in college, which wasn’t easy because I went to UC Santa Cruz and lived in Ben Lomond (15 miles one way), but I was younger and stronger back then.
I’m older now, have more responsibilities, and I’m in a hurry all the time. I still have my convictions to not waste precious resources, and would like to ride a bike to commute instead of using my car for a simple 6 mile roundtrip commute to get to public transportation, but it’s not easy when you don’t live in a place like Davis, where it’s all flat. There are hills in Castro Valley!
The Emazing Bike fits with my ideals. I have a Topeak pannier system on the bike, and I can put my lunch and what I need for work or yoga in the panniers and go the BART station. There are now bike lockers by Bike Link at the station, and it costs only 3 cents an hour to park my bike in one of the sturdy lockers. Not only do I get to the BART quickly because I don’t have to drive around to look for parking (and wasting gas), but it costs literally pennies to park (It costs $3.00 to park your car in the BART parking lot).
The electric assist is exactly what it is, i.e. the battery/motor assists each pedal stroke, making it easy to pedal, even more so on an incline. You can also go faster with the electric assist than on a normal bike. You still have to pedal, but the pedal strokes are easier than if there was no assist. The assist has 4 speed modes: No Assist, Low Assist, Medium Assist and High Assist. I rarely use No Assist—what’s the point, I’m riding an electric ASSIST bike. Most time, Medium Assist works fine for most conditions, and I use High Assist when I’m a little tired, heading up a steeper hill, or I want to get somewhere really fast without sweating too much.
I went on the Endless Cycles Thursday night road ride in Cull Canyon to test out the bike before I bought it. I easily rode past everyone on the hills and flats, including the hard core road cyclists with their carbon fiber bikes. However, I wasn’t able to keep up on the fast ride back to the shop because it was mostly gentle down hills, and I had no lower gears to propel the bike faster and could only coast. I even got on Briar Ridge, which is one long and steep hill, and I easily outpaced a road cyclist to the top!
I wish there were more bicycle riders in Castro Valley. I think it is an ideal place to own a bike and get around town, like the folks do at Davis, but I can see why there aren’t…Castro Valley is pretty much built on the foothills and some of the hills can be daunting or too much of a workout for someone who is not in great cycling condition or that hasn’t been on a bike in quite a while. Well, the Emazing Bike is perfect for those folks! Whether it’s to commute like me, get around town, or to get to BART or to just run some errands, it’s perfect. You’ll see me at the supermarket pushing my bike through the store and putting items into my panniers instead of a shopping cart. It makes me feel very French with a baguette and a bouquet of flowers in the panniers coming out of Safeway. The Emazing Bike gets 2 thumbs up from me. Now, there’s no excuse not to ride a bicycle.
OK, I’m not writing about Fantasy Island, but I AM going to attempt to wax eloquent about some shoes.
Recently, I found myself feeling down in the dumps and decided that I needed to take some action and what’s a guy to do but…check out some bike shoes? Let’s go back in time about 10 years ago, and in another life, when I had been introduced to Sidi mountain bike shoes at a store in Hayward that EC’s own J Mo was managing. I believe Scott was also working there as a part-time mechanic as well. Both of them had told me that if I needed new shoes, that Sidi couldn’t be beat. So, I naively tried on a pair and, after walking around, jumping up and down and looking at myself in a mirror, I told Jeff that he was a true bastard, that I hated him and that I had to buy the shoes because I didn’t want to take them off!! I got a good deal but still had to pay in excess of $200 over ten years ago in order to walk out with this magic foot ware.
Fast forward to the very recent future (like about now). I took a look at the bike shoes EC now has to offer, tried some on and decided I wanted to stick with mountain bike shoes regardless of whether I was riding the road or trails. I had a bad experience with road bike shoes when I used to commute to work via bike and BART. I found that I needed to perfect the “heel walk” after having fallen while walking on the slick BART platforms with exposed cleats. I really wanted to “walk the talk” when on a road bike by having the proper shoes but I realized that BART platforms, nice floors and the potential of having to run away from bad guys weren’t suited to roadie shoes. I guess if I were on a supported road bike team, only having to have the shoes on when I mounted and dismounted from my one-off, $50,000 carbon nano-tube bike (my soigneurs would surely be there to assist me), I probably would have really appreciated the feather weight and stiffness of good road bike shoes. Unfortunately, I’m not that person.
So there I am, trying out shoes at Endless. I slipped on the Bontrager RL MTB shoes and was transported back to when I bought the Sidis. There was Jeff at one end of the shop and Scott at the other, both encouraging me to try on shoes (I should have known. Bastards!). I tried on other 43mm shoes but this model not only felt totally comfortable but had more room in the toe box than other 43mm models. The soles were super stiff while the uppers felt compliant without being mushy. They were also a hell of a lot less expensive than the Sidis I purchased over 10 years ago. This made it a whole lot easier to sell on the home front (aka ‘She Who Must Be Pleased’) by making a comparison. (My God, how did I get away with buying those Sidis in the first place? I think there must have been some jewelry involved.). After wearing these shoes for over a month, both on and off-road, I’ve decided to make them my road bike shoes. I can keep them looking spiffy with minimal effort as road shoes whereas if I used them equally for both road and off-road, they’d be pretty trashed. I’ve kept the old Sidis as dedicated MTB shoes, but when they’re toast (and that’s almost now) I may be looking at another pair of the Bontrager RL MTB shoes.
Editors note – this is a new feature consisting of Tech Reviews written by our customers for the benefit of other customers. Anyone can submit them, and after a little editing, we’ll put them here and post the to facebook as well! Email reviews to email@example.com. Now, on to Andrews Review:
A Tech Review by Andrew Thomson
Shimano WH-6700 Tubeless Wheelset
Welcome to the first ever Tech Review from Endless Cycles in beautiful Castro Valley California. My name is Andrew Thomson and I’m a elite level racer for Tri Valley Velo which, if you didn’t already know, is sponsored by Endless Cycles.