Wheels on A Battery Fire

Since the outlawing of motorcycles, ebike usage has grown explosively. You might like the casual, wind in your hair feeling as you arrive at work sweat-free, but there are other things to consider.

1116_shoppingSmart Bikes, electronic bikes, eBikes or eScooters. Name them what you like, the plague of electric locusts. They are to the road as the iPhone is to the smart phone industry: popular and vastly overrated. They are supposedly low cost, but then so are potted plants. The difference is that plant pots don’t explode due to faulty lithium batteries or poorly maintained components. While cycling, my legs have yet to combust, but believe me, I am trying.

I sat with a group of locals to get their take on eBikes. A friend, John Burns explained, “…they are useful. I’m happy with mine.”

Shawn, at Irene’s Bar, elaborated further, “Before I bought my car, I used eBikes all the time. [They are] super useful and super convenient.”

Rock, a burly American interjected, “No power, no speed. [You’re] always hunting for a plug or humping a battery to a plug.”

“If you buy one for 3,000 RMB, it won’t have these issues,” Shawn responded defensively.

Tom Snow then piped in, “If you like something so fast you arrive at the bar 10 minutes before your eBike friends and 20 minutes before your walking friends, the moped is the way forward.”

Naturally, there are both good and bad models, which can be easy enough to operate and fairly straightforward to buy. You can leisurely ride them on a warm Sunday or you can use them for your daily commute. For a teacher hopping from Dongcheng to Nancheng, they are ideal. Plus, they look cool. They almost give off that Vespa-feel, but on a budget. Simply put, they can be bloody useful.

In other words, good luck on anything with two wheels in a collision. You going down, all the way down, hellhounds on your trail, boy!

But all things considered, a 50 km range is so restrictive. That said, power-assisted (hybrid) eBikes take the strain off conquering hills and slopes, and also get people out exploring in fresh air. Also, the inconvenience of arriving at a destination drenched in sweat is practically eliminated. A hybrid model that only offers power when you need it, could allow an irregular cyclist to access the sport at a more placid pace.

It might be fun, but ride safely

eBikes are also silent compared to the chattering chains of a push bike. This could be a positive and negative wrapped into one. At least Jaws had theme music to warn you of a teeth-lined, advancing attack. eBikes, on the other hand, seemingly appear out of nowhere and are heavier than a bicycle.

Criminals might also love these machines for a swift and silent tool in satchel snatching, fast paced assaults or a getaway vehicle that can’t be heard by pursuers. At least it’s an environmentally friendly solution.

There are also often dangerous customizations on eBikes to resolve speed issues. Pre-built limits are taken away and some even opt for the emergency cut-out key to be removed. Couple the high potential speeds with the stopping power of low quality disc-brakes and there is likely going to be problems.

Many bikes also come with poor tires that are so second-rate, I wouldn’t use them on a Walmart shopping cart.

Consider if your eBike is counterfeit or legitimately assembled with some standard safety requirements.

Like cyclists, there are many eBikers who really don’t like rules. By not observing road rules, negative consequences are much more severe without a metal cage for protection. In other words, good luck on anything with two wheels in a collision. You going down, you going all the way down, hellhounds on your trail, boy!

Also, factor in a lack of proper personal insurance, few people using helmets, missing basic cycle care courses and undertrained mechanics botching jobs.

If you must, at least ride with courtesy

Bike paths were designed for “No Motorized Vehicles,” yet, increasingly I find these eBikes skipping on my pedal powered turf. Should eBikes be allowed on Dalingshan’s quieter cycling roads or at Songshan Lake? They don’t emit fumes after all! Logic says they are not a traditional motorized, oily lump of machinery.

Like everything in life, one moment it all might be running smoothly, then suddenly, the chain may fall off. Make your own opinion and get on the saddle, but be sure to take care. For me, I’ve tried a few commutes and rented eBikes on occasional holidays. I couldn’t convert. To me, they are the bikes of the Olympic Keirin races, but will never finish a race. If I wanted a motor, I’d buy power. Because no eBike can keep up with a 650cc Triumph Thunderbird Derny.