A few years ago, I decided I needed a way to make very short trips quickly.
There is the car of course, but it seems wasteful. In a time where people are becoming aware of the resources they consume, it occurred to me that there must be another way.
There is a need in modern society to get from one mode of transport to another, or to complete a journey not using a car. And, Is there a way to get around without a licence?
I needed answers.
To that end, I investigated the wonders of personal electric transport. The legislation alone shows how out of step government is with community expectation.
Bike lanes have appeared all over the world and are loved and adored, everywhere but Sydney. Motorists have a hate-hate relationship with anyone and anything on the roads other than themselves.
Pedestrians and cyclists come in for a particularly heavy dose of ridicule.
1: Wheel-It. $999
We tried a single-wheel Segway-like machine called a Wheel-It. It travels up to 40k at 16kph on its 400watt lithium-ion battery. The weight load limit is 120kg in total.
Whilst it looked like fun, I was never able to master it. Claims of being able to ride in a few hours were a very long way from my reality. Whether it’s was my extreme lack of co-ordination, or that unicycles are difficult to ride, I was flat on my bum more than any time spent upright.
It was uncomfortable and ungainly.
In the end, it was simply too dangerous to be a real contender.
I’d go so far as to say it was dangerous, period.
There is nothing to hold on to if for any reason the wheel gets stuck, and the footrests are too small. It is too slow to use every day. By far, the most concerning point was that under current law, the only place you can use them legally, is private property.
They are illegal to ride on public property, including roads, footpaths, parks, and squares.
2: Assassin Scooter $699
Slightly more practical than the single electric wheel, was the sit-on scooter. Speed estimates range from 30kph to 40kph. With the small wheels, such speed meant a rider was taking his life into his own hands.
The wheels frequently got stuck in gaps, and steering at anything faster than snail’s pace, was almost lethal. The 1600watt motor has far too grunt with a to be safe.
The brakes are not up to snuff for anyone riding this thing at full pelt. It was crudely constructed from heavy steel tubing. The deck was only held down by gravity.
Although the batteries never ran out, they are Frankenstein-like lead acid packs. It seems so last century, but their real Achilles heel was the massive weight. They accounted for almost half of the nearly 50kg heft.
The handle bars fold down, but in order to get the scooter into the boot of a car, I had to remove the battery, and the seat. The latter was fixed, so had to be taken out of the housing in order to reduce the overall size. Loading is strictly a 2-man job.
The seat post was almost impossible to extract if it wasn’t taken out regularly.
There are two power modes, with the lower power mode halving the output. At that rate, it is manageable. I rode it on bike paths and footpaths before thinking to check the road rules. It was too heavy, and too fast, to be either safe or useful.
It looks cool until you get on, then you just feel like a bit of an idiot.
Like the Wheel-It, it is illegal to use anywhere but on private property.
3 Lietner Super T ebike $1,499 delivered
After more research, I chose to order the eBike online. There are a bunch of eBike retail shops, but the best price seemed to be online.
I required a folding bike as it needed to be able to be easily carried in a car boot. In order to comply with current laws, the power needs to be 250watt or less, and the primary method of propulsion must be peddling.
I got the upgraded 16Ah battery. It Powers the 36Volt/250watt motor for a claimed 80k range, depending on load and terrain.
The bike is will do about 26kph without pedaling, but needs help up hills. It is the only one of the 3 vehicles to have gears. The seat is comfortable for shortish trips, but I wouldn’t want to ride any of them long distance. I certainly wouldn’t want to be on the Super T for an 80k stint.
Like the scooter, the eBike has handle bar mounted controls.
Whereas the scooter came with front and rear discs, the Super T had discs on the front only.
The 20” wheels are far better for ironing out bumps. Suspension makes the ride even better. It isn’t smooth by any means, but by far, the most comfortable.
When folded up, the Lietner will fit in most boots, and can easily be taken on a train. You might need to fold it in order to manhandle it onto a bus, so that might need rethinking.
6 gears allow the rider to help the bike up steeper hills. It is claimed that $1 of charge will get you 500kms, but that is not confirmed.
The eBike handling was vastly superior to either of the other two options.
I’ve opted to keep the Super T.
Legislation is about 20 years behind in this country. Politicians have been avoiding the hard decisions for decades. Electric cars have a similar resistance brought on no doubt by negative press.
However, you only have to spend a short time on an eBike to realise how many of them there are.
A tech-crazed friend e-converted a conventional bike, which now has an insane amount of torque. The sight of a pushy on its back wheel with the rider not pedaling is something to behold.
I’d like one myself if I didn’t need to have a foldable eBike.
New thinking about personal transport has seen an explosion of bikes and scooters in the last decade. Sydney councils have installed many kilometres of connect bike paths using footpaths, separated lanes, and painted road lanes. The benefit is there for all to see.
While many insist bike lanes don’t get used, the fact is that bike trips have tripled as public transport becomes stressed beyond limit. The roads are crammed, and peak hour now lasts for 3 hours, twice a day.
I’m a convert, and since starting this story, have committed to making short local trips by bike if walking to too taxing.
Dare I say the eBike is fun?
The Super T seemed to be the best price/range/power combination of the folding bikes.
As in all things, you can spend as much as you like, and who wouldn’t like a GoCycle G3, but why?
I’ve been riding for several months, and, what a hoot. The eBike has the approval of my 11 year old nephew, so that’s really all that needs saying.