Today I took my car in for a service, and, since the dealer is on the far side of town and I couldn’t face the hassle of loading and unloading a bike, I’d booked a courtesy car for the day. But as I walked into the showroom, there was a sign saying “Ask about our electric loan bikes.” So I did. And a little while later I was cruising home on a very nicely-built machine from A2B. Not sure of the exact model, but it was pretty similar to this:
Now, I’ve always been pretty skeptical about battery-boosted bicycles, thinking they were really for the elderly or lazy. But having done ten miles or so on one today, I’ve largely changed my mind. Here’s why:
- It was a substantial bike: big tyres, good suspension, solidly made, with all the accessories. Because of its weight, you wouldn’t want to cycle it very far without the battery assistance. But with the power boost, it was an easy cycle, even up slopes, and gives you the benefits of more robust engineering: really good disk brakes, a solid carrier, a decent kickstand and large tyres which took kerbs, potholes and slippery patches in their stride. There was also plenty of battery power for some good lights, and a trip computer telling you various interesting bits of info as you went along.
- You have to keep pedalling. Not very hard, I grant you, but this isn’t a motorbike: you do get some exercise – in fact, the battery only pushes you along when you are doing so. It’s not nearly the exercise you’d get from a regular bicycle, but remember, I had chosen to use this instead of a car, not instead of a bike. And a car would have given me no exercise at all. You can, of course, pedal harder if you want to, or turn down the level of assistance that the battery gives, if you feel the need to be more virtuous.
- It was fast, even in the rain. What do I mean by that? Well, these things are normally limited to 15mph – not record-breaking by any means, but it’s a pretty good cycling speed when pottering around town. And the ease of getting up to that speed, and maintaining it, and resuming it when slowed down, meant that I actually moved from one place to another much faster than I would have done on my normal bike, unless I were really looking for a work-out. I was moving with the traffic, rather than having it whizz past me. And then, on the way back this evening, I was caught in a downpour. I realised that, had I been wearing full waterproofs, trousers and all, on my regular bike, I would have arrived at my destination sweating profusely. On this, I was really quite comfortable.
So, add all of that to that the fact that it was really rather fun, and I find myself looking at electric bikes in a new light. I genuinely believe I would use two wheels, rather than four, in many more situations if I had one of these. I would get less exercise than when I took my normal bike, but I’d get it much more often. And I’d be more willing to carry heavily-loaded panniers, and to cycle in inclement weather, than I am now.
All of which is good… but these things don’t come cheap. The one I used was somewhere in the £1500-2000 range, so I’m unlikely just to rush out and buy one. But I’m a lot more tempted now than I was before I tried it…
Here’s a list of actors, who have something in common:
- Charles Seel
- Judith Anderson
- Morgan Farley
- Richard Hale
- Anthony Jochim
- Felix Locher
- Celia Lovsky
- Leonard Mudie
- Abraham Sofaer
- John Warburton
- Ian Wolfe
What ties them together?
They all acted in Star Trek.
And they were all born in the 19th century.
I think that’s quite cool.
Thanks to this page for the info.
If you want to understand the basics of how encrypted communication works on computers, and why it should be easy to secure all your emails but often isn’t, it’s hard to find a better introduction than Bart Busschot’s on this episode of the Nosillacast. It starts at about 47 minutes.
Today I went go-karting at Rye House. This is something I’ve done before, once, almost exactly a third of a century ago. I remember the year because my older step-brothers had to lie about my age to get me in to the track!
I’ve been karting a few times in the intervening years, but never in weather conditions which were as bad – that is to say, as much fun – as today! I think I’ve been on windsurfing trips which involved less water. We all got completely soaked and had a wonderful time.
Oh, and it made for some nice photos, too!
Many thanks to Ray Gordon for organising the trip.
Those of us with a firm belief in the scientific method need to read this Economist article about how easily it can fall short of its ideals.
The good news is that this is being brought to light… In fact, I would propose the term Metascience, if nobody has already coined it, to describe this kind of work: the application of the scientific method to the scientific method!
I was telling Rose about a small photographic accessory that plugged into the hotshoe.
“That’s what it’s called? I thought you sneezed.”
This is St Mary’s church in Saffron Walden, and I love the contrast of dark and light. Doesn’t it look as if it might be floodlit? But that’s all natural light, on a somewhat overcast day. Larger versions here.