When I hopped onto a Haul-a-Day outfitted with the BionX pedal assist, I fought back the urge. The need for speed.
I have ridden a pedal assist before. I knew what would come. What I wondered most was the impact of the BionX unit on the basic ride of the Haul-a-Day.
How would the added weight affect the ride? How would it affect the handling? How would it affect my ability to power the bike.
So I rolled away without the BionX pedal assist engaged. I rode the first five miles like that, tackling a few hills along the way.
Surprisingly, even though it added more than 17 pounds to the bike, I could barely feel a difference from my ride to work that morning on a Haul-a-Day. Again, we’re talking a Haul-a-Day that starts around 33 pounds, so this isn’t a 16-pound Super Pro. Weight gain is relative.
On flats I couldn’t tell a difference at all. Once I started up a hill, I could feel the extra weight. Not until I hit a significant incline did it really hit me as a factor. I should insert here that I’m no superman on a bike. I have what I call Commuter Fitness.
Heading up hill is when I experienced the pedal assist. The first thing you notice is silence. There is no sound. You are not on a scooter.
I started with the 35% level, and realized quickly that in most cases without a heavy load, this would more than suffice in making life a little easier. I was climbing the initial part of the hill at nearly 10 mph, with one hand on the handlebars and the other holding a video camera. I doubt I could climb any hill like that without assistance.
Jumping up to 75% pedal assist felt much like dropping down a gear to keep your cadence up as a hill steepens. At the steepest section of the hill, a 75% assist with no load is plenty.
But, of course, the goal of this experiment was to push it. So I did. Hitting 150% made me giggle. You can feel like a pro. At 300% I realized the pedal assist, with or without a load, pretty much would make anything possible.
On the way down, I engaged the regeneration. It feels as though you are feathering the brakes to keep you speed low, but you are recharging the battery as you do so. However, it is not a braking system, and I quickly sped up to 20, 25 and eventually more than 30 mph. All the while recharging the battery!
For me, the real beauty of the system was displayed in the first five miles. Call me a bit of a traditionalist, but the idea of pedal assist had philosophical elements attached for me that I wasn’t sure I could handle. I’ll call it a surrender of purity.
By the time I finished the last five miles, playing with all the elements of pedal assist and toying with the endless possibilities, I realized it’s all under my control. I can ride the way I’ve always ridden, on my own power, if I wish. However, if I decide I want to catch that roadie who has a 200-meter lead on me at the base of a big climb, with the push of a button and a little extra on the pedal, I can do so.
And I’ll admit, I almost did just that. I could have caught that guy, but I couldn’t live with myself. So I stopped and let him get over the top. Then I started, on the hill, from a standstill, one-handed. It was a breeze.
Watch video from my test ride:
4 comments February 23, 2015
We already have seen the impact of Cargo Bikes. Have you?
Add comment February 20, 2015
The February 2015 issue of Bicycle Times has hit the newsstands, bike shops and homes, and it has their review of the Haul-a-Day in it. Check it out!
Reviewer Adam Newman says:
“I enjoyed the practicality of the Haul-a-Day because when unloaded it didn’t have the massive cruise-liner feeling that many cargo bikes have. The majority of the long-tail bikes I see here in Portland are ridden by women with children on the back, and Bike Friday says it is targeting these customers with a bike that is lighter, more maneuverable and less intimidating than a “full-size” cargo bike…
“That’s not to say it isn’t up to the task of serious carrying capacity. I used it to shuttle hundreds of wooden stakes around a cyclo-cross course and the saddlebags easily accommodated the extra-long cargo. As further proof of its bonafides, the Haul-a-Day made a splash at the Portland Disaster Relief Trials, a day-long competition for cargo bikes and riders to simulate the (sometimes crazy) support that a human-powered machine can provide when disasters strike. Tasks include carrying a wooden pallet, five-gallon buckets of water, and a carton of eggs. Bike Friday engineer Willie Hatfield took the win on a Haul-a-Day with a wild paint job.”
Add comment February 11, 2015
The Haul-a-Day is available for test rides now at Green Machine Cycles.
J.C. Lind will have a Haul-a-Day soon!
Add comment February 10, 2015
Here’s a blog post from Ride Adelaide Cyclists in South Australia about choosing the Haul-a-Day as a solution to transport children.
Add comment February 10, 2015
Looking to take a Haul-a-Day Cargo Bike for a spin in New York? Check out this ride at Bicycle Doctor in Brooklyn.
Add comment February 9, 2015
Want to know what it’s like to stop by Bike Friday to check out folding, travel and cargo bikes?
Read this blog! It’s called HinesSight: How Things Look Through Oregonian’s Eyes
Add comment February 7, 2015
We’ve said before that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more eclectic bunch than the gang here at Bike Friday.
We’re proud to say that our own Raz (aka, John Rezell) will publish three ebooks on January 26th. “A More Simple Time: How Cycling Saved My Soul” chronicles Raz’s time as a writer covering bicycle racing in the US from 1989-1996.
It includes personal tales of how cycling changed his outlook on life, including chapters on his first touring trip from San Francisco to San Diego (before he became hooked on Bike Fridays).
Learn more about Raz’s ebooks on his website ConquerMountains.com. His books are now available for pre-order on Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble.
1 comment January 8, 2015
Bike Friday owner David Webber kicked off the New Year on the Mt. Airy ride January 1st in Maryland.
To give you a feel of what a group ride is like on a Bike Friday Crusoe, he posted a video on YouTube.
Here’s his description of what you’ll see:
“Initial 15 minutes of the 36 mile group heading out. Riding my Bike Friday Crusoe and recorded with Fly6 video at 720p. Then the ride telemetry added using Garmin Virb Edit and 15 minutes of greenscreen from Virb camera combined with the GPS track. The whole thing is then put together and produced using the OpenShot software. The telemetry is about 15 seconds ahead – so it shows what is about to happen. This is mainly about showing the concepts here rather than precise production details. Plus of course you get to ride a Bike Friday on a group ride and see how that rolls. Enjoy and Happy New Year biking.
Add comment January 5, 2015
The desert scenery swept into my view like the opening scenes of a good old fashion Cowboy Movie.
The subtle pastel colors of sand and towering Saguaro cactus against a brilliant, nearly cloudless blue sky felt as comforting as an old pair of jeans.
As my tires left the hum of pavement behind and dug into the sandy gravel with a confident crunch, all my senses spiked, like coming home again. Sights. Sounds. Smells.
I’ve been lucky enough to pedal the Haul-a-Day up the hellish grades of Seattle down at Pike Place Market, zip along with traffic through San Francisco’s busy Market Street, and enjoy Eugene’s Willamette River Bike Path.
While the bike certainly appears perfectly suited for those typical urban challenges, those trials don’t necessarily mesh with my true dreams.
No, my idea for a Haul-a-Day is out and away from the places most people would envision for a Cargo Bike.
So during my week-long stay in Arizona for El Tour de Tucson in November, I got the opportunity to take a Haul-a-Day for a spin on my terms.
That meant four hours of riding the bike path until it ends, and hitting the open roads to head out of town, away from humanity, heading for the hills.
Since people often ask about how far you can ride any of our Bike Fridays, I wanted to give it a real test. The endurance test.
Any bike can feel good for a block or two. Or a mile or two.
Once minutes turn to hours, I feel the true test of a bike begins.
Let me toss in right here that I spend most my riding hours on a Bike Friday Llama, previously donned with 2-inch Schwalbe Big Apple tires that have been replaced by 2.2-inch Maxxis Holy Rollers with knobbies. To summarize, light bikes with low friction don’t appear on my radar screen. Results may vary for others.
Aside from the fact I was riding on flat pedals instead of my usual clipless pedals and shoes, the ride was as good as any. As Bike Friday dealer Mike Jacoubowsky said when he returned from a short test ride with the Haul-a-Day, “It has that smooth Bike Friday ride.”
When the road began to rise, I thought, like many, it would be a chore to lug this much bike uphill (the Haul-a-Day starts around 32 pounds, and with everything on my version including my load, it was probably pushing 40 pounds). It didn’t feel that way. That my tires were a slick 1.75 (thin for me) might have had a lot to do with that. Still, it felt sweet. Smooth.
Bouncing on and off the gravel on the side of the road proved to be a breeze (one of the reasons I like wider tires — giving me the ability to make a quick dive if necessary, and yes, I did have to do that way out in the desert). The longer wheelbase took away the chaotic sensation of hitting gravel. I felt totally in control.
By the time I rolled back into town, I had a new goal. Get way out, and way away.
On my drive back to Phoenix, the Saguaro National Park offered the perfect opportunity.
I parked at the Visitor’s Center (I’ll insert here that a Haul-a-Day fits perfectly in the back of mini van without having to take off wheels or shorten the handlebars or saddle), and pedaled back down the road to the dirt Bajada Loop.
As soon as I hit the dirt, my regard for the Haul-a-Day launched into the sky like a rocket.
Although the 1.75 tires weren’t quite wide enough for the deepest gravel and sand sections, the bike performed better than I expected.
Riding down the roller-coaster hills felt more like being on a toboggan as a kid back in Wisconsin. Charging up the hills felt normal, although I mistakenly expected the weight on the back rack would help give me a little more traction than a typical mo9untain bike would.
As I rode I could imagine my camping gear strapped to the back, and my black lab running alongside. That’s my Haul-a-Day vision.
Add comment December 17, 2014