14 August 2019

Tern Vektron S10 - The Review 500 Miles in the Making

It has been a while since I have put pen to paper - digitally speaking.  

As I said in the title, this is a review that was several months, and 500 miles in the making. It started last fall at Interbike, and ended some 500 miles last month. 

I've never really spent any amount of time on an ebike, aside from  a few short rides on cruiser ebikes at Interbike and Outdoor Retailer. So, when the opportunity to spend some time with the flagship of the Tern folding ebike line, the Vektron S10, I couldn't say no. 

Right upfront, aside from one thing - more on that later - I love this bike. It has been a blast to ride for the past month. With the first push on the pedal, the Bosch Active Line Plus drivetrain immediately starts helping out, quickly getting the bike up to 20mph. The 400 Wh battery gives you a range from approximately 30-70 miles, depending on whether you use Eco, Tour, Sport, or Turbo modes. Once you are going, Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes do an admirable job of bringing you to a stop, sometimes – thankfully – very rapidly. If you are interested, the specs are here

When I was conversing with the folks at Tern prior to getting the bike, they asked me what options I wanted included with it. There really wasn’t anything that I felt like I needed to add. The rear rack, which was nice because it let me get my backpack off my back in the nearly 100 degree weather, and the integrated head and tail lights are part of the standard package. It also has a dual telescoping seatpost, so riders from 4’9” to 6’5” can all ride comfortably. Everyone in my family, from my 10-year-old daughter to my 6’4” 21-year-old son hopped on at one point or another and took it for a spin around the neighborhood.

I could go thru every component on this bike and tout its exceptional qualities, but that would be boring to read. Let me just sum it up by saying that Tern did their research, and the parts spec’d on this are all stellar…  

…with the exception of the pedals. Due to the folding nature of the bike, and not wanting to have a pedal sticking out awkwardly when it was folded to catch on shins, doors, and what not, Tern incorporated a quick release into the spindle of the right side pedal. My problem with this is that I’ve had it fall off on me a couple times – once when I was starting out, pushing down on the pedal that at that moment decided to separate from the crankarm, causing a painful and awkward stumble. The other time it decided to “jump ship” just as I was finishing up my commute, and was stepping off the bike.  My personal opinion, is a folding pedal would rectify the problem of having a “shin grabber” sticking out when folded, while keeping the pedal firmly attached to the bike when not. There's also no place to store the pedal when it's unattached. 

How did it ride, you may be asking yourself? Well, I have ridden some folding bikes that due to their diminutive wheel size and the geometry make handling squirrelly. I didn’t experience any of that with the Vektron S10. The handling was crisp and precise, the ride – in part thanks to the Schwalbe Big Apple tires, which are a fantastic tire if I must say, soaking up some of the bumps– was comfortable. I did the majority of my riding in Turbo mode because, if you had the option of using Turbo, why wouldn’t you? It was like having a tailwind, even when there was a massive headwind, or you were heading uphill. My commute to the day job is 9.7 miles each way. On Turbo mode, I could make that trip 3 times before needing a recharge. One time I mis-judged my range by one mile, and had to pedal the nearly 50 lb bike by myself for that last mile. It was fine, but you do feel the weight of the bike when you don’t have anyone helping you pedal.  

Fortunately for me, my commute doesn’t involve any busses or trains, and my work now has a secure bike room so the only time that I had to fold the Vektron was when the wife was picking me up after work for date nite, or if we were going somewhere that riding would not be feasible. The bike folds quickly and easily to a reasonably compact size that fits nicely into the back of our hatchback, and would slide easily under my desk if needed. The weight does make carrying it folded somewhat awkward, but Tern did spec a saddle that has a rubber pad under the nose to make carrying it on your shoulder more comfortable.

There are five models in the Vektron line, from the $1999 D7i to the $3699 S10. I feel that the Vektron could be the perfect commuting vehicle. Instead of buying an inexpensive car and then having to pay for gas, insurance, and parking. You can keep fit, store it under your desk, and haul cargo - even carry a small human.  

I will admit that in my past, I looked at ebikes with some derision. Considering them to not be real bikes, and the people who rode them to not be real cyclists. I was a jerk. As I have gotten older, wiser, and hopefully less of a jerk, my opinion has changed. From talking to an older couple on some mountain ebikes down at Dead Horse Point S.P. earlier this year, and realizing that thanks to their bikes, they could get out and experience the splendor of the outdoors, to my own experience of not riding home after work in nearly 100 degrees dripping with sweat and needing to change clothes. If you choose to ride a bike over other available methods of transportation whether that bike is an ebike or not , then in my opinion, you are a real cyclist.

I'm seriouly sad that now the review is done, it's time to send it back. 

03 August 2017

This Just In: Interbike Ditches Vegas for Reno

An email just came in announcing that Interbike had decided on the Reno/Tahoe area for its annual trade show starting in 2018.
America’s leading cycling trade show – Interbike – is pleased to announce it has selected Reno-Tahoe as the new home for the Interbike trade show and the site of the newly-created Interbike Marketweek.  Interbike Marketweek will begin with a weekend consumer festival at epic Northstar California Resort, will segue into the trade-focused OutDoor Demo, also at Northstar, and transition to the Interbike trade show at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center beginning in 2018 and continuing through 2022.

Bicycle-wise (and many other ways-wise), Vegas is a cesspool. There is minimal cycling infrastructure, and aside from the numerous hotels and cheap booze (for those who go to the show simply for the purpose of not remembering a single bit of it), Vegas has no draw.

Yes, Bootleg Canyon is a nice mountain bike park, and for me has been one of the few highlights of the "Vegas" experience. The other experience that I have looked forward to each year - the Bike Hugger Mobile Social sounds like if it does go on this year, will look vastly different than past years without the support of Tern bicycles and New Belgium beer (I learned this thru a conversation at Outdoor Retailer with the Justin and Davidson, the fine gentlemen from Green Guru).

Regardless, anything has to be better than Vegas.

I've never been to Reno, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the 2018 show will look like.

Here's to change!

13 July 2017

App of the Day: 529 Garage

Bike thieves are scum! They are the lowest of the low, Deserving of ire normally reserved for current presidents and other politicians.

I've show videos before of potential thieves getting their comeuppance in some very painful if not funny ways, but all of the groin-meets-stem videos does nothing to help recover bikes.

Project 529 is an app-based service that hopefully will help you recover your bike if it is ever stolen. How it works, is you register your bike on the service, record your serial number, and include as many pictures and details of your bike, including a picture of you with your bike, that along with the serial number will help prove ownership if it is recovered.

Probably not a picture like this, but who am I to judge?

Forward to that fateful day when you go out to get your bike, and discover that it isn't there. A few taps on the app will get the word out to the community and authorities that your bike is missing. The app will also help you create a missing bike poster to hang up in your local coffee shop.

Does it work? I can't say. I fortunately haven't had a bicycle stolen from me yet. I've read in several places that these registries don't work, since there are numerous registries out there, and in most cases, the police don't check any of them when a "stolen" bike is recovered. Either way, It can't hurt because the information is out there, and hopefully someone will see it.

You can find the app for both iPhone and Android based phones

12 July 2017

Welcome Back to the Rant of the Day

Sorry, I'm still here. It may feel like I have abandoned you like a puppy in a cardboard box in front of the 7-Eleven, but rest assured I haven't gone away.

Anyway, not to make up excuses, I just needed a break to re-focus, which turned into several months of  "Yeah, I need to write on the blog, but this television show is so interesting..."

Again, sorry.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with my dentist for the semi-annual cleaning and x-ray of the pearly whites (sorry if this peek into the excitement of my day to day life makes you a little uncomfortable, I promise it is somewhat relevant to today's post, and to keep the jealousy down, I'll try to keep these little peeks behind the curtain to a minimum. I do want to add that I am cavity free.) As I was waiting, I picked up a magazine to read. Between People and Sunset, I chose the latter. Whilst thumbing thru articles about planting the ideal garden, and how to renovate that old barn into a super cute bungalow, I came across this, and simply had to discect it.

"because I saw a necessary product that nobody else was making", the article states. 

I'm sure that her helmet is a fine helmet, but a statement like that is ludicrous. That's like the local greasy spoon saying that they have the "World's best cup of coffee", or saying that the best lobster roll in Maine is actually from Utah. (okay, scratch that last one.)

There are literally dozens of companies who make commuter helmets, and several of them make helmets inspired by motorcycle helmets. One company that springs to mind is Nutcase, who has a helmet that looks like it was inspired by Evel Knevil. It also has vent holes - something I notice a distinct lack of in the above pictured helmet. 

"a line of stylish protective headgear that people would actually want to wear."

No one wants to wear a helmet. Even the most comfortable helmet is uncomfortable. They're bulky and hot. It's much more enjoyable to ride with your hair flowing in the breeze, but in the name of safety - real or perceived - most of us put a Styrofoam box on our skulls. 

"Experts told me there was no market for what I was doing,"

Yes, because as I said before, there are literally dozens of companies making helmets. 

Again, I'm sure her helmet will work just as well as any other helmet at protecting your head, and I applaud her on a successful Kickstarter campaign, but lay off the boasting and misleading statements, we get enough of that from the Office of the President. 

08 February 2017

T-Shirt of the Day

I normally don't dive into the cesspool that is politics on this blog.

Today, whilst navigating thru posts on the Book of Faces about our Commander in Cheeto - President, I came across the perfect shirt...

Couldn't state it better myself!

Go here to buy one, and keep it wheel!

03 February 2017

T-Shirt of the Day

Utah based t-shirt makers Thread + Spoke have released a new line of shirts just in time for that sportsing event on Sunday. You know, the one that doesn't involve bicycles.

Not Lance, the other one. The one who hasn't been stripped of his TdF wins.

The Jersey Collection has the nickname of your favorite retired rider and the number of times they have won a grand tour. T-shirt design is by Kimball Henneman. 

Football fans have a tendency to wear the numbers of their favorite players, now you can fit right in!

Check out threadandspoke.com for more awesome artist designed shirts.

Okay, I decided I had to include Lance's jersey, just because it makes me laugh.

"The Boss" is sporting the double zeroes, because of course Lance was stripped of his TdF wins. 

26 January 2017

Product Review: Oyama CX16D

Rare is the opportunity for me to review a whole entire bicycle. Normally, I just get to review bits of one at a time, but thanks to Oyama, I have a complete bicycle at my disposal.

Oyama has been in the bicycle business for 50 years, providing the technology behind some of the biggest bicycle brands in the world. In 1998, they started to produce folding bicycles under their own name. later this year, they will introduce their folding bicycles to the USA.

I was introduced to Oyama at Interbike last fall, and they were gracious enough to send me their CX16D model for testing.

Waiting at the train station for the ride into work.

The CX16D has 20 inch wheels, so its folded size isn't the smallest out there, but it is small enough to fit under my desk at work.

It weighs in at about 28 pounds, light enough to carry without being too awkward. Stopping power is provided via mechanical disk brakes front and rear, and propulsion is provided by a 52/42 chainring and 8 speed 11-32 cassette.  

The most asked question, right after how do you fold it - which I will get to in a moment - was how does it ride? The handling would best be described as "nimble" the short wheelbase and steep head tube angle give it a quick response. the gear range is more than adequate to tackle any hills along your commute. The upright position is comfortable, and doesn't feel cramped. 

Speaking of commutes, most people look at a folding bike as a means to get to and from other means of transportation, such as riding to the train station or bus stop - which I have done several times, But I also have ridden it all the way to and from work, plus to other locations a fair distance away. There occasionally is a need for my wife to pick me up after work and, its much easier to toss a folded bike in the back of her Honda than a full-sized bike - especially if we have kids with us. 

On the train. If it isn't crowded, it is still easier to keep it unfolded for the commute.

Folding... It is easy to fold, but there is an almost origami-like aspect to folding it correctly. You need to rotate the bars to the correct position and have the pedals oriented in a certain way to successfully fold the bike, but the learning curve is small and you easily learn how to fold and unfold it quickly.

My opinion? It's a great bike! easy to ride and easy to fold. 

The MSRP for the Oyama CX16D is going to be around $990. More information can be found at www.oyama.com