Hello, it’s nice to meet you

It’s always a blast to take a spankin’ new bike out for its first commute. Today it was the Breezer Uptown 8. First impressions? Solid, smooth, quiet… very nice. I’ll have a full report later this summer.

Breezer Uptown 8

Bicycling and (in)fertility

Researchers speaking at a recent European fertility conference told listeners that long hours in the saddle may be linked to infertility. They studied 15 triathletes in an attempt to determine whether swimming, running, or cycling had an affect on sperm count, and found that only cycling had a direct correlation. They also found that the more time a rider spent training, the lower their count. From an article in the Guardian:

While all triathletes had less than 10% of normal-looking sperm, the men with less than 4% — at which percentage they would generally be considered to have significant fertility problems — were systematically covering over 300km per week on their bicycles.

The good news is that average bicyclists riding to-and-from work, or running errands on the weekend, have little to be concerned about:

Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said there had been considerable interest among the cycling community in recent years about whether or not too many hours in the saddle might affect male fertility.

“However, it is important to stress that even if the association between cycling and poor sperm morphology is correct, men training for triathlons are spending much more time in the saddle than the average social cycler or someone who might cycle to and from work,” he said. “There is no evidence that men who ride a bike are less fertile than other males. Indeed, if you look back in our history, only 40 years ago cycling was much more common and there is no evidence from that time that men were less fertile. In fact, quite the contrary! The post-war baby boom proves that.”

Read the story in the Guardian

Gallery: Larry’s Lightning Phantom with Ecospeed Motor

I’ve added an Ecospeed electric motor to my Lightning Phantom after selling our second car. Ecospeed makes mounts for specific recumbent bike models and can also make custom mounts. I used the Easy Racers Javelin mount which fit the two inch main tube exactly. My local bike shop was able to install the motor.

My commute is 18 miles roundtrip with the only elevation change over a freeway overpass. Without the motor it takes 36 to 45 minutes one way. With the motor (moderate usage), the time is 28-30 minutes. I’m lucky that in my rural town I have several public transportation options I’ve used for heavy fog or rain. I’ve ordered a fast charger to keep at work, but I can make it to work and back easily on one charge.

The Ecospeed motor drives the rear cassette, and the gear you select determines your speed. Choose a low gear (26 to 34 tooth) for hills and to accelerate quickly and top out at 15 to 18 miles per hour. With the highest gears (and maybe some legwork) you can reach 28-30 mph. The thumb throttle gives you full control over the amount of assist you want.

An electric option is particularly helpful for recumbents at stoplights, intersections, and in traffic. With the motor and extra weight I now use the front small chainring to start, and switch to the middle ring for cruising. You have many options for gearing the motor when purchasing, for hills or heavy loads, or for speed.

You should consider front suspension for higher speeds. My other Lightning Voyager has a front shock fork, and on the Phantom without suspension I’ve hit road holes that are jarring at 20 mph but wouldn’t have been too bad at 13-14 mph.

I’ve sold the car shown in my previous gallery listing (click here). The Ecospeed motors, mounts, and batteries may be the most expensive options for an electric bike, but I’ve never lost ten pounds driving my car before.

Pros

  • Very, very fun
  • Use and select your own tires and wheels
  • Gearing selection determines speed and torque for climbing or speed
  • Can change tires, wheels, and fix flats normally
  • Rides well without battery assist

Cons

  • Very expensive
  • Noisy

By the way, I hold Alan personally responsible and am thankful for our car-light decision. —Larry

SF Bike Plan Gets Green Light

After being held up for three years while an environmental study was conducted, San Francisco’s Bike Plan was finally approved by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board on Friday. The vote was unanimous, and barring any unforeseen obstacles, 45 of the 46 planned projects should move forward by this fall. This is great news for City bicyclists!

Read the story in the SF Chronicle

Not a Bad Way to Spend a Hot Afternoon

I would have preferred to be out riding if the weather was milder, but leisurely assembling a bike is not a bad way to spend an afternoon when it’s 106°F outside.

Form and Function

… are not mutually exclusive. Basil Kavan II Panniers + Rivendell Nigel Smythe Country Bag = 100 liters of stylish cargo hauling goodness.

Hybrid Electric Bicycles

Hybrid electric bicycles (also sometimes called pedelecs, e-assist bikes, or e-bikes) look and ride much like standard bicycles, but with the addition of an electric motor to assist the rider. Some are standard off-the-shelf bicycles with aftermarket motors added on, others are purpose-built with a battery and motor thoroughly integrated into the design. Hybrid controls run the gamut from simple twist throttles to sophisticated systems that provide as-needed assist based upon the amount of torque being generated by the rider. Unlike electric scooters and motorcycles, hybrid electric bicycles can be ridden as conventional bicycles with no assist.

The hybrid electric bicycle has yet to really take off here in the U.S., but if Europe and Asia are any indication, we may be seeing many more of these on our roads in the future. It’s yet to be determined exactly where they’ll fit in among existing road users, but so far it appears many local municipalities are classifying hybrids as bicycles, not motor vehicles. I don’t see a problem with this as long as speed limits on multi-use trails are set low enough (and enforced) to prevent conflict among user groups. Certainly there’s no problem with allowing hybrids access to all on-street bike lanes.

Hybrid electric bicycle riders sometimes get a bad rap from the macho crowd as being “cheaters”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hybrids are just another alternative to the automobile and they provide tremendous potential to attract riders who otherwise would not be able to use a bicycle at all, such as those with physical disabilities, age-related exercise restrictions, or overwhelmingly difficult terrain to traverse.

We’re going to dip our toe in the pool and start providing a little hybrid electric coverage here on EcoVelo. I’ve fielded many questions about hybrid electric bicycles over the past year, and we’ve taken on our first e-bike sponsor (Currie Technologies), so I figure it’s time to get up to speed (haha) and learn more about these interesting bicycles.

To start, please note that we now have a “Hybrid Electrics” category in our link collection at right. The next step will be a full hybrid electric bicycle review later this year.


 
© 2011 EcoVelo™