Tuesday, April 3, 2012

E-biking to Freo

My riding "kaki" (partner) here in Perth, Ken C, is really into energy efficient transportation. As a Physicist, he was experimenting with solar powered regenerative sources while at Murdoch University 10 years ago and hence, jumping into e-bikes now is as natural as a fish into water.

Since I'm on recovery mode for my right knee, I'm not supposed to cycle. Hence, it was the perfect reason to try out Ken's brand new Prodeco folding e-bike from the USA as its not really "cycling". He graciously rode his self-assembled e-MTB using Chinese components and insisted on me trying out his new toy. Our destination - to Fremantle to check a new e-transporation company, ZAP at High Street. Although the weather was a spot rainy, it didn't deter us and I was so excited to experience an e-bike on a long ride.

My first impressions were very favourable. Just press the thumb accelerator and off it goes! It felt more like a small motorcycle than a bicycle. Only its much better as we had access to all the short cuts via the excellent bike path. What really thrilled me was being able to climb hills effortlessly and 27-30kmh was not an issue at all. We also encountered strong head winds but it didn't bother us as it just meant a slightly slower cruising speed. The e-bike offered truly the best of both world - its ability to tackle hills at a push of the throttle while coasting downhill like a regular bike.

We reached Fremantle in about 30 mins with no sweat, and found ZAP. We were met with courteous and professional service and the owner Steve explained to us patiently and enthusiastically about his impressive e-bikes. It was very kind of him to allow us to test ride 2 models, a foldie and a 700c and we cruised to South Mole to soak in some fresh sea breezes. While it was nice enough to ride, I could not get used to the automatic pedal assist. Just cruising along on your own steam when suddenly, there is a surge to move you forward at the most unexpected moments. But I guess it takes getting used to and the strong sales ZAP is experiencing says a lot. I wish them every success!

Truth be told, I much prefer Ken's Prodeco e-foldie for it seems to perform better and is far more stylish, but thats just me. We stopped at Melville for a lovely Cuppacino and had time to do some grocery shopping too.

Since the Hyundai showroom was a stone's throw away, we also went to check out the new Veloster, a most stylish sports car with its unique 3 door design. Yes, it has a decent boot to take in our foldies! Tick.

The Veloster is made famous through a popular Korean action drama series City Hunter and that was when I first saw it. The missus wants one!

Coming back just 2km before reaching Ken's house, his e-bike ran out of power and it was back to pedaling for him, only this time it had another 10kg to lug! My Prodeco at 24km still showed a full tank of "gas".

The e-bike will not attract the cycling purists and would even meet with great disdain from some of my buddies but I can certainly appreciate its purposes. For mere transportation in place of the car, it is brilliant. It would also work for those who can't quite cycle due to health reasons but still enjoy being on the bike. It makes amazing financial sense too - ZAP claims 10c of electricity can go 60km and that redefines the meaning of running off the smell of an oily rag. No need to register and no insurance needed!

I think I have swallowed the e-bike poison no thanks to Ken C! Here's an excellent way of saving the earth with very little physical effort. Make my white please... Whee!!!!!

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