About a month ago, the PR lady for the Trek Concept Store in Highland Park, sent me a press release about Trek's new Ride + Electric Crossover Bike. The release was pretty cool, the Ride + is Trek's latest innovation and sounded interesting.
The brochure says: Imagine a world with no more hills or tired legs. Sweat-free, business-formal bike commutes a viable possibility. Always riding at the speed you want. That's the world that Ride+ creates. Ride+ can expand a person's world by breaking down the barriers
of what is possible by bicycle.
"What a great world to live in," I though! It goes on.
The Advantage of Electric Bikes
Electric bikes can increase the range a person can ride their bike as they will feel less fatigue with the electric assist. Extended exercise, pulling a trailer or carrying loads and sweat-free
bike commuting is now a reality with on-demand acceleration literally at your fingertips.
The motor system of the Ride+ line is designed to maximize the energy of the battery, expanding what is possible by bicycle. The 250w electric motor is designed to deliver high torque at a wide range of speeds to ensure immediate acceleration whenever needed.
The idea sounded cool, but that's what brochures do, make things sound better than life, when the truth can be something completely different. I posed an idea to Jeff and the crew at The Trek Store, "my wife and I should be bike commuters, she works 1.3 miles from our house, I work 4.5 miles from our house. Despite the fact that we have to get our son to day care, we are the perfect bike commuter family. If you are game, let's put Trek's Ride + to the test for a month and see how it works in real life conditions."
Normally with any brand, there is a few month lag to make a decision like this (still waiting on my Speed Concept) however, they got back to us within a day. "Yes, great idea ," was their answer, let's do this.
This is the part where I mention that I forgot to discuss the sudden life change with my wife. Believe it or not she is "used to me," and despite the fact that I agreed for both of us to give up driving to work on alternate days (need to get the boy to daycare), she was cool with the idea.
This is my first report as a Trek Ride +, Bike Commuter.
The Ride + is not a motorized bike, meaning, you can't stop pedaling and it will keep on moving you forward. It has 4 power levels that help propel you forward, faster than you normally would. 1 being 1/4 effort 4 being 100% effort. The initial reaction when you pedal and have Ride + engaged is WOW! You do move forward much faster than you normally would. It's not pedals flailing, out of control faster, but feels like a sudden burst of wind at your back faster.
At $2500 this is a well build bike, heavy as hell, but well built. Even without Ride + engaged, it feels like a strong, solid bike. The front is light, but the back end is heavy, due to the electric hub and battery pack that makes Ride + operate.
Before taking off on my first day, I charged the battery pack to make sure I had full power for my Ride +, I don't have that far to go, but wanted to put this puppy through it's paces.
Depending on your level of assistance the Trek Ride + can go up to 45 miles in a single charge! It can also be recharged, if you decide to manually pedal and not use the assistance at all.
My problems as a newbie bike commuter had nothing to do with the bike as much as my daily life organization. I am a huge double backer, which means, I leave for work, realize I forgot something, double back, get it and continue on with my day. Now that I was on a bike, in work clothes, on a hot day, I didn't want to get all sweaty doubling back, so I had to organize everything I needed before I left to make sure I was set.
In my 4 miles to work, I got a chance to play around with Ride +. It
was hot and sticky out and I was in a dress shirt and long pants,
however with the assistance at 3, I was pedaling along at 17 mph, with
very little effort and no sweating at all.
One of the cool things I discovered about the assistance from Ride + is
at hills, in the wind and at stop lights. I am not a hill climber at
all. When I hit a hill, Ride + would engage and poof, I was climbing
up effortlessly, the same went for the wind. When I got hit with a
gust and had to pedal harder Ride + would sense it and give me my own
wind gust, to blow right through the horrible head wind.
I made sure to hit plenty of pot holes and crags in the road to see
what Ride + could take. It took it all like a champ, no weirdness at
Day #1 down, very happy. My normal commute is about 6 minutes door to
door. On Ride + it was about 16, pedaling at a nice easy pace. It was
great to be out in the fresh air, see people, hear birds and not be
banging out work calls and sitting on my horn. A much better way to
start and end the day.
Next test, my wife takes Ride + to work. Mommy versus the Machine, who will win?
More adventures in Bike Commuting all month. If you want to check out
Ride+ and take your own test drive, then make sure to head out to the
Trek Store in Highland Park.