Monday, 31 December 2012

Gazelle versus car

One of my rationales for buying the Gazelle pedelec was to replace some of my short car trips with a trip by bicycle. We live quite close to two supermarkets, but the return trip is uphill and a bit of a grind. I have tried a grocery run a couple of times with my Trek, but it was too hard and not enjoyable.

So in the couple of days since I picked up my Gazelle I have had two trips to the shops for groceries. I have never used panniers before and I was wondering how they might affect the bike balance. But there was no problem at all. Although on my first trip I just bought some milk and bread. (OK, I confess, even though we didn't need it I bought a baguette just because I thought it would look good!) I zoomed up that hill that used to seem so steep in 'Boost' and loved it.

On my second trip I was a bit more adventurous and half-filled the panniers with groceries. Again, no  problem with balance and even better, no problem with the hill. The Gazelle whizzed up it. I actually weighed the groceries on my return and they weighed 7.5 kg and there was room for plenty more. (Good choice of pannier.)
Gazelle Innergy Plus fitted with Basil Beauty Shopper front basket
and Basil Jada Double panniers loaded with groceries
Apart from the environmental positives in reducing car trips, I also think that there must be some health benefits in using the Gazelle. Even with using 'Boost' on the return trip, it must be better for me than sitting in a car.

For my own interest, I have decided to keep of tally of 'replaced' trips. So...

Number of Replaced
Car Trips
Total Distance
(km)
2
6



Sunday, 30 December 2012

Another great review

Just in time to make me feel really good about my purchase, I see that there is another very positive review out on the Gazelle Innergy XT. It is by David Halfpenny of Bicycles Network Australia. You can read the review here.

David has given the bike a good work-out and despite a few little quibbles, the bike has come up trumps.

One question I had was that the review makes mention of the Gazelle coming with Schwalbe Marathon tyres. However, the specifications for the Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT on the Gazelle Australia site says Schwalbe CityLite tyres are standard. 

FYI, I had my tyres upgraded before delivery to the Schwalbe Marathon as it seems very difficult to fix a puncture. (I thought I was getting Schwalbe Marathon Plus, but it seems I have Schwalbe Marathon. Not being a tyre expert, I will have to trust MySpokes on this one.)

Update: I spoke to the ever-helpful Sean at MySpokes, and yes, these are great tyres for my bike. Just a tread difference, apparently. I can report that they ride well and no punctures so far.


Saturday, 29 December 2012

It's here!

Well, after a long wait the Gazelle Innergy XT is here!

At this point I need to thank Gary and Sean at MySpokes who went beyond the call of duty and worked way past closing time yesterday to put my Gazelle together. And Sean was called in from his holidays - thank-you Sean! 

All I can say about the Gazelle is - it's great! It's kind of bigger than I expected, but it is beautiful. As I said, I picked it up late yesterday and I only managed to fit in a short 3 km up and down the hills in Croydon before we adjourned for a celebratory sparkling.  

Back in Geelong I went for a long ride this morning with our Saturday group, but instead of taking the Trek, I took the Gazelle. Fabulous! For once instead of struggling at the back of the ride, I zoomed up the hills in 'Boost'. 

The ride around Geelong (out to Geelong Grammar and back) was pretty flat, and I managed a lot of it with no assist at all. On the way back, a headwind had gotten up, and I gleefully put it onto 'Eco', then 'Normal' and, at the slightest sign of a hill, 'Boost'. The entire ride was 37 km, and I used one bar of the Gold battery. 


The Gazelle at the Geelong waterfront.
(I haven't had time to put on the panniers.)

After a couple of coffees, Mr Aggy and I rode back home via the river. Poor Mr Aggy had to ride up the steep side of Pako Hill just so I could use 'Boost' again. This extra ride added another 7.5 km but the battery was still showing four bars (one bar used). 

Interestingly, I could feel it in my legs when I arrived back home. I used a heart monitor on the ride and I averaged 140 bpm, so I assume I had a decent work-out.

With the first ride under the belt, I am still struggling a bit with figuring out the gears and the correct 'assist' settings. I am looking forward to having some more practice. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Gazelle delivery update

Exciting news! 

Just spoke to Sean at MySpokes in Mooroolbark, and the next shipment of Gazelle pedelecs is arriving in Australia tomorrow. This means we should be able to take delivery in very early January. 

Hooray!


Update 24 Dec 2012
Just saw an advertisement on Bike Exchange for My Spokes that says the Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT is 'In Stock'. Must be close now...


Update 27 Dec 2012
Gazelle shipment arriving tomorrow at MySpokes! (The ones 'In Stock' were not my frame size.)

Unfortunately, they only have three tyres in stock, so it appears that I may get my bike tomorrow or Saturday, but Jules will need to wait until the 2nd when the fourth tyre arrives. Sorry Jules, it's every man (or woman) for themselves!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Basket case

I recently ordered a basket for the front of my bike. 

I was initially a bit hesitant about getting a front basket. This is because the basket tends to make the bike steering a bit wobbly and unstable, especially if you load it up. But any heavy shopping I do will go into the panniers at the back of the bike, so I thought a front basket might come in handy just for holding my handbag and other miscellaneous bits and pieces. 

I had a quick word with the ever helpful Sean at MySpokes in Mooroolbark, and it appears that on an electric bike the basket does not hang off the handlebars. Rather is attached to the stem. Hopefully this will make the bike steering a bit better when the basket is fully loaded. It also means that I can't look at baskets with a normal mounting system or with hooks - I need a Basil basket with the BasEasy mounting system.

I started my search for the basket by looking at the full range on the Basil Netherlands site, and then I went to Gazelle Australia site and checked out the Australian Basil Collection.

Now I like the retro look of wicker baskets, and at first I was considering the Basimply II basket below by Basil.
It has the dimensions 34 x 25 x 27 cm and I think it looks nicely traditional and sturdy.

But in the end I decided on the Basil Beauty Shopper, dimensions 23 x 33 x 23 cm.

I chose this one because it is a bit smaller than the Basimply II above, and it has a lid. I think that will be useful to keep both the rain out, and lighter items in, when riding along.

The maximum weight for this basket is 5 kg, and this should be ample I think.

The BasEasy mounting system is shown below:


It looks pretty simple to put a basket on and take it off. Possibly too simple. I'm planning on leaving my basket on the bike, so I'll have to cross my fingers and hope no one steals it.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Ride-on magazine reviews the Gazelle electric bike

Just a quick note about a new review on the Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT.

The December-January (2012-2013) edition of Ride-On magazine, published by Bicycle Network Victoria, has done a review on this bike. The reviewer, Simon Vincent, rates the bike at 99.5%! 

Simon has ridden a number of eBikes and you can also read some reviews in his article from March 2012 'E-bikes charge ahead'. Interestingly, a previous model, the Gazelle Orange Pure Innergy, rated 99%. So clearly the Gazelle has been producing top-notch electric bikes for some time.

Looks like I've made the right choice!

Update: Omafiets Dutch Bicycles (a Sydney bike store and Gazelle seller) has published a link to the full review. You can see their take on the review here and their link to the magazine review here


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Rack it up

Since it looks like my bike won't be here until 2013, I thought I would have a try of my Thule 916E EuroPower 2 bike rack. As I said in an earlier post, I needed to buy a new bike rack as the Gazelle Innergy XT is much heavier than a normal bike (25.5 kg with the Gold battery). This rack can hold two bikes with a maximum weight of 30 kg for each bike. I also bought the optional ramp to allow me to wheel the bikes onto the rack. 


However, the ability to hold the weighty electric bikes requires solid engineering and, as a result, the rack is heavy - 18.4 kg. In my past life as an Industrial Chemist, the maximum I was allowed to carry was 16 kg, so you can tell that the rack is a bit of a struggle. Clearly as I get older, this will become a two-person job.

The shape of the rack also makes it very awkward to manoeuvre. It would have been nice if Thule had added some sort of carrying handles to the sides to help carry it.

Another little quibble I have with this rack is that it comes with two detachable bike clamps, but only one of these comes with a lock. As you are supposed to carry a single bike on the mount nearest the car, this means that you need to swap the lock from the longer clamp to the shorter clamp when you go from carrying two bikes to one bike. This seems like a pain to me, so I ordered an additional lock.

On the plus side, the rack is so well-made I can tip it forward and open the back of my XTrail without removing the bikes.

Mr Aggy also picked me up a chain at Bunnings, because while the Thule rack has a lock to secure it onto the towball, Mr Aggy pointed out that an enterprising thief could steal the rack by unscrewing the towbar from the car.

Step by step guide to attaching the rack 

  1. Attach the towbar to the car.
  2. Unlock the rack and pull the black cover toward you so you can see the red 'unlock' symbol.

     
     
  3. Pull up the centre bar.



  4. Lift the rack onto the towball and pull down the centre lever to secure the the rack to the towball.



  5. Then lock the rack to the towball and remove the key.

  6. To stop people stealing the towbar with the rack from the car, I've now wrapped the chain around the rack and padlocked it to the towbar.

     

  7. Make sure the small bike clamp is on the rack. Attach the ramp and roll the bike up it onto the rack.



  8. Close the bike clamp over the bike frame and pull and tighten the wheel straps over the wheels. Lock the bike clamp.


  9. Add the longer bike clamp and add a second bike 'head to tail' with the other bike.
    Voila! The bikes are on the rack.

  10. And one of the best features - finally I can access the boot with a bike rack on the car. How good is that?


An aside for those people in Geelong wondering where purchase this marvel of Swedish engineering, I bought my Thule rack from Pole Position in Gordon Avenue.
   

Monday, 10 December 2012

Delays, delays, delays


I'm sorry to report that I will not be pedelecing this week.

It was originally thought that my Gazelle Innergy XT pedelec would be ready for delivery this week. And there was a remote  possibility that it would have been ready last week.

But, alas, the shipment of bikes will now arrive late December. And if something lands at the docks in late December, I'm pretty sure it won't move from there until January. Darn! It seems that the freight forwarder gave the wrong dates to Gazelle.

So I've packed up my picnic set, helmet and pannier bags and put them away at the top of the cupboard.

On the positive side, the delay gives me a chance to really check out other accessories for the bike. I've been playing around with the Thule Europower bike rack, and I'll be posting something on that soon.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Rolling with the punctures

I think I need to confess here that I can't change a bike tyre. On the few occasions that I have had a puncture, Mr Aggy has been around and changed it for me.

However, when I go out pedelecing, Mr Aggy is probably not going to be with me, so I need to be mindful of this possible problem.

I am a member of the RACV 'bike assist' that gives emergency assistance to bike users; but I've read on the forums that the car mechanics aren't particularly good with bikes. Also, they take ages to come. And what if I'm on a bike track - how will they find me?

The other worry is that the slick styling of the Gazelle bikes, (chain case, internal gears etc.) makes it difficult to take off a tyre and fix a puncture in the usual fashion. Fortunately  there are a some discussions on the internet that show you what to do. These seem good:


The solution seems to be simple - don't remove the tyre! Just pry off the tyre and pull out the tube. Look for the puncture and fix it. Sounds easy doesn't it? However, I can see a few issues here. I've never levered off a tyre and the procedure for finding and repairing the puncture seems quite tricky. Also, having fixed the hole in the tyre, how on earth do you put it all back together again?

So, I'm still a bit worried about punctures. The Gazelle comes with Schwalbe City Lite tyres which I gather are quite puncture resistant. But quite puncture resistant ... Hmmm, I think I need better than that...

After a discussion with the very helpful Sean at MySpokes (where I've ordered my electric bike), I have decided to replace my original Gazelle tyres with Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres. These are very puncture resistant, and with a bit of luck I will never have to mend a flat! But just in case, I think I will carry a puncture kit and print out the instructions.

Monday, 26 November 2012

More on the perfect pannier

My panniers have arrived and they look great! Of course, I can't test them on my Gazelle pedelec yet as it is still on the water on the way to Australia. (I now appreciate air freight - shipping is so slow.)

As I had such trouble deciding on my panniers, I thought I would put up some detailed pictures of them showing the pockets and straps. I would have liked to see images like these when I was looking to buy, so hopefully they will help someone else. These panniers are the Basil Jada double panniers. I bought the grey, but they come in other colors.


There are two of these pockets (one in each pannier.)
They span the width of the pannier and have a zip.
They are just under the pannier rain flap.
  
There are four of these side pockets (two in each pannier).

There are four of these inside pockets (two in each pannier).

This is one of the two straps that attach to the pannier rack.

This is one of the two straps that attach to the side of the bike.

 I also bought a cute picnic set from Australia Post, only $30, a bargain. I have taken out the napkins to wash, but the set is basically what you see below.




As you can see, it sits perfectly in the pannier!





Sunday, 18 November 2012

Quest for the perfect pannier

For some weeks now I have been trying to decide what sort of panniers to buy for my new (but, not yet delivered) Gazelle. Seems like the Basil range of panniers are recommended by Gazelle so, having time on my hands, I have researched Basil bags to death!

Should I get pretty ones? Are they easily removed? Are they heavy? Do they do up easily?
Do they get wet?  etc.

I have slowly narrowed in on the bags I like. Firstly, I liked this, the Basil Blossom Twig.


But in the end, I decided that:

  • It seemed like it only had one pocket a side so they would be a bit deep and cavernous (35 L capacity for the double pannier). I decided it would make it hard to find things. 
  • My husband, Mr Aggy, was unlikely to take the bike down to the shops as they were too girly.
  • I read  a couple of  reviews on these that mentioned than these was that they can also cause you to hit your heels when cycling.


So next I looked at bags that had the slightly rounded edge on the side towards the heel.
I decided I really liked this one - the Basil Jada Tour:

But, it is ENORMOUS. It has the following dimensions 34 cm x 17 cm x 34 cm (LxWxH) and carries 40 L. Too big L.  

Further research revealed that there is a smaller version 32x12x32 (LxWxH) 26 L, which would be great,- but the only site that seemed to sell it was in the Netherlands and the shipping costs were horrendous.

So back to the internet.  I had really decided a few things by now:
  • I liked the look of the Basil Jada style in Marble Grey. Not too floral, but girly enough.
  • The bag had to be hard to remove, as I wanted them to stay on the bike permanently. This ruled out the Basil shopper - it attached by hooks and is supposed to be taken into the shops. (Good review here: http://modalmom.com/pedal-pefect-the-basil-jada-shopper-xl/
  •  I did not want a bag with a single opening, I wanted pockets.
  •  I didn't want a really big bag.

I found a good review, with pic, on the Basil Jada double pannier.(http://raveandreview.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/04/basil-stylish-bicycle-bags-review-and-giveaway.html )
and I decided that this was it!

Lots of pockets, dimensions 36cm x 15 cm x 30 cm (35 L)(I'm a little bit worried about the 15 cm dimension - will it stick out too far?)

Anyway, a quick look around and Pushy's had a good price $75.99 plus $15 shipping. A quick ask if Mr Aggy needed anything, and voila, we are over $100 and free shipping.

Ordered.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Another Gazelle rider in waiting...

Well, exciting news! 

My sister-in-law, Jules, has decided to order a Gazelle as well. Fantastic! I am sooo excited. We are going to try to get together once a fortnight, do a little pedelecing and check out some of Melbourne's sights. 


Unfortunately we live a couple of hours away from each other - but no problem. I have ordered a Thule 916E EuroPower 2 bike, which takes two electric bikes. (You have to have a special rack as the bikes are heavy.) Anyway with the rack we can meet out Jules way and then drive to our start point. 


Alternatively, we also both live near a train line, so we can put the bikes on the train and meet in Melbourne City. Plenty of trails to do there - although Melbourne cyclists will know carrying the heavy ebikes up or down the steps on the Capital City trail may be a problem.


We are hoping to map some rides out and visit art galleries, gardens, museums and, of course, coffee shops. At the start we will have to be careful with our distances as we do not know the range on the Gazelles - we have both ordered Gold batteries.


I'll post our rides, but as we don't have the bikes yet it may be a while before they appear on this blog. I'm currently looking at various bike trails to see what might be interesting and within our battery range.


Thursday, 1 November 2012

Range anxiety already - Silver, Gold or Platinum battery?

OK, I've ordered the bike and paid a deposit. Strangely enough, I have 'range anxiety' even though I don't own my pedelec yet! So I need to figure out what is the best battery to buy for my purposes.

The Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT comes with a Silver battery as standard. Now I've looked at the brochure and it says that the Silver battery will do 130 -170 km in Eco mode dropping to 35-45 km in Boost mode.

Thinking back to my test ride I had lots of hills in Mooroolbark and switched a bit from Eco to Boost. I had used 1 bar on the battery by the time I returned, and I cycled about 10 km, so this seems about right. However the brochure also states that the battery figures do not apply to the XT models - hmmm!

On to the internet...

OK here is the range table - looks like a slight drop in the figures for the Gold from the non-XT models in Normal range. 



Should I upgrade to Gold? The Gold has a better range, but is 1.1 kg heavier.

Well onto the internet again... 

There is a great forum on Brisbane Cyclist that talks about electric bikes  and in particular the Gazelle Innergy XT.  I asked the question - Silver or Gold?  This was the reply from Shaun Moran on the forum:

"I have the Silver Battery and I live 30 km (by bike) away from the CBD where I work. My ride has a number of hills and I tend to use boost for pretty much all of them and use normal mode the rest of the time.
My battery is fully charged when I leave and when I get to work its usually reading 3 bars left. I charge it up again at work so its full before the ride home (I think the battery will last longer if I don't full flatten it).
I did leave the charger home one day and did do the trip there and back on one battery charge - but I used ECO a lot on the way home and it was flashing its last bar of battery by the time I got there.
I kind of wish I got the gold battery to start off with - whilst the Silver gets me to town and back and I can't really do anything once I get to town. Just a little more oomph would have been good."

So Gold seems the way to go. 

But wait a minute, if Gold is good, would Platinum be better? More range,  and the same weight as the Gold. But why aren't the Platinum specs aren't on the internet? A quick call to the dealer (MySpokes) and I discover that the Platinum battery is not suitable for XT models - I wonder why not? Seems a pity.

Anyway, decision made - Gold it is.


2012-11-08 Update from Leigh at Gazelle Australia "The platinum is not suitable for the XT as it can not be fully discharged and so limits the range." 


Friday, 26 October 2012

Why do I want a bike with 'pedal assist' - Gazelle versus Power Ped

You may ask why bother with a bike that has battery assist? I'm a reasonably fit woman who has a Trek Hybrid and can ride 20-30 km OK provided it isn't too hilly.  (I did say reasonably fit.)

But I do a lot of short trips in the car picking up groceries, getting the mail, dropping off stuff etc.  And being basically lazy, I won't ride down on my Trek  to Woolworths to pick up a couple of items. There is a hill on the way back and with a few groceries on board, it is not enjoyable. Also now I have graduated to clip in shoes on my Trek Hybrid, it is a real hassle. I decided I needed a bike with pedal assist.

After reading a few reviews, I also decided that I wanted a pedelec. I did not want an ebike with a throttle that would work like a motorcycle. It looks weird and I want to at least convince myself that I am getting some exercise. With a pedelec you have to pedal before the bike assist kicks in.

So with Mr Aggy  in tow, I headed off to Ausbike in Melbourne. There were a number of ebikes and at least two pedelecs on show. You could also try these bikes on a short circuit out the back.

Well, from the first ride I was convinced! The battery assist is great and you feel like you could ride for hours (or at least until the battery runs out). I rode the Power Ped Legato and the Gazelle Orange Plus Innergy XT (strange name - nothing orange about it.). Both seemed really good, and on the day, I really liked the Power Ped better than the Gazelle. However, it was a short, flat circuit, so I needed to give them another try.

Fast forward a week and I have convinced my sister-in-law to come for a test ride with me at a store in Mooroolbark - about two hours from where I live. (You may wonder why I did not try the Gazelle in Geelong at the local dealer. He does not 'believe' in electric bikes.) So I ended up at this great store MySpokes where Sean could not have been more helpful. He told us to take the Power Ped and the Gazelle out for as long as we wanted and ride up and down the nearby hills.

In the end, we went out for about an hour and a half. We raced up hills and down hills, we swapped bikes and we had a really good test ride. We wished we had a picnic we were having such a great time. And although we did a lot of hills and took off our jumpers, we were not sweaty at all.

My conclusions: The Power Ped Legato is a good bike. It tends to 'surge' when you first pedal and this is a bit disconcerting at first. The motor is also quite noisy. However, it is a good ride and has some good features and plenty of grunt.

But the Gazelle was fantastic. It was smooth and quiet and seemed to have everything included (at a price - $2999). It had plenty of power and the 'boost' setting got us up the big hills. It is, however, heavy to ride without assist, so you would need to keep an eye on the battery level. The Power Ped has an extra gear and felt slightly easier to ride unassisted.

Well, long story short, I have ordered a Gazelle (size 53) and it should arrive mid December. Can't wait.