While we're still fairly new to the solar ebike game, Mark is among the (suprisingly numerous) Grin customers who've been thinking about and experimenting with solar bikes for many years. After he shared pictures of his latest project and mentioned his round the world touring ambitions, we thought we had to do a small feature on this guy. A quick last minute trip to Maker Faire was arranged to meet up, and here we present, Mark Havran:
DON'T BUY THIS BIKE!!!!! Worst customer service ever!!! I bought this bike for my 18 year old son to commute to school. It worked well for the first 2 months but the battery is cheap and stated to wear out. I tried going on the website, but they battery shows as out of stock, and has been for 3 months now. I left 5 emails with customer service, never got a reply. Also there is no number listed on their website to even speak to a real person. Now I have a worthless 5 month old bike..... horrible this company should be ashamed.
Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft.
Conversion kits, on the other hand, are sold and installed separately on traditional bicycles. They are harder to setup and conceal, and require some basic mechanical ability and a little bit of ‘elbow grease’ to install. The advantage of conversion kits is that you can choose almost any standard bicycle, and you have the freedom to change or upgrade components as you go. A conversion kit will also allow you to achieve higher power and speed ratings that are not possible on most pre-built electric bike models. Kits are great for tall or heavy riders because they can opt for a larger bike, with higher power and weight carrying capacity. People living in hilly terrain may require the additional torque to handle extremely large inclines. For people who prefer a specific bike model or just love to go faster, a conversion kit offers enormous flexibility.
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain (just to see how they’d handle), and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.
With a chain drive transmission, a chainring attached to a crank drives the chain, which in turn rotates the rear wheel via the rear sprocket(s) (cassette or freewheel). There are four gearing options: two-speed hub gear integrated with chain ring, up to 3 chain rings, up to 11 sprockets, hub gear built into rear wheel (3-speed to 14-speed). The most common options are either a rear hub or multiple chain rings combined with multiple sprockets (other combinations of options are possible but less common).
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
DIY enthusiasts, with tens of thousands of converted bikes using throttle-only, 20+ mph kits, are now officially labeled Moped class. While these bikes handle and pedal-ride just as safely as the class 3 speed pedelecs in many cases, our DIY counterparts will be officially kicked out and left on their own for advocacy and legal acceptance in California. This is a big deal, without a class sticker, any DIY electric bike conversion kit is considered a Moped and not a bicycle.
The Freedom’s motor gives you five different levels of boost, and the 36-volt battery offers up to 35 miles of range. You can track your power level and speed, as well as your battery life, on a digital display mounted to the handlebar. I have to admit I spent nearly all my time on the Freedom riding in the highest level, where I could pedal up to 19 mph to 20 mph without even breaking a sweat.
The other shout-out goes to Paul Bogaert who decided to close the Bike Doctor after 27 years and instead cycle tour the world with his wife. Paul had an early role in Vancouver bicycle advocacy and at bringing cycle riding to a less elitist/athletic and more everyday commuter crowd through their shop. They were among the early shops to embrace family friendly cargo bikes and appreciated the role that electric would play in making cycling more broadly appealing.