Thirty-mile commute on an e-bike

I am sure if you have read Tweaked for your Pleasure for many years you will know both the following:

  • I love riding a motorbike
  • I love cycling
close up of arrow symbol on road
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

With this in mind, plus the fact I need to lose a lot more weight – I am 160Kg as of writing this! – I have decided to try commuting to my workplace only by cycling. Back many years ago and I am talking about a long time I used to ride the same route on a single-gear bicycle. This time I am going to be using my Sheng Milo MX02S to do this and will be doing it three times a week.

So with the bike insured and refreshing my knowledge on the Highway Code when it comes to cycling it is time to give it a try. I am not sure how I am expecting this to go but I have found I can do eight miles without much issue so it seems to depend on how well the battery holds out.

For those interested here is some information about the route I will be taking.

Going to the workplace is about 14 miles. As you can see from the graph below it is mostly going downhill all the way but coming back this way goes up a steep hill and that isn’t something I can handle yet with my weight (or possibly doing the gears wrong).

Coming back home is 16.8 miles and you may be wondering why I am going a different route and more so when you look at the graph below but it is because in my test rides I was able to get back via this secondary route easily while going the same route there had a hill I hated. I am not sure why this is the case as Google Maps suggest the going back route is the worst but I found it easier.

So that’s the route I will be taking and going to the workplace should take about an hour and a half for both ways according to Google Maps. With this in mind, it is interesting to see how fast Google thinks someone on a bike will go and going by it says 13.4 miles in 73 minutes which means I will need to go about 11.2 mph to get there in the time listed.

Before we get onto how each week felt it is worth saying that in my test rides it took me an hour and a half to get there but going the secondary route only took an hour whereas Google assumed longer. As I lose weight it is likely going to be quicker. I am starting this commute in January which in Britain is when the bitterly cold weather starts.

Week 1

Knowing that I will be travelling in the dark both ways and that it will be freezing I decided to use a high-visibility padded jacket which you often see security staff wearing. I also used hi-visibility gloves but these sucked when it comes to keeping myself warm. For days when it is really cold, raining or just outright windy I have some goggles to provide protection.

For the first week of cycling, it quite sucked. Going in the morning was not bad and it was lovely cycling just as the sun was coming up but when I got there I found it annoying to lock up my bike. I had enough battery getting there but coming back I ran out of the second battery and had to use my first battery to finish up – and in my test rides it wasn’t a problem! I’m unsure if it is because I might have used the throttle coming back too much as I was walking around a lot but I will need to try again next week with more pedalling.

One thing I have forgotten is just how much my leg feels heavy when pushing too far but this is something that will improve in time. Right now it feels like my ass feels like someone put a sander right on it and pushed in deep. For those that may be interested getting there took about 50 mins and coming back was just under an hour including the time it took changing my battery.

Week 2

Holy shit drivers hate cyclers, don’t they? I have had people beep their horns because I have to move into the middle of the lane at times to avoid massive potholes. Overall the trip itself was not that bad and beyond taking the wrong turn to where I live the battery held out right until I got to the last road. This happened twice so honestly, I’m not sure if right now I can cycle with this bike unless I get my hands on a third battery.

I am not sure how people can do this daily as my legs are so tired but I imagine it is something that improves over time with it being more so as I lose weight.

Week 3

It is funny how quickly you can get used to something as I am now starting to leave the house later and arrive roughly at the same time but also being able to cycle a bit further due to ongoing road works.

Coming back home I tried going back up the same route I get there with which means going up a hill and while the first hill is hard it not as bad as I remember. I decided to go this route to ensure I got enough battery coming home and so far I am not having any issues.

Week 4

Daylight is starting to come much earlier now and slowly getting darker later but I felt so bad this week going back up the hill. I had no energy and just couldn’t push myself up and nearly had to walk up a bit. For the next few weeks, I might take the original route just to make sure. It is also worth saying that the electric bike I have has settings missing – I am meant to have pedal-assist 5!

Week 5

Another week, another flat. I am starting to think cycling isn’t worth it. On the first day of this week, I had to walk roughly six miles pushing the electric bike as it got a flat somewhere. I noticed when the bike itself got harder to pedal up a hill and when I got to the next village I pulled over to check.

Thankfully I was able to get a lift back from a nice person that tried to help me fix my wheel on the side of the road but getting the back of the wheel off was horrible. In future, I plan to put slime into my wheels but I now have a breakdown service just “in case” this happens again in future.

Honestly, I dunno how I feel about cycling as a main form of travel right now.

Week 6

This week went mostly okay and no real issues beyond a near-hit. I was at a set of traffic lines and I was at the front of the lane (in the middle on the left-hand side and the traffic lines stop in front of a bridge that merges the road into one lane. When the traffic lines turned green I cycled forward and got to the bridge suddenly, and with some irony, a Highway Maintenance van came right by me and sped by to get to the bridge before me and it was dangerously close to the point I was getting ready for impact but thankfully it missed me. I am tempted to start recording everything but the image below shows the bridge and I was behind the white line while it was red and was ON the bridge when the van came up right next to me.

Not much else to say but next week I am not needed at the college so it is time to look at the bike and sort out the issues it has with week 8 being the last week I am going to be updating this article with myself just doing one last update in a couple of months in the summer with how it has gone!

Week 7

If you have read my review of this bike you will know I have a couple of issues with this bike and they are the following:

  • Broken Trigger Shifter
  • Derailleur adjustment
  • Missing PAS 5

For safety reasons, I am also going to have a look at the following!

  • Brake Pads
  • Chain Cleaning
  • Add slime to the wheels

The trigger shifter thankfully was simple enough and just removing the old one and the new cable just went into the plastic holder lovely and had a ton of leftover cable. The only thing I had to do was index the gears. A test cycling so far shows the bike is going up hills much better now and using the large gears I can get higher speeds. I will test next week just how well but so far the gears are working better.

I have also adjusted the derailleur and am now able to use all of the gears which also helps with being able to go up hills.

Something I have always wondered, about and been somewhat disappointed with, is missing pedal assist 5. I decided to have a look into this more the bike uses an M5 instrument for its display and I looked up the spec sheet for it. I found it was easy to enable PAS 5 by just changing this setting – P05 to 0005.

Sadly it didn’t provide any extra power and I have learnt that all it does is spread the power out between the settings so I changed it back to just having three pedal assist. I am also debating about changing the voltage settings slightly to make it a bit weaker so I can save battery but that is for the future.

As with most cyclists I have made a rookie mistake as when checking my brakes my back ones are already worn out and really should focus on using the front ones. Replacing these was very simple and just in case you are someone searching for which pads you need, it is the following.

With new brakes in place, I cleaned up the chain and the chain itself is fine but just dirty I decided to leave the slime for now as it is something I need to do some research into on how much to put in.

So far the bike seems to be riding much differently and for the better but next week we will find out!

Week 8

Heh. So remember when I said I was going to put slime into my wheels but decided to wait? Well, my wheels went again and I think I need to get new tires. On a good note, I was able to patch it up easily with slime although I had to wait two hours for a local taxi firm to pick me up with my bike as my air pump did not work.

I am surprised how well the slime sealant worked as it seems to have patched up the hole and going for a test ride for thirty minutes it does not seem to be losing air and hopefully will protect against future issues for now.

The rest of the week was okay but I think I will comment for another week or two before I give my feedback.

Week 9

Beyond the rain and the high winds, this week has gone by without any issues. I have noticed there is some slime coming out of my back wheel and it lost a tiny bit of air pressure so I am assuming slime did its job.

Next week is going to be the last week I am going to write this article before I publish it but I will update it after a month or two. I have decided to buy some armoured inserts for my tires to ensure I can at least always get home.

Week 10

Another week and yet again my tyres went. Taking my back tyre off I see so much slime has been used that I decided it was time to look into the cause of it. I have noticed that the tape inside the wheel has started to harden up and crack and is likely causing the issues that are happening!

I have for now put some electrical tape on the nipples that have started to crack and will put a whole tube of a smile into the tyre and hope for now that it is a suitable temporary solution but overall it does seem my issues are related to the back wheel spokes.

With this in mind, the next thing I am going to do is run the wheels at a lower pressure to about 15psi, redo the inner tape and get the spokes fixed.

For the rest of the week and possibly the next one it is Super Soco time.

Week 11 & 12

For these two weeks, I am using my Super Soco TSx while I repair my electric bike. I am waiting for some pairs to arrive so not much to say right now.

Week 13

I am still waiting for parts to arrive but for now, I have bought myself a rim band for my tyre and while I haven’t used it for work purposes yet I have gone on a twenty-mile cycle to see how well things would be and right now it seems fine.

I have finally been able to buy some Tannus armoured inserts and once I fix the spokes I will install them and try them for a few weeks and then we will wrap up this review.

Week 14

It has been around three months now since cycling to work and I am now starting to wrap up the little experiment but beforehand it is time to talk a bit more about repairing the electric bike. This week I still cycled to work although I am waiting for the spokes to be fixed the temporary fixes are still holding up.

It has taken a long time to be able to get my hands onto the Tannus armour but they have finally arrived and once the spokes have been fixed I will be installing them with the goal being to help prevent getting external flats.

Week 15

Ah, here we are at last the final week of this experiment. There were no problems this week and I did for three days.

Conclusion and lessons learnt!

I enjoyed cycling but I do think it is something I will need to lose about 20-40Kg before it is something I reckon I will be able to do without it having a physical toll on me even with this electric bike. While I speak about the weight I have noticed I didn’t lose much, if anything, extra based on the current dieting I am doing so it isn’t something I can recommend when it comes to losing weight.

Carrying an air pump and repair kits is something I have learnt to keep with me but I can tell you now repairing the back wheel is a no–go and hoping in future that slime will deal with that.

The next thing I have learned and this one is a given but make sure should you pick up an electric bike is that you learn how to maintain it. I have had problems with many of them being simple fixes although right now I am hearing a random “grinding” noise that I think is coming from the motor it doesn’t seem to be causing anything bad.

Lastly, remember to dress for both the fall and the weather – you can always take an extra layer off but you can’t put another out if you don’t bring it with you.

Thanks for reading! You may be interested in this …

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Need to quote me?

Ellis, M (2022) Thirty-mile commute on an e-bike. [online] Tweaked for your Pleasure. Available at: https://snat.co.uk/others/thirty-mile-commute-on-an-e-bike.html [Accessed 08 Aug 2022]

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