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Social Ride Saturday Sep 1, R&M visits Auckland and more from our latest newsletter!

eZee Forza climbing whakapapa
The content below was from our recent Newsletter email-out. You can subscribe to our newsletter here.

Riese and Muller visits Auckland

Boutique electric bike manufacturer Riese and Muller from Germany is visiting down under. We’ve been stocking their bikes for almost a year now and will be hosting a ‘Meet and Greet’ with their representatives Catrin and Timo, Saturday September 1, from 10am to 2pm at the shop. There will be a group ride with them at 10am and a casual chat about the products and all things e-bike manufacturing from 12pm. The ride is open to anyone (BYO e-bike!) and will likely head down the cycleways into the Domain, then up to the top of Mt Eden/Maungawhau to give them an Auckland experience! Welcome to also just come for the meet and greet starting between 11:30 and 12pm back at the shop. Keep your eyes out for ElectricBazza’s interview of the duo on his world famous (in NZ) blog ElectricbikesNZ.com

The inimitable R&M Delite Dual Battery

Regular Shop Rides and Events

Last month we had a fun little Brompton group ride and maintenance event. Thanks to Andy for organising and taking people around. Check out the Auckland Brompton Club on Facebook for more information – https://www.facebook.com/groups/383580635175236/.

We plan to do more of these events, so stay tuned for a calendar of events in later newsletters!


Auckland Brompton Club at Viaduct Harbour

eZee Forza T4 on a Waikato/Taupo adventure!

I had the pleasure of a little riding trip visiting customers and e-bike shops on the eZee Forza LST, looking pretty in pink and with the latest T4 torque sensing system from eZee.

The 34Ah/1225Wh battery was just the ticket and on one fine day from Turangi to Whakapapa skifield and back, it did 120km and almost 2000m of climb with juice to spare at the end of the day. Other memorable rides were being rescued in the forests between Rotorua and Tokoroa by some friendly locals, and a more successful ride from Rotorua to Taupo, and a later quick trip from Turangi to Taupo. Thanks to Intercity for putting up with the bike on the bus back home from Taupo!

Full ride report to go up on our website in due course.


eZee Forza made it up to Whakapapa with a minimum of fuss!

Bosch electric bicycles arriving in NZ at 32kph

In the European e-bike section of the market, news of the year is that Bosch equipped e-bikes are starting to come into the market at 32kph, just as has been done for the US for quite some time. The Australian service centre has been instructed to take on any service and tech support needs for customers of these bikes in New Zealand. This is great news all around and we will be seeing more brands starting to offer 32kph in NZ as the year progresses. First of the mark has been Gepida, we have the Gepida Reptila in stock at 32kph right now. Any Riese and Muller orders will now come in at 32kph.

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Hub motors and mid-drive motors on electric bicycles – What’s that all about?

One of the most common questions that prospective buyers of electric bicycles have, is whether to ‘go mid-drive or hub drive’. Even people who don’t think to ask such a question are often bombarded by friends, sales people, manufacturers etc about which is better. What is it that they’re all on about and why is it even a thing? Do we really have to learn all that technical jargon to buy a good e-bike? Probably not, but knowing what your options are is important, particularly as you will not always be presented with all the options when you walk into a shop, unless it’s a true e-bike specialist, so make sure you get the chance to consider everything available to you before you make a decision. In most areas in NZ, this will mean visiting more than one shop.

Background Reading

Two years ago, we wrote an article about the benefits and drawbacks of the main motor placement options on electric bicycles, (re-published on our domain here) and now is a good time for a re-cap. The original article speaks in technical terms on the consequences of each motor placement option and therefore the pros and cons for the owner of the bike.  In this article, we will focus more on the non-technical side of it all. Well, I’ll try anyway, but you’ll still come across a lot of terms in here that are found in our Glossary or FAQ.

What are the options?

There are two general categories of electric bicycles for sale in NZ (and Australia, U.S. and many other places).

1 – “Hub-motor e-bikes with throttles” such as eZee Sprint, Magnum Metro and many more. These e-bikes are often from specialty e-bike companies as opposed to established bicycle manufacturers.

2 – “Mid-drive e-bikes”, eg e-bikes equipped with the motor drives by Bosch, such as Gepida, Moustache e-bikes, Riese and Muller and many more. European e-bikes are highly represented here, though there are plenty of factory generic options coming through as well.

It’s a lucky thing e-bikes are inanimate objects, as generalisations on these categories are unavoidable. And although there are always exceptions, the generalisations are definitely useful:

The hub motor category is more transport-oriented and excels in the nuts and bolts of transport – they go faster, have bigger batteries and are more affordable. The geometry and sizing is usually more ‘shareable’, fitting a variety of people. They almost always have throttles and cadence sensors, though the use of torque sensors in this category is growing. The bikes hold a bit more mass-market appeal, more likely to be built with function over form and don’t generally target the existing cyclist market.

The mid-drive category is almost synonymous with the european market, for reasons we will get into later. The choices in this category are more like non-electric bicycles in many ways, including aesthetics, geometry and sizing, ride feel and component choice. These are generally made by existing bicycle manufacturers who have a ‘bike first’ design philosophy, prioritising the non-powered nature of the vehicle over things like battery size, power, top speed etc. These bikes almost never have throttles and almost always have a torque sensor to help the bike know when you want power. They are generally slower, with most not giving assistance above 25kph. However, that is very quickly changing with more available at 32kph and 45kph.

Which option is the best?

You probably know I’m not going to answer that, they’re both great options and the beauty is that they are very different to one another. For an MTB rider that plans for both wheels to leave the ground at the same time, we will generally recommend a mid-drive. For an everyday rider who wants to do the occasional wine trail, the case for the hub drives is very strong, though plenty of people will prefer a mid-drive too.

I stick to the original article’s advice that you need to ask yourself (and your supplier) the following about any bike you’re considering.

1 -Do you feel confident when leaving the house on this e-bike, that you’ll have an enjoyable and safe ride that will make you want to use it next time you leave the house?

2 – Do you feel comfortable riding this electric bicycle?

3 – Can the electric bicycle go up hills with an amount of assistance sufficient to your needs/desires?

4 – Can someone service this electric bicycle for you, are spare parts available now and will spare batteries be available in 5 years?

What are the latest trends in the technology – why can’t one system have it all?

Since writing the original article, what’s changed in two years? Well, nothing that makes any of the original information inaccurate. However, there have been changes to what’s commonly for sale. In particular, there are many more hub motor e-bikes available with torque sensing systems, which was previously the domain of mid-drive e-bikes. And vice versa, there are many more mid-drive e-bikes available that can go faster than 25kph, previously the domain of the hub-motor bikes. This blurring of boundaries will make it even harder to draw any useful generalisations and therefore a little harder to decide in one sitting at your computer which bike to buy! However, deciding what to buy before you’ve ridden it never was a good idea. In reality these extra options mean it’s easier than ever to find an e-bike that you love, you may just find there’s a few more on your list to test ride than you first thought!

Bikes like the T4 torque sensing series of eZee bikes (Sprint Alfine T4 etc) are truly a ‘best of both worlds’ situation, with power in proportion to your pedalling achieving a smooth, natural ride, but still with the big batteries and heaps of power to go up any hill and higher top speeds.

Then we are also seeing the mid-drives offer higher speeds, with 32kph becoming an option for many brands, notably on most Shimano bikes since 2017 and some Bosch bikes from 2018. They still don’t have throttles and huge batteries, but for someone who wants to do most of the pedalling work but wants to go quicker than 25kph, this is also a ‘best of both worlds’ offering. It truly is exciting times for e-bike shoppers!

Why can’t one bike have it all and we can do away with these divisions? Some constraints certainly are artificial, such as a speed limit imposed in a different continent affecting what you can buy today, that’s a solvable problem. But other constraints are real – why do the e-bikes that feel most like a bike, not perform as well on the electric side? Because they’ve got a lower weight and space budget for robust motors and large batteries! Why do they cost more when they try to cover all bases? Because they’re having to spend more to accommodate competing interests. Evolving technology can cover some of these issues (eg lighter battery cells), but some are fundamental questions about what’s most important to you. Upright bikes are more comfortable but they’re less aerodynamic and are less suitable for swerving downhills on windy tracks – that’s a fact of physics and technology won’t change that. When riding on Tāmaki Drive shared path and getting buffeted by wind over a bridge, a heavy-set e-bike is your friend, but you won’t feel that way if you try to lift it onto a poorly designed car rack – technology won’t change that either (though a better car rack will).

There is a reason after all, why there is more than one bike to choose from! Take advantage of that fact and choose one you’ll love!

Further reading – Why do these different categories even exist?

The first thing to consider to understand all of this, is that NZ and Australia are small markets for bikes of any sort, due to small populations and a near-total decimation of livable cities in favour of car traffic. Now that the public is interested in buying e-bikes, we’re in the nice position of being able to choose from many different options that have been developed elsewhere for decades, so we get to skip straight to the state of the art without ever having put up with lead acid batteries, <10km battery range etc. All respect to the pioneers of e-bikes from the local early adopters, the NZ companies and the international companies that sold into NZ for the last 10 years, but the reality is that what is available to an NZ consumer right now is almost completely based on what has been popular elsewhere in the world and which of those happen to be pretty good matches for what’s appropriate to sell in NZ. And the availability of bikes elsewhere in the world has been influenced by user demand, technical constraints/achievements and the local regulatory conditions (ie what was legal and what wasn’t). The story of each market around the world over the last few decades is very interesting, but this has already gone on for too long. So we will look at Europe and the sector that I would call ‘the internationals’ as they have been the ones that kiwis have been buying from. The european market is based on what kinds of e-bikes the european bicycle companies were making for their own market. The ‘internationals’ is about what e-bike companies were making and attempting to sell all over the world, including NZ.

1 – The European experience and the birth of the mid-drives

The e-bike industry in Europe was an add-on to the bicycle industry on both the consumer and supplier side. That is to say that the consumers were generally people who wanted to keep doing things that were normal for them to do on a bicycle, but with electric assistance (Japan is the same in this regard). This meant the original market was for older people or anyone who needed motor assistance to do what other people were doing without motors. E-bikes were made therefore to be ridden alongside other established bicycle infrastructure and designed to behave like other bikes in speed, acceleration, weight etc. The buyers themselves were generally experienced in riding bicycles. The industry making the e-bikes were world experts in making non-electric bicycles and therefore offered all the same frame size options, geometry, slick aesthetics etc on their e-bikes as they did on their non-electric bikes. As a result, the bikes had small batteries and motors, weren’t intended to go very fast and not generally intended to do anything you wouldn’t do with a non-electric bike. The legislation forbid throttles and didn’t allow motor assistance past 25kph. Was everyone happy with this? Not at all, there were many pushes for faster e-bikes for more motor assistance and other obvious possibilities for an electric bicycle. This push generally came from hillier cities and places where bicycles and bicycle infrastructure was not as well established, as their needs were different. However, there was sufficient numbers of buyers in areas that were flatter and had existing riders, that a huge industry blossomed, with the Netherlands being the clear leader per capita and the Germans leading on absolute numbers. This market started with hub motors, but the market share is being overtaken by mid-drive motors, which do a better job of mimicking a non-electric bike. These are fantastic electric bicycles, we stock a range of them and recommend very highly that you try some and if it’s for you, you’ll be pleased as punch. However, we do not prescribe to the commonly espoused view that this is the ‘best’ category and that the only reason to buy from the hub motor category is for value for money reasons. That’s a narrow view of the market, based on an assumption that all e-bike owners want their e-bike to be just like their non-electric bicycle (only better) and generally is held by those who only sell European bikes or who are only reluctantly offering electric bikes, viewing them as some sort of compromise to a ‘real bicycle’. It appears as a majority viewpoint, simply because those who currently have an opinion on the matter and the privilege to air that opinion are those who write magazines, work for established bicycle manufacturers or who are in some way or another, part of the existing industry, which is based on non-electric bicycles. So what about the majority then, the people don’t use non-electric bicycles anymore? Or those who do use non-electric bicycles but want an electric bicycle to be different, to allow them to do things they wouldn’t dream of doing on a manual bike?

2 – The internationals and specialist e-bikes

The international e-bike companies have been selling e-bikes around the world for as long as you care to guess, for example eZee since 2001 to Europe, the US, NZ, South Africa, Australia etc. The experience of these companies was to worry less about what the regulations were in every single country and think more about what kind of e-bike they wanted to make and then see who would buy it. Their strength was not in non-electric bicycles and neither was their interest. The priorities became the nuts and bolts of movement – how big a hill can you climb, how far can you go, what speeds can the bike sustain? The geometry and componentry was chosen around that – what sort of frame shape can fit a big battery and still hold a lot of cargo that e-bike riders will want to carry around? What shape is comfortable, stable, safe and suits a lot of people. Why make 7 sizes when most e-bikes will get shared around the household anyway, why not make it more versatile, prioritising the vehicle over the biomechanical efficiency of a particular rider? It is well worth reading the interview transcript with Wai Won Ching, CEO of eZee on this subject.

The challenges for these companies was finding markets to sell into that could sustain an industry. The Europeans ignored any market that wasn’t big enough to pique their interest and for a reason – it’s hard to make ends meet in a small market and they have easier options. The e-bike specialists on the other hand, only existed to sell e-bikes, hard work or not.

The USA became a good market for the internationals because of the accommodating legislation (32kph and 500W was allowed in most states, throttles were allowed) and although the bike riding conditions were poor, the total population was big. The US consumer was also less likely to be impressed that a bike was made in Europe and more interested in the performance of the vehicle.

Probably what is missing most was a clear marketing message. “Designed in <insert country> for <insert country> conditions” is about as imaginative as it gets, compared to the marketing budget of bicycle brands that sell more units in one single shop in a Dutch city than all the e-bike shops in Auckland sell put together.

Where to from here for NZ?

Time of course will tell. The market will never be big in global terms, but it is getting big enough for us to be able to buy whatever we want, instead of what just happens to be imported into NZ. International companies are competing for market share here.

The next big step will be seeing what, if any, guidelines and regulations the NZTA assigns to electric bicycles. Government regulation is a double edged sword. The dangers of over regulating are obvious – if great bikes for our market are declared outside of regulation, the industry will shrink and so will consumers options. However, practical and clear guidelines from government will give the industry more certainty in what to invest and import.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Electric Bike Hub and eZee Bikes

The Electric Bike Hub, based in Nelson and owned by Jace Hobbs, was the second distributor of eZee in New Zealand, gaining distribution rights in 2012. Jace is an energetic advocate of electric bicycles and low-emissions technologies and worked tirelessly for many years promoting eZee bikes and e-bikes in general and was part of the vanguard in getting the public and politicians to see the benefits of e-bikes in New Zealand. The electric bicycle market was a fraction of its current size through that time and the level of public awareness was low. As such, it was pioneering work that was being done at that time by a relatively small number of individuals and companies, some of whom are still active today, namely Anthony Clyde (Wisper, Pedego and Smartmotion), Volto and Flying Cat.

We are quite familiar with the challenges of the time, through Glow Worm Bicycles in Australia, which started distributing eZee bikes in 2010 and still continues now. As with any emerging technology, there were various teething problems, reliability challenges and steep learning curves in repair and maintenance of electric bicycles. eZee has always been a proactive and effective partner in overcoming each challenge as it came up and the result has been always better bikes. Countless brands and retailers did not make it through this period – I recall a meeting in 2011 of the would-be Australian electric bicycle association that had 8 importers in attendance. By 2013 only 2 of the 8 were still in business and by 2016 we were the only ones left of the original 8. Naturally many more importers and brands arrived in that time, but we are still seeing them come and go.

We moved to Auckland in 2015 and started as a sub-distributor of eZee for Jace in 2016 under the name (of Jace’s choosing) Electric Bicycle Hub Auckland. In 2018 the distribution of eZee electric bicycles was awarded to us, after Jace’s distribution agreement was terminated. At that point we re-branded as Electric Bike Team. The legal reason for the termination of Jace’s contract was for non-payment of debts, though the overarching context was more complex. Essentially eZee had doubts about Jace’s ability to carry the brand through a new market reality of intense competition. And although all of Jace’s customers and dealers attest to passion and commitment to the brand and the industry over the years, there were issues and problems carrying out the day to day duties required of a distributor, particularly in recent years. eZee offered Jace a generous commission arrangement based on nationwide eZee sales, in consideration of his work in building up the brand to this day, however the two parties were unable to come to an agreement on the details. This led to Jace withholding payment for bikes already received, which led to contract termination and mutual loss of trust and goodwill. Jace has since made good on all debts to eZee by transferring all stock over to us in Auckland.

For our part, there were discussions with Jace about purchasing his website and customer base, but we were also unable to reach an agreement on the details.

Jace is quite unhappy about the turn in events to say the least. Unable to find a buyer, he has started to use his website to damage the reputation of eZee products by highlighting some challenges that were faced over the years in selling them. While they were very real challenges that we also worked through in Australia, the timing and the choice to speak of them now is of course directly related to losing the distributorship – there’s nothing amiss with the manufacturing of these bikes. Furthermore he has described some models as ‘discontinued’ which is not truthful – they are simply no longer available for sale from him.

While Jace has every right to his side of the story, we’d like to assure all existing and prospective eZee purchasers that we stand 100% behind the product. We hold every model in stock in our Auckland showroom and warehouse, including an extensive range of spare parts and accessories. No matter where and when you purchased an eZee bike, we are ready and able to provide parts and support.

Fantastic new models and torque sensing options have arrived, recent reviews are positive and any eZee retailer could confirm the same. We have an excellent relationship with eZee and can happily report that the product is better than ever. At time of writing, the CEO of eZee, Wai Won Ching, is road testing his new Longabike model on the Suntrip, a 70 day ride from France to Eastern China!

Please feel free to contact us directly with any questions or feedback.

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(edit – Found!!) Stolen! Gazelle Cabby with eZee kit. Maurice’s personal bike in Auckland

October 2018 update – the bike has been found, literally riding home one day! To celebrate we’ve announced a cargo bike picnic at the Grey Lynn Farmers Market from 9am this Sunday the 14th. More info here: https://www.biketober.bikeauckland.org.nz/2018-cargo-bike-picnic-at-grey-lynn-farmers-market

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Unfortunately our beloved electric cargo bike was stolen from below our shop on July 1.

It is a very distinctive bike. There would only be a handful of Gazelle Cabbys in the country and this is possibly the only one converted to electric with the eZee kit. It also has been modified to take front and rear disc brakes. And to make it even easier to spot, Gazelle Cabbys have the frame serial number integrated below the seat, so big that you can see it from a few metres away. Not only that, if the thief cuts off that part of the frame to hide the serial number, they will lose the structural integrity of the frame and it will be obvious that it’s stolen!

If you get any information, please call on 0274330057. If you are actually looking at the bike in the flesh, please do some/all of the following depending on the circumstance:

1 – Call me on 0274330057

2 – Call 111 and quote police report number 180717/6592

3 – Lock it up with a bike lock so that it won’t go anywhere in a hurry while the police show up!

4 – Inform the “new owner” that you know the bike is stolen and that they should return it 🙂

Photos below

The Gazelle Cabby carries both our little kiddies. Not shown in the photo is the plastic rain cover which was on the bike when it was stolen
our family’s beloved waka
The serial number is stamped below the seat, it’s C06169. In this photo the integrated chainguard is still on the bike. This was not on the bike at the time of theft
Our cabby was modified to have disc brakes on both front fork and rear dropout (rear pictured)

 

 

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Suntrip 2018 13,500km Electric Bicycle Race!

The 2018 Suntrip is on!

eZee CEO Wai Won Ching will be competing on the new eZee Longabike complete with solar setup.

The great adventure EPIC ride from Lyon Frane to Guangzhou China is now open for registration with the following link
 

for more information on the Sun Trip 2018 please see: 

https://www.thesuntrip.com/sun-trip-2018/lyon-canton-en/

Last year the winner of the trip was using the eZee electric system and won by 2 days or 500km!