Boardman HYB 8.9e electric bike review

My partner needed an electric bike – it is hilly round here so an ebike was the only viable option. There were two important criteria:

  1. She isn’t particularly small, but the trend towards large wheel sizes means that most bikes are far too big.
  2. Her top priority was that it shouldn’t look like an electric bike – no bulky battery.

One of the few bikes that met both criteria was the Boardman HYB 8.9e with the Fazua battery and motor system. Both the battery and motor are in a removable lump that clips into the bottom of the downtube. The motor drives the bottom bracket via a three-lobed rotor (that forms the Fazua logo). It is a mid-drive unit – the motor power is transmitted via the normal gears and chain – with torque sensing.

Overall the bike seems to be good quality. The first bike seemed to have been dropped during assembly – the plastic top downtube liner was broken – but Halfords shipped out a replacement quickly and that bike has been fine. It rides nicely and the Fazua system works very well, providing plenty of power for even steep hills.

I did upgrade the firmware in the motor to version 2.0 and tweak the settings via the Fazua toolbox. This was easy to do and very worthwhile – the bike is much more powerful and responsive now. It is still entirely legal – the changes are better performance at a wider range of cadences, plus less rider pedal pressure for given level of assistance.

I’ve fitted mudguards and a rear panier rack. I like the way that the front mudguard eyelets are part-way up the forks. This is an important safety feature as it stops the front mudguard getting jammed in the front wheel if road debris gets between the tyre and mudguard. With the eyelets close to the wheel the mudguard gets closer to the wheel as the debris moves up, causing a jam. With the eyelets further up the mudguard moves away from the wheel releasing the debris and avoiding a jam. The panier rack is so she can lug the heavy stuff up the hills!

The bike is nice and light – about 14kg including battery and motor. It doesn’t feel heavy and is easy to lift around.

The only downside is the downtube. This isn’t actually a tube as it is part of the Fazua system – it is just a C shape so the battery and motor can be clipped in. This means it has very little torsional ridgidity – readily apparent if you watch closely while pressing on a pedal. In practice this doesn’t matter at all – the motor power means you never press hard on the pedals anyway!

Overall – recommended. My partner loves the bike and is happy to go on rides with big hills.

Rebuilding steel-framed bike

One option to get fitter, reduce car costs and reduce carbon emissions is to:

  1. Drive myself and the kids to school in the car;
  2. Get bike out of the car boot and cycle home;
  3. Cycle back in at pick up time, dismantle bike and put it back in the boot of the car;
  4. Get kids and drive back in the car.

I discovered that a bike my dad bought me for school will fit in the boot of the car with its wheels off. It is a nice bike – great fun to ride. However the freewheel was free in both directions and the paint was coming off, leading to rust.

First stage was to strip off the old paint. I was going to get the frame shot-blasted and powder coated. However I couldn’t find anyone locally to do this – most calls went unreturned – and I didn’t want to put the frame in the post due to the risk of damage. For this bike I don’t really care what it looks like – the paint needs to stop rust and if it looks rough it is less likely to get stolen.

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Thorn Me’n’U2 update

I’ve changed the handlebars to a cheap copy of the Jones loop bar:

On-One Geoff Handlebar,

Definitely much more comfortable for me. Also there are lots of alternative places to put my hands:

  • Near the ends for an upright position
  • Crossbar near the stem
  • On the loop at the front for a lower position

The friction brake control won’t go on as its bracket is designed to slide on over the end of the bars. I’ll work out a way round that once I’ve decided exactly where it needs to go.

Still love the bike, and so do the kids!

Thorn Me’n’U2 tandem triplet review

I’ve had the Me’n’U2 for a few weeks now, so time for a review.

As I’ve mentioned before one key reason for buying the bike was Robin Thorn’s huge enthusiasm for it. Another key reason was the first rule of boat owning – you’ve got to like the look of the thing regardless of how practical it is.

Overall the bike does the job very well. The kids love it – they feel secure and enjoy riding it. At this time of year (late November in the UK) it is hard to get opportunities to get the kids outside and exercised; this bike makes it easier. It can also replace car travel to some extent.

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Kids to school by bike

We’re all aware of the climate emergency and the need for things to change. One thing I’d like to do is use bikes more. The round trip to school twice a day uses a gallon of petrol a day, plus the short journey isn’t great for the car.

My car is on 90,000 miles now so will need to be replaced sometime. With a bit of luck it will go on for a long time yet. Hopefully it will be replaced by an electric car. However:

  • I can’t afford an electric car
  • The range is ok, but charging away from home is a problem
  • Very few electric cars can legally tow a trailer
  • It seems very inefficient to carry around over a tonne of stuff to transport 150kgs of people a short distance.

EBikes sound like a much more optimal design and would be a huge help on the hills round here. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let’s start on the bike.

School is around 8 miles away and it is uphill most of the way there. That’s actually ok – getting the kids out of the house an hour earlier to cycle to school isn’t going to happen, so we’re only looking at cycling home from school which is mostly downhill. Much easier.

I’ve got two kids and not much money so what are the options for moving them around?

The requirements are:

  • Low cost
  • Kids should be pedalling – I don’t want a cargo bike or trailer – as otherwise they’ll get bored
  • Able to climb steep hills (they are really steep round here)
  • Safe coming down the hills (ditto)
  • Fun!
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