Surface 604 Boar

If you are looking at one bike for all your cycling needs; winter cycling (studded tires 4″&5″), night rides (lighted speedometer), windy days (350 Watt electric motor that draws more power to get you moving), lots of hills (1X10 gear train), long rides (80km battery range), off road (run lower pressure to soak up bumps), riding up ridiculously steep grades somewhere around 25-35% (I didn’t believe the GPS’s intermittent 50% reading which was impossible to believe), or if you just want to charge your phone, this one is a good bet.

For night riding, the speedometer is well lit. The background light can be manually turned off or on. The speedometer is very sensitive and will react quickly to slight changes in speed (.1 kph).

The battery level is unpredictable when running at high power when it drops 4 bars. I’ve had it shut off when the batter indicator was down to about 60%. Setting the power to a lower level after it shuts off will allow resuming the ride for a while longer. The speedometer is powered by the battery. When the power drops and it shuts off, turning the motor power off will allow the speedometer to continue working.

There are 5 power level settings that can be selected using the + or –
buttons. Anything over 3 will deplete the battery very quickly. Level 1 is good for hills and to get moving. Level 2 is good for pathways at around 20kph. Level 3 will keep you around 27 kph and provide really good range. Level 4 up to about 30 kph. Level 5 is essentially full power until 32 kph. Would have liked the power to fade out more smoothly. There is noticeable surging at 32 kph and for trail riding at slow speeds I would recommend keeping the motor off. There is a lag of about 1 second when you stop pedaling before the motor shuts off. Despite the lower powered 350 watt motor verses my other 500 watt ebike, it provids plenty of power (up to 700 watts surge).

I did a ride at Level 3 and it took forever for the battery power to drop 2 bars at around 40-50 km. Then I upped the power level to 4 and it dropped 2 bars very quickly. Later I upped the power to level 5 as the ride neared its end. It shut off about 2 km from home at somewhere near 85-90 kms. Reducing the power level got me over the last few hills.

You don’t need to turn on the display to check the battery level. There is also a push button on the top of the battery pack. I couldn’t read this indicator outside in daylight.

The control panel is a simple affair but there are combinations of buttons to set parameters. It can be quite complicated to figure out the owners manual. Something as simple as resetting the trip/average/maximum speed is complicated and requires 6 button presses in different combinations. Press “i” 2X, press + (it shows “y”), press “i”, press “i” 2X to exit programming other features. There is no clock display.

You need the key to remove the battery for charging (up to 6 hours) and that is the only time you need the key. The lower end of the battery pack has a rubber cover where you can plug in your phone/computer via USB to charge it. Comes in very handy for touring.

You cannot plug in the charger while the battery is installed on the bike. I presume that is to prevent damage from the higher charging voltage/current. The charging socket is blocked by the seat tube to prevent plugging the charger in when the battery is installed.

To assist in removing the battery for charging, this odd spring loaded lever can be pulled out. It wasn’t that obvious that this was a lever.

The battery location creates a problem for carrying anything (water bottles/flat kit etc). You can order two racks (front&back). The front rack can carry 100 lbs (which explains the huge steering bearings). The maximum load is very high at just short of 300 lbs. This means that heavy cyclists won’t have a problem with weight limits that are typical of most bicycles. This bike could double as a cargo bike or heavy touring bike too. Later I installed a seat rack to carry a few essentials in a rear rack bag. The racks for this bike are pricey because they are designed to carry a lot of weight.

As you can see, I installed home made bicycle fenders for about $30 instead of paying about $140. The front fender has to be pulled in tight or it will hit the pedals when turning. I later shortened the lower front fender brace so it wasn’t bowed out (to temporarily provide enough foot clearance in the photo).

The right angle bracket over the front fender is a camera mount. The one accessory I would have liked to see is built in head/tail lights that run off battery power.

It is a very smart looking bike beside the Autumn colours!


Ward 3 election candidate info

Ian McAnerin​​Website:

Has lived in ward 3 for 23 years

Background: Has a BASc in cultures and religion, a law degree, has experience working with an Olympic Committee (Chinese 2008 bid, 2010 Vancouver Olympics))and has worked with all levels of government.

Fundraising is all grass roots and has stated he has acceptedno donations from home builders or developers.

Opposed the Harvest Hills Golf Course redevelopment

On his website he has clearly stated his platform and stance on local and city-wide issues.

Has worked with multiple levels of government and understands how they work.

Editors Comments: Ian is a down to earth grass roots candidate. He has the skills to do the job and supported the hard work we did in the community re the golf course. Webelieve and trust what he has said he will do for our community. His Olympic and multi-level Government experience are a real bonus as we look at doing an Olympic bid. We feel he is the best choice to be our Councilor.

Jun Lin​​​Website:

Has lived in Northern Hills for 7 years.

Background: Works with the Petroleum Marketing Commission, has a BSc and MBA.

Fundraising is all grass roots and has stated he has accepted no donations from home builders or developers. However, when asked about development at the community forum he stated he was pro development.

Primary concerns: Transparency of city council, protecting Tax Payers, Trend to removing green spaces in favour of development and wants the Green Line extended to north point.

Opposed the Harvest Hills Golf Course redevelopment

Editors Comments: Jun is an intelligent and capable person who would likely work hard for the community. He lacks government experience and this might make him less effective as our representative. We have some concern about his pro development stance at the Communitiesforum.

Jyoti Gondek​​Website:

Has lived in Northern Hills for 20 years.

Background: Was Jim Stevenson’s campaign manager, was appointed to the Calgary Planning Commission (CPC) by City Council. She worked at the Haskayne School of Business as an adjunct professor.

While a member of the Calgary Planning Commission she voted in favour of sending the plan to develop the Harvest Hills Golf to City Council for approval. She did add a couple of caveats to the proposal but these were not accepted by council.

Campaign contributions contain maximum donations from some sources. When asked at the community forum she declined to say who her donations have come from. Since the Forum she has released a list of her contributors. The list shows contributions from many home builders and Developers.

Primary Concerns: Better Money Management, foster safe and caring communities.

Editors Comments: Jyoti has experience with local government, has an academic background. However, as a member of CPC she did not stand up for Northern Hills communities. Also, with a significant portion of her donations coming from companies that are engaged in the development industry it makes us wonder where her loyalties will lie when there is a conflict between the needs of the community or the developer.

Connie Hamilton​Website:

Fundraising is all grass roots and has stated she has accepted no donations from home builders or developers.

Connie does not have a website but information on her platform is available on facebook.

Background: Connie was a committed supporter of the Harvest Hills Golf course fight and ran an active Facebook page, tracking activities relating to the golf course redevelopment project and providing a forum for people to exchange their views on the project. Her passion for the community has led to her decision to run for council.

Editors Comments: Connie has the passion to do the job. In the candidates’ forum she came across as genuine and handled herself quite well. However, we are concerned that her focus might be two narrow.

We encourage you to do your own research and hopefully this letter can help you in that process. We also encourage you to exercise your right to vote on October 16. There are many countries on our planet that wish they had the same opportunity.


When businesses don’t understand bicycle racks.

Recently I went to the Clique restaurant. At the checkout, the cashiers mentioned there was a bicycle rack.

I knew that.

The comment caused me to reflect on what Tom Babin at had recently written about badly designed and installed bicycle racks. The strange thing was, I had filled out a comment card at the restaurant explaining what was wrong with the bike rack. It was as if the comments had fallen on deaf ears.

Here are 6 points that critique what I like to see.

1) Placement. A bike rack jammed up against a wall doesn’t work. Many bicycles are around 5ft long. This means that there needs to be sufficient room to put a bicycle in the rack and room on all sides of the bike to allow people to lock them up. Some racks jam bikes so close together that all the spaces can’t be used so people often have to lock bikes sideways across the entire rack. Would you park your car in a lot with spaces so narrow that you can’t get out of the car? The trend for many years has been for narrow parking spaces that exclude wide two door cars that used to be very common.

2) Undesirable locations: Placing bike racks in undesirable locations like under greasy kitchen exhaust vents isn’t promoting bike customers. Its actually an insult and a statement about how little bicycle customers are appreciated. Customers pick up on this very quickly.

A similar situation exists for drivers when they have smoke from kitchen exhausts blasting them in the face every time they get out of their cars. They wouldn’t park there either.

3) Security. A bicycle rack that isn’t even bolted down increases the risk of bike theft and also theft of the bike rack. If businesses can’t even be bothered to bolt racks down, will cyclists see this as a lack of concern about their bike security?

4) Visibility. The best location for bicycle racks is where they can be seen by patrons. This means right outside a window. If customers have to carry locks, many will not risk leaving their bike in a rack where it cannot be seen. Even people who carry locks will feel more compelled to do business at places where they can keep an eye on their bikes. Bicycle thefts in Calgary are on the rise and it seems that increased drug addiction is causing the increased thefts, not just for cyclists, but for drivers as well.

5) Damage. Bike racks that cause damage. Some racks cause damage because of their design. Some racks bend wheels or cause derailleurs to hit them. A rack needs to provide support for the frame, not just the wheels. This didn’t use to be a big problem with until rim/disk brakes and derailleurs became common. Misalignment of these components requires additional expense for repairs. If drivers don’t want to pay for repairs when they park at your business, why would anyone else?

6) Managing risk. Where proper bike racks are not provided, metal fences provide better security than street sign poles for instance. People can figure this out. They are not going to risk a stollen bike every time they come to your business. If businesses don’t care, cyclists won’t care to do business either. Its a two way street.

Is it any wonder that I don’t see other cyclists at this business?

I think not.


What is a time trial race like?

My first time trial this year was a strange concoction of events. I’m not a super fast cyclist. I know people who are older and much faster. The decision was last minute without time to train plus I really didn’t feel much like doing any hard rides this year.

The only thing going for me was cycle commuting all winter. Even then, I didn’t push myself as hard as in previous years and found it more difficult to ride fast. I ride heavy bikes and that’s about all that keeps me in shape.

Improving fitness a few days before the race was not going to happen because it takes a long time to improve fitness by gradually increasing effort over many months. The only possibility was to rest up as much as possible and hope I was fit enough to manage a decent time. The only change I made for equipment was new $100 tires.

I worried about whether I could even place well. As the group rode slowly out to the start line 1.5km away, I dropped down to first gear and picked up my pedal speed for about a kilometre then went up a few gears, took it easy and relaxed.

We lined up in a row according to our race numbers. One by one, the 20K riders left 30 seconds apart. By the time the last rider ahead of me left, the jitters were gone.

It seemed rather odd that all the worries about how well I’d do were suddenly gone. There is only one thing to do on a time trial and that is go as fast as possible for as long as possible.

When a person focuses totally on the present moment, time seems to slow down. I started out slowly and gradually picked up the pace. Jack rabbit starts waste too much effort.

All the techniques I used years ago on rides suddenly came back. There are really only two things you have control over. One is how you breathe to get as much air as possible. The second is choosing how much effort to push the pedals.

Overdo either one and you’ll slow down. The key is to balance out the stress between legs and lungs and maintain the highest effort on both. This means listening to the body and what its saying. Too high a gear and legs will fatigue. Too low a gear and breathing gets out of control. Its a constant rebalancing act in the gusty wind and frequent hills.

Within a kilometre I passed the first guy very quickly. Riders are separated by 30 seconds at the start line. Another kilometre later I rapidly passed the second guy. Another couple of kilometres and I slowly passed the 3rd guy who was going really fast. I began reducing the effort going down hill so I wouldn’t run out of steam before finishing.

As I neared the turn around point I was about about 500 metres behind the 4th guy and almost ready to pass. This meant I had gained almost 2 minutes on the 20K riders. The turn around was very slow. It costs way more in time to take the u-turn too fast and blow it.

The whole ride up until this point seemed like a few minutes. It was actually more like 10 minutes.

On the way back I passed about 10 of the 10K racers. I remember the hills and keeping my breathing under control. The last kilometre or two were uphill and into wind. At first it didn’t seem that bad but I kept my effort below what I could do going all out. The effort climbing long hills gets more difficult the longer the hill is. By the finishing marker I could just barely sustain the pace.

It was pretty weird that time didn’t seem to exist during the 19 minute ride and that I was the first one back.

Back at the arena we were given our times after the last riders had arrived. The time keeper said that anyone riding a heavy bike (more than 15lbs) who can manage that fast a speed, has talent.

I didn’t think I had it in me.


61 km ride today

A bike trailer provides extra carrying capacity when needed. Carrying a couple of wheels would be difficult otherwise.

Lots of people golfing today.

Forgot my water bottle!

Nice place to park for lunch under blossoming crabapple tree. No bike racks.

Went back for my water bottle. 61 km today. 🌞🚴😊

High of 18C today!


How to shift a bike going uphill.

Question was: how to shift a bike when it takes shifting down 5 gears to feel anything?

Step 1: take some Whiteout (preferred cause it wears off and is very visible) or a marker and mark one tooth on each gear on your bike, front and back gear sets to keep track of where you started counting teeth.

Eg. On a 21 speed bike with 3 front gears you may have 28,38,48 teeth on those gears.

On the cassette or freewheel (back gears) do the same starting with the largest gear and working your way to the smallest. Write the numbers down for each gear eg. 28,24,21…

Then go to: and enter the information. Don’t worry about the crank length if you don’t know it. We’re only looking for changes in gear inches (select gear inch output). Starting with the smallest front gear going to the largest front gear or chainring, enter the information. With the back gears, enter information starting with the largest back gear going to the smallest gear. Print the chart. What you end up with is a chart that has the lowest gear top left and highest gear on the bottom right of the chart.

What you are looking for.

You want to shift down progressively to a lower gear going up a gradually steepening hill. (On a very steep hill you might be better shifting to a gear low enough to get up a hill and just wait for the bike to slow down while pedalling at a constant speed until your feel resistance (bike has slowed down enough for that gear).)

What usually happens is you waste so much time jumping around from a low gear to higher gear to a lower gear (and you can’t shift fast enough because you have to ease up on pedalling to shift before finding the correct low gear and by then the bike has stopped because derailleur bikes don’t gear down well under load.

With the chart, you want to look at the gear inches. You want to find the smallest jump in gear inches between the largest front chainring and smallest cassette/freewheel gear combination and the next smaller chainring and larger cassette/freewheel combination.

In my case, I’ll shift down using the rear gears (cassette/freewheel). To remember to combination easily, I’ll use a 3 for the largest front (chainring) and a 7 for the smallest rear gear (cassette or freewheel). So top gear on a 21 speed would be memorized as 3,7. Downshifting then to 3,6 and 3,5 etc.

When I look at the chart, I find that the smallest gear inch change to a smaller chainring is from 3,5 to 2,7. In other words 2 representing the middle chainring and 7 representing the smallest freewheel gear (back gears).

I repeat this going from middle chainring to the small chainring and find once again that if I shift down… 2,7…2,6…2,5… that I can shift to the smallest chainring and shift to a smallest back gear combination with the smallest change in gearing. The smallest gear inch drop could be from 2,5 to 1,7. However, going from the innermost front gear to the outermost back gear will cause more wear… its called cross chaining. When hauling a heavy load or going up a steep hill you may find its more important to go to the nearest lower gear and keep pedalling hard to avoid loosing too much speed when shifting. For hills that increase in grade this works best.

If this is not a problem, ie you aren’t going to lose so much speed that you can’t gear down, some people say try to keep the chain as straight as possible. To do this, the large chainring uses the smallest 3 outer gears on the freewheel (5,6,7). The middle chainring used the middle 3 larger gears on the freewheel (3,4,5). The smallest chainring uses the largest 3 gears on the freewheel (3,2,1). This means a larger jump when changing to a smaller front chainring but it makes more sense in that it simplifies shifting while reducing cross chaining wear.

Using this method, I’ll shift 3,7…3,6…3,5…3,4…2,5…2,4…2,3…1,4 and all the way down to 1,1.

This complexity is why most people just don’t get how to shift a bike with chainrings and derailleur gears. You either choose the method of least wear or the method of progressively gearing down when pedalling hard.

When changes in grade are not significant, just drop to the smaller chainring. Think of the front chainrings as high, medium and low gear ranges and the freewheel gears as smaller changes within those ranges.

I print out the chart and tape it to the handlebar. Then I circle 3,5 2,7 and 2,5 to remind me of where the smallest gear changes are when I need to pedal hard.

When it comes to people with 65 gear bikes, 3 chainrings, 7 freewheels, and 3 hub gears… I just basically break down and cry.

Who ever said learning to shift a derailleur and chainring set bicycle was easy?

Be grateful if you only have a single chainring or a geared hub!


Cluny to Chancellor

Black n’ white makes a photo look like early 1900s. Other than a few houses on a road known as Chancellor, there isn’t much to see. But what makes the ride a great cycling route is a lack of traffic, the challenge of rolling hills and strong winds, especially when hills and wind are in the combination of downhill and tailwind turned into uphill and headwind.

Hwy 842 is a mix of smooth

and rough pavement.

During the 28 km out and back route there were fewer than two dozen vehicles on the road. Some were in the fields (tractors). Locals leave a wide margin when passing unlike city life where motorists often have a skewed concept of what sharing the road means. I found the sense of safety on this relatively unused highway similar to that of riding on Calgary’s Cycletracks.

This is the turn around point in Chancellor. Fast ride to this point. Tom averaged about 28 kph and I stopped to take photos.

I average about 27 kph. Light tailwind/crosswind and gradual lowering of altitude over much of the route made it relatively easy but challenging.

The wind began picking up speed to about 20kph. Added with gradual upward slope and hills, I managed to keep Tom in sight until the last 7 kms. Considering how many time trials Tom has won, it wasn’t a bad first season ride. Tom regularly rides in strong winds that would cause many of us to not ride at all.

The 842 curves west then south again. I was riding on solid tires which require a higher effort for the same speed. While Tom was coasting down hills I was pedalling to keep up. On rough pavement the effort to pedal on solid tires increases quite a bit. For training rides, flat proof solid tires have the advantage of carrying less weight (no tubes, no pumps). For touring when the majority of breakdowns are flats, solid tires more than compensate for being about 3-5 kph slower.

Hard efforts on one ride make later season rides feel easier. Avoiding hard rides makes every ride feel difficult. That’s why Tom hardly even sweated on the ride whereas for me, it was quite the challenge to keep up to someone 20 years older. {:~)


Response to Calgary’s legal department washing their hands of the snow removal problem

My response to City of Calgary’s legal department.

To: “James, Betty”

You are mistaken. The snow fall I’m referring to was from January and was never removed from the pathway.

This photo was taken on January 13 at 11:32pm. Notice the waist high pile of snow left on the left half of the pathway.


This photo was taken on January 19th at 5pm showing the same pile of snow was partly melted.


Snow had still not been removed and now it turns to ice.

This photo was taken on January 21at 10:22 am showing the snow which had melted and flooded the pathway and ice up. The ice had still not been removed.

Notice the ice that is forming all across the pathway? This is 8 days after I complained about the snow left on the pathway. Why was it not removed? There was so much ice and snow left on the pathway that it took months to melt.


Then it snowed March 6 and covered the ice resulting in the accident which I reported.

The contractor was negligent for not removing snow from the pathway back in January. I reported a slip on the pathway due to ice and still nothing was done to remove the ice. Then subsequently I fell on the pathway because the City of Calgary continued to be negligent and did not remove the ice.

Over 200 reports of people slipping and falling on pathways in the news this year was due to gross negligence of the city. I have plenty of photos to prove that plus many many #311 calls to have the pathway salted and ice removed. Nothing was done 2 months later.

Ignorance is not an excuse. Fire the contractor who created the problem in the first place. If Parks can plow the other half of the entire pathway within 7 days, what the hell is wrong with the roads department that they can’t do the same?

Don’t try to bullshit me. I have facts, not ignorant conjecture that the city depends on to fabricate excuses.

The Search For The Perfect Winter Bike. Is it a Fatbike?

The short story on what is the perfect winter bike is whatever bike allows you to pull a bicycle snow plow. Bare pavement will make any bicycle work quite well as a winter bike.

If that is not an option, consider two different kinds of bicycles for winter conditions. I’m assuming you are using studded tires, which in my experience, is essential for winter cycling.

Narrow tires tend to slide into any grooves, bike or car tracks. Narrow tires do better at digging through snow to grip pavement underneath. As snow depth increases over 4″, narrow studded tires may be the only way to keep moving!

The wider the tire, the less sliding around in ruts there is because a wider tire has a flatter surface. Although fatbikes are touted as the best winter bikes, even fatbikes can slide in icy ruts under certain conditions, especially if there is water or snow on top of ice (but much less likely than other kinds of bicycles).

Many cyclists get through winters on 2-3″ wide tires by dropping tire pressure to about half. Fatbikes are particularly good at handling extremely low tire pressures but expect the pedalling effort to increase exponentially with lower tire pressures. At 5 psi, the effort seems about 5X higher and speed goes down to about 1/4 of normal. A typical 20kph effort then deteriorates to a high effort 5 kph ride, barely adequate to maintain balance.

Electric fatbikes have the benefit of helping you run low pressure by providing more power to overcome some of the resistance from tire flexing. However, even fatbikes have their limits and are not always the best winter bike.

Fatbikes do make decent road bikes if your tires can run higher pressure (say 20-25psi) and have no tread in the center (flexing tread creates more resistance). Some tires will have a solid strip of rubber in the middle of the tire to reduce rolling resistance (A.K.A. beach tires). Acceleration will be slower due to heavier wheels but they can still keep a good pace with commuter bikes if you are considering using one kind of bike for everything including off road riding and climbing extremely steep grades. In fact, a fatbike may be one of the few bikes with a heavy enough front end that you can keep the front wheel on the ground climbing some insanely steep hills! The heavier wheels also make riding on tricky terrain easier because they just roll over everything.

Icy conditions require really good studded tires. Think of knobby tires with lots of studs. Tires with road tread tend to clog up more quickly with snow, reducing their effectiveness. On bare ice, pretty much any studded tire will work well. Chains are very effective on ice and are particularly good in deep snow where studs and tires become ineffective.

Despite the growing popularity, fatbikes do not work well in deep snow. The wide tires push a lot of snow and after 3″ of snow they begin to act as if you are riding on steel bearings with the front brake dragging.

Where fatbikes excel above other kinds of bicycles is on packed snow which is icy. The wider tires offer better grip in conditions where narrower tires become tricky to ride, especially if there is water or snow on top of ice. Consider combinations of packed and loose patches of snow for example.

On hard packed snow, narrow tires work quite well. But hit a patch of loose snow, wheel tracks, or semi patched snow that breaks apart under the weight of the tires and it quickly becomes very stressful as the narrow tires quickly lurch sideways.

Wider fatbike tires won’t sink in to these patches of loose snow to the same extent and therefore provide a more consistent stability. When those big tires do slide, it happens much slower, allowing time to compensate without freaking out. When you have to ride through furrows of deep packed snow from snowplows, just pedalling hard and crashing through it is usually all it takes. I wouldn’t dare try this on narrow tires because they’ll often dig in and could launch you off the bike.

With all this talk about how good fatbikes are, you’d think they’d make the best winter bikes in all conditions. While this is generally true, fatbikes fail quickly in deep snow. The solution then is to install tire chains which will grip the loose snow better. When snow is mushy, even tire chains can plug up with snow making them ineffective. What tire chains do, is increase how much slush and deep snow you can safely ride through. They provide a significant increase in traction.

When snow gets deep enough to make riding a fatbike impossible (in my experience 4″ of snow), What can you do?

Think narrow. If wide tires don’t work, try narrower knobby tires with studs and tire chains. It has allowed me to ride in snow 6″ of snow vs the fatbike becoming useless in 4″ of snow. Using 2″ wide tires (half the width of some fatbike tires), can work well enough to allow riding sometimes in up to 12″ of snow. The more snow the front wheel pushes, the more likely the back wheel will spin out as it tries to force the front wheel through the snow.

And what if this doesn’t work?

Think ebike. If you can add a little power to turn the front wheel against the resistance of the snow, the rear wheel won’t use up all of the available traction. If you use too much power driving the front wheel, it will spin out because there is less weight on the front tire to get enough traction. In fact, adding weight to the back wheel helps improve traction. Riding a heavier bike or adding weight to both wheels will help improve traction overall.

And what if this doesn’t work?

The last option, in my opinion, is the K-track (a snowmobile like track that replaces the rear wheel). They provide more traction in snow than a fatbike without tire chains, and in doing so, require more effort.

Any kind of riding in deep snow requires more effort for that matter. The laws of physics haven’t changed. All we are doing is looking for the best compromise under widely differing winter conditions. No one bike can do perform best under all winter conditions but several different kinds of bicycles can provide a wide margin of safety and traction when commuting by bike all winter.

The best winter bicycle is a compromise. Having different kinds of bicycles is like having different tools for different jobs (weather conditions).

Having the right kind of winter bicycle is how winter cyclists have fun when they’re not supposed to.

{:~)> <(~:}


Burley Travoy Ebike Expedition

Last year I added a Power In Motion ebike kit to the Bicycle Snowplow bike. The motor was useful on my camping trip to Rockyford last summer, especially on the way back when climbing the hills.

Now I’d like to introduce you to another addition to the ebike camping scheme, a Burley Travoy trailer also available at Power In Motion for under $400.

The photos show the trailer with only the lower bag installed. There are also 2 kinds of upper bags available. I bought the netted produce type bag because it is the right size to put two ebike batteries side by side in it. You can also get a computer bag that clips on.

The ebike batteries are about 9lbs each and an extension cable connects the batteries to the bike wiring to power the 500 watt motor. One battery used as power assist for hills had power to spare for the 86km trip. This year I’d like to increase the bike range with an extra battery to about 100 miles range. When hauling weight, level ground or down hills are no problem but uphills can slow you to a crawl.

The top bag can carry 20 lbs. The lower bag… 40 lbs for a total of 60 lbs.

You may also remember I broke a rear axle on my Trek hauling 65 lbs on that bike. The problem with (non touring) bikes is overloading the rear axle. Non touring bikes are very close the GVW with 40 lbs of gear. If you are doing self supported touring and camping, it will be a struggle to carry tents, clothes, food, water, tools and keep the weight down.

You are left trying to put as much weight as possible on the front wheel. Bulky items like tents and sleeping bags are very difficult to fin enough room to strap them on a bike.

In my case, about 40lbs on the front and about 20ish pounds on the back. Even with less weight on the back, a bearing race cracked on the back axle. Fortunately, it did not interfere with riding.

So this year I want to put as much weight off the bike and onto a trailer. With the ebike kit, empty bike weight is already at 76lbs. The cruiser style bike has no front rack and the front is already heavy enough with the motor and handlebar bag.

Since I had replaced the 44 tooth crank with a 40 tooth crank, I’ve had good results riding the heavy bike. I’ve grown to enjoy riding heavier bikes because they ride a lot smoother. Experience has shown that having a top gear that allows pedalling at 80-100 rpm at around 27-30kph works quite well. Any faster and air resistance becomes significant, increasing the effort to maintain speed.

Low gears on a 3 speed leave something to be desired because they aren’t low enough for serious hill climbing, especially when hauling camping gear. That’s where an ebike motor is great. I can stay in top gear and climb most hills at my cruising speed of about 27kph with a light load. With a heavy load and very steep hill, I can use low gear and switch to low power assist which cuts out about (15-17kph).

Testing last year showed good range improvement by keeping the speed down to about 23-25kph in the high power setting when using the motor. Battery drain can be reduced a lot by setting the power level and pedalling to increase speed by 3 kph over what the motor achieves over level ground.

With the 3 power settings, the motor will provide speeds close to 15-17 kph, 20-22kph (great for pathways), and 27-30kph with a 26″ wheel. A fully charged battery will produce higher speeds. A partly discharged battery will produce lower speeds. More testing to be done later this year.

Extra weight on the bike does reduce range somewhat when climbing hills which is to be expected. An additional battery is therefore a useful addition to camping but is by no means a mandatory requirement since pedalling can provide sufficient range even with a dead battery. Battery power could be conserved for just climbing hills and headwinds.

Bulky camping items like sleeping bags can be carries in the lower bag or strapped on. There is plenty of space in the large lower bag of the Burley trailer for a tent, sleeping bag, camp stove plus room for other items. Extra straps come with the trailer to strap down bulky loads like a dog carrier.

The trailer allows me to use rear panniers and still carry about 20 lbs on the back of the bike without overloading it. The hitch weight of the trailer is only a few extra pounds on the bike.

For a description of features of the Burley Travoy trailer you can see it in this video:

One thing that was not mentioned in the video… on the lower bag there is a draw string. This is for pulling the sides of the large lower bag in so the sides don’t rub on the wheels when the bag is empty.

There are several good reasons to combine an ebike kit and a bike trailer besides camping trips and the points I already mentioned.

1) Hills and wind (not the favourite conditions for many cyclists).
2) To maintain a lower and more stable heart rate over hilly terrain which can be helpful for people with health problems like heart conditions. Personally, I am not much of an advocate for high heart rates during training because there is mounting evidence that suggests sustained high heart rates can cause long term heart damage in athletes.
3) To provide power when fatigue sets in at the end of a long ride or when going for longer rides than one is accustomed to.
4) To get people out cycling more often.
5) For extra power when hauling more weight or building endurance (lower but more consistent effort).
6) To provide a more consistent speed for commutes.
7) To make it easier to pull snowplows and trailers with a bike.
8) Convenience: trailer can be used as a shopping cart or for avoiding the dreaded and time consuming unloading of panniers etc.
9) Loaded trailer can easily be pulled up stairs.

More posts later when summer camping starts. Let you know how this setup works. :-[]