Monday, 22 October 2018

First commute on the Sheffield CycleBoost eBike

Yesterday was my first opportunity to commute to and from the office on the eBike that I received on loan from Sheffield CycleBoost

The route I took followed Abbey Lane down to Abbeydale Road, all the way into town, crossing St Mary's Gate. Then up Eyre, into Arundel and then Angel Street, down through Wicker and on to Savile Street, all the way along this to Brightside Street and right at the roundabout up Hawke Street.

It took me a while to understand how the eBike works. Not how to start it and stop it you understand, but how to get the most out of it, the best experience. All the way down Abbey Lane and Abbeydale road I was fighting the bike, trying to make it perform like my road bikes do, making the odd concession by switching on the electric motor and then thinking if I pedalled harder the bike would work with me and I'd find the perfect balance.

It wasn't until I'd got across St Mary's gate that I realised that it wasn't fatigue from yesterday's Peak District cycling trip that was affecting my performance, but more the way I was riding the eBike. Quite quickly after that, the epiphany hit me and I understood immediately what the eBike is all about and how and why it works. This revelation was a true revelation, and once I'd realised that there is an optimum balance between the amount of power the cyclist uses to pedal the bike, the gear (the Motus has 7 manual gears), the motor setting on the bike, and the terrain being crossed, I relaxed, and the rest of my journey into the office - culminating in the climb up Hawke Street (at the side of Forgemasters) was a far more leisurely and pleasant affair.

It was though the journey home that I was looking forward to. I wanted to understand how the eBike would stand up to the long uphill section that  would get me from the junction at Sheffield Arena all the way up to Meadowhead - around 8km of uphill work, and some of it being quite 'pushy' sometimes.

I needn't have worried. The lessons I'd learnt in the morning proved very beneficial, and although it was very tempting to drop the gearing and to up the motor input, I found a balance that involved hardly any power output on my part, whilst maintaining uphill speed probably faster than I usually acheive through pedalling my road bike; If I didn't beat my PBs on PoW Rad in Strava (a cycling app for recording cycling and running trips) I would be surprised - I'll check later (although if you do use Strava, it's essential to flag all your eBike rides as exactly that, or a heck of a lot of people start to complain, for obvious reasons.

Overall, this first commute was a complete success. I got to work refreshed, and I got home from work earlier than usual and not in the usual sweaty, breathless heap that I usually am. It wouldn't be fun to give away all of the secrets I learnt on today's rides; I think it would be great for every rider to go through the same learning experience because it would mean so much more, and that 'wow!' moment isn't to be missed!

Over the next few days I'll work through some of the Motus finer points including the control centre, but until then I hope you enjoyed reading this and watching the video I threw together. See you next time!


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