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.