E-Bike Confusion Galore

Here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. Worst-writer has owned an e-bike since 2017. I’ve also been an avid cyclist since (about) 2007. As an e-bike consume-to-survivor, though, there’s often a bit of here and there about the industry that kinda gets under my skin. A few recent articles and a YouTube video have woken up the issue(s) once more. You know. As in. It’s good to be constantly reminded of the krapp that pisses me off. So let’s go there, shall we?

Things that piss off worst-rider:

  • Just like the (regular) bike industry, I hate the fact that the e-bike industry went from expensive to stupid-expensive in, like, no time.
    • I bought my first e-bike at the end of 2016 and had to wait till May of 2017 for it to be delivered. WTF!
    • I paid €4300 for a bike that only three years later costs €6k. WTF!
  • I have yet to find a half-decent e-bike shop that isn’t hell-bent on ripping me off just like the car industry when it comes to service
    • Example. A basic tune-up for my e-bike after every (# of miles) cost at least €250,-. WTFF!
    • I’ve since resorted to servicing my e-bike on my own (and luckily it’s all gone pretty well)
  • Government regulation of e-bikes is beyond stupid but, unlike regular bike regulation, at least there’s a precedent on how one could regulate e-bikes
    • Hint: regulate e-bikes like you regulate cars. Moving on.

In Germany, pedalec e-bikes (no throttle) are regulated to 25km/h (ca 15mph), which is what I have–and I’m perfectly fine with it. Anything above that speed and up to 45km/h (ca 28mph) is regulated like a moped. That means, even if a 45km/h bike is pedal-assist, you are prohibited from using bikes lanes and/or bike paths–which equates to literally competing with cars while peddling a bicycle. Then there’s the issue that the faster e-bikes also are required to be registered with license plates and insurance, you also have to wear a helmet, and the bikes are required to have rear-view mirrors and brake lights. Moving on.

The things is this, dear worst-reader. Why is that government folk are not only slow but utterly out-gunned (intellectually) when it comes to regulating things? I mean. I’m totally happy with a 25km/h pedalec e-bike. In fact, my wife and I gave up owning a second car for our e-bikes and we have never regretted it. The only time I use our car is when the weather is so extreme that it makes shopping errands unbearable. And now. Let me get on to the gist of what this worst-post is supposed to be about.

There are two links in this worst-post. The first is the video above. I’ve been a fan of NYC Propel bikes for some time. Chris has done a great job with his channel, too. This particular video highlights exactly what I’ve alluded to in this blog when it comes to the ills and irks of e-biking. With that in mind, though, there’s also the opposite of the goodness that Chris espouses. Which brings me to the link below.

For whatever reason the folks at The Verge are a bit confused when it comes to e-bike regulations. I mean. Don’t get me wrong. The article is acceptable as a review of the Stromer ST2 series of e-bikes. I am a big fan of rear-hub e-bikes, too–even though I own a mid-motor e-bike. In fact, I’d be the owner of a rear hub e-bike such as the one featured in the article below if it weren’t for the one-sided and slightly skewed mindset of the manufacturer–which is something that the somewhat skewed attitude of the article author misses. Then again, what can one expect from #Americants who ALL seem to be so indoctrinated when it comes to government this or government that that they may miss the entirety of the ($hit)show. But before I get to lost in worst-writing.

My point is this. What the guy at The Verge misses is the fact that I would gladly own–even pay the Apple-like–price for a Stromer e-bike if the manufacturer would wake up to the reality of EU regulations–and not just stand against them. It makes no since to me that a company like Stromer would so willingly disregard said regulations simply because, well, I don’t why they don’t offer a 25km/h version of their e-bikes. Heck, I’m sure they could just offer such a version by fiddling with their software. Again. I mean. Say what you will about stringent EU regulations and in most cases they do suck. But then again, ride an e-bike around any major European city on a sunny weekend. You’ll be glad that there are regulations. Anywho.

I’ve lost my way in this worst-post. Hopefully I won’t lose my way on my afternoon ride.

Rant on.

-T

Links:

Covid Update: E-Bike Ride, Want Machine, Things Learned In #Eurowasteland

Source of pic: #Interwebnet screenshot

It’s what I’m feeling sometimes, dear worst-reader. In these Covid times. Even though I try my worst-best not to live off my emotions–you know, like my #Americant rearing dictates–these times of restrictions galore tempt me. For example. The other day I screwed up real bad via unbridled temptation. I mean. Since I’m not a regular consumer of Germania media, either visually (TV) or text (newspaper), I quickly realised that I’m quite uninformed when it comes to dos and don’ts while out and about during quarantine. I mean. Of course I know there’s a special kinda lock-down going on, but I’m also quite unaware of exactly what that lock-down entails. With that in mind, let’s worst-write on.

While on a get some fresh air e-bike ride the other day I wondered into two places. The first was a motorcycle dealership where I had noticed through the front window the bike I’d buy if I could in order to get back into riding. Yeah, it’s been twenty years since I’ve ridden, don’t you know. After noticing that two people had exited the showroom, I locked up my e-bike, dawned my mask, read the rules on the front door–about social distancing and masks and whatnot–and entered. I immediately squirted some sanitiser on my hands and then proceeded to sign-in on the tracking register. But before I could enter my full contact details an employee entered out of nowhere and started berating me about how I was breaking the rules and that I couldn’t just enter the place. Shocked, I quickly realised that I was in the wrong–even though I didn’t quite know why or what deserved such vehemence. Also, with masks it’s difficult to see/read all of the emotional distress I was causing. Not being a native German, all I remember is hearing the native berate me in his guttural German–along with those German eyes. It was kinda horrifying. I tried to tell the guy that I was sorry and that I just saw two people walk out of the place but he insisted on berating me at the top of his teutonic lungs and that he didn’t feel like paying a fine for my stupidity which was somewhere around twenty-five hundred Euros and he said that I am a… but didn’t actually use the word… idiot . The whole time, of course, worst-writer is smiling and quivering under my mask and on my way out I manage to snap the following pic. She sure is pertty, ain’t she?

Actually I’d prefer it in black but if any worst-readers are willing, I’ll take the grey.

The good news is, when I got home I caught up on the details of German quarantine rules and also started to wonder if the Germans are gonna track me down for breaking those rules. Remember, I did sign the tracking form when I entered the dealership. Wow. Paranoia in the land of paranoia. The bad news is, while having ruined my e-bike ride for some fresh air, on my way home I stopped once again at one of my favourite places to find some soul solace: a cemetery. Keep in mind, dear worst-reader, other than lots of archaic and mind-bending human mis-history, there are only two things today that one needs to experience in #Eurowasteland. Conveniently these two things are related. Have you guessed what they are? Ok. Here’s a hint: Churches and cemeteries. Indeed. #Eurowasteland is awash in mysticism and deserved human rot. But on that note, I must die-gress.

Here’s the thing, dear worst-reader. During some of my e-bike treks every once-a-once I like to stop to talk with the souls of the dead to hear what they have to say about the living. This particular cemetery, by-the-buy, is also one of the regions largest. And. With another by-the-buy. Since expatriating to Germania, I’ve attended three funerals at this particular cemetery. Two of those people I knew, one I didn’t. Yeah, I guess in these waning days of worst-life, it’s time for me to pull a Harold & Maude and start attending funerals–just for the hell of it. And so. While walking my e-bike around the graves I decided to see if I could find a new exit. Usually I just went from one end of the cemetery and exited out the other–as it was also a short cut even though, out of respect, I walked my e-bike through it. Yeah, that’s how big it is if you have to ride around it. But I’ve always wondered if it was such a large cemetery was there another exit? When I began to realise that there probably wasn’t, and while in a dank corner amongst misty gravestones, I happened across what is now my favourite grave of all-time. See the pic at the top of this worst-post.

I was truly taken aback by the caged grave I had discovered. I had never seen such a grave before. It’s like a grave prison, dear worst-reader. And that really befuddles me. At least I’ve not seen, in this region of Germany, a grave that makes such a profound statement. Yet, as I thought about statements, I got hung up on two possibilities as to what that statement is. The first possible statement from the grave is thus: what’s in here needs to stay in. The second statement is, and this one really gets my croissant boiling: no, you can’t come in and join me.

And now for a bit of back story regarding my desire to communicate with souls. While living in Darmstadt many years ago, which is a few hours south of Düsseldorf, one of my favourite places to go to talk to the souls of the dead, was Frankenstein’s Castle. For you know the story of Frankenstein, eh, dear worst-reader? I mean the book, not the movie(s). Indeed. The castle is a grand place, especially if you go there when there are no tourists or it’s not late October. For if you wish you can tease the souls of the dead about how they are the ones that have given us this $hit world, i.e. the future they made. Which is what I like to do. In fact. While talking with souls I used to tell them I would be seeing them soon–with a vengeance. For someone has to make the past pay for what it has done to the future. Or. If you prefer, dear worst-reader, you can just go to Frankenstein’s Castle and chill, smoke a joint and ponder Mary Shelly’s mindset that lead to The Modern Prometheus. But on that note, again, I must die-gress.

In short, so that one may make the connection, the legend of Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus was ALL about grave robbing. But Mary Shelly got a bit caught up in audience driven story telling before she could really jot all that down. In fact, grave robbing back then was so popular that the living conspired all the time about how to protect (their) graves. If you could afford such an elaborate cage, though, why not just pay for a tomb, which also had a certain level of protection? Indeed. Many just made sure that they were buried naked and with nothing to accompany them. Or could it be that the cage-grave is from someone who thought more like the Pharaohs? You know, bury your corpse with everything, even the key, so that when you (re)awaken, you still have it all. Who can know, eh.

So let’s ponder the statement of caged graves once more. Is the cage for keeping something in? An appropriate question as the minions and compulsive behaviourist of today go about their useless eating lives emulating so well the pitchfork morons of yore. Or is the grave statement about keeping something out? Considering how the world is currently devolving via capitalism and greed-mongering run amok which has turned so many into cannibal-like goons, is the time nigh when we have to start digging up the dead? I can’t shed the thought that it’s only a matter of time before we start once again what Mary Shelly was afraid to finish and/or write–so she covered it all up with evil pseudo-doctors and monsters. Instead I’ll just ponder the possibility of what the cage-grave is stating while studying the rules and regulations in Germania about quarantining and the idear that, even at almost sixty, I’d like to get back on a really, really cool bike and do a few laps of the Nürburgring.

Rant on.

-T

Helmet, Helmut And Yo-Yo

Secondary title: Pseudo-Review of the Abus Hyban bike helmet with visor.

Perhaps some of you are too young to know. So allow worst-writer to explain yet another worst-title. In the movie Night On Earth by Jim Jarmusch a really bad taxi driver from the (then) recent former East Germany picks up a New Yorker in New York City and his name is Yo-Yo. While these two drive around NYC and have what Jarmusch portrays as the time of their lives, they also try to figure out their names. That is, Yo-Yo can’t understand the difference between the name Helmut and a helmet, i.e. protective gear one may or may not wear on ones head. Helmut thinks Yo-yo was named after a child’s toy. #Nomatter. The audience is given one of the best comic duos in cinematic history that is only comparable to Abbot and Costello. If you haven’t seen it (the whole movie), give it a look, dear worst-reader. Boy do I miss the days when movies were made like that. You know, creative movies. Works of art. Etc. That worst-said…

Late last summer during what I consider to be the worst bike riding year of my worst-life, I decided I needed to do something about being a bespectacled bike rider. Or have you never been there, dear worst-reader? You know. You’re cruising along and you know it’s eventually coming, and then it does, and suddenly you’re riding through nature as it unleashes rain rain rain rain. #Nomatter what you do, your standard and/or traditional bike helmet (or even hat) won’t/can’t protect your eyewear from being covered in rain drops. And so, when you arrive at your destination, which in my case is usually an out-door market where I gather fresh veggies and sometimes fresh hunted pheasant (from Guido the French/German pheasant hunter), everyone (including Guido) would stare at me with sympathy as they could see the misery in my blurred, foggy, soaked glasses face.

“It’s a bitch riding in the rain, eh.” Indeed.

And so. I decided then and there it was time to take action (which usually means spend money) on one of them new fancy bike helmets that includes a visor. Being the cheap-skate that I am, though, I searched for days both online and in a bike store here or there for a consume-to-survive product that fit my budget. Since this was my first helmet with a visor for bike riding, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for. Hence, this is the moment where corporate branding comes into play and a bit of online research can help–or not. As you can see (pics above), I decided for the another Abus branded helmet1.

Here’s my visor helmet buying advice short and sweet: steer clear from this one.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s obviously a good helmet. It’s well made, it’s very sturdy and exudes safety, and, I guess, it’s practical. With that in mind, here’s why I wouldn’t buy it again and only recommend it with the following thoughts:

  • Feels heavy, huge and bulky and kinda looks funny (on worst-rider’s head)
  • On an e-bike constantly traveling the gut wrenching speed of 25kmh, it’s freaking obnoxiously loud due to airflow
  • Directs air/wind into your ears and as you can see in the pics, I’m jimmying2 it to see if I can better control the airflow (I don’t think it’s working, though)
  • The chin strap sucks and is uncomfortable with or without included chin strap protector, which I’ve ripped off and thrown away while singing good riddance motherfcuker
  • Mechanism to adjust chin-strap length detaches but luckily, since it’s magnetic, when it detaches I don’t lose the connector but I have retraced my riding path after I thought I lost half of the strap connector only to realise the strap had come lose but the connector was attached to the other connector, blah, blah, blah (see pic with red pointer)

The good news is, even though I wouldn’t buy it again and all of my complaints have not motivated me to send it back, the adjustable visor perfectly protects my glasses from not only rain but also cold wind. And that’s a big deal, don’t you know. It’s a big deal on account, at my age (pushing sixty, bitch!), cold air constantly blowing in my eyes can be quite irritating. Oh. And. I bought the friggin’ thing discounted, about 80-,€. It’s retail price was well over 100,-€ (at the time). What a bargain, eh. (Sarcasm off.)

The main problem with this helmet is the airflow along with its weight and size. When riding it feels as though cold air is being directed to my inner ear. Also, because of airflow, it’s friggin’ loud. This winter I’ve been riding with ear plugs plus a heavy skull cap that covers both my ears. Since I ordered the largest (size) helmet, I can fit quite a bit underneath it. But. Again. That makes it large and bulky. It does have an easy adjuster for fitting and/or tightening it to fit your head. The visor is easily adjustable too but airflow is influenced whether it’s up or down–again, making it either loud or louder when riding. Luckily adjusting the visor is no problem, even when using only one hand, i.e while riding. In warm weather the helmet is hot, and when it’s cold, well, you get the picture.

Is it well made? Yes. Does the safety light on the back work? Yes. Is it safe? I guess it is–if not for the weird, cumbersome chin strap. But at this point, the only reason I wear it, needed it, is because it’s been raining for months and months and months. Not a day goes by that I have to ride and it’s not raining–since friggin October of last year. And so. The only thing good about this helmet is that it’s great for protecting my glasses/eyes from the weather.

Rant on.

-T

PS. Yes. According to the pics above, I voted in the Democratic primary via Democrats Abroad of my beloved & missed united mistakes of #Americant. As a former Democrat, and considering the direction THE LAND OF FREE TO BE STUPID has done since, gee, I don’t know, the end of the cold war, Bush and his wars of choice and, now, of course, President Stupid with the pee-pee hair, I thought it appropriate if I voted for a democratic socialist that might turn #Americant socialism for the rich into a bit of socialism for the down-trodden. Since it’s becoming more and more obvious that Bernie ain’t gonna get the nomination, I’m still glad I participated. Or maybe not. Oh well. Rant on, baby.


  1. We only have Abus bike helmets. For motorcycles, though, I prefer Shoei or Arai. ↩︎
  2. Fiddling, rigging, changing it, etc. ↩︎

Pseudo-Review – Charger GX @ 10k

Let me start this worst-post by saying that 2019 was a bad riding year, dear fellow worst-rider (worst-reader). Due to circumstance beyond and above worst-riders control, I was unable to complete my self inflicted, obligatory yearly riding mileage, which corresponded with falling into a depressed state of inner self loathing that I get every once-a-once due to expatriation mistakes galore, among other worst-things, and also corresponding with falling off this über-e-bike a few times here and there. To make things worst, it feels like the whole of 2019 happened when I was, well, full of drink. Or was I? #Nomatter. I’m not full now. And as worst as all things are/be, the fall I had last October–or was it September?–that limited my riding even more, simply meant that I was extending the life of my über-e-bike on account, well, it wouldn’t be ridden all that much. Or? More on the misery of 2019 here.

So get this, dear worst-rider (worst-reader). I finally hit ten thousand kilometres the other day on my über e-bike. Cool, eh. Well, it would be cool if I hadn’t ran into an old couple I know that also own R&M über-e-bikes. They purchased twin red Nevo’s right around the same time I purchased my Charger GX, about three years ago. When I told them about the mileage I’d ridden they both snickered and the old lady pulled me over to show me her odometer. Holy krapp, I thought in a glorious deep breath of shame. These old gizzards (geezers?) had over 30k on their e-bikes. WTF! And so. Am I the only one that hates it when I’m put in my place?

As far as my Charger GX is concerned, there’s not much to report that I haven’t covered already. It’s still running like a champ–except, of course–for the battery. I’m only getting fifty kilometers out of it right now. I’ll be looking into a battery replacement sometime this year. A dealer told me there’s a battery cell company not far from where I live. They actually replace the cells in Bosch batteries instead of having to replace the whole thing. If I do it, I’ll post something about the experience. Other than that, I’m on my third set of brake pads, which I recently replaced. By-the-buy, I also (finally?) replaced the original brake pads on my wife’s Charger Mixte. Her pads lasted for about 4000km. Considering that my Charger GX brakes are used much more than the brakes on the Mixte, I’m a bit surprised that they didn’t last longer. Oh well. Also. It’s a bit of shame that these two bikes require different brake pads. But that’s the $hit$how of greed and being nickled & dimed that we all must dwell in, eh.

I am still very impressed with the recent change (urbanisation) from knob (mountain bike) tires to moto-x road tires. I have to admit, though, after a few recent romps through some local mountain areas, I could have used knob tires. It’s not that I don’t like the Moto-x’s off-road. I love them. It’s just that when it’s wet, as it’s been for months here, there were a few areas where I had to get off the bike and push to continue on my way. Indeed. Muddy shoes n’all, including a few sketchy moments akin to riding on pudding, I’m still not ready to return to loud, hard, obnoxious knob tires. I mean, it can’t rain forever–not even in dreary Germania–which means the ground has to dry out sooner or later. Or?

Anywho. To those few who read it, consider this post my last Pseudo-Review for the Charger GX. Any further posts will just be about e-biking.

Good riding you-all.

Rant (and worst-ride) on, baby.

-T

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

R&M Charger GX – Inept Owner Or Incompetent Mechanics

As stated in this previous post, dear worst-rider, I’ve been urbanising my hardtail electric mountain bike. Reason? I’m getting too old? No? How about: I’m too fat? Na, that’s not good. How about this one: It’s time to move on? Yeah, let’s go with that one.

After 8000km and a second rear tire, I replaced the original razor rock (rock razor?) knob mountain bike tires with something a bit more comfortable–AND quiet. I also trimmed those extra wide handlebars that I never liked in the first place. I cut off about 2cm on each side and boy does it make a difference. Getting the bike out of my basement is much easier now with the somewhat less-wide bars. The new width is also a more conducive to my riding style. Also. As worst-posted here, I had new chain and sprockets installed at around 7000km. Which brings me to the gist of this worst-post.

After changing tires to Schwalbe Super Moto-X, the first thing I noticed about the bike was how quiet it had become–except for the chain. Other than the whining motor, and according to the mechanic who installed it, I thought it would take a few KMs before the chain would break-in and I just had to deal with the noise till then. But then five-hundred KMs rolled around and the chain was still loud. Then came a thousand KMs and and the excessive chain noise never subsided.

The other morning I took it upon my worst-riding self to give the derailleur a good cleaning, thinking that might be the reason it was so loud. I also wanted to have a look to see if, perhaps, the chain wasn’t the proper size. Of course, the thought ran through my head that maybe, just maybe, the mechanic screwed the pooch with this chain. Remember, the mechanic did inform me that the chain was a bit different than the original chain. He said it was an e-bike chain, don’t you know. Indeed.

During cleaning I removed the pulleys from the lower pivot of the derailleur and gave them a good once-over, replacing them exactly as I removed them. With a soft brush and WD-40 I cleaned out the upper part of the derailleur, as well. I then gave the chain a good wiping. Although there were a few moments of confusion reassembling the now cleaned derailleur–whereupon I relied on a quick check on the interwebnets to make sure I was doing it right–I was able to get it all back together. At least so I thought. I then took the bike out for a quick test ride. And guess what? It was just as loud as ever.

For a while there I thought I might have gotten myself into a bit of a mess on account I hadn’t fiddled with the innards of a derailleur for sometime. It is a rather complex component on an otherwise simple device. And that’s all fine & dandy. The only problem is, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out where on the chain all the noise was coming from when I peddled the bike. Remember, even though the bike was a lot quieter since changing tires, the majority of noise coming from it now was that damn chain, derailleur, sprockets, etc.

Frustrated I jumped on my über-e-bike and headed to my favourite mechanic in the city. When I pointed out the situation, he recalling that they changed the chain in April, he then took one quick look and grabbed my bike and passed it on to a mechanic. The mechanic raised it up on his hydraulic rack. He unscrewed the lower pulley, removed it, separated the pulley mount, put the chain in the proper position through the mount, and then reinstalled the lower pulley. I watched him do this and at the same time my jaw continuously fell to the floor like the low fruit of a society that can only yield its mindlessness to the likes of idiot politics and #Trump. (Giddy w/laugh.)

Go figure.

The chain was thread through the wrong position in the lower part of the derailleur. It was literally rubbing and scraping on the centre of the pulley mount of the derailleur, hence the noise. In fact, and forgive my horrific pic skills, as you can see, the chain did quite a number on the metal at the centre of the pulley mount. When I asked how the chain got in the wrong position the mechanic simply stated/assumed that it’s a common problem and usually occurs when people take the derailleur apart. They subsequently miss threading the chain through the pulley mount properly when putting it back together.

Whaaaaaaaa?

Wait a sec, I thought. I’ve had this problem for over a 1000km, since THEY changed the chain and sprockets in April. It only became prominent when I changed tires and got rid of that obnoxious mountain bike tire sound. The mechanic was assuming that I didn’t put the derailleur back tougher properly when in fact his colleague–back in April!–most likely did the faux pas. Yeah, what a stunner (sarcasm off). As usual I now have one more reason to give up on these bike mechanics and bike shops. If only I weren’t so lazy and able to afford their errors, eh.

The ride home that afternoon was the quietest I’ve ever experienced on my über e-bike. The thing is as silent as it’s gonna get. Unless, of course, Bosch comes up with a system update that takes that whine out of the motor. But I’m not counting on that one.

Rant (and ride) on (safe).

-T

R-M Charger GX Urbanisation?

Follow-up to this post here.

Should have made this change a while ago, dear worst-rider. Now that I’ve finally done it, though, would you believe, there’s one more potential change lurking in the wings. More on that in a sec.

I found a special deal online for a pair of Schwalbe Super Moto-X 27.5 650B tires last weekend. 20,-€ a pop, baby. Plus, on a weekend order, it included free shipping. For you see, dear worst-rider, I was gonna wait a bit longer before making this change. Obviously, the Razor Rock (or is Rock Razor?) original knobs still have a few more kilometres in them. You can see (pics) how some of the rubber has given way–especially on the rear tire. I suppose that’s the deal with riding off-road tires on pavement for around sixty-percent of the time. And even though I’ve gotten a kick out of the Rock Razor’s over the past two and half years, something’s been telling me for a while that it’s time to switch-up to something more street friendly–but not totally street. And get this. I’ve been running the same Rock Razor front tire for 8000km–or since purchasing this mega-e-bike. I was on a second rear tire.

Super Moto-X, Performance Green Guard, Wired, 27.5 650B, baby.

Three things impressed immediately after about 70km.

  1. I had no idear how loud my mega-e-bike was with those knob-tires.
  2. Enormous handling improvement on both pavement and trail.
  3. Yes, there is a way to find a bit more comfort on a hardtail, wide handle-bar mountain bike without compromising everything. (I hope.)

With these new tires I can actually hear myself think when I’m riding. That is, compared to the Razor Rocks, I don’t hear the tires at all. What a change that’s gonna make, eh. Maybe I can even hear that car sneaking up around the corner to run me over–you know, on account, car drivers are starting to hate bikers occupying former car lanes that are now labelled bike-lanes. Fcuk you car drivers! ;-) The only noise I have to deal with now is that whining motor and the new, somewhat thicker, more e-bike chain, including new front and rear sprockets, I had installed a few months back. Most of the chain noise, I’m guessing, comes from the derailleur now as it’s original and mechanic said it didn’t need changing.

There is still a lot more riding before making any definitive conclusions here but after a 40km jaunt this morning, including about 10km of trails, I’m won-over by the handling of these tires. The Charger GX is almost a different bike. I reckon it’s more comparable to a Charger GT. As far as grip goes, on the trails I tried a few steep, grassy and rugged hills. My biggest concern is that there’s no side-grip with these balloon tires. The Rock Razors were excellent with side-grip. But the Super Moto-X’s held up well. Will take a mountain/enduro tour soon, which I’m sure will reveal more.

These tires are rated to hold anywhere from 2-4 bar and I’m running them at 3 right now and they are pretty stiff. But they are also much more forgiving than the Rock Razors. One of the biggest problems with the Rock Razor knobs was that they were horrifically stiff at 3.5 bar on pavement. I tried them once at about 2.5bar but they were all wishy-washy and gave off no confidence. Not much versatility in the Rock Razors, they are definitely off-road tires. Maybe they should just label them: hard as h-e-double-toothpicks.

I suppose, in a way, I’m urbanising this bike. I’ve already removed that silly front rack that was basically worthless for anything 3kg and above or anything that wasn’t soft, i.e. a rolled up sleeping bag, tent, etc. Which brings me to…

The change lurking in the wings, which will add to urbanisation, is shortening the handlebars. I plan on simply cutting off 2-3cm, maybe a tick more, on each end and thereby taking away some of the width of the bars. They really are wide, even on the trails. On some rides I’ve had to get off the bike to fit it through tight spaces. I just have to gather up the courage to do the destructive sawing to the bars. I really love all the parts on this bike–and now I gotta take a saw to it? Ugh. Oh well.

All in all, I should have put these tires on a long time ago. Looking forward to another year of great riding, though. For next year, dear worst-rider, a new mega-e-bike might materialise. But which one? And can I seriously give up this Charger? I really dig this thing. Yeah. Ugh.

Anywho. Consume to survive, baby. And…

Rant (and ride) on (safe).

-T

Pseudo Review: R&M Charger GX 8k KM, The Killer Pug Saved By Rack-Time, E-Bike Heaven Baby

Yeah, dear worst-reader/rider, I’m looking for filler here. Reason? I just don’t have much more to report on my fabulous e-bike that just surpassed 8000km. Indeed. It’s also well over two years old and… Get this! It’s purring like a kitten on the lap of a beautiful Scandinavian blonde that has long since rejected the MANnerism of patriarchal behaviour that can only culminate in #Trump (-isms) galore and thereby becoming HER emotional rescue on account there are no real men left in this world to fight for what is right and… Oh wait…

Forget that. Forgive my worst-writing gesticulations. It’s all just part of my having to take care of a neighbours cat recently–who’s from Scandinavia–and I’m still nursing the unhealed wounds it scratched into my hand after trying to pet it. But at least I fed it and also didn’t mind my wife watching after me as I did.

Here all my e-bike posts (tag link).

So. Back to filler. Shall we start with the e-bike or how about a quick worst-post of my recent first-try at making Coq Au Vin?

E-Bike.

The truth is, dear fellow worst-rider, I haven’t been riding much for the past half year. In fact, I think I’ve made one 60 KM ride since November, 2018. Reason? Well, it ain’t the bike, that’s for sure. No. It was one of those winters. Since late October (2018) it was either wet, cold or both. There wasn’t much ice and freezing, but the other two are just as unappealing when they’re around every damn day for months on end. I know. I know. I should buckle-down and quit whining like a little biatch about the climate I live in. But to be honest, there was something else going on. I was having upper-back troubles. I injured my foot in an odd fall (that had nothing to do with e-biking). I caught a nasty case of eye stye because as I’m getting older and my skin is dropping more and more, my eyes are dry and I’m drinking too much and and and… And this past winter I felt like $hit most of the time. But enough about worst-moi and his failure to self-medicate–or do it poorly (with drink).

I finally got around to riding in early April (2019) on an extended weekend vacation to Berlin where we drove up there with our e-bikes on a hitch. The intention was to cruise the city for four days on e-bike but I was only able to ride one of those days due to the above mentioned issues. I just couldn’t take the pain, especially my neck and my upper shoulders. After about twenty minutes my foot hurt so bad I couldn’t peddle or walk the bike home. And that krapp stye in my eye… Although it’s gotten better, I’m still nursing it as I worst-write this. So much for Germania miserable winter weather that holds on and on and on. Did I mention that I probably drank too much this past winter? Oh well.

It took me, along with some yoga and a stretching routine, till about mid May before I was able to ride again. Then came more rain. In early June we took a ten day vacation to a small beach resort on the Baltic Sea, in a place called Zingst. As usual, with our trusty e-bikes hitched, the idear was to drive the eight-hundred KM up there and then only use our bikes to get around. Other than one day, we did just that. And it was brilliant. Although my back pain lingered on, it was getting better with every ride. And so. It took me well over a half year to get from 7000km to 8000km. Can I get an amen here?

Oh yeah, our magical über expensive E-Bikes.

At about 7200km I finally got a new chain and sprockets on my Charger GX. More on that here. According to my mechanic, I’ve now got a chain that is specifically made for high-torque e-bikes. “You mean the previous chain wasn’t for e-bikes,” I asked him. Of course, I was deferring the conversation that I probably should have changed the chain at about 5000km–and then when asked how much I was willing to spend… I just waved him on to get it done.

The odd thing about the new chain–and my skepticism/cynicism regarding its cost (just over 200,-€)–is that it’s taken at least five-hundred KMs to break it in. In fact, I’ll go so far as to assume, after just hitting 8k, it still might need a hundred or so KMs more before it’s fully broke-in. Which begs the question: A thousand KM to break in a chain and sprockets? Add to that, the chain is extremely loud. In fact, I can feel the chain riding on the sprocket cogs. Add that to an already loud (Bosch) motor, and I’m really starting to like my wife’s belt drive Charger Mixte and its continuous hub gearing. With that in mind, the idear of upgrading my GX next year is getting more and more appealing. But upgrade to what? (Stromer maybe?)

But let me not get ahead of my worst-riding self, eh. I still love my Charger GX. The fact that I have little to report regarding its stamina and utility and quality, should say everything. Other than a few slight squeaks, which are mostly dealt with by keeping it clean and oiled–plus the cost of maintaining it–I have never regretted buying this bike. It still exudes quality, don’t you know. In fact, on a recent ride a fellow e-biker informed me that I was riding the “Mercedes” of e-bikes. Yawn.

  • The B-17 saddle is still in great shape.
  • The handle bar, that is a bit wide for my riding preference, and I thought I would have changed by now, is still original.
  • The handle bar grips are gonna last forever.
  • I’ve never (knock on wood) had a flat tyre (tire) and rarely have I had tyre (tire) pressure issues.
  • The brakes are brilliant and it looks like my brake disks are gonna go on and on and on, but definitely won’t last forever.
  • Heck, even the wheel fenders are still perfect–and I thought they’d be the first to go.

The only thing that bugs me and might motivate me to up-grade my e-bike next year, is the fact that the Bosch battery is definitely starting to give way. It’s been steadily losing power since about three thousand KMs. Where I once was able to ride well over twenty KMs for every bar on the battery indicator–even while in Sport mode. I’m now lucky if I can get it to fifteen KMs per bar. The cost of a new battery is definitely gonna influence the future of my grand Charger GX. Will Bosch upgrade its external battery design to the 650W battery that they are now offering with new motors but ONLY for internal frame mounting? And if they do offer it, you know, so that it fits my frame (externally), will I have to get a mortgage to afford it?

The wife approval e-bike.

My wife’s Charger Mixte has under three thousand KMs. We purchased (consumed-to-survive) both bikes at the same time. Although she doesn’t ride much, I’ve been using her bike for various chores. Also, when I couldn’t ride my somewhat extreme positioned GX, her Mixte and its more comfortable sitting position, really came in handy. At the least, having two of these things is definitely über-cool, especially since both use the same battery and the time is coming when I’ll need her battery even more than I do now.

But let me get-on a bit about my wife’s biggest gripe: I’ve forbidden her to attach a dog trailer so she can lug around our ageing killer pug. The reason I don’t want to attach a trailer is because of the way the rear axle, wheel, drive-train is mounted to the frame. To me, there are already too many connections back there. To add another connection (to the axle) in order to trailer an über-expensive dog-box with wheels, that may or may not be rejected by our killer pug… No thank you. If that sounds a bit harsh, here’s a bit more about owning a killer pug and an e-bike.

We have a dog known as Beckett, the killer pug. As you may or may not know, pugs are not very active, long-winded dogs. Even though we fight to keep his weight down and I walk him at least three times a day, these types of dogs would rather lie on the couch and try to hypnotise you to feed them all day long. That worst-said, we’ve always wanted to be able to take him along with us on short to mid-range rides. The problem is, as we learned with our previous non-e-bikes, which had a dog-trailer attached to the rear axle, the killer pug hated being put in it and lugged around. He didn’t just reject being trailered in a small, whiny way, though. When trying to ride with him he would bitch & moan so much people would call us animal abusers. Yeah, he would literally scream at us to let him out. Ever hear a pug scream? Would you believe that that trailer ended up becoming nothing more than the best bike attachment ever for lugging around cases of Kölsch or Alt (beer)? Indeed.

Eventually the trailer rusted to hell and we gave it to someone who was interested in our not throwing it away. Unwilling to accept the fact that our dog probably wasn’t made (trained?) for e-bike transport, I bought one of those dog-carry backpacks. Guess what? He rejected that, too. And so. In one last effort in pleasing my better-half, I bought one of those rack-time basket with an open wire lid–that is meant for small dogs. Although the killer pug still whines a bit here and there, he seems to have accepted this mode of transport–as long as he’s behind my wife (and not worst-moi).

And while I’m on the subject of rack-time baskets.

I also bought one of those solid plastic rack-time baskets which relegates both our e-bikes to being even more convenient for shopping and chores. Even though owning two rack-time baskets might seem like over-kill, they each serve a purpose. On top of that, they are very stable and reassuring while attached to the bikes. The black rack-time basket is great for small/limited groceries or picking up take-out. It comes with a heavy-duty strap that, once detached, makes it easy to carry around. Of course, I still use side-bags for heavier/larger groceries.

The dog basket, of course, is really only good for the dog as it’s quite a bit larger than the other basket. The only down-side to these baskets is you can’t use side bags anymore, nor can you use the the rubber strap the bikes rear rack. I’m curious about one thing, though, based on what I read during my last visit to Riese & Müller’s website and reviewing all their new bikes. Has R&M abandoned rack-time on all their newer models? If so, why? Oh wait. How ’bout this: after buying one (or two) of their bikes, there’s no money left to buy these über-expensive baskets/attachments–unless the tears of your eternal puppy dog make you do so. Or? Yeah, this $hit is expensive.

But I die-gress.

Almost two and half years old and eight thousand KMs, I’m very pleased with my über-expensive e-bike. It’s gonna be hard next year, though, if I stay with R&M or if I move on to something even more expensive.

Rant and ride on.

-T

E-Bikes And The Ageing Killer Pug

Like me, dear worst-reader, Beckett – the killer pug, is getting old. Fortunately I’ve still got all my front teeth. Most of his front teeth, on the other hand, except for the fangs, had to be removed last year. I mean, have you ever had a look inside a Pugs mouth? What a mess of teeth, don’t you know. In fact, if you didn’t know, in that little skull is housed the same amount of teeth that a normal nose dog has. The upper jaw is intrinsically rowed with various molars. It’s very alien-like. As far as the lower jaw, that’s a whole ‘nother story. It’s amazing that any teeth stay in after 11 years on the lower jaw. Since most of his scissor teeth were removed, he’s having a few issues here & there holding that tongue in. In case you’re wondering, like the teeth, that tongue is just as long as a tongue of dog with a normal nose. Lots going on in a Pug’s skull, baby.

But wait! E-bikes.

Nice long weekender to Berlin recently. Panorama shot of the Olympic stadium. You know, the stadium where Jessie Owens showed ugly Adolf how sportsmanship is done.

For those not in the know, you can see most of Berlin by boat. We only used one as a ferry, though.

My better-half has been complaining about getting a basket for her Charger Nuvinci. I tested it at the shop and inquired if she wanted one with fancy colours. She said black is fine. Yeah, baby. Steal my heart with darkness. Only downside to rack-time baskets is that you can’t use side-bags anymore. Oh well. Consume-to-survive, baby.

And by-the-buy, you can actually get two days food in a basket that fits perfectly to the bike’s rack-time rack. What do we got here? Fresh white asparagus, Italian cured ham, two bottles of Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris), and a little pumpkin for the next days quiche. That’s right. I make quiche, bitch. And I make it with pumpkin, goat cheese, fresh chilli peppers, sage and, of course, über fresh Italian parmesan. (Sometimes I’ll cheat with a fresh slab of Irish cheddar.)

Rant (and ride safe) on, baby.

-T

PS Not been riding much this time of year. Weather is too crazy here. Too much rain and cold and lots of unpredictability. That’s pseudo-spring in Germania. Bummer!

Soccer Coach Dreams, Industry And Manufacturing Not Dead, A WW2 Story

Quick ride to clear my head the other day, dear worst-reader. Didn’t work, though. In fact, I was so perturbed by the trek I’m sure it caused me a strange dream the night after. In short, the dream was thus: along with another male adult, I’m on a grassy knoll coaching four boys who are playing soccer. Oddly, I’ve never played soccer. In fact, when I was kid and when I played, it would have never come to mind to play a sport that was/is easily labelled a communist sport. I mean, come on. You can’t use your friggin’ hands? Whaaaa? Ok. Back to the grassy knoll.

The grassy knoll is next to the German A3 Autobahn on route to either Köln or Frankfurt and there’s no barrier between the grass where the boys are playing and the Germanic über-roadway. Myself and the other adult male are trying our best to keep the boys from playing their sport into the on-coming traffic. So much for coaching, eh. And so…

The boys are constantly kicking the ball onto the Autobahn and thereby stopping traffic. Let me repeat that for the worst-hearing or the unimpaired (intellects) who’ve never left the confines of not having a passport: no one stops on-coming Autobahn traffic in the land of Huns. Or? On the other side of the grassy knoll, by-the-buy, is a dense forest and with every pause from having to watch the boys, I’m looking to that forest. And while doing so, eventually, somehow, an opening in the forest appears and I suggest that we seek another place to practice. The other male adult agrees with me but the four boys do not. The boys want to keep playing/practicing where they are–and it’s obvious they will have their way.

In a rebellious fit mixed with a bit of pseudo-rage, one of the boys kicks the ball onto the Autobahn and then all four boys command that I fetch it. And guess what? I did NOT fetch it. That’s right. Fcuk that! I ran off to the opening in the forest and then woke up in a cold, blurred sweat. Awake from my rebellious dream, I immediately ran downstairs to my Jura espresso machine, which was already on and warmed-up on account I over-slept and my better-half was awake and I clicked the button for a double espresso. I drank it and then my wife commanded that I take the dog out. But get this: my dog, Beckett the killer pug, runs over to me all excited and perturbed and in his mouth is a deflated and dilapidated old soccer ball.

Confused, I look out the front window of our house while contemplating and sipping espresso and soccer and see four boys on the street staring at me, waiting for me, gesturing: where’s the fcuking ball you a$$hole! And so.

A dream within a dream very unlike Hamlet. Or? Perhaps a better question is: what does it all mean?

Nomatter.

The good newz is, there’s an east-west spectrum of riding terrain along the Rhein. If I go east, within about half an hour, I’m in a mountainous-forest area that is pure joy to ride. When going west, but adhering to the Rhein River, there are numerous spectacles of industrialisation worth riding through–and not because they are to some an eye soar, which also means that while riding there will be less pedestrian and/or bike traffic. Yesterday I rode through the town of Neuss, for example. It’s a quick twenty kilometre north-westerly ride where one must cross the Rhein via Düsseldorf’s most southerly bridge. Once across there is a short jaunt on a bike pathway that is between the river and a bunch of fancy-pants houses that all have a spectacular view. Indeed. Some of the housing that overlooks the Rhein is a sight to see. The old-money wealth that purchased its way into such a view of the river must be very proud of itself. Yes. We’re all proud of old-money, eh? I mean, not that I’m bitchin’ & moanin’ too much on account I can’t have such a view. Old money is an issue these days, eh? But I die-gress.

The moment I trekked my way through Neuss town centre and began to navigate through the industrial harbour, I felt better. Suddenly there were no more cars, no more pedestrians, no more bicyclist. And then I saw a young maiden sitting on a bench next to what looked like a contra-bass. Obviously she was waiting to be picked up and my little knowledge of Neuss told me there must be a music school nearby. Yeah, the Huns still have lots of music schools all over the place. Anywho.

After passing the harbour area and getting a good close up of some of those barges that dock at loading stations, I had to resort to some fancy-pants GPS to help me find the quickest way to lunch. I was getting hungry.

Nonevermind.

I rode through the industrial, port area of Neuss and then re-crossed the Rhein via the Rheinkniebrücke which is only a few twisty kilometres north of the previous bridge I crossed. I then rode to the Düsseldorf Altstadt and reminded myself that I would have NO Bier with lunch. I then splurged on a bowl of lentil soup at a cool little out-door soup & stew stand. While eating lunch I conversed with an old German couple, she from D’dorf but her husband was from Nurenberg. The husband was almost blind and kept asking his better-half to help him find a piece of sausage in his soup. The better-half sparked up a conversation with me after her husband mistook my bowl of stew for his own. Here’s a translation of the conservation that ensued:

“We’re biking, too,” the old lady said.

“Good for you,” I added.

“But my husband’s almost blind. Here darling, have another piece of sausage with your stew.”

“With traffic as bad as it is, biking is really the only way to get around these days, wouldn’t you agree,” I asked.

The wife shovelled another piece of sausage onto her husband’s spoon. He was eating cabbage and carrot stew with pieces of bratwurst in it. I couldn’t help but stare at the man’s thick, bottle glasses. For a moment it looked like he was so blind that he might not find his mouth with the spoon. But then he blurted out something about Hitler. That’s right. That’s how easy it happens here. I looked to his wife and she nodded and I then assumed that the old man was probably dement. But then he turned to me while chewing a thick spoonful of stew and meat.

“You have an accent,” he said.

“Yes, sir, I do,” I agreed.

“You are American,” he said. “I will never forget the Americans. It was two weeks after I turned seven years old. It was late 1945. The Americans began to occupy Nuremberg. We were still wondering if my father would return from the war. It was just my grandfather and my mother. My mother kept herself barricaded in the basement of our house most of the time. My grandfather was still in charge of the city’s electrical grid. My grandfather took me to work with him back then. The G-I’s were fixing the electric grid of the city. When the first G-I’s came to greet my grandfather at the electric station I stood at attention and yelled at the top of my lungs… Heil Hitler! But then I saw for the first time a Neger1. And this big black G-I came over to me and gave me a Hershey bar. After that I yelled Heil Hitler to every G-I. I got a Hershey bar every time. It was wonderful. My father never came home.”


Rant and ride on.

-T


  1. Yes, old Germans still refer to Africans as “Neger” and while I’ve questioned the use of the word, most Germans then just inform me how stupid Americans are if they don’t know the difference to the slave-trade, bigoted pejorative use of nomenclature ↩︎

Pseudo-Review #8 – 7000km Charger GX And New Drive Train Hell

Here’s a tag-link to my other e-bike posts.

Note on the pics: I was able to directly compare original Bosch sprocket (black) with a different brand (dark grey). I don’t know why it surprises me that the minimal differences in the two has such a drastic outcome on performance (or lack thereof). It basically boils down to a Shimano chain being… I don’t know… a bitch.

Ok. I’m probably over doing it here with new drive train hell. Or am I? Let’s go through it together, shall we, dear fellow worst-rider?

Last fall I was informed after a scheduled tune-up that it was time for a new chain and rear cassette on my mega über-German e-bike. When I naively inquired as to why the drive train wouldn’t last at least 10,000km, I was told/sold this: chains wear out, it all depends on riding parameters and you’re lucky, with the weight it had to carry, it lasted this long. Giggle. Smirk. Pause. Oddly, the shop also told me a new sprocket in the front wasn’t necessary. I didn’t think much about it at the time as I planned to make the change after winter anywho. And so… It’s kinda after winter now, don’t you know. So I made an appointment a few weeks back and, surprisingly–as the shop is usually swamped this time of year with riders getting their wares ready for spring–I didn’t have to wait long. I brought my e-bike in yesterday morning with an appointment to have it finished within a few hours so I could be home by early afternoon to continue worstwritng.

So I dropped off my e-beast and then walked into the city for a nice sushi lunch. After that I went to an Apple Store for some WIFI and uploaded a silly worst-writer-post. I then bought a cappuccino with three espresso shots made with new-fangled oat-milk (P.S. great stuff that new fangled oat-milk). After that I tried to find a new ascot cap at a local department store. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck with the cap. Also. The sushi was kinda spoiled with a well intentioned gesture by the owner. The sushi bar owner–a former Japanese Mountaineer that made his way to Düsseldorf in the 1960s–brought me a serving of Mackerel sushi, aka Saba Zushi. It was a gesture on his part, I guess, because I showed grave disappointment in the fact that he had no sea urchin. Although I prefer Mackerel smoked (especially the German way, not as sushi), sometimes I’ve had luck with how it’s cured when topping sweet rice (sushi). Not the case today. Until dinner, I had that funky Mackerel taste humidifying through my system. Oh well. Nothing a glass of Syrah can’t deal with, eh. Prosit!

After killing a few hours, I returned to the shop and noticed that the mechanic hadn’t removed my bike from its maintenance rack. Usually they’ve got it ready and waiting for me to pick up. I was then directed to join the mechanic at his work station to receive a briefing. That’s right, dear worst-rider. A briefing.

First. As I’ve indicated in other pseudo-reviews, the one big thing that’s always bothered me about my Charger GX is how the rear wheel never spun freely. Whenever I spun the wheel it always came to a sudden stop because it was rubbing on something. No mechanic had yet been able to find what the problem was, i.e. brake caliper mount, brake pad springs, corroded brake caliper pistons, wheel mount, bent brake disc, etc.). Today, fellow worst-rider, there’s been a major brake-thru in this… my e-bike spinning wheel dilemma.

It seems, for the past two years, while taking care of my bike, cleaning the chain, checking the rear, etc., I’ve been doing it all wrong. What I’ve been doing is leaning the bike onto the bike’s rear mounted kickstand and then spinning the rear wheel as needed. During the briefing the mechanic told me to do the same thing but this time to lift the rear end of the bike up off the ground.

Booom, baby!

It seems that the weight and pressure put on the kickstand mount with my method of bike maintenance also puts undue pressure on the entire mount of the rear wheel. Although the pressure is ever-so slight, it’s enough to shift the wheel and make the brake disc rub the brake pads. Go f’n figure, eh. This worst-riding greenhorn still gots lots to learn, baby!

The briefing over, the mechanic told me to test the new chain. I hopped on and peddled. And then…

Kack. Cluck. Creek. Ruddle-riddle, riddle-ruddle, clack, clack, clack.

I hopped off the bike and looked to the mechanic. His head flinched back with surprise as he was able to only get one good, long drag from his Marlboro red while I did the testing.

Das ist nicht gut,”he said. “Versuch anderen Gang.”

I mounted my aluminium two wheeled German engineered über-steed a second time and tried to peddle and thereby shift through a few gears. This time the clack turned to a debilitating crushing and grinding sound.

Heilige scheisse,” my mechanic said.

Only having smoked half his Marlboro, he rolled my bike back into the shop and put it up on the rack. Long story almost short… the new chain no longer fit to the old front sprocket. The mechanic immediately hustled to put on a new front sprocket, questioning the whole time if he even had the right part available. He and other guys in the shop were also a little embarrassed at the situation as I questioned why they didn’t just order it when I made the appointment and then replace it from the get-go.

Come on fellows, I got $hit to do today.

The elderly statesmen from the shop came over to console me by saying that sometimes they just try to reduce costs for their customers. I thought to myself: seriously? These friggin bikes costs way too much to be squealing around on things like a 20,- Euro sprocket. Or?

Nö problem-o,” the elderly statesmen said. “Nur nochmal zwanzig Euro für die Teile,” he added.

He told me I only had to pay for the sprocket and not for the extra labour that was in progress. Yeah, right.

JUST FIX IT!

Of course, I wasn’t at all interested in the cost. I’ve saved so much money by getting a car out of my life, that a few Euros here or there for something like a sprocket… Anywho. I wanted my bike back for another 7000km and I was a bit perturbed with what was turning out to be a wasted afternoon where worstwriter billing money was going down the drain.

But. There was one other problem. They couldn’t find the right Bosch front sprocket. For the heck of it–and too look busy, I guess–they threw on a different brand sprocket. And don’t you know, it didn’t work. (See pics.) The thing that really surprised me here is that Bosch (the whole bike industry) seems to think it’s OK to treat bike parts like Apple treats iPhone parts. Indeed. The whole friggin business world is about monopoly, proprietary krapp and, let’s not forget, obsoletism. But before I get too far off worst-subject ranting about what I think of this fcuked up world…

They eventually found a Bosch sprocket. But get this. When making the appointment for this stuff, I had initially requested a larger front sprocket. Not much. I wanted to go from 17 to 18 teeth. When I made the appointment, the shop statesmen told me that it wasn’t possible to change the front sprocket because of the onboard computer and then even added a short lecture on German regulations regarding 25kmh plus how thankful I should be because of the states effort in creating all the great bike lanes we get to enjoy. Blah. Blah. Blah. I’ve since also learned that Bosch is pretty hard-a$$ on dealers and shops that don’t adhere to their stringent drive-train setups. So I don’t hold anything against shop owners for following rules. On the other hand, I think it’s pretty silly how the e-bike powers-that-be don’t want people fiddling with these things on account, well, I’m sure there’s a $hit load of fun to be had by boosting them up to 60kmh. Or? But I have never been interested in that. I just thought a slightly larger front sprocket would allow me to utilise more gears while riding a MTB on flat, paved surfaces most of the time. But before I die-gress (digress)…

The only other disappointment with today’s 230,- Euro e-bike maintenance debacle is that the shop didn’t even bother to degrease and clean the parts prior to reassembly. Nor did they say/do anything about the derailleur. Am I being too much of a stickler here?

Just take my money, bitch!

I hope I’m not being too hard on my local bike shop. But perhaps it’s worth noting, even though there have been some advancement in the biking world, especially with e-bikes, something is awry when it comes to service–especially for something at this price. On the other hand, the special deal I made with the purchase of this bike, which allowed me to acquire it at a substantial discount, also requires that I have it regularly maintained by a Bosch approved shop. That worst-said, I’m committed to another year with it. After that–if I decided to keep it–it’s time to fiddle with it a bit more on my own. Or do I just finally go nuts and get a Stromer? Stay tuned for that, baby.

In the meantime think/imagine this: ageing expat with a slight weight/drinking problem, über-cruising around some old German town on two wheels at 60kmh with a cloud of electric smoke coming out of his…

But I do die-gress (digress).

The ride home with new drive train definitely felt different. Although I could clearly feel its newness, the entirety of the afternoon convinced me to blow it off till I could get a glass of wine in me. Still. The new chain and sprockets needs to be broke-in and it’ll probably take a couple hundred kilometres for that to happen. Onward ho, eh.

The only other thing worth pointing out is, after two years and 7000km, this bike has held up pretty well. I’ve yet to have any issues with things like steering stem, spokes, brake levers and/or the brake hydraulic system. I was also expecting by now to have to replace the brake discs, but they’re fine, too. Or are they? Obviously the quality of parts that help push the price of this bike upward forevermore seems to be worthwhile. Except, of course, for the drive train. After this debacle I’m remembering vividly that original conversation upon purchase about whether or not to afford the extra cost of a Rohloff, which would alleviate having to deal with chains and sprockets and mis-managed shop priorities. Oh well.

Rant and ride-safe on, baby.

-T

Pseudo-Review #7- Charger GX At 6,000km, Winter Is Coming

Psuedo-Subtitle: The good, the bad, and not much to report.

Here is a tag-link to all my e-bike posts.

Let us begin, dear worst-rider, with the truth. The truth is, as of the writing of this worst-post, I’m surpassing 6500km in the next day or three. With that in mind, there is no need to answer any inquiries regarding the stature of my trusted Germania e-vehicle. It is and has been pretty much in the same shape since about 4000km. Or was that 2500km? Nomatter. This transport device has been holding up very well. Then again… it’s not quite two years old. Anywho.

The Good

Other than some standard tear & wear, i.e. brake pads, tyres (“tires” for my #Americant brethren) and a part removal–plus a recommendation for a few other part replacements (more on that below)–this e-bike extraordinaire has held-up better than all three of my x-wives. (Or is it 4?) And I assure you, fellow e-traveler, them x-wives were never as enjoyably ridden as this vehicle. Yes. Oh wait. (It was 3!) But on that note, I do… die-gress.

As you may or may not notice in the pics, I’ve finally gotten around to removing that silly rack from the front. Don’t get me wrong, dear worst-rider. It was a gallant effort on the part of those German engineer-types that put this and any Riese & Müller together. But in the end, unless you used it just like that dude in the video from the R&M website last year… You know, the long haired, bearded guy that peddled around a dessert with full panniers and a rolled up blanket or camping matt attached beautifully to the front rack? Yeah, that guy. Anywho. Unless you used the rack in the same manner, i.e. storing something on it that is soft and light, it was a useless rack. I did, of course, try to make it useful. I tried lugging around a case of wine once. You know, six bottles of Chianti along with a can of fava beans. Although the effort worked, i.e. I got the wine home unbroken, it was a terrible riding experience. I also tried lugging around a spare 500W battery strapped to the rack. Yeah… No. For you see, fellow worst-rider, the rack is truly meant, as indicated in the minimalist manual issued with the vehicle, to carry no more than 3kg. If I were to give R&M any advice, I’d tell them to stick with the 3kg weight allotment for the front rack but add that whatever is strapped to it, should be soft and cuddly. Anything above 3kg that is also hard & heavy means not only that your steering will be obnoxiously uncomfortable, but your bike balance, your tip-weight when using the kick-stand, etc., is waaaaaay off. In fact, while breaking my distance record last spring by riding 90+ km and carrying a spare battery strapped (with protection and cushioning) to the front rack, I decided then and there, the rack was a goner. By-the-buy, I have noticed that R&M has completely changed the front rack design of their new Chargers. The rack is attached to the frame of the bike and not the the steering/head tube. Well learned, grasshopper!

All in all, at this point, pushing two years old, replacing a car, I really can’t complain about this bike and there’s not much new to report. Even without the front rack, it’s still quite a useful carrier vehicle. As you can see in the pics, for the onslaught of Euro-winter, I even use the vehicle to carry ca. 15kg of firewood. Also, when it’s dirty and I clean it, it feels like new again. As long as I keep the chain and derailleur clean, I never have the feeling the drive train is even close to needing replacement (more on that in a sec). I do perhaps have one regret. When I replaced my rear tyre (tire) for the second time, I actually went ahead and ordered another tyre knowing that the rear only lasts about 2500km. I’ve since concluded that I want to replace the knobby tyres with something more urban, perhaps Schwalbe super-moto-x tyres. I’ll decided that soon enough. But if I do replace them, that means I bought an extra tire for naught. Oh well.

The Bad

When I had the 5000km inspection done a few months back, where I also had the rack removed, the shop told me that although not needed immediately, probably by the next inspection, it’ll be time to replace the chain and sprockets. At first I let the remark pass. Then I got to thinking. From the beginning I vaguely remember being told/sold the idear that this quality of chain and derailleur would last around 10000km. Why then is the dealer already talking of chain renewal?

Soon after the inspection, I gave my Charger a thorough cleaning, especially the chain. With a second and more thorough look, for the life of me, I don’t see why I can’t squeeze another 3000-4000km out of this chain set. Am I being naive? Of course, I might just invest in one of those chain measuring tools on account I have the feeling the bike shop might be taking advantage of me and my generosity for actually paying/affording all these inspections. Heck, the only reason I give the bike up for these dealer inspections is to protect the value of it on account I might want to trade it in after three years. Here in Germany proof of inspections can be an advantage. On the other hand, 100 ,-€ per inspection, plus whatever parts are needed, is adding considerable cost to this vehicle. Which raises another question: should I have taken the Rohloff transmission? The Rohloff is supposed to cost less than a chain/derailleur in the long run, is it not? But when I think/remember test driving a Rohloff I still vividly remember all those gears churning at the behest of every pedal movement. Yeah, churning gears are a big turn-off.

Not Much To Report

Yeah, I’m still diggin’ this e-bike. In fact, I haven’t touched my Giant TCX in almost all year. Then again, once I started to get into e-biking, I kinda knew that analog biking’s days were numbered. Which begs another worst-rider question: what to do, what to do, what to do… when the weather turns as it’s doing as I worst-write this? Winter is indeed coming. And if I learned one thing from last winter… The region of Germany I live in (NRW) has had great weather this summer and fall. I’ve been doing a lot of biking. But my temperature limit for biking is around 7° celsius. Anything below that makes me nervous for various reasons.

  1. Frozen fall foliage on the streets lets tyres slip away no matter how sharp your knobbies and then there’s German curbs and other road knots hiding underneath all that foliage and when you can’t see them and your front tyre gets caught while trying to ride around mothers and strollers… WHAM! You’re on arse toot-sweet.
  2. I learned last winter that gear shifting with thick gloves is a pain in the arse and urban riding requires constant gear shifting and when it’s cold and your worried about freezing your arse off you’re not thinking about gear shifting which means at every traffic light your in the wrong friggin gear… (How’s my bitchin & moanin solar?)
  3. Riding with thick clothes is a pain in the arse and even though I know, if managed correctly, you can ride an e-bike without breaking a sweat… but still, after too much wine the night before, the sweat comes out all the same and then those thick clothes turn out never to be thick enough and and and…
  4. Hours of cold riding has no comfort zone cause I’m such a wuss and when e-biking and sweating out too much drink from the night before… Oh wait. I’m being repetitive.
  5. And let’s not forget how a cold and hard that leather saddle from heaven is…
  6. But enough bitchin’ & moanin.

This bike is just too good to be true. (Knock on wood.)

Worst-ride on, baby.

Rant on, too.

-T

Labin E-Bike Tour And Testing Limits

My better half surprised me with some R&R that includes e-biking. Since I’m staying at one of the higher elevations as my e-bike starting point, heed this: you’re either going up or your going down any given surface when riding an e-bike in Labin, Croatia. Other than the backyard where you rest your machine, or the beach where you stare at the euro-bikini-chicks (the flat area in the graph below), there’s no surface here that is NOT going up or down. I suppose that’s not such a bad thing if you’ve got the right e-bike–or if you’re a bit younger and not suffering from too much wine and too many truffles with noodles. With that in mind, hats off to my boys and gals at Riese & Müller–my favourite bike maker in the whole world. And since I’m not the great photo-maker (I am worst-photographer), let me share a few worst-words on what I’ve just experienced.

I just finished the hardest 4-5km bike trek I’ve ever been on. The whole ride was about 17km. Of course, this isn’t an issue of endurance or physical stamina (I have neither), it is instead a testament to what I consider to be one of the most difficult surfaces I’ve ever ridden on and the only bike I’d ever do it on again. As you may (or may not) note in the pics above, the two pics that show the trail and the gravel road are what you must face here if/when you leave paved roads. The trail, btw, (the one with the red sign) I haven’t done as of the writing of this worst-post–but I’ll get to it soon enough. The gravel road, on the other hand, I just finished riding UP. As you may (or may not) note in the pic below, that area where “Rocks, boulders and bears” is indicated is pretty much a pseudo-road filled with baseball and softball sized rocks that goes for about 3.5km… UP! The area approaching the serpintine (see the map) has grades of (I’m guessing) 20% before and after it. I didn’t make it up the front of the serpentine without having to get off the bike due to lack of control on the rocky surface. But I made it up the back after having learned/adjusted a bit how to navigate under e-bike power over the large and loose rocks. The average grade of the entire distance of the hill is about 7-12%. Would I ever attempt this without e-bike power? Only if I stop drinking wine and eating truffles. But then, if that happens, I wouldn’t be in Labin, Croatia. Or?

17km ebike trek Croatia

Although it only took me about half an hour to make it up the hill (Rocks, boulders and bears side of the graph above), and I plan on doing it again for practice, I’ve never before experienced my bike in this type of environment. This bike is so well built that I enjoyed feeling the tires gorging on the edges of rocks. The Bosch CX motor was brilliant in assisting me and not allowing any overcompensation with wild pedal kicking due to the rocky, loose surface. Also, I noticed for the first time how the Bosch computer was telling me when to up or down shift. In fact, for the past 5000km I thought the shifting indicators of the computer didn’t even work because this bike has a derailleur. Goodness knows, the “mountain biking” I’ve done up to now, which has been mostly in and around Wuppertal and Solingen, Germany, doesn’t compare to this rocky Croatian surface. With that in mind, I really feel as though I’ve finally tested my Charger GX to its limits. After riding just under 100km in this area as of this post, the bike is rattling, humming and weirding out on me as never before. But not one thing has snapped off, broke or come loose. Can’t wait to get back on it and find new trails tomorrow.

Note: The pic with my bike and the Adriatic Sea in the far background should provide some perspective on how high we are. The 3-4KM ride is up the side of the hill (cause it’s not quite a mountain yet, is it).

Keep up the good work R&M!

Rant and worst-ride on, baby.

T

PS The reason the grey Ortlieb bag is strapped to the top of the rear rack is because they jostle and bang around too much when hung on the side. Seriously rough surfaces here.

Pseudo-Review #6: R&M Charger GX At 5000km And Humming Brakes From Hell

Surpassed 5000km the other day on my beloved e-bike. As of May this year, it’s also just over a year old. Although I’ve met some who ride their bikes a lot more than worst-moi, I’m kinda tickled that I’ve been able to ride all these kilometres. With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to complain (or is it “rant”) a bit about this great bike.

First: the frame (see pics above). As mentioned in Pseudo-Review #5, I was gallantly (sarcasm off) delivered a replacement frame under warranty due to a chip in the paint right in the middle of the top tube. A few weeks after ridng around with the new frame though, I noticed that the shop re-installed one of the handle bar cables in the wrong position. A few weeks of riding caused the cable to thoroughly abrase the head tube.  Well, don’t you know! The whole frame replacement ordeal for the cracked paint (which took almost eight months) was all for naught. Although I got rid of the obnoxious chip, I now have an obnoxious scratch. Wow. Competance hard to find, eh?

Next: strange noises or humming brakes from hell. Although I tell people that I would buy this bike again and the main reason for that is the sheer quality it exemplifies, after a year of riding, it’s starting to show wear. This is most notible in noise. The seat, for example. Although I love this seat, it sqeeks and crackles something awful. The worst noise this bike makes, though, is a low humming sound coming from the rear disk brake.

I had to the take the bike to a shop this spring because, after changing the rear tyre last fall, something went awry when I re-installed the tyre. For the life of me, I could not get the rear tyre properly aligned when re-installing it. I’m assuming this has something to do with the complex axil mount R&M uses on this frame design.

Note: The Charger frame is special in that, unlike most bikes, the chain does not go through the frame–or the chain stay. This is in part why the axil mount for the rear wheel is so complex. As you can see in the pic above, the axil of the wheel is mounted to an adapter. The adapter is mounted to the frame. I’m assuming R&M chose this design to allow for choice in final drive solutions, especially belt drive systems which, unlike chains, require some form of frame separation to install. It’s a pretty ingenious design–if you can deal with the f’n humming brake noise that is, I’m guessing, caused by this complexity. But I digress.

After the shop checked the rear wheel they told me that the problem wasn’t the alignment of the wheel but instead I had jarred the drums of the brake pads in the wrong direction when I removed the wheel. This caused one side of the brake drums to protrude further out than the other. Of course, this made no sense to me because I understand hydraulic brakes, brake pads, brake drums, calipers, etc. When I removed the rear wheel, I was careful not to squeeze the brake lever–or mess with the caliper. In fact, I didn’t go anywhere near the brake lever till I had re-installed the wheel. The bike mechanic said that they simply had to push the drums all the way back into the calipers. Ok. Fine. They charged me twenty Euros and sent me on my way. But! Did they fix the problem? No. The brake is still rubbing and humming–because I’ve given up on the whole thing. This also means I have to unnecessarily and prematurely replace brake pads.

My worst-guess is that this is a two-fold problem and has to do with R&M frame design. There is simply not enough room for error or adjustment on the frame where the brake caliper is mounted. The complexity of the rear wheel mounts, derailleur, gears, hydraulic brake, etc., is also, IMHO, missing something. Unlike the front wheel, which has a through-axil, and requires no vertical or horizontal movement, the rear wheel, when removed, drops vertically. In this complex mounting situation there also needs to be some way to move the wheel horizontally if the brake caliper can no longer be adjusted. Needless to say, R&M have made something complex that should probably be a bit simpler. But on that note, I digress again.

All in all, this is a fantastic bike and at this point I wouldn’t trade it for anything but a Stromer ST2 at half-price. (And even with such an offer I’d have to think twice.) I’m hoping that in time I’ll figure out some of the complexities of it on my own. Till then, humming and squeaking be damned.

-Rant (and ride) on

-T

Mini Clubman Über Fun And Electric Bike Cheat Galore Or How I Learned To Love A Car Hitch

Subtitle: This Is Not A Review Of A 2017 Mini Clubman.

Sometimes when I’m riding around on my e-bike I hear these voices. At first I didn’t make much of the voices. But then they grew, they increased, and although they never got louder, they became part of life. After having lived among #Eurowastelanders for so long, especially z’Germans, I’m not unaccustomed to these voices, don’t you know. But I am, every once-a-once, surprised by what these voices say. For example. Most recently these voices made rude comments about the bike I’m riding. “Oh, he’s on an e-bike,” someone smirked. Or. “Look. That doesn’t count. It’s an e-bike.” And then there’s my favourite. “Guido, if you buy me an e-bike I’ll fcuk your brains out,” said the Wessie-schlampe to her half Italian pseudo boyfriend as I roared past them at 25km/h. But let’s not weird out too much worst-writing about living in tax them by the pu$$y Europe.

Although in my first e-bike post I made the claim that we gave up our second car so that we could become a single car household, and now we have two cars (again), I did not lie. Even though we’re once again a two-car household–on account my better half did something useful with her recent work slash compensation bonus–this situation is only temporary. After next September we will once again be a single car household. That’s when we are giving up the scam that is German corporate cars via greed mongering leasing companies. In the meantime, I’ve been given the challenge by my better-half to get used to our new vehicle and, more importantly, get it ready to do what it is we need it to do. I’m referring, of course, to our continuing to be not only a single car household but also to rely on our e-bikes for all of our local transportation needs and even some of our longer distance needs. That is, I use my e-bike for almost all my household chores. Whether I’m grocery shopping, picking up packages, or meeting with people in the city, my transportation of choice is my e-bike. Unless, of course, I have to lug around a few cases of beer, water or large amounts dog food for Beckett, our little killer pug. But that’s neither here nor there. Since I just surpassed my first year of e-bike ownership, I can’t say that I’m disappointed in this source of transport. Now that we’ve added a really, really cool Mini Cooper Clubman to the mix–with a friggin hitch–things have only gotten cooler.

Long worst-writing story short, we bought a Mini that has a factory installed hitch. The hitch, btw, is as cool as the Mini. The hitch fits neatly under the boot floor along with the spare tyre. When needed the hitch clicks neatly underneath the rear bumper and is conveniently locked in place. I bought a bike hitch-rack (Westfalia) via an Amazon warehouse deal; most certainly saved 150,-€ there. Secured to the hitch, the bike rack hangs off the back of the Mini as though it was meant to hang nowhere else. In other words, we’ve tested this bike hitch with more than 2000km so far and all I can say is… f’n cool! Although I can see through the rear view mirror of the Mini how the bikes sometimes wobble and shake while on the autobahn, I’m over all my fears that the whole shebang would just drop off while on our way to Croatia (which we’re gonna do next September).

As you can see in the pics (above), not only are the bikes fully integrated as part of the Mini when on the hitch & rack, but there is also the convenience of being able to access the split doors of the Mini, albeit only one at a time. That is, I’ve since learned that in order to access the boot of the Mini in this configuration, one needs to be prepared. First, make sure you pack stuff in the rear that only needs access if you can’g get to what you need through one of the two rear side doors. Remember that this is a six door vehicle. The issue recently came up when I forgot that I had put my wallet in a bike bag in the rear. At a gas station I had to then drop the bikes (see pic above) to get it. Obviously it was no problem. This wouldn’t be so easy, though, if the Mini was fully packed when traveling longer distances. And so. Heed this. Only one of the rear Mini barn doors is accessible with this hitch & rack, so you should pack the car accordingly.

Another cool aspect of this Mini + e-bike rack layout is that when it’s activated the electronic connector of the rack (for the rear lights, blinkers, etc.) responds accordingly. The rear doors no longer respond to remote activation. The rear parking guide also shuts off and the driver is given a fancy signal inside the car saying, basically, when backing up… you’re on your own. Btw, remote activation of rear doors is kinda waaaaaay Mini-cool. That might sound like a bit of blowhard BS by someone that doesn’t own a friggin Mini, but let me tell you: I’ve already been out and about with this vehicle where I had to park it in tight spaces. If you activate those rear doors with the remote and they swing open, anything in their way will be slammed and, worst, the doors will be damaged. So hats off to BMW/Mini folks for getting the rear doors right when the hitch is activated. Now I have to get it right when there’s no hitch.

As far as driving 2000+km with this bike/rack system on a friggin Mini Cooper? At first I was nervous. How can that little hitch hold all this–especially when driving 100+km/h on the German (drive with your brakes) autobahn? The answer: no problem. The hitch is rated at being able to carry much more than two e-bikes. Of course, I remove all excess weight from the bikes before putting them on. The battery is removed. The computers of the bikes are removed. The Abus lock on my R&M Charger GX is also removed. If on longer drives, especially where rain is expected, I also remove the seats and cover any open orifices with God’s tape. I mean, duck-tape. All in all, when emptied, each bike is around 20 kilos. The (Westfalia) rack is rated at being able to carry 60 kilos. Yeah. This is a pretty cool way to carry bikes around–even if they’re e-bikes (that might not deserve to be carried around; but that’s another worst-post).

Rant (and ride safe) on.

-T

Pseudo-Review #5: R&M Charger GX 4000km

bike review 4000km_4
Trees falling like crazy ’round here. Storms, über-wet ground, and, perhaps, top heavy Germans.

Pseudo-Reviews begin here.

It’s been a long cold wet winter, dear worst-rider. No. Seriously. The weather has been so dismal the past few months here in the Germania tribe of #eurowasteland that I’ve barely ridden the R&M. Although I’ve been living in the old country for well over twenty-five years now, this past winter season has been extreme when it comes to all things wet and cold. That in and of itself is worth worst-writing about (or am I already doing that on this worst-blog?) Nomatter. Speaking of weather…

I was in The Homeland recently… Can you believe you can call it that now? But perhaps they shouldn’t stop there. Perhaps they should/could call it Orwell’s Homeland. But I digress.

I was in The Homeland last October for a wonderful visit. Spent some beautiful days in Baltimore. That’s right, dear worst-rider. When the police aren’t shooting people and when the automatons aren’t walking around like Zombies, and when the f’n sun shines like there’s no tomorrow, Baltimore is actually a great little city to hang around for a few days. This particular visit left me with the impression that October weather in Baltimore is the best weather in the world. Add to that the fact that once I stepped foot back in the old country, about two weeks after my Homeland visit, it started to rain and didn’t stop until yesterday. I kid you not!

I’ve experienced wet and cold weather living in this part of #eurowasteland. But in my twenty-five years I can’t remember it being this bad. I’m kinda ashamed I didn’t do more worst-riding for the past few months. But I’ve set my riding weather limits to seven degrees celsius and trees being uprooted due to flooding ground water. Yea, limits. (See pic above.)

bike review 4000km_3
Shelf space for bike stuff. I’m actually regretting have bought two knob tires (tyres); I’m probably gonna go with more street oriented tires after current set wears out.

On the other hand, I can’t help but think this break from the R&M has done me some good. It’s aloud me to readjust my e-bike senses. That is, getting back on the bike after only sporadic use during the past three or four months has allowed me to re-orient myself with it. Not only that but while it’s been in my basement turning a year old I’ve finally started fiddling with its parts. For example, for the first time I adjusted the air shocks–even though I’m not quit sure how-to do it. I also re-adjusted my thud buster seat going back to the middle rubber mount from the highest (hardest) setting. I also have a new rear tire, although that wasn’t my fiddling. And the Bosch system was updated. So let’s go there first, shall we.

Just after returning to the old country last October–in fact, the day I arrived–I was also scheduled to bring my R&M in for a check-up and frame replacement. As pointed out in this pseudo-review, the dealer delivered my R&M with paint damage on the frame.  If I hadn’t insisted on having the damage repaired I’m sure that the dealer–and perhaps R&M???–would have gladly let the damage slide at my cost. I say that because, 1) I had to wait something like eight months for the frame and 2) after the dealer finally replaced it and I picked up the bike, they said/claimed the following:

“You know, we replaced that frame, which would normally have cost around five hundred or so in labour, for nothing.”

My response: Whaaaaaaaaa?

I don’t know about your experience with customer service, dear worst-rider, but such a comment is common-place here in #eurowasteland, especially in certain parts of Germany where people really do believe they $hit roses. But enough of my worst-writing vulgarities and limited intellect as a somewhat disappointed high-end e-bike consumer.

So. During this money grubbing check-up my frame was replaced. They also replaced both rear brake pads, which I questioned (more on that in a sec). I also had them install a new rear tire even though it could have probably gone a few hundred kilometres more–but that was my choice. I was thinking at the time that I’d kill two birds (with one stone) and  bought a second tire (see pic above where said tire is neatly folded and waiting). I’m now thinking that was an error on account I’m almost sure I want to go with more street oriented tires in the future. Maybe more on that later. They also updated my Bosch system with the new eMTB riding mode. Let me say this about eMTB:

Whoop-di-fcuking do!

In fact, I might even ask the dealer (it’ll be a new dealer by then) if I can return my Bosch system back to the old riding modes. With four modes of riding, I really don’t see the reasoning behind eMTB, which seems to only combine the top three levels of riding. In fact, the other day while going up a short but very steep hill using eMTB the motor kicked a bit too hard and caused a wheelie. To prevent a backward flip I had to jump off the pedals. Indeed. Unwanted wheelies during steep ascensions… I’m gettin’ too old for that $hit.

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There’s an owner’s manual for a lot of Suntour forks here, just not for mine.

As far as the brake pad replacement goes, there is a problem with the rear brake calliper on my R&M. In my opinion, the frame mounts are not properly aligned for this calliper setup. The brake pad that is on the outside of the disk is always rubbing. I know this because the rear wheel never spins freely. Although there is a way to adjust the position of the calliper on the frame mounts, it can’t be moved enough to one side to prevent the rubbing on one of the pads. Once I get a new dealer, I’ll be addressing this issue. Otherwise I’ll be replacing pads mostly because of this unnecessary rubbing.

Actually I don’t have anything more to say about the tires on this bike. I love them. So I might just go one more set and then go to street tires. I don’t know. I’m confused about tires.

The front forks have no manual.

The pic above is a screenshot of the CD that was delivered with this bike that is supposed to contain an owner’s manual for my forks. The only problem is, there is no manual. The good news is that my bike was delivered with a cute little air pump specific to these forks. This is helpful because they are springless air forks. If, by accident, you let out all the air–which I did–you’ll need this pump to get going again. Either that or you’ll have to ride home with useless, impotent front forks. (Sounds worst-rider erotic, eh!) And there is one other problem. Because there is no user manual for the forks, how much pressure can I put in them? Since I fiddled around with air forks back in the day when I was a real-man motorcyclist–as opposed to a wuss on an e-bike–I figured I could fill the forks till they don’t move anymore, which I think was around 150psi. Right now I’m running something like a 100psi and they’re still a bit hard. Or is it 10psi? Who the fcuk cares. And you know what they say about hard (forks) and men in their fifties, right? Ok. Enough.

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R&M heaven or how they look after turning a year old.

Btw, my better-half’s R&M Mixte is definitely gonna skip the eMTB Bosch update. The main reason is because the update seems to be just another gouging mechanism for dealers. You see, Bosch doesn’t charge for the update. But dealers do. Go figure. Also. The Mixte is mostly used on roads, so it really doesn’t need eMTB.

In the last few days I’ve been able to go on longer rides with my GX, even though off-road is still very very wet–in fact so wet that even my extra wide tires sink a bit much for my taste. We’re planning a new tour up on the Baltic Sea at the end of May, though. We’re looking at about ten days of riding and maybe 1500km along the German north coast not far from Poland. Looking forward to it.

Oh. As far as battery life goes… I’m gonna have to worst-write something about that (again) soon. Reason? During the first 2000km I could go 30km before the first notch on the battery gauge would disappear. Now I can barely go 15km. After questioning a dealer about this he said that as soon as it gets warmer I should have all the power back. I’m skeptical. Even though the Bosch e-bike motor is great and I trust the Germans engineered it well and Hungarians put it together well, the battery–or the batteries–is a different story. Indeed. Batteries are the weak link here. But I digress.

Good riding, baby.

Rant on.

-T

Pseudo Review #4: R&M Charger GX At 3000km

charger GX in the woods

As stated here and here, I’m a big fan of Riese & Mueller e-bikes. In fact, after my better-half bought me the Charger GX last spring, the only time I’m not on this bike is 1) I’m pooped from riding it and 2) the weather sucks. Since the power of this e-bike eliminates the need to consider weather, especially wind as a riding factor (wind can be pretty severe on this part of the Rhine) only heavy precipitation keeps me from riding it. I use this e-bike for everything including grocery shopping and errands (utilising trusty and ageing Ortlieb saddle bags and the rear rack). After becoming a single-car family, I’m somewhat surprised how little I’ve missed having a second car. I suppose if we lived more remotely instead of on the outskirts of a city there’d be more reason to have a second car. But knowing what I now know about e-bikes, I’d actually continue without a second car until circumstances dictated otherwise. Of course, every time I drive our remaining car I’m also reminded of how $hitty it is to drive in Germany anyway. I mean. Come on. Just get a load of the traffic between D’dorf and Köln—most of which is hindered by severe construction (as though the Germans are just now learning how to build Autobahns). I’ve been riding my R&M between the two cities and other than an extended, boring passage which feels somewhat middle-of-nowhere-ish, I don’t mind the extra time it takes to ride the forty or so kilometres. But then again, I’ve not actually done a direct comparison of riding or driving from D’dorf to Köln. Maybe I should do that someday. Especially considering parking. But I digress.

charger gx picking up sushi
Picking up Sushi for dinner.

Inspections & Dealer Krapp.

The “Service” notice keeps appearing on my Bosch Intuvia screen. I think I’ve had two of the service inspections done so far. To be honest, I’m not quite sure what the dealer does with the bike during an inspection. The process is not at all that transparent and the bike doesn’t feel like anything has been tightened, changed or oiled when I get it back. Hell, they don’t even clean the thing. Of course, there’s some kind of checklist they have to go through—which they arbitrarily hand to me after I pay. In the end, as usual, it’s all just a waste of money–and time. Then again, I can’t update the Bosch firmware, which has been updated twice since acquiring the bike, hence the two inspections I’ve subjected myself to. Which brings me to the following question: Why do dealers have to charge for a firmware update if Bosch doesn’t charge for it? Oh wait. Who would pass up a chance to rip-off customers of 25,-euros if they can? (Sarcasm off.)

Replacing Frame.

Luckily, my dealer and the people he hires are a bit ditsy. That leaves me plenty of space to criticise, criticise, criticise. As mentioned in a previous post, R&M has provided a new frame for my e-bike due to damaged paint when it was delivered. I’ve had to put off frame replacement though because my dealer is unable to cope with not only e-bike demand but e-bike service. Now get this. The replacement frame was delivered in June. The dealer requested that I wait till the fall to replace the frame because he was too overwhelmed with “seasonal” business. When fall came around, due to my schedule, I requested that we do replacement in October. We finally set a replacement appointment for Nov. 2. When I arrived Nov. 2 (the morning after jet-lagging from international travel the day before) the dealer told me his mechanic was sick and I’d have to leave bike with him for two weeks. That was/is unacceptable. We’ve now changed the date to Dec 5 and I have insisted that an appointment is appointment—he shouldn’t tell me that he needs two weeks to replace the frame when I bring it in next time. We’ll see how that goes. (And by-the-buy, let it not be told that I could easily give up my GX for two weeks because, well, I could always use my wife’s Charger Mixte. The only problem is, I don’t want to give up my GX—at all!)

rear tire 3000km

Tires.

There is something fantastical about the knobby tires on the GX. As far as biking goes, regular or e-biking, the Rock Razor tires are huge, bulky, and kinda ugly. I have to deal with countless comments from fellow bikers about how my tires are… not really bicycle tires. Seriously. I mean… I have pedals. Wheels. A Frame. Handle bars. And there are still some people that think I’m riding a monster-truck on two wheels. With that in mind, the huge tires on this bike are so well designed and made that, other than the noise they give off on flat roads, they are like the best friggin tires I’ve ever experienced on a bike. You would think, due to their size, width, knobs, etc., that high speed turns on roads would, at the least, be edgy. This is not the case. They don’t get unstable, wobbly or feel the least uncomfortable. Of course, off-road, they are even better. There is no terrain that I won’t ride across on these tires. Whether riding through sand, mud or rocks, nothing shakes them.

Then again, they don’t last forever. As you can see in the pic above, my rear tire no longer has any bite. I’ve ordered a new tire to replace it which will be added when I get new the frame next month—and probably just in time for winter. I am indeed curious how these tires will handle the wet, cold and sometimes icy winter weather around here.

Battery.

Juice be told, baby. I really wish I had access to the Bosch system in order to see how my battery is performing. I should be into the hundreds of recharges on the battery by now. I think it’s recharge limit is around 700. I guess it’s held up well so far. But… In 3000km I’ve noticed how the battery has definitely weakened. I’m getting at least 20-30km less battery than the first 1000-1500km. I really started noticing the weakening after 2000km. Of course, if I had access to the Bosch system, I could see if, perhaps, I’ve let the e-bike spoil my legs a bit—which could be the  cause of higher battery usage.

As far as battery modes go, here’s how I use my battery:

  • Eco: I use this mode for 1-2 hour leg and cardio workouts. This mode neutralises the bikes extreme weight and literally turns it into a workout machine–with a great view (of the outdoors). I also use this mode if/when trying to conserve battery on longer tours. Obviously, with battery getting weaker, having to use this mode more often.
  • Tour: this is my main riding mode. I use this when running errands and/or have to jaunt into the city centre. Usually won’t exceed trips beyond 50-65km.
  • Sport/eMTB: Recent update has turned Sport into “eMTB” mode. This is supposed to be a mix between all of the modes and is determined by pedal speed/cadence, pedal weight/strength, resistance/terrain, etc. I use Sport when I’m on trails or mountain biking and when I’m lazy.
  • Turbo: I only use this mode on extreme hill climbs.

That’s it for now.

Ride safely.

And rant on.

-T

That Moment You’re Out Of Battery. Oh. Great! I’ve Got Another One. Battery, That Is.

challenging tour with ebike.jpg

A pretty gruelling ride yesterday. It started with a train ride that took me and my electrified The Panzer to the badlands at the end of Wuppertal. (Btw, if you’ve never been to Wuppertal, you have to go. It’s worth it to go there and just take a ride on the Schwebebahn.) From there I planned to ride back the whole way to the Rhein and then D’dorf. I got started late after meeting with some folk and drinking a few. Since the sun is beyond it’s summer solstice, and it got away from me quicker than I expected, most of the ride was in the dark. And we’re not worst-riding (writing) about the dark on some paved roads. I was in the friggin woods most of the time. Thank goodness I’ve got some  pretty decent lighting on The Panzer. Btw, the panzer is a Riese&Müller Charger GX Touring (what a mouthful, eh). Now. The distance I travelled wasn’t the farthest I’ve been. It was only about sixty and half kilometres. The challenge last night was something else. Most of the first half of the ride required some pretty serious uphill trekking, including having to get off the bike and push it, albeit with electric motor assist. Seriously. There were these tree roots covering one pathway and I thought I’d have to put that damn bike on my back to get it up (and that’s what she said, eh). The darkness that quickly overcame me didn’t help matters. Anyhow. See elevation and speed profile of pic above. Moving my well endowed, well-over 200lbs a$$ up a hill–see 10km mark in pic above–pretty much wiped an entire bar from my battery. I even had to use the walk-assist of the motor to get up some of the hills. Keep in mind, five bars indicate a full juiced battery. By the time I hit 25km two bars were gone. On flat-land, I can average 15-20km (on tour-assist mode) per bar. And so. In the middle of some serious darkness on a lonely road in the middle of nowhere, and only one bar of battery left, I finally changed batteries at 45km. I was pretty tired at that point, too. I rode around 35-40km through dense woods and trails, up and down lots of steep hills–and it was f’n fun! But this middle-aged fellow was pooped at 30km. Would I do it again? Damn straight. But I’d prefer to do it when there’s… let there be light.

Rant and ride on.

-T

PS The speed profile is a bit whacky. I think the reason it has such a large blank space in it is because, while going down one hill, I exceeded normal bike speeds by whole bunch. Indeed. I clocked well over 60km/h on one down hill short trek. (Oh, it was light out, in Ronsdorf, when I did that.) Yea, baby.

Pseudo-Review #3: R&M Charger GX Touring – 2000KM (And Counting)

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Just off the beach; Fjord in background; cool sandy tires, eh.

Previous pseudo-reviews here (1) and here (2).

Ok. Ok. As I write this I think I have exactly 1958KM on my Charger GX Touring. I’m sure I’ll pass the 2k mark within the next few days as a number of commutes to Köln are in the works. We also just got back from a week-long vacation on the Baltic Sea, at Germany’s most northern point. The original plan was to go by train with our bikes (my better-half as the Charger Mixte Nuvinci) but we couldn’t secure tickets for the train car where the bikes are stored. Next time we’ll have to reserve the tickets probably three to four months in advance. Since there is no way to take the bikes with our car, we went ahead and rented a midsize utility van. The cost of the van is the same as the train. Luckily the eight hour drive through German holiday/vacation season wasn’t all that bad. Someone we spoke to up north said that most Germans this year flew to the Med for their vacations anyway. Good for us.

Btw, if you’ve never been, and you have the capacity to do so, and you’re interested in nature, fresh air, beautiful brackish waters and rolling hills not unlike Tuscany, check out the Baltic Sea coastline of Germany or Denmark. Even though I’ve been living in Europe for a quarter century (sounds so much better than writing 25 years), this was the first time I was at the Ostsee (East Sea, as the Germans call it). I was not disappointed. It is stunningly beautiful up there–but you’ll also have to be tolerant of the rain and coinciding über wetness. When hanging out in the forests in the north, there is an uncanny feeling of the past that lingers around your every move. And not just a recent past. I kept thinking of vikings while there. Maybe even neanderthals. Cool!

The plan for this little getaway was to do all our local commuting with the bikes, including a days trip to Denmark via ferry. In fact, we didn’t use the utility van once. The ferry ride, for instance, took us across the Flensburg fjord. Once in Denmark we rode the 60KM trek back to Germany around the fjord. What a ride it was, too. More on that in a bit.

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Her Mixte with road-going Big Bens performed great, even in some pretty hairy and wet conditions.

Back to the Charger.

Would you believe, dear worst-rider, unlike other bikes I’ve owned, the Charger GX Touring still feels brand new. The Giant TCX cross racer I purchased last summer, which has around 3000KM on it, but of course only weighs 10kilos, and I don’t ride it nearly as much anymore since purchasing the Charger, feels ten years older in comparison. Riese & Mueller have made the right choices regarding parts for these robust e-bikes, including great tires, brakes, screws, bolts, etc.

Btw, I Purchased my Charger GX in mid-February and it was (finally!) delivered at the beginning of May, 2017. I suppose, for some, two-thousand kilometres in less than four months might not be a lot. But as I’ve said in previous pseudo-reviews, we actually replaced one of our two cars with this e-bike. Since I live in an urban environment, I can easily do all my shopping, chores, errands, etc., with it. In fact, I rarely ever ride it anywhere without the Ortlieb panniers. I’m never concerned about how much the bike weighs, either. My wife calls it my SUV. Although I’m not using the front rack much, when I do use it, I’m glad it’s there. Even though the rack is only rated at 3KG, I’ve carried much more than that with ease and comfort. This is, without doubt, an extremely useful and fun vehicle.

Range

I no longer look at the Bosch CX system range estimator to determine how far I can ride on a battery. Instead, I consider the amount of time I’ll be on the bike. The thing is, I’ve yet, even after rides of 80+KM, actually drained the entire 500W battery down to only one bar (out of five). If I’m off on a daily tour I consider whether or not I’m gonna be gone the whole-day or half-day and then determine whether or not to bring a charger–or, better yet, just carry my wife’s battery as a spare. I’m really surprised at how well the Bosch motor and battery work on this bike. It is very impressive!

On a recent trip to northern Germany that included a 50+-KM ride from Denmark back to Germany after a fjord crossing by ferry, I put the battery to its hardest test yet. I did a lot of trail riding, some mountain bike riding and a few long uphill road passages. Remember, fjords were cut out of cliffs during the ice ages. Lots of passages have to be ascended. Anyhow. At about 20KM left for the ride, just before re-entering Germany from Denmark, I hit a number of pretty steep hills. I actually put my bike on “eco” mode while my wife left her Mixte on “Tour” and, when necessary, “Sport”. I really thought I’d end up giving her my battery before we made it back to our bungalow. But that wasn’t the case. In the end, she made it home with only one bar (out of five) but i still came home with two bars. Wow.

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We road km after km through beach front property. Cool!

Saddle

There are not many negatives about this bike, except for the hard rear-end and the accompanying even harder Brooks saddle. So let me just say this: riding this bike is waaaaaay hard–especially if you’re off-road or you have to ride on pathways that are full of obnoxious tree root knots (which are abundant here in Düsseldorf and Köln). But get this. I love riding this bike hour after hour. The saddle and Thudbuster combination is perfect. It’s the best friggin seat I’ve ever experienced on a bike. Even though I’m up to the hardest rubber mount on the Thudbuster–and I’m still a little lost on how that thing actually works–I wouldn’t change anything on this setup. My wife’s Charger Mixte has a spring seat-post and a traditional rubber/plastic saddle. I don’t like her saddle at all (but she also hates mine). The Mixte saddle moves too much, literally shifting me backwards as the spring in the seat-post does its job. The Brooks saddle and Thudbuster, on the other hand, although not as flexible, is as comfortable as comfort can get–on a friggin e-bike! I only wish that there was more feeling from the Thudbuster.

charger gx touring brooks saddle 2

My Brooks saddle is starting to show wear. I considered it broke-in after about 1200-1500KM. My only concern about it now is that I over did it with leather treatment. I’ve erased the raw look it had when it was new. But I’m good with that. I’m curious if the leather will start to crack and, maybe, flex more now that it’s broke-in. I’m not sure I want one of them old Brooks seats that looks like it’s been through a century of riding. Even if this saddle fails because of my inexperience in caring for it, I’m buying another one toot-sweet. Learn by doing, eh. Oh. Before I forget. I’ve tightened the leather tensioning bolt on it once (one full turn) and tightened the strings on the bottom that, I guess, are supposed to prevent it from developing wings that could push on my inner thighs.

Have I mentioned how much I love this saddle?

The thing that makes the Brooks B17 the best saddle in the universe (for worst-moi) is the fact that its thick, hard, stretched leather is the perfect place for a human to place not only his/her ass but those damn seat-bones and the infamous perineum. The leather both supports and cushions and allows you to actually sit on your seat-bones. Even after three or four hours of riding I do not get the same amount of numbness as I do with conventional seats. Heck, this saddle is even better than the fancy (Selle) race bike seat with those centre cut-outs that I have on my cross-racer.

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Maintenance

There’s really nothing to report regarding up-keep of this bike. I’ve actually allowed myself to get a bit lazy lately when it comes to cleaning it. But I still regularly clean and oil the chain and derailleur. The chain gets a thorough cleaning every fourth or fifth ride and less thorough cleaning every other ride. Even if that’s overkill, I’m good with it. Other than adjusting distance of brake levers, there’s been nothing to do with the brakes. The rear disc brake does rub a bit, which prevents the rear wheel from turning freely when I’ve got the bike off the ground. I’m gonna have that looked at during the next service appointment. It looks like there’s no more room to the move the brake calliper to free up the disc.

Chain

As far as my choice of the “Touring” model of the Charger GX, i.e. the one with the chain and derailleur, I wouldn’t have my final drive any other way. Although I get a kick out of my wife’s Nunvinci hub, it just can’t compete with the efficiency and precision of this chain setup. I ran across a fellow Charger GX owner recently who has the Rohloff hub. Watching him struggle through gear shifting reassured me that a conventional chain with an excellent derailleur is the only way to go–even if you have to get your hands a bit greasy to maintain it.

rear tire 2000km
2000KM rear tire

Tires

As you can see in the pic, my rear wheel is beyond its heyday. I would say that my road to off-road riding is about 70-30. I noticed during recent mountain biking that grip isn’t as good in the rear as it once was, but it was also quite wet at times. I suppose this type of wear is to be expected for knobby tires that are mostly used on the road, which actually speaks for them. The question then becomes: what do I replace the tires with? Do I stay with knobby tires? These knobby tires do not feel like off-road tires–even on paved roads. Or do I go with more street oriented Big Ben plus tires? A bit more thought required.

Nuff for now.

Rant and ride on.

-T

 

Half Century Knee And The Slight Bump Of A Car Upon It

Got hit by van the other day. Can you believe it? The know-it-alls say that that line of distortion in the X-ray could (could!) be a tibial plateau fracture. Yea. The van hit my left knee.

Cool!

Update: It’s not a fracture. Whoopi. And get this, I get to get my first MRI so they can see whether my meniscus is damaged.

Seriously?

An MRI?

Hold on there a sec, chippy!

Between you and me, dear worst-reader, this whole health insurance coverage thingy that I’ve got over here (in Germania) that pays for all this great care is really, really over-kill. Knowing that the bone isn’t broke is enough to know that the swelling is caused by some slight meniscus damage. Ice packs, keeping leg still/braced for a couple of weeks will be the ultimate outcome with or without a corporate sponsoring MRI. But what do I know?

Rant & ride on.

-T

PS I’m too old for this $hit.

Hit By A Van Almost Down By The River And It Was Obviously My Fault. #Hooray!

hit by a van
It’s true. Behind the tall building in the background is the Rhine River.

What an exciting afternoon in good ole Germania. Have I volunteered, dear worst-reader, what I actually think about my expat host country? Well, there’s no time like the present to NOT volunteer such things. With that in mind, I was hit by a van today while riding my new über e-bike through the city. As you can see in the pic above, I was on the reddish bidirectional bike path and the van was blocking it while trying to rush into traffic. After using my bike’s bell and giving off a whistle, the female (in the pink/purple sweatshirt who was in the passenger seat) looked me right in the eye as I approached the van. Then I noticed, to my own detriment, that the driver of the van, the guy on the far right with the striped short-sleeve shirt, didn’t even bother to look both ways before entering traffic. Without very little consideration on my part–or being a bit brain dead as only I can be while riding a bike–I proceeded to continue on my route thinking (blindly hoping?) that the eye-contact I had with the passenger-chick was enough, so I proceeded to circumvent the van from his front. Obviously (obviously?) that was my error. And allow me to reiterate: The driver never looked to his right–even though he was blocking a bidirectional bike path. And so. Just as I was in front of the van the driver proceeded onto the roadway hitting me on my left knee and knocking me off my über e-bike. Fortunately I caught the fall with my right leg and didn’t body slam the road. I then limped off to the side as a young man–the thin guy with the shoulder bag and the blue jacket–came from around the corner and picked up my bike (not pictured but you can read about it here). The young man then proceeded to start asking me questions as I was dealing with the pain that the van had shoved into my left leg.

left leg hit by van
Those other scars below the current skin abrasion from today’s van are from another brain-dead bike fall last year after which I always ride with a helmet now!

“Are you a doctor,” I asked the young man.

“No. I’m a medical student,” he answered.

“Should I call the police,” I asked the young man.

“Not really sure. Don’t know if they can do anything,” the young man said.

“Aren’t you supposed to always call the police in a situation like this,” I asked.

“Not if it’s not serious,” the young man said.

“Was this situation my fault,” I asked.

By that time everyone had come together, see top pic. As soon as I uttered the word “fault” everyone, EVERYONE, Germans one n’all, answered:

JA!

eagle in van that hit me
American steel doesn’t want me dead. Yet.

And so, dear worst-reader, heed this as you bitch & moan about #Trumpism and the world of greed you have created: there are only two things that mean ANYTHING today–especially in good ole Germania. One, of course, is money. The other is The Automobile and all that that entails. And so. While traversing through Germania make sure you watch every possible way and direction from where a car/van can hit you. Because even if you are hit, it WILL be your fault. On the other hand, if you do get hit, I hope you too will be hit by a car from your home country that has an American Bald Eagle in its grill. Yeah, baby.

Rant & Ride safe.

-T

PS I’m fine. Just a bit of knee pain but I’ve got it wrapped as I worst-write this.

PSS The down by the river thing:

“You kids are probably saying to yourself, “Now, I’m gonna go out, and I’m gonna get the world by the tail and wrap it around and put it in my pocket!” Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re probably gonna find out, as you go out there, that you’re not gonna amount to jack squat!” You’re gonna end up eating a steady diet of government cheese and living in a van down by the river!” -Matt Foley SNL