I call it the donut. Everyone looks at me weird when I say it, and they're probably right. I mean, there isn't a hole in the middle of the wheel. It's a giant red dot. But Copenhagen is a lot to both type and say every time. So ... donut. You can do you. As for me ...
I'm talking about the Superpedestrian Copenhagen wheel. We wrote about it a month or so ago when it first hit the shop, but at the time, I only used it to zoom up and down the alley. I didn't really ride the thing.
So we hatched a plan. On of the Thursday shop rides, I'd take the thing out and do the shop ride, only that plan kept sliding for one reason or another and it ended up being the Thursday before Tulsa Tough while the Supermint pro ladies were in attendance. I showed up to the ride late planning to bail on the donut ride, but then my bike had mechanical issues, so I missed the roll-out. Perfect time as it turns out, for a little Donut shakedown ride.
Rule one: Don't dress like a roadie when you're riding a hybrid e-bike. Keep at least some of your civilian attire on. Shorts. Flat shoes. You don't want anyone thinking you're out there hunting KOMs with your e-bike, right?
It's hard not to have a little bit of glee, perhaps some cheesy smile, when you first pedal a donut-equipped bike. Your pedal strokes are the throttle. You pedal, it assists and you take off.
The donut works with your phone. You install the Wheel app (Android and Apple), and you manage the ride. You can choose from a variety of modes that provide differing levels of assistance. There's Turbo, Standard, Eco and even a recharge mode where your pedal strokes recharge the wheel. I did this at one point because the donut only had about 20 percent charge on it when I left the shop.
Incidentally, the app also serves as your car key. The wheel won't turn on without the app unlocking it.
Anyway, I stuck the thing in Standard mode and took off. Not gonna lie, riding that hybrid I felt a little bit like that ... you remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the cranky old biddie rides her bike in the tornado ... I felt like that.
But rolling past the Jenks HS pool at 20+ with minimal effort was kind of awesome. I mean, I still had to pedal. When you stop pedaling, the wheel starts braking. If you backpedal, the wheel charges (which you can see when the handy battery indicator turns green). I took it out on 91st, zoomed around the airport at 20+, again with minimal effort. I kept thinking about all those times where I nearly hyperventilated trying to hold 18, 19 mph on that stretch before I'd warmed up. This was way more fun than that.
Hit the stop light at Elwood and looked up the hill. I wondered how fast that wheel would push, and how hard it was going to hurt. Again, 20+ and I could've had a jaunty conversation about the wind speed of an unladen African swallow while doing it. By the time I got to the intersection of 91st and Union, I was having a good time.
This isn't to say I wasn't working at all. The app tells me I pushed between 150 - 220 watts all the way up the hill (yes, it keeps track of power ... STRAVADONUT!), but those were the easiest watts ever, and the speedometer never really dipped below 20 mph.
It was then I started entertaining notions of waiting for one of the shop ride pace groups to come back and slipping into their peloton. I thought it would be funny. Alas, there were none to be found, so I headed back solo and messed around with the other bike modes.
Rode some in recharge mode, and gave the battery back 2 percent of power in pretty short order. When I got to the meat of the hill, I stuck it in Turbo and pedaled hard, only to discover the thing must have some sort of governor on it. Couldn't get it up over 23 mph, even downhill. Booooo.
The rest of the ride back to the shop I mostly goofed off ... at 20 mph ... and considered all the things I could do with one of these. Stick one on a cargo bike, and you could haul children or groceries around town easily. If your non-riding inlaws come into town, you could have it on a comfy bike for them and they could go for a ride with you. And one of these would totally revolutionize a paper route. (do they still have paper routes?).
I said this the last time, but I don't think e-bikes are a gimmick. I think they could change the world. As our bike infrastructure improves and fossil fuels and health insurance become more expensive, e-bikes have a place in the future. Maybe they have a place in our present.
In any case, the demo Donut is on the shop floor waiting for you to try it out. Give us a call and we'll have it ready for you.