Pseudo-Review: R&M Charger GX 9000km, Sprained Shoulder, Battery Degradation

2019 has been a bad year, dear fellow worst-rider. Bad because, well, I’ve not been riding much this year. Usually, within a half-year, I can easily ride for a 1000km or more. Are things starting to wane in my e-bike joy? Or maybe it’s the weather? Yeah, blame it on the weather–and never mention all the/that drink and substance that make one love/live the good life. Or, maybe, just maybe, this damn e-bike has turned me into a lazy mother-effer with too much wobble around my middle aged waist. Yeah, that’s the ticket. Let’s go with lazy.

While worst-writing about wobble and middle age… Get this. I fcuking sprained my shoulder on a tour the other day and the cause of that sprain was my fcuking über e-bike–and a tarp. While riding past the infamous Bayer factory in Leverkusen last Saturday, a gust of wind dismantled a heavy advertising tarp that was attached to a make-shift fence that secured a construction site. My handle bars got caught-up in the tarp. At that moment I probably mixed up braking with peddling. Because of the peddling a sudden surge of power pushed me further into the tarp and caused my handlebars, front wheel  to twist. Before I knew it I was catapulted into the roadway, ripping the tarp off the fence, and to prevent me from being thrown over the bars my left arm became my only point of contact with the bike. The entanglement with the tarp and the bike, forces being multiplied by a surging motor that thought it was going up a hill or something, brought everything to a sudden halt as I focused solely on not flipping over the handlebars–and into oncoming automobile traffic. Once I finally got everything to stop I let the bike drop on the road–stopping a few cars. For a moment I thought my left arm was not only disjointed but hanging by ligaments. The pain was excruciating. In fact, as I worst-write this, a week later, I’m just now able to type because I can finally lift my arm high enough to rest it on my desk. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to ride all week. But things are improving and I’ll be back in the saddle soon enough.

Moving on.

The only issue after surpassing 9000km on my über e-bike that I have to worst-write (complain?) about is the battery. But before I get to that, as you’ll note with my other worst-posts, this year I’ve finally taken the dive into urbanising my über e-bike. That is, by changing the tyres (tires) from knobs (rock razor) to street (super Moto-x), also changing the front sprocket from 14-16 (or 16-18???), and then shortening the handlebar width one inch each side, I’ve taken a hard-tail mountain bike and turned it into a souped-up, smooth ridin’, road-soakin’, somewhat aggressive styled, cruiser. And I’m still sportin’ that awesome curry colour that I worst-love so much–and differentiates me from, say, Pee-Wee Herman and his bike. But let’s get-on about the battery.

My battery is dying. Good thing I have two, eh! Now don’t get me wrong, dear fellow worst-rider. I’m not gonna bitch & moan about this too much. For one thing, even though I hate the whole proprietary bull$hit of owning battery power, I’m sold on Bosch. Keep in mind, I not only splurged by buying a Riese & Mueller über expensive e-bike, but I bought two of them. And one of the consolations for doing so was that I’d thereby get an extra battery. And don’t worry. With the way I ride, I was right NOT to buy a duel-battery bike. Anywho. My better-half has the Charger Mixte and we both have 500w batteries. Since my wife doesn’t ride that much, we always knew that my battery would die first. But then I’d be able to use her battery as a supplement till I replaced mine. The question has always been, the question I face now: do I replace with 80% degradation? 70%? Etc.?

Although I’ve known (felt) my battery was getting weaker and weaker since around 5000km, battery degradation is finally obvious. I suppose, after two and half years, almost using it every day, this is to be expected. Yet, as the reality of a battery replacement nears, especially considering the cost, a few thoughts do linger. And. Remember. This ain’t bitchin’ & moaning. Or?

First. Why the hell doesn’t Bosch have some kind of battery replacement program that doesn’t require one to have to just buy a totally new battery? Wouldn’t that be a more ecological solution? I mean, these batteries are nothing more than a bunch of cells in a heavy duty casing. Although I haven’t looked, I’m sure there are mods out there that allow one to just replace the cells, but then one enters the world of… stepping on Bosch’s profits, voiding warranties, fiddling with the powers-that-be. Since I’m not into fighting the man when it comes to my e-bike needs, I’ll obviously have to just buy a new battery–and I will. Still. As e-bikes become more and more ubiquitous, it’s time to start facing the ecological reality of having to deal with a world of dead batteries–that weigh upon us like bricks, bricks of money, effort and construed chemicals. Ugh.

Second, let me worst-write a bit about my battery degradation experience and the part that seems to hurt my e-bike riding soul (wallet) so much. There’s the obvious reduction of distance travelled, don’t you know. Where I once could easily hit 20km per bar, I’m now down to about 10km per bar. On the last two long distance rides I took, I was barely able to ride 60km. Granted, one ride was a mountain ride and the other a flat road ride, and I’m not going to get into the power delivery settings. But I do ride the majority of the time in either sport mode or tour. This year I’ve rarely ridden in eco or turbo–unless I face a mountain or want to stretch power to get me home. Also, of the five bars indicated on the screen, the last two bars seem to wither away long before the same distance travelled on the top three bars. Wait. Let me put that another way.

I think–and I’m kinda worst-guessing here–I was barely able to ride 5km on each of the last two bars of my battery. If that’s true, then I’m seeing the same thing in my Bosch über-battery that I’ve seen with, say, my iPhone battery. I’m sure there are e-bike riders (if not smart-phone users) with more interest in studying battery degradation, but my worst-guess is, I’m pretty much where the attached pic (see pic above taken from Bosch website) is regarding battery life. Indeed. Just like the batteries on phones, laptops, etc., once they surpass a certain capacity, time of use–they empty and/or degrade faster. In other worst-words, not only is the end-of-life of the battery exponential (pic above), but the same seems to apply to power delivery. If only there was a way to extend/postpone buying a new battery by adding a supplemental battery like I was able to do with my iPhone (see pic). Wouldn’t that be cool–even if it’s all a bit ugly? That’s right. I’m still using an iPhone 6s, baby. Stop laughing. Gotta save money somewhere to afford the e-bike, eh!

But enough about worst-moi and my über e-bike antics. The thing is, I’m still really diggin’ this e-bike. I especially love R&M quality. Even though I’m gonna have to make another major investment in it to keep it going, which will coincide well with all the other investments, i.e. tires, chains, sprockets, my fcuking left arm, etc., does this mean I’ll even keep it next year when it might be time to replace it? That’s right, dear fellow worst-rider, this über e-bike, upon purchase, was arbitrarily given an ownership life-span, of three years. For that’s the ticket, ain’t it dear fellow worst-rider? I’m not only up for a new e-bike next year, but do I really need to replace this piece of über-German-engineering grandness?

Stay tuned, baby.

Rant (and ride safe) on.

-T

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