The joy of biking

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, December 28th, 2017 - 22 comments
Categories: transport - Tags: , ,

As I prepare to fly out of NZ yet again for work, I’m contemplating how much my personal transport has changed over the years. These days I most ride a e-bike.

I used to drive a lot. For work, for family, for education and even for the simple pleasure of just going somewhere.

I got the net in the days of usenet which reduced the need to travel. I could satisfy most of my insatiable curiosity without going anywhere to find things out. Especially as I no longer had to think of NZ as being a information prision with the long delays of printed materials locking me away from the fields of technology, thought and facts that I was interested in.

It also meant that as email and other cheap forms of digital communications progressed, that I simply didn’t have to travel to stay in contact with other people who I was interested in knowing.

Over the years, my car mileage has plummeted from more than 30 thousand kilometres per year in 1990 to less than 3k this year and still falling fast. In the last few years, I started allowing my employers to send me to customers (I stopped international flying in 1991). Most years I now fly an order of magnitude more kilometres per year than I drive around NZ. It is to help to implement the export of the code that I write. Tedious, but I consider it to be a useful minor contribution to our burgeoning tech exports.

My car kilometres will fall lower. I have a newly purchased e-bike to ride the safe Auckland cycleways faster than I can drive a car in Auckland traffic. My commute to work is a reliable 10 minutes each way. That is the same as the best I can do in car in the unlikely event that all of the traffic lights fall my way. The car usually takes 15 minutes and up to 45 minutes.

It is just a simple pleasure to ride. Especially since I don’t have to do all of the work myself pushing my 58 year old butt up the hills of Auckland. A small 300 watt electric motor and a 21ah lithium battery add the extra oomph to assist me in moving my weight, the bikes weight and that of the computers in the saddlebags up hills.

It is too small to actually do all of that work itself – I have to help it. Something that my body is starting to appreciate. But it is a hell of lot easier than than having to dismount and push the frigging bike.

It gives an exhilarating sustained burst of speed on the flat. I pedal and the motor adds my cyborg speed. Great fun !

Sure there is rain. But these days with breathable fast drying water resistant fabrics, that is nowhere as much of hassle. A good towel and some spare clothes in the saddle bags take care of that.

It replaces the lost walking that I used to do for exercise and pleasure. A clogged aorta that made it a wheezing nightmare for years. After heart attack and a stent that got slowly better. However increasing Hallux Rigidus in my right foot now makes walking long distances painful.

Not a problem with my red assistant under me. I dial up the amount of assistance I want or need and then add my contribution to the energy and select the gear. My foot doesn’t hurt because I’m pedalling with the ball of my foot rather than the big toe.

Now if I could just figure out how to stiffly dismount from the bike after a longer ride without looking like I am attempting to demonstrate how to fall off. I could have gotten a step through so I didn’t have to get my aged back to swing the leg over the dratted seat. But my back is getting less stiff as a result. And I really couldn’t give a shit about what others think anyway.  I am sure everyone knows my personal philosophy by now. It is on my tee-shirt right.

With enough practice and a lot of ignored embarrassment, I am sure it will get easier…


The bike that I’m riding is a Smart Motion e-urban with a  lot of the bells and whistles like a more powerful battery. You can read a decent review of it here

Otherwise no-one else assisted in anything to do with this post. There are a lot of electric bikes around with varying styles, prices and quality. 

22 comments on “The joy of biking”

  1. Biking is fun and is getting far better as we get better cycleways. And it’s even good for your health.

  2. mac1 2

    I’ve had an electric bike for a while and get about 25 km out of the battery on the flat. It’s an E-Zip Trailz with a 450 kw motor and 10 a/h battery.

    I love pulling away from an intersection without pedalling and have people watch me asking how’s he doing that? Not many electric bikes here. The bike has quite some zip. It got me to my work as quick as a car since it can do 25 km/h on battery alone, and easily snuck up past the queued cars at multiple intersections.

    The electric bike was great for delivering political pamphlets last election- just so much faster than walking. Now I’m retired it is very useful. It’s a step through model so I don’t have to get my leg over………

    • alwyn 2.1

      “It’s an E-Zip with a 450 kw motor.”
      That would really be some bike.
      A Porsche 911 Turbo, which will do 0-100 kph in 3.0 seconds and has a top speed of 320 kph has, or so I have read, a 397 kw engine.
      I think you mean 450 watt rather than kilowatt.

      I must say the thought of an electric bike does tempt me. I still have my old road bike but I am really far to old to ride it except on dead flat ground.

      • mac1 2.1.1

        Alwyn, thanks for the correction. 🙂

        An electric bike takes ten years off your age. I see lprent is ten years younger than me and he still pedals. I pedal enough to not look lazy, or go at very slow speeds around tight corners. A twitch on the throttle can lead to ramming speed very easily. They have quite fun pick-up, even with only a 450 watt motor.

      • Kevin 2.1.2

        I rode around Lake Taupo with a 75 year old back in November (I am 52). I was doing two laps, he was doing 4. For his 65 birthday he targeted 65 laps to raise money for charity which he completed. You are never too old, just out of practice. Start small and move on from there.

  3. Ad 3

    May your cycling joy reign supreme forever LPrent.

    I would love to live in a society or a city in which bicycling was more viable. This is not that country. It probably never will be other than for an exceedingly small if well intentioned handful.

    Most of us, as The Police noted back in the day, are “trapped like lemmings into shining metal boxes”.

    That reliance is not through some mental deficiency or lack of will on our collective part.

    That reliance is processed through the great mechanized gyre that replicates our built existence, revolves around our driveways and car ports and storage, built in to jobs that are far away, stamped into form by children and parents that choose different schools to the local ones, accelerated by tens of thousands of tertiary schools and students spread all over the city, hammered by malls dominating our “leisure” time with cycle-and-pedestrian offensive transport facilities, rolled through with hundreds of thousands of cheap imported cars coming in every year, tethered to low wage and multiple jobs in unstructured hours away from any footpath, made dominant by public transport that can rarely compete against the structure of our cities, energized by cheap fuel from a high dollar over nearly two decades, isolated by lack of cycling leadership either central or local other than in the last 5 years, enforced by a justified parental anxiety about injury and death, now renewed by the inability to use devices while cycling, a dreary social desire to separate exercise and work, a public health nightmare of intergenerational loss of desire for physical wellbeing and of even playing outside, successful attacks by shopkeepers against cycleways, all framed within a well-trimmed primrose path towards sustained petroleum reliance in its broadest social uses and deepest forms.

    I am sure this is not very GreaterAuckland of me, but most of our cities could rip up all their footpaths and almost no one would notice.

    • lprent 3.1

      …but most of our cities could rip up all their footpaths and almost no one would notice.

      Nah. I have to weave around pedestrians. Both on the cycleways – which are mixed use. But also on the foot paths when I’m getting too and from the cycleways or right side of the road.

      For instance, only a crazy person would try to cross over Great North Road in traffic even on an electric bike. There is reason that the police like setting up a traffic trap just after the K Rd lights. It has to do with drivers treating Great North Road as a race track. Over the years I have become expert at doing it in a car. Frigging dangerous even then.

  4. James 4

    I grabbed the wife a electric bike for Xmas. She seems to be liking it so far. They seem to get along.

    I’ll stick with the Harley however.

  5. Craig H 6

    I am quite tempted, when I have the cash available… I have read a bit about them, and for all the talk of electric and self-driving cars, E-Bikes also have the potential to be a revolutionary transport technology if enough people switch to them.

    • Carolyn_Nth 6.1

      then there’s those of us getting old with minor disabilities, whose cycling days are over e-cycling or otherwise.

      But it’s great when there’s affordable and accessible mass transit.

  6. jcuknz 7

    I would like to ready my body for when I am not permitted to drive/ride …. two years ago doc cut off my HT and motorbike licences but common sense tells me I need three wheels and yet to see or hear of an e-trike as I use a stick around the house and a walker for any distance, which I avoid. Supermarket trollys make me young again but you are not supposed to take them out of the carpark 🙂
    My boyhood best mate adapted one in the UK some years back. adding battery and motor to a regular trike …. but that is a bit and a half beyond me I think.
    Has anybody seen an e-trike and trailer? that would be an additional boon.

  7. Kevin 8

    Electric bikes are fine for those who want them but I would like to see a NZ standard that governs their powered speed and acceleration. Have seen enough near misses to know that people who have not biked ‘in a while’ need to ease back into it. Cant see any reason why the on bike electronics cannot govern this based on hours ridden.

  8. Macro 9

    Now that Auckland is deserted for the summer I was able to use the motorway in my drive through to the bach and only met one jam! The jams have now moved to south of Warkworth going North, and the turnoff to SH2 at the bottom of the Bombay Hills. Just noting that most drivers were being considerate, keeping left, and not being idiots by passing a few cars on the small passing lanes, just to gain a few car lengths at the expense of others. Note I said most drivers that does not include the ponces who drive Maserati and Porsche.
    There are a number of electric bikes here in Thames, and two bike shops selling them. But as we live at the top of a rather steep slope I think we will stay with four wheel transport. Am looking at purchasing a Leaf for around town and keeping the Hybrid for our long distance travel – such as travel to Auckland and back. The Hybrid does about 4.5 l per 100km, so the trip to Auckland and back is about 10 litres. The Leaf with a range of around 240 km with a full battery would require a charge in Auckland, which with the fast chargers, is not out of the way – but just something extra to have to do.
    James can keep his Harley – I shall keep my 1957 R50 BMW – which after sitting in boxes from 1973 (when I joined the Navy) I have recently restored and reassembled.

  9. Macro 10

    By the way LPrent – just don’t try to take your e-bike to New York!
    They don’t like them there! 🙁
    And just a few days ago:
    What is it with them over there?!

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