How using an E-Bike changes you

As you no doubt know, I’ve had an electric bike for over two years now, and it’s left a fantastic impression on me physically and mentally too.

About me, I’m 47 years old, I’ve smoked for over 30 years, I live in Halifax West Yorkshire (a VERY hilly town), I also suffer with depression and have done for 20 years. I bought this bike because I’d started cycling again the year before I tore my knee cartilage, and I struggled getting any power through my knees.

A few months after buying the Carrera Crossfire-E I had my knees fixed, and soon after I was back to normal.

So now you know I’m a prime candidate for using an e-bike, and so far I’ve done 2,000 miles on it. But how has it changed me?

  1. I now get out of the house more than ever and it’s all cycling,
  2. I have lost a significant amount of weight, and it’s stayed off (mostly),
  3. My mood improves every time I go out, and I look forward to going out too,
  4. Instead of getting in the car to go to town or Asda for a few bits, I jump on the bike,
  5. I can also keep up and even beat the wanna-be pro’s, especially uphill,
  6. If I did have a job I’d almost certainly commute,
  7. Hills are not an issue anymore.
  8. If you ride instead of driving then you get all this and save money on fuel too.

There’s also the issue of distance. Previously when I owned a non E-Bike (Specialized Myka) I could manage 15 miles and only with nearly a full year of prep, now I can manage as much as 45 miles. That is what e-biking is about, freedom, it’s this that makes such a positive change from driving the car, all the benefits of cycling without the stress and strain of normal bike riding.

You don’t need to be like me to benefit from an e-bike, anyone can and will benefit from using an electric bike, even commuting to and from work would be an improvement, both in speed and sweat. If you already commute on a bike then an e-bike would be faster and a lot less sweaty.

So if it’s something you’ve considered and would like to try, then pop into a local bike shop and try one out.

 

(True story). I went to PedalSport https://pedalsportshop.com/ for a new bike light and a few bits just after buying the Crossfire-E, and while they did sell me what I wanted they scoffed at the thought of an e-bike and one person even laughed in my face. I haven’t since been back and never will because of the sheer snobbery and arrogance of the staff. But look at them now.

Finally some good weather and Telemetry data

The last good day was way back in January, and while I did go for a ride, it was just to discharge the battery for the upcoming cold months, I didn’t want it sat there with a full charge, after all, that kills Lithium Ion batteries fast!

I’ve also got a new camera, a Garmin Virb X, this records 1080p and GPS data from a ride, so I can now show you my speed, distance, pitch, roll, g-force, gradient and a whole hell of a lot more.

The layout I’ve used is…

  1. Bottom left = Distance traveled
  2. Middle = Pace in minutes per mile
  3. Time taken
  4. And oviously speed

The camera is not the best, the video is captured at 1080P, but it’s very poor quality and suffers from a lot of compression, then the video editor compresses it further and finally youtube does it’s thing too, so the final output is crap compared to a gopro. But at least I now have telemetry data to show you. Personally I’d have gone for the Virb X Ultra 4K, but that was too rich for my blood. Though I might get a Hero 5 Session and use that video instead. To save on youtube’s compression I’ve uploaded it locally.

 

Cycling tips

These are all good points, be seen, use lights and hi-vis clothing, ride sensibly etc… but the fact that so many riders don’t give a shit about other road users shows why cyclists are hated.

My advice, never ever pass a HGV on the left, I have a class one licence and I’ve seen it so many times and nearly hit a few riders myself, the left hand side is called “The Blind Side” for a damn good reason, you can’t see shit in a car, bus and expecially a HGV… so don’t do it unless you want to die.

Lastly, ride a bike like you drive a car, don’t filter or filter as little as possible, don’t ride on the pavement, don’t be selfish, and you should be around for many more years.

 

The dreaded crossfire-e power cut – FIXED!

I’ve held off updating the blog with the fix for the power cut-out on the Carrera Crossfire-E, I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just fooling myself and to make sure it stays fixed. 300 miles later and I’ve had zero cut outs.  

Way way back in April 2016 when I got this bike and experienced my first power cut I noticed that a zip-tie was around the cable and the frame. But just before going on my holiday to Fort William I gave my baby a damn good clean and service. During the service I removed the rear wheel and chain for a really deep clean, then reattached everything and put on a new zip-tie, a green one.

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Thank you Halfords

Just before my holiday to Fort William I emailed SR Suntour and asked if they have an update for 2016 and earlier bikes, to swap the display from KM to Miles, they didn’t and stopped working on updating the firmware some time ago. They did suggest that I contact Halfords and ask if they’ll swap the display to a 2017 model for me as it’s compatible with earlier bikes.

So I went to my local store and they didn’t hesitate to order one, unfortunately they only ordered the display and not the control button too, and while the display arrived in time for my hols, the buttons didn’t.

But by the time I came back they had arrived and I’ve not got the display and buttons for a 2017 bike and they work perfectly, man it’s so nice to have miles per hour and miles total instead of KM.

So a big thank you to Halfords (Halifax)  for sorting this out for me, and free of charge too.

 

Looking after Lithium Batteries

Battery care.

To be honest I’ve learned over the years that batteries perform better at room temperature, this actually isn’t the case with Li-ion batteries, they like to be really cold, especially when you store them for a few months. So seeing as a new battery pack can cost hundreds of pounds I did some quick research and this is what it boils down to.

1. You should only charge a lithium battery to 100% when you need to use the battery for extended periods that day or the day after. Try to keep the charge between 20% and 80%
2. NEVER NEVER NEVER let the battery drain below 10%.
3. Around the 30 cycles, (one cycle is 80%-20% of battery power) discharge the battery as low as you dare. So at the 5% mark give it a good long charge.
4. Store the battery at 40%, DO NOT charge it to 100% and store it. Storing the battery is for 3 months or more.
5. Freeze the battery! I know right, it doesn’t make sense. Freeze the battery at roughly 30% charge in a carrier bag so it can breath a little.

To summarise.
Keep the battery level between 80% and 20% for normal every day use. Discharge the battery every 30 charges, and store it for long periods at 40% charge. If you can freeze it when you store it then even better.

Li-ion should last for 300-500 charges, and if you follow the above then it should last nearer the 500 charges.
Source: http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/how_to_prolong_lithium_based_batteries

Crossfire-E Will it go 45 Miles with one charge?

Last week I had my first ever holiday on my own and my first holiday in nearly 3 years, my first day off, my first lie in and my first holiday with my E-Bike. Before I set off I planned a trip around Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil with Google Maps.

The maximum assist I used was 25%

Just in case the map doesn’t work properly, here’s a link to the proper route.

The total distance I rode was just a little over google’s estimate as I detoured around Inverlochy looking for a bike shop that sells waterproof pants and gloves. Thanks to Nevis Cycles for the gear and for taking my hard earned cash off me (with a small discount too 🙂 ). I set off with the intention of just riding down to the Corran ferry and retracing my route back, but the weather was glorious, I had my snacks with me, plenty to drink and almost zero traffic, so what the hell right!

To be honest, there are only few minor hills on this route, the highest climb I think was around 30 meters, so not too tough at all. Most of the riding is smooth and flat… Nirvana 🙂

I also brought with me a new gadget… Zhiyun Smooth Q, it’s a gimbal for use with smart phones and apart from me swapping hands the video is silky smooth and wobble free. It’s also a short video, my phone battery wouldn’t last for the 3 hour duration and nor would the storage, the 45 minute video used 14GB of space though it is shot at 4K.

The bike battery did technically last the full ride, dropping down to 2% at the end, I was impressed, it’s now an 18 month old battery and it’s done 1,500 miles in Yorkshire and all it’s hills. What I didn’t know however, the last 5% seriously reduces the power output to short pulses to conserve the remaining energy and get you home. But by the time I get to the shore opposite Linnhe Lochside Holidays I was knackered, and riding the bike one handed and filming meant I asked more of the battery too, and that showed signs that it couldn’t get me back on full power, I’d have a fair bit of work to do with little assistance. But I didn’t know that just yet. One other thing of note… the weather at this point changed and it utterly pissed it down the rest of the way… but at least I had my new waterproofs 🙂

I was now miserable, knackered, cold, and I still had around 15 miles to go. Of course I made it back I had no choice, and this isn’t a ghost writing this blog post, though I’ve warmed up since then 🙂

Like I said, this isn’t the full video, the battery and storage wouldn’t last for a 3 hour ride, but I am surprised I did it in 3 hours when Google Maps recons on a 4 hour ride. So Yay for me 🙂

So can it do the 60 miles Halfords advertise? Like I said in my initial review, Yes it can, with a flat ride, and a fit and competent rider it could. Had I not been recording I think it would have made all the difference, also had I stopped for more than a minute to munch a banana and a packet of crisps and had a 10-20 minute rest, I think I could have made it back sooner and with more power left in the battery. But I was left with enough anxiety after the ride that I didn’t attempt it again that week.

Anyway, enjoy the video, the Highlands are gorgeous, even when it rains.

 

Other rides I did that week:

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1975982607

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1979232456

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1973350700

https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/1971566684

 

 

My Cycling Accessories

I have a multitude of extras on my bike, lights, camera’s, gel seats and more, so here is a complete list of all my accessories that I couldn’t live without.

  1. Gel seat cover – Ebay
  2. suspension seat post (must be 31.6mm)- Amazon
  3. Lezyne Superdrive front light – Halfords my review here.
  4. Cateye Rapid rear light – Halfords
  5. Water bottle – Halfords The cage I got from Asda but it’s not listed on asda.com, it’s a velkro tied cage and it fits on the top strut on the frame, no bottle cases boss’s needed.
  6. Ion Air pro – Wireless Camera originally bought from currys, found on Amazon
  7. Rear Camera – Gopro Hero 1 From Halfords, now found on amazon
  8. Front and Rear Mudguards – Bought from asda and not available on Asda.com

Carrera Crossfire-E Electric bike – Power Cut

Now fixed: https://the-bionic-cyclist.co.uk/2017/10/15/the-dreaded-power-cut-fixed/

It seems that despite Halfords and SRSuntour’s best efforts owners are still suffering power cuts from this otherwise excellent bike. I have a fix for this, sadly it’s not permanent but it will reduce the cut out to a minor inconvenience.

On the rear of the bike (left hand side, by the rear wheel) there is a neoprene patch held in place with velcro, remove this patch to show a large barrel connector, this is the power supply to the motor on the rear wheel, disconnect and reconnect the barrel and reattach the neoprene. All done it takes less than a minute.

That’s it, it really is that simple, I do this and I’m good for another 50-75 miles before I get another power cut. Or you could do this before you set off and hopefully prevent a power cut.

Let me know if this works for you or if it’s still frustrating you, or if you’ve cured the problem completely let us all know how you did it.