2 min read

e-bike: the reboot

Q: What do you mean, “reboot”? Like, a new e-bike with only a vague brand-name resemblance to the original?

A: Pretty much. I’m 200km into a SmartMotion Pacer GT.

Q: How fast does it go?

A: Haven’t we talked about that question?


A: Ok. It’s faster than the old one, because it has a wider range of gears. I get up to 45km/h down Manukau Rd toward Royal Oak. Which is actually faster than I’m happy going on Auckland roads.

Q: Why did you get a new e-bike when you had a perfectly good old one?

A: Partly the gears thing. Also, I tried one with a torque sensor when I was on holiday in Melbourne, and I liked it.

Q: What’s a torque sensor?

A: Well, when I first started riding my old e-bike, I thought “Someone needs to invent a version of this with a strain gauge on the pedals, to measure effort rather than speed”. They did. It’s faster and you get more exercise, because there’s more return to pedalling harder than there is with a cadence sensor.

Q: What other features does it have?

A: Built-in lights, bright enough that they don’t need to be flashing. A speedometer, so I know I’m going at the speed limit when cars are tailgating me down Lower Domain Drive. And a continuously variable transmission.

Q: A continuously what?

A: Infinite gears?. The gear ratio changes smoothly as you turn the handle. It’s a gimmick, but it’s a nice one. You get the advantages (and disadvantages) of hub gears, to a higher level.

Q: That sounds expensive.

A: Yes. But there was a discount because a new higher-power version is supposed to be coming out soon. Since I don’t care about higher power that was a good opportunity. It probably won’t be cheaper than taking the bus, over its lifetime. But it won’t be much more expensive.

Q: What about a throttle?

A: I do miss that from the old one. The torque sensor gives you good acceleration starting up, but it doesn’t kick in as fast – which matters, eg, for traffic lights heading up hill. There is a throttle on the new one, but it’s a bit Keynesian – it operates with long and variable lags. I should get it checked to see if it’s broken.