ARCC Moulton and the Process of Getting There (LONG)

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
I have quite a collection of bikes, well certainly for a person who lives in a 1 bed house who has a shed that was only designed to store coal, and which has a roof that slopes down so steeply that you can’t take a step inside the shed without having to fold yourself in half. This means that my living room contains 5 bikes, and I am now at the stage of seriously considering getting rid of the two-seater sofa to gain a bit more space, but more available space might lead to more bikes, a sofa taking up about the same space as three bikes.

I have been contemplating an e-bike for over two years now and have agonised on the price for a reasonable one, the make and the model that I should buy. At 30 pounds overweight, 56 years of age and living 17 miles from work in one of the windiest places in the UK I rarely commute in. My mileages tend to be built up in cycle touring on the UK mainland or cycling to the local ferry terminal, which has wifi access, as my home doesn’t.

There are a lot of dealers out there selling everything from cheap to expensive. I looked at bikes from under a grand to over 5 grand, but set myself a budget of 2-3k, but for that money I wanted something fairly special. One of the dealers who was on the shortlist was 50 Cycles, sole importers of the German Kalkhoff range of bikes. The trouble was every time that I read a good report about 50 Cycles there seemed to be a tale of their woeful customer service following along shortly after. Still their bikes did look good, although I wasn’t sure that I wanted another different tyre size, I already have 16”, 20” and 26”. The Kalkhoff bikes came with 28” wheels, but when they brought out the Integrale 8 I have to admit that I was very interested. This had the battery built into the tube between the headset and the bottom bracket. Very neat compared to the hideous design that is the huge battery box in the front triangle of the frame. I started to worry about the replacement battery cost though, then someone had me doubting even more when they suggested that it might not be a problem as the manufacturer might stop producing them! 50 Cycles advised me that Kalkhoff were still producing batteries for their older bikes so I shouldn’t worry about it. (I have since learned of the woe of the Impulse 2 motors fitted to Kalkhoffs - not something mentioned by 50 Cycles, which I suppose you couldn’t blame them for, unless you felt that your vendor should be straight with you if they wanted you to experience great customer satisfaction).

I liked the style of the Smart bike, but chasing around Mercedes dealers was a fruitless endeavour, and I started to wonder if the Smart bike was a mythical beast when dealerships were telling me that they didn’t sell the bike. Another make that caught my eye was Stromer with their ST1 and ST2 models. Lovely bikes, but I had to draw the line under the budget somewhere.

A vendor that was interesting was Kinetics in Glasgow. Although I wanted the bike delivered, Glasgow is only an hour away on the plane, I could collect it and cycle back to Shetland over a few days. Kinetics was where I first noticed the difference between manufacturers and what are basically box-shifting bike shops. The initial response to my request for a kit to convert a Moulton in my ownership was quick, but led to another question, which when posed failed to elicit any answer. If you can’t talk to me at the sales stage I worry whether you will talk to me when I have a warranty issue that needs resolving.

I then moved onto ARCC, a Cambridge company that CNC their e-Pod setup. You can’t buy a kit direct from them. You have to either buy a bike from them, from a range of bikes from 3 manufacturers, then they convert the bike, or supply your own bike for conversion. What interested me about the ARCC system is that it runs on readily available Bosch batteries that are used in power tools, especially lawn mowers, strimmers etc. I emailed them for a price, and the response was quick, but raised another question, so I rang them up and left a message on their answerphone. Answer came there none. Another look at the ARCC website showed that Velorution fitted the ARCC kit as well. Having dealt with them before with the purchase of a Strida SX and having not had any (box shifting) problem I decided that they might be able to supply an ARCC Moulton to me. I dropped them an email and asked about the availability of a Moulton TSR8. They responded within an hour and said that they had two in stock. I wrote back to say that I was interested in the grey one, and could they give me a price of the bike converted to an ARCC Moulton. Reply there came none. Later it transpired that they had responded, but to the wrong email address, i.e. not one of mine.

By this time I was getting frustrated so decided to try ARCC one last time, I would have normally walked away by this stage, but I had been faffing about for 2 years already. They were able to answer my question about non-standard colours and the lack of additional cost, plus shipping to Shetland. They sent me a quote for the bike, conversion and extra battery and charger, and I was happy to pay the deposit. I was rather disgruntled that the lead time for the bike had mysteriously gone from 10 days at the early stage of enquiry to 4 weeks when it came to pay. I was happy though that they had discounted the cost when I said that I might as well convert a derailleur geared Moulton in my ownership to hub gears and send that to them for conversion, hub gears being my favoured method of transmission of energy into forward momentum.

The invoice totalled just short of £3,100, but with a spare battery to carry, and a charger at each end of the journey between home and work it could prove a useful system that I would actually be able to use to get to work in all but the worst of weathers. There was room to improve the system further with a charger at my partner’s house, and perhaps a third battery wouldn’t be too bad an idea and keep rotating their usage. ARCC’s price for the batteries and chargers were better than any other that I could find in the UK, even from Amazon, so I might as well get them all from the same place and shipped together.

I had hoped to fund this purchase through the Cycle 2 Work scheme, but there is a £1,000 limit on purchases. I learnt of Cycle to Work Pro, which has no limit to the cost of the bike. Sadly the management of bean-counting department where I work moves at a sloth-like pace on matters like this so I decided to give up on that idea and just do it myself. The salary sacrifice would have meant a 25% saving for me, and the benefits from another cycling employee would have been seen by employer and employee alike, but hey ho, that’s life at this end of the food chain!

The most concerning part of buying a new bike when you live on a remote island is whether the bike will get to you undamaged. I recently read a story about a bike manufacturer who was so peeved with his bikes arriving at the customer’s the worse for wear that they looked at a way to improve things. They experimented with printing a picture of a flat screen TV on their boxes and overnight there was a change; customers started receiving undamaged bikes. The couriers were treating the boxes that much better!

ARCC shipped the bike using TNT for the sum of £93, which seemed to surprise them, but seemed reasonable value to me assuming that it arrived undamaged. Others bikes have cost between £30 and £80 to have shipped here, the lowest value being £300 and the highest £2,400. Only one has been damaged, the most expensive one, but only a gouge in the paint, which I could live with after a quick touch-up, sad though after the amount of effort that the seller had made in packing it so well.

For £93 I get overnight shipping. I never argue with people that tell me this. Usually it will take a week to get to me as it has to come up on the ferry in a container then lost by one of the local parcel companies, Streamline. The exception to this rule was City Link, who seemed to be able to get bikes from the bowels of Kent up to Shetland, and to my doorstep within 3 days, for a really good price and in good condition. Sadly, they are no more, having gone bust.

I have heard a lot of people say that riding an e-bike is cheating, (normally after someone on a carbon racer gets passed on a hill by a tubby girl on an e-Brompton). Following this line of logic, surely using a car to get your shopping is cheating - you could walk!

I have always been open to the idea of e-bikes, and as I have mentioned above, age, weight and fitness were factors for me. I have no idea what the reduction of effort will be. Let’s say that I use two thirds of the effort to get to work and manage to get the time down to something sensible, the fact that I am riding in rather than vegging on the bus has got to be a good thing. If I reduce the assistance over time this will add to my fitness levels. I have a Tern set up as an indoor training bike, but I have only managed about 5 sessions on it. I just find cycling indoors to be a soul-destroying venture. Perhaps a TV to watch might make a difference, but I haven’t owned one of them for over 20 years. Not buying TVs and TV licences to watch BBC propaganda helps fund a collection of bikes.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
No bike ever comes in a trim that is exactly what I want, so there had to be extra money coughed up for some pedals, Ergon grips and a decent saddle. I have found the Pearl Rivet saddle (£95 from Carradice) to be about the nearest thing to comfort that I am ever going to get. It has a slot cut into it to relieve pressure on the perineum, which works quite reasonably. Brooks B17 were usually my other choice, but I have not had a lot of success with these recently. I have one on another Moulton, which crippled me when riding from Aberdeen to John o Groats and onwards to Orkney and Shetland. The first day was a ride of 67 miles. I had already done 500 miles on the saddle, mostly in discomfort, but judging by the fact that the saddle was almost crucifying my lower regions, the previous 500 miles had been a waste of time. After the first 30 miles I was having to stop every fifteen minutes to rest from the agony.

I am hard to please in the butt department though, having got rid of the supposedly continent munching Honda Pan European motorbike because of saddle pain on relatively short runs of around 100-150 miles. The Honda Goldwing was like riding a sofa, and cornered like one! My butt was cosseted even on 300 mile journeys. Butt pain whilst push-biking even made me consider getting a recumbent bike.

A week after paying £95 for the saddle, Carradice sent me a 10% off email. The following day they added insult to injury by sending me a 15% off email, and the next day a 20% off email.

Ergon grips have been really comfortable on two of my bikes, in fact on the Thorn they don’t have the bar ends on them, and my hands never tire, although I have never exceeded 75 miles in one day, usually because either the bike and luggage weigh so much or my Achilles tendon has given up the ghost. I chose Ergon GP2 grips (£35 from SJS Cycles) for this bike because of the poor bar shape. These have small bar ends.

I have DMR V12 pedals (£42 from SJS Cycles) on the Thorn so chose them for this bike too. They have studs, headless allen bolts, protruding from them that help stop your boot slipping. I couldn’t trust myself with clipless pedals. I would spend half of my time in the ditch when I had lapses of concentration as I stopped.

An 80mm Busch and Muller mirror (£16 from SJS Cycles) should give me a decent view of who is about to plough me down. I bought another to put on one of the Moultons as the other half borrows it on occasion.

Part of the security for the bike will be taken care of with some products from Datatag Stealth Pro (£21 from Amazon compared to £29 from SJS Cycles), but I am also hoping to add some Hexlox parts, once they come onto the market. The set ordered for the Thorn has arrived and seem really good. A u-lock and/or wire rope and padlock will be the final barrier.

The bike frame has a latticework of very thin tubing, which looks striking. The frame is separable, not folding as some people think. I have only taken one apart when there was no other way of getting it into a small car. It’s a 5 minute+ faff, but the difference between being able to carry it or not. The separable nature will be restricted by the sensor cable running from the bottom bracket to the ARCC e-Pod unit.

Moulton always promote the 20” wheels as fast accelerating, which is all very good, but I spend more time trying to retain momentum than accelerating, and arguably would be better off with big wheels. At £1,300 it is not a cheap bike per se, but it is well down the lower end of the range, with the Double Pylon retailing at £16,500. Only the TSR2 is cheaper.

The bike has suspension front and rear, but don’t expect mountain bike suspension travel here. The rear suspension is basically a plate pressing against a glorified squash ball. At least the front suspension has a bit more travel, which makes up for the relative horror of small wheels on bumpy roads. Bear in mind that the tyres will be running at about 90 psi.

The wheels are aluminium. The 8 speed hub is from Sturmey Archer, an XFR8-W. I would have preferred Alfine, but as the motor drives the front wheel there will be no strain on the hub other than from my feeble efforts pedalling.

Like most bikes these days there are no mudguards, so one of the other bikes will be donating its mudguards. I want to be able to ride in inclement conditions so they are a must. They do take something away from the sleek looks though. They are also very close to the tyre, limiting tyre choice. The slick Schwalbe Kojaks are fine even in the rain, but some Schwalbe Marathons might be an idea if I can get them this narrow - something to research.

Ignoring the release mechanism, the e-pod has two controls of interest, both rotary in nature with a quality action. The left hand one is a mode switch with choices of Charge USB Device, Off, A and A+. The latter two control how the bike progresses. The right hand switch has 12 positions, 12 levels of assistance. Normal mode would be to have the left switch in position A and whatever level of assistance you want selected on the right switch. If you turn the left switch to A+ this switches on extra circuitry, a gyro and inclinometer(?), that boosts the assistance when going up a hill automagically. The bike is a pedelec. No effort on the part of the rider, turning the cranks, results in no effort from the electrics on the bike. This is perfect for me as I didn’t want the twist and go throttle type. I might as well have bought an electric scooter in that case.

What the system lacks is any form of regenerative braking, but it makes up for that with Launch Control, a system where holding in both brake levers and pressing on the left pedal, (I would have preferred right, but there is no choice), then releasing the levers boosts your getaway for 3 seconds with maximum power.

The e-Pod unit has a release lever, which releases just the battery by turning one way and the e-Pod unit by turning the other way. I specified a security locking mechanism for mine. It’s a tubular lock so easily overcome with the right tool, but another level of security. Unlikely to be necessary on Shetland, where people leave their bikes unlocked outside for days and nights on end.

Even with the e-Pod switched off there is some parasitic drain and the recommendation is that the battery is removed when the bike is not in use.

Sadly the e-Pod unit precludes using the Moulton front pannier rack, due to the unit’s width. I wanted to be able to carry waterproofs, lunch, spare tube, tools and an iPad, but that has had to be put on hold until I get something fabricated. I hate carrying stuff on my back, so the bike donating the mudguards may also be donating a rear rack and a Carradice Super C rack bag. The trouble is that the rack bag is very small so I haven’t ruled out the ruinously expensive (£120 + P&P) Moulton tour pack with its 24 litre capacity, made by Carradice, but they won’t sell them direct. Using this solution would mean that I could just drop my rucksack in it carrying whatever I wanted. It does spoil the “lattice” look of the bike, but not as much as the fat bloke riding it though!

Because of the poor carrying capacity of the Moulton compared to other bikes in the stable I am already contemplating a trailer. I have recently been doing some research on the Bob Yak and the Carry Freedom trailers. At the moment the large version of the latter is winning for it’s potential to carry odd shaped things. I will need to get one of the Moultons into town to be able to ship it to whoever buys it, and another one to get the brakes sorted out at the Bike Project, a bike shop that rehabs people with alcohol and drug issues. Then I could also get my shopping in town instead of having Tesco deliver it. I don’t have a car, so other than shopping at the local shop, delivery has really been the only answer.

Optional extras are available from ARRC including saddles, mudguards, handlebars, pedals etc. They also seem to knock out a couple of their own extras: a frame mounted battery holder (£100) and a handlebar mounted bluetooth remote control (£120). As far as the latter is concerned, I think that I will just bend forward and turn one of the rotary controls. A free extra is software that can be downloaded to your iPhone/iPad. This monitors speed and distance travelled with the power of bluetooth, but will also allow you to change the assistance level.

ARCC could do with some more sales assistance. Promises of emails to confirm money had been received into their account had to be chased. A message left on an answerphone was not answered as mentioned earlier. The initial doubling of the lead time was a disappointment. If you don’t know how long it will be then tell the customer that you will ring them back. I am always utterly honest with other people and expect the same in return. A request for some spare spokes wasn’t initially acted on and had to be chased, but to no avail. Sometimes you have to give up, let them do the big job then return to them later for the fripperies. I don’t know what ARCC use to manage the orders, but some task management software might make managing customers orders more effective. I found getting into the mindset of dealing with a manufacturer rather than a box-shifting vendor difficult. Everything happens at a much slower pace.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
To be continued...
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
ARCC’s second guess at the lead time at least proved accurate with the bike shipping within the 4 week period.

TNT picked the crate up at about 5pm on a Thursday for the “overnight” delivery. By around 8am on Saturday it had arrived at Glasgow. Ominously there was a note on the tracking page that said Please Phone. This was directed at the sender so there was little point ringing TNT to find out what the problem was. I reckoned it would be one of four things: package damaged in transit by the courier, the two batteries inside had become dislodged and had damaged the box, there was an addressing issue or it was just to say that they had handed over the package to Streamline, the local courier who acts on behalf of TNT in Shetland, although I thought that the latter could surely be handled by a quick email or phone call to ARCC, so was the least likely.

To assuage my concerns I thought that the best thing to do was to drop ARCC an email to see if there was anything to worry about.

Whilst awaiting the delivery of the bike I decided to do something that I had been thinking about for some time, to join British Cycling, formerly known as the Cycle Touring Club. I paid by card, more costly at £35, but preferable to setting up a direct debit giving unfettered access to my bank account even at £31.50

The membership gives a number of benefits including 10% off orders from Chain Reaction Cycles above £99, but only one per month. The planets must have aligned because this gave me encouragement to buy a large Carry Freedom trailer. Chain Reaction had it on offer already at 10% off. A further 10% off brought it down to just over £200, a good enough price for me given the excellent reviews that I have read. Every reviewer says that initially they thought it was very expensive, but soon realised the quality and that it was a good deal.

I am already contemplating whether a length of guttering would be robust enough to attach to the trailer bed to slot the wheels of my Moulton TSR30 into to carry it the 17 miles into town, tied down, to have it tarted up before boxing it and selling it. The trailer will also serve as my shopping transport so that I can do a smaller shop once a week. It will just need a couple of plastic boxes for that.

The only drawback with the trailer seems to be that it doesn't come with reflectors fitted, and there is nowhere immediately apparent to fit the lights which I will need for riding it at night.

For normal carrying purposes I am likely to employ one or two boxes, and I have noticed that Solent Plastics seem to have a good range at very good prices. A competitor on eBay called 3JC Sales, whom I have bought from before, also ships quality boxes, but I need something waterproof, which I haven’t found yet.

ARCC got back to me on Monday about TNT. It would appear that the tracking information comment was erroneous, and the bike has actually reached Aberdeen, and is waiting to go on the ferry. This was a great relief.

Tuesday came and I decided to ring the local carrier and speak to their TNT desk. If I could find out when it was going to be delivered, I could make sure that someone was in to receive it. The carrier couldn't find it on their system from the consignment number and delivery postcode, but they could find a parcel from UPS going to our address, but couldn’t tell me who had sent it. We have parcels arriving regularly so someone using UPS to send something wouldn't come as a surprise. A call back to TNT found me being told that they had handed it over to a carrier, but hadn’t recorded who that was. I came to the conclusion that the best thing to do was sit back and wait.

My other half rang me at work to ask if I wanted to meet for coffee. I didn’t really and suggested a walk instead, but by the time lunchtime arrived the wind had picked up and the promising day had turned into a miserable one, so we went to a coffee after all. She filled me in on her news then as an aside told me that Streamline had delivered a bike shaped box at midday, and the outside appeared intact. Hallelujah, it's a miracle! The afternoon saw me booking Thursday off work and looking at plastic boxes in quiet moments. 3JC didn’t have weather resistant boxes. Solent Plastics did, but there were cheap ones at £15 or expensive ones at £100. Neither seemed to be right. The expensive one weighed 6.5kg. Of course if I didn’t live in the back of beyond I could have gone to look at them, but this is one of the drawbacks of island life.

I would be back at my partner’s house on Wednesday afternoon and would then take the bike out of the box and build it.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
Bare TSR8.jpg
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
This is the bare Moulton out of the box. The only difference from standard is the Bafang front hub, e-Pod mounting bracket, sensors and associated wiring. There has been a change to the fork dropout too, to handle the torque from the motor.

The boxes in front of the bike includes the ARCC ePod, 2 Bosch 4AH batteries, 2 slow chargers and 1 fast charger. The slow charger takes an hour and the fast charger 30 minutes. The batteries are alleged to last 25 miles so I will assume about 17, which just happens to be the distance to work. There will be a charger at home, at work and at my partner's place.

There will be more images when I get the rest of the bits on it.
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61


Apologies for the quality of the photo.

The bike is slowly going together. It has been datatagged, had the pedals, saddles, ePod, battery, bottle holder and mudguards fitted, but the rear one is distorted so I will need to sort that out. I took it out for a short spin today, and it is very impressive. My partner had a spin and wants one too. I haven't been able to get the grips off, which means I don't have the new grips and the mirror fitted. I don't like riding without a mirror.

The kit behind the bike is a Carry Freedom trailer, which is part assembled. I need to shorten and grease the axles, put the wheels and hub caps on that, and the hitch on the bike then it will be ready to go, once I have bought a suitable box for it.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
The first impressions of the bike is of the helping hand you get when pedalling that so many have mentioned before. Having smaller wheels the steering is much quicker and the bike tends to be upset more by potholes that a larger wheeled bike may roll over, but there is some compensation in the ride through the suspension front and rear.

My partner is very fit for her age. Exercise is some that she has done usually twice a day, with rarely a break, for decades. Until recently each day used to start at 04:45 so that she could get enough exercise in before cycling to work in all weathers, albeit only a mile. Recently, she has relaxed somewhat and now rises at 05:15. There is still the same level of exercise, just less mugs of coffee before she heads out of the door.

My exercise regime is somewhat different. The only exercise I do is the occasional ride on my Thorn, usually at the weekend through winter, and if the wind is not too hideous. I get out more in the spring, autumn and summer, but it really is weather dependent, especially in respect to the wind. Other types of exercise I enjoy is walking down to the shop to buy a meat pie or a quick wander around the streets in the evening.

Of course, when we go cycling together there is a disparity and I usually find myself way behind. I try my best to keep up, but once we hit a hill my inferior strength and fitness levels make themselves known all too quickly. The longer the ride, perhaps when we are cycle touring on the UK mainland, the larger the distance between us becomes. I wouldn’t mind too much if my partner did the map reading, as I could try to keep her within view and not worry about which direction to go, but like most of the women in my life, map reading has somehow been beyond them. I have to keep stopping to recover from the exertions. She will stop at the top of a hill until I catch up. At this point I might need to rest, but she is getting cold, and needs to press on to warm up. As the person at the back struggling to keep up I soon found myself extremely demoralised and would often refuse to have her accompanying me on rides, preferring instead to go at my own pace. As I have mentioned before, I can manage up to 75 miles per day on a heavily laden bike, but it takes me a long time to complete that distance. It took some years, but eventually I got her into the habit of not racing off, and it has lead to a much more pleasant atmosphere between us.

The trailer had arrived so I assembled it and found that it does come with reflectors that screw on underneath, an adequate solution, but one to which I want to add lights. The tyres are some no-name brand, so I have ordered some Schwalbe Marathons to replace the Continental Contacts on the bike, not Schwalbe Kojaks as previously mentioned. The Continentals can go on the trailer. I have also ordered some Schwalbe schrade valued inner tubes to replace those on the trailer, and a couple of presta valved tubes as spare for the bike.

The axle on the bike protrudes more on the left than the right. I tried the trailer hitch on the left side, but the wheel nut only went on half way, so I put it on the right instead.

I invited the other half to join me for a ride to the local cash and carry, where I was told that I could find weatherproof boxes suitable for outdoor use. I set the power level to 3 (of 12) and headed out. For a change it was me being in front. I kept stopping for her to catch up and offering to go behind. Second was a position that I was finding it hard to stay in because the bike just wanted to go faster with my input effort and the electronic assistance.

The cash and carry only had the same boxes that everyone else was selling in town, useful for keep spare bedding fresh in, in the bottom of the wardrobe, but I didn’t rate them for outdoor use. They suggested somewhere else, so off we trogged, her lagging behind. We got there and the boxes weren’t suitable so we headed off to another place. They had good boxes, but far too small. They suggested that they could get something in for me, but so could I, and without their mark-up, but in the end suggested somewhere else. By this time the other half was getting cheesed off with trying to keep up with me and just wanted to go for a ride on her own! I tried the last place, up a long slow hill, which normally I struggle up, but with relative ease this time. They were unable to help, so I dropped into town, bought a couple of cheap boxes that I could use indoors and decided to buy a decent box online.

The following day I loaded up the boxes with about 25kg and put them on the trailer, the bed of which is like a very coarse sandpaper, brilliant to stop the load shifting around. The trailer comes with two velcro straps to secure the load, but I needed to use both of them together to go over the boxes front to back. I was happy that I wouldn’t need to worry about the load on the 17 mile ride north.

The wind was 22 mph from the west, and the roads in Shetland tend to snake about around sea voes, but only once did I find myself driving into a headwind, which was downhill, but I was still having to pedal hard to make any sort of progress. For about 10 miles I was getting some shelter from the side winds due to the hills to the left. I had travelled up two longish hills that I normally struggle with the electronics set at 6 (of 12). On the downhills and along the flats I had kept the switch in position 3.

At the 10 mile point the LED on the control unit had gone red, suggesting that the originally fully-charged battery needed changing. I had been going along at about 12 mph constantly to this point. Luckily I had the foresight to buy and carry a spare battery, so I swapped it over for a fully charged spare and set off again.

The skies darkened and I knew that I would soon be rained on, but I was prepared for the wind picking up and the hail lashing the side of my face as I moved on towards the Lang Kames, a desolate part of Shetland with little cover for the cyclist from the north, west or south. I wanted to carry on, but I realised this wasn’t sensible, knew there was a bus shelter about half a mile up the road so headed for that before the exposure to the elements got even worse.

At the side of the shelter I dug around in one of the boxes for a pair of waterproof trousers and took refuge in the shelter to put the trousers on and eat half of my emergency star bar, which was quite hard to chew on due to it being so cold from being in the pocket of my jacket. I hadn’t held out much hope for the jacket. Although it is eVent material, it is made by Karrimor, so I hadn’t expected it to be up to the standard, especially as it only cost £45, but it turned out to be brilliant, probably almost as good as my Rab eVent jacket at over 4 times the price.

Being unable to predict how long the weather was likely to keep up its onslaught I just bit the bullet and headed off, something I was soon regretting as the cover on the left disappeared. It was getting very uncomfortable, but I wasn’t going to let it beat me. I just leant slightly left to try not to get pushed across the road by the wind.

Within a mile or two the hail stopped and hill cover started to get closer to my left, providing some small relief. The last part of the journey before reaching Voe is down a long hill, which I was able to crank along at about 22 mph. I was soon turning up the sharp hill to home, putting the switch all the way around to 12 to help me up this last bit.

I looked at my watch and found that I had completed the ride in 1 hour 40 minutes. This included a brief stop to get my gloves out of the box and tighten the chain, a longer stop to fit the gear cable back on the hub, which had been hooked off when the safety wire from the trailer must have got stuck between the chain and sprocket, another stop to change the battery, and a short rest stop to put on the waterproofs. The ride usually takes me between 2 hours to 2 hours 15 minutes depending on wind strength and direction, on an un-assisted bike. I would probably stop once for a rest, to have a drink and something to eat for between 5 and 10 minutes. I wouldn’t normally ride in winds above 18 mph as it is just too much like hard work, unless it is a linear trip and the wind is from behind. I have ridden in winds up to 24 mph, but it is just soul destroying if you are riding into it at that speed.

The hub had been a letdown with the gears slipping. I had tried to adjust the gear cable but found that the hub just slipped in different gears. It is something that I will need to work on.
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
The trailer follows the bike brilliantly., even at 32 mph, 7 mph above the suggested limit, and being equipped with 20” wheels, the same as the bike, it runs level with a load on it.. The axle is not centred about the bed of the trailer, being slightly offset to the back, which seems counter intuitive, but the proof of the pudding is in the ride. I did feel some pulsing at first when towing along the flat, but that soon stopped. Whilst rough patches of road could be felt through the bike’s handlebars, nothing was transmitted from the trailer.

The water gathered in the recesses of the lids of the plastic boxes, which was unsurprising, but didn’t let any water in, which was a relief as I had laptops, cameras etc in them, albeit in a rucksack.

The first battery had gone to the red status and took 1 hour and 15 minutes to charge. The second battery, which had gone into the amber, possible yellow status, it’s difficult to tell, took 45 minutes to charge. The charger was the 1 hour slow charger. I noticed that there was some water in the grills of the batteries and in future I will use the neoprene “sock” that is supplied with the bike, which I assumed was to keep the battery warm, and therefore efficient. Sometimes I am hard of thinking! Perhaps it has 2 purposes though.

I would like to carry front panniers on the bike, but the Moulton front pannier rack has an 80mm gap where the 110mm ARCC ePod needs to fit, so in the interim period I will be using a Topeak medium wedge, which fits to the saddle rails with a QR clip, and extra lateral security is provided by a velcro strap, which goes around the saddle pole.

The medium Topeak wedge has about a litre of space, plenty to carry a spare tube, tools including a chain tool, Leatherman Crunch, a couple of spanners, multi-tool, tyre levers, shower cap, puncture repair kits, spare batteries for the lights. I don’t really need the batteries as the current lights are both USB rechargeable with non-removable batteries, but I may take them off and replace them with battery powered lights. It makes more sense than having to carry spare lights in case the USB ones run out of juice.

The rest of the kit I will have to carry on my back in a rucksack, something that I am less than found of. I have a rear rack for the bike, but I think it spoils the look, but at least the rack is black, which will look better on a black bike than the yellow Moulton it was on previously.
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
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If I go for a ride at the weekend it mostly tends to be to the ferry terminal at Laxo, where wifi is available. I don’t have broadband at my place so this is massively useful to me. The trip is 4.3 miles in a mostly easterly direction on the way out, and I would take between 25 and 35 minutes to get there wind dependent.

There was an 8 mph ENE wind today, but there is a reasonable amount of cover from WNW around to ENE, and less cover around the rest of the compass. The trip is undulating, but on my normal bike one hill usually has me down to 5 mph on the return journey.

The ARCC Moulton did the trip in 20 minutes with me putting in a similar amount of effort for a much shorter distance. I caught up on my email, bought some items online, had a chat online with the other half, topped up the reserves with a mug of tea and a Tesco bakery granola square - food of the gods.

The road out of the ferry terminal is very steep and has me down to 3rd gear on the Rohloff hub. Today I just switched the controls to A+ and whizzed up there as though I was on the flat, with very little real effort at all. This hill really does have me panting usually. On the A+ setting the inclinometer circuitry switches on and boosts the bike to full power.

There are a number of things that I have noticed about the difference that an ebike gives me: the same amount of effort gets me to my destination much quicker, probably in two-thirds of the time, I no longer arrive feeling absolutely exhausted, I feel much more inclined to take on rides in conditions that I wouldn’t normally consider, and I enjoy cycling as much if not more. If I am out on the bike more, this will improve my fitness, I will lose weight, cycling will be easier and I will be able to reduce the assistance level on the ebike controls, and get out on the unassisted bike more, assuming that I don’t become addicted to the assistance of course. I will be monitoring my weight to see how things are going.

For a person such as myself, with many minor niggling ailments, but who also suffers depressive episodes, I think that this ebike is going to be hugely beneficial. When in a period of depression I am well aware that exercise will do me good, but the huge effort of getting around in Shetland on a bike means that I will sit at home when I should be going out. The ebike hugely lowers the amount of effort needed, and as long as the road surfaces are not in a dangerous condition, it will just be a case of getting out there. Exercising will stop the dip becoming so low.

I used the rucksack to carry the spare battery, iPod, fleece and food in, and was surprised that I didn’t have a sweaty back, although it is December and I was only wearing a t-shirt under my coat. The longer trip to work will be the real test, especially when it starts moving into warmer weather.
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
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With a headwind starting at 14mph and increasing to 16 mph, and little in the way of cover, the journey to work would normally need a good reason to take the unassisted bike, but I thought that I would give in a go on The Moulton.

As there is no rack on the bike yet I had to carry the rucksack on my back, something I wasn’t looking forward to. It’s a 25 litre (roughly) Hill People Gear Tarahumara, and one of the most comfortable on the shoulders rucksacks I have ever worn. It was costly as it was bought from the US and imported here to be hammered with customs duties, but it has been worth every penny. I was carrying a spare battery in there, clothes, iPad, meds, camera, headphones. Total weight would have been under 10kg.

With this sort of headwind I would expect to take up to 2 hours and 15 minutes, the last 7 miles including 2 hills that I struggle with.

There is a long hill out of Voe so I switched the power to 6 until I was over the top of it, then back down to 3 until the next grind, when it was back to position 6 for a few hundred yards.

At the 10 mile point the red light came on indicating the need to swap out the battery. I was glad to stop as I had felt the power draining from the battery as it became more and more discharged. There had been fine rain since starting off so I shook as much of the water off as possible before the battery swap. Despite the rain and the darkness no-one stopped to investigate if there was a problem, but they were all in cars. I am sure that a cyclist would have stopped to see what the problem was.

I returned to riding again, lulls in the traffic were enjoyable on this main road into Lerwick, a commuter route for those from the north mainland and the north isles into work. The last two hills are a killer so on the first one I went for position 6 on the first one, from position 2 that I had been using. I find the second hill long and hard, especially as it goes around a bend so you can’t see where the top is. For the first time I had the wind behind me, but I switch to position A+ and as soon as the inclinometer circuitry kicked in The motor was boosted to maximum power.

I arrived at my partner’s house 1 hour and 35 minutes after leaving home. A saving of around 40 minutes, and I didn’t feel like a wrung out rag. My back was sweaty though, but I. Just let it dry out whenI got to work, and put a micro-fleece on top when I started getting cold.

The mileage confirms that the expected battery range is hopelessly optimistic, but then again the testing was probably done on towpaths, by a lightweight with a tailwind, rather than the real world. ARCC sell a battery holder to carry a spare, which fixes to the bottle cage mounts. It is CNC’d aluminium, so expensive to produce, but at £100 I just can’t face it. Tonight, time and bolts permitting I will fit the rack to get the weight off my back, but first I have a 17 mile ride ahead of me, at least the wind will be behind me though at 12 - 16 mph, which should make life easier.
 
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Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
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This will be my last post for a while. I am sure that you won’t want boring to death about every trip that I take.

I rode home from work with the wind roughly behind me, but making it’s way around to my left (west). The rain was a fine mist, so I just cracked on as fast as I could. Without the trailer on the back the bike made 12 miles before the red LED lit up, so I pulled in at a bus shelter for a 5 minute break, battery change and to drink the small flask of tea. I had been riding on setting 3 or 6 depending on the terrain.

After the quick turnaround I cracked on as quickly as I could and ended up with a time of 1 hour and 20 minutes. In the same conditions, carrying the same load on my Thorn I would expect to take 2 hours, so a 40 minute time saving.

I arrived back wet and tired, but more from a long day than the cycle ride. My back was sweaty and I was determined to improve this situation so a few modifications were in order. I fitted the rear rack and a reflector on it, but then realised that I would have to move the Magicshine rear light, but then I couldn’t fit the Topeak medium wedge pack, so took the rear reflector off and replaced it with a bracket to hold the CatEye TL1100D rear light from the Thorn. I put the small Carradice rack pack on, but then there was no room for the Topeak wedge, so I unloaded the tools from that put the in a shower cap and placed them in the rack pack. This was annoying as I had bought another Topeak wedge and a complete set of tools and spares so that I could have one on the Moulton and the Thorn and not have to worry about swapping out spanners and tubes to fit. I had also bought a spare charger for the Magicshine light so that I could charge it up at two locations, with a thought to buying a third.

The following morning I rode off to work using the usual settings. The battery needed changing over at 10 miles. This time the spare was being carried in the pocket on the outside of the rack pack, a fit so good it could have been made for the purpose. I continued the rest of the journey on the second battery and arrived at work with the LED still on green. Yes I was a little sweaty, but without the drenched in sweat back that I had the previous day. Excluding the 5 minute change around and cup of tea time, the journey took 1 hour and 20 minutes. There was little in the way of wind <5 mph. In fact, I managed to slide on some ice momentarily.

In the proper light I looked at the rear of the bike, and the rack looks slewed to one side. I assume that this is because the rack attachment on the frame has been welded slightly offline and this is exacerbated by the length of the rack, highlighting the error. Of course I could be doing Pashley, the makers of low end Moultons, down, so I need to run a rule over it to find the error.

By 11am I was feeling dizzy. It seems as though I haven’t been taking enough food in to make up for the sudden rise in exercise, cue a large lunch.

I am having difficulty getting images out of the iPad, so once I have the laptop in town with me I will upload a couple of pictures just so that you can tell I am not making this all up. For now though I will just ride the bike for a few more weeks, sort out the teething problems and then give you an update.

By the way, my other half has decided to buy an ebike!
 

D8ve

Esteemed Pedelecer
Jan 30, 2013
2,141
1,293
Bristol
Heavy duty reading, informative and interesting.
 
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Georgew

Pedelecer
Apr 13, 2016
148
185
81
Fife Scotland
Many thanks for your review.
I own a Moulton TSR27 with an ARC retro e-assist and live in relatively hilly countryside....the winds are always there but nothing like Shetland. I find that on the lowest level of assist I can usually get around 25 miles and that includes a few hills. Switch up the assist level or use A+ and the range drops but I try to manage on the lowest level of assist when possible. I've a couple of spare batteries and always carry one of these to extend my range.
ARCC was featuring the arrival of a new Bosch 36V 9Ah battery but this has now gone from their website with no explanation. They are selling the new Bosch 36V 6AH which would boost the range but it's expensive as you would expect.
As I'm pretty old and have a dodgy heart and trashed knees, this bike has been the means to re-joining my club and while it is expensive the system is of great quality and sophistication........the five years warranty is reassuring as well.
Best of luck and keep cycling.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
Thanks for the comments folks. Into a 19 mph+ headwind this morning, feeling very tired as I am not used to this level of exercise, riding on setting 3 I only managed 9.6 miles! The second battery was down to the yellow by the time that I completed the journey.

I must try to ride around on settings 1 and 2 to see how far I get.
 
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Georgew

Pedelecer
Apr 13, 2016
148
185
81
Fife Scotland
Thanks for the comments folks. Into a 19 mph+ headwind this morning, feeling very tired as I am not used to this level of exercise, riding on setting 3 I only managed 9.6 miles! The second battery was down to the yellow by the time that I completed the journey.

I must try to ride around on settings 1 and 2 to see how far I get.
It's worth noting that level 1 position is had when the switch is fully turned to the left. I had mistakenly thought it was one click up from that position.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
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61
Quite right George. I was laying in bed last night and suddenly came to that conclusion
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
...which means that I have been riding around on levels 4 and 7, not 3 and 6 as stated.

The weather is taking a turn for the worse, as are my lungs, so I can't see me riding much more this year.
 

Templogin

Pedelecer
May 15, 2014
117
88
61
I rode home with a 22 mph tailwind as hard as I could, often exceeding 16 mph, so receiving no help from the motor. Unfortunately I overdid it and started to feel dizzy and weak after about 10 miles. I pushed on for another mile then pulled in for a break. The ePod was still showing a green light, but I swapped it over nonetheless and had a break to drink a small flask of tea and eat some homemade muesli bars.
Soon revived I was able to head off for the last leg of the journey. Total distance 17 miles. Total riding time 1 hour and 10 minutes.
I took a day off due to winds exceeding 40 mph. The sudden exercise was tiring me out, and I needed to get more food with better values inside me.
Thursday looked do-able on the weather front. I had fallen asleep on the bus on the way home on Wednesday, and really struggled to get out of bed on Thursday morning, but I headed out there into a 19 mph headwind. The battery only lasted 9 miles before the red light was showing on the ePod. I swapped it out and headed along the road for a better stopping spot a mile away, and grabbed a drink of tea, then continued the rest of the journey. At the end the second battery had reached a level where the yellow LED shone on the ePod, 1 rung above red.
Total distance 17 miles. Total riding time 1 hour and 20 minutes.
I had a drink after changing out of the sweaty clothes, then half an hour later I ate a chocolate bar. By 11:30 I was feeling dizzy again so I bought an egg mayo roll, bag of crisps and a berry bar, which I ate just before midday. My plan this weekend is to buy some dried fruit. I have given up on the idea of the nuts as, with all the exercise I am doing, it is producing unfortunate effects!
 

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