Monday, November 02, 2020

Rad Power Bike and Ontario Bicycle Trails

Now that I have an ebike I have been actively seeking out bike trails for some outstanding day trips that combine exercise and great destinations. An ebike allows you to go faster and farther that you probably go on a regular bike unless you are a Tour de France rider - just the ticket for me as I continue to age.

Biking inside the covered bridge
Kissing Bridge in West Montrose

I tend to bike a lot around Toronto because you can find one place to park (and save on multiple parking fees) and travel around the city without the hassle or expense of taxis, ubers and the god awful traffic. Bike lanes are the best by the way! As I get older and also as I plan to travel in Canada by RV I wanted an ebike that I could take on my travels and make my current biking a lot more enjoyable.

In Ontario you can buy bikes that not only provide power assist but will also propel the bike without pedaling. Power is limited to 500 watts while speed is limited to 32 km/hr. Available bike choices include versions that look like scooters, mini bikes or those that look like street or mountain bikes. When I started looking it seems that two power levels are generally sold; the lower, cheaper option is 36 volts & 350 watts, the more powerful and more expensive option is 48 volts & 500 watts. I was looking at getting the bikes at Costco the cheaper 350w version was about $1500, the more expensive 500w was about $2000, but every time I went online they were out of stock so I finally had to give up on that store.

Next I checked local bike stores, which was difficult during the times of Covid, and found that the bikes were huge and selling for $3-6,000 per bike which was a little outside of what I was willing to spend. So we went back online and found Rad Power Bikes. My criteria was the 48V, 500w, no fat tires and the bicycle had to look like a typical mountain bike. They had a suitable model and their price was $1,999 for the RadCity bike. We picked up two, which included one that was a step-thru for my wife and at the time we got $200 off when we bought two. They shipped the bikes, which took about a month to arrive, partially assembled. It didn't take much to finish the assembly, plug in the batteries and go for a ride on the same day as delivery.

It blew me away when I first tried out the ebikes. The power assist really kicks in fast and our models came with 7 gears and 5 levels of power assist along with a throttle that powers the bike without the need to pedal. The throttle really makes it easy to get started when you are in a higher gear. The higher the power assist, the less you can travel under battery power. Keeping the lower assist level (level 1) and the occasional use of the throttle up hills, you can go really far as the specifications say up to 72km. Our longest ride to date was 76km and we still had a little battery power left, over time this may drop. The amount of hills on your ride will also impact how far you can ride before the battery is discharged. The battery takes 5-6 hours to fully charge.
You really notice the bikes weight when you have to move it up and down these staircases that comes with a bike chute

I love the RadCity bike and the amount of power available. It was the most expensive bike I have ever bought and hopefully ebike prices will start to fall. It is a heavy bike weighing about 70 pounds so if you use a bike carrier you need a strong one and can probably only carry up to two at a time. I wouldn't recommend that you mount the bikes on your roof because of the weight. Remember that you need to wear a bike helmet and the bike comes with the required safety features of headlight, tail and brake light and a bell. Also great is the display panel with odometer, speedometer, wattmeter and remaining battery life indicator.

With these bikes you will want to go on more cycling adventures, taking trips that are longer that you previously are used to. One option to be safe is to keep off the roads and look for bicycle routes. Many bike trails are former railway lines that have fallen out of profitability and sold to regions, counties, municipalities and conservation areas. The beauty of these trails is that they go through fair sized towns, have low grades and are located away from vehicular traffic.

Kissing Bridge Trailway map from Guelph to Millbank
The circled X means that the railway bridge that crossed the Grand River no longer exists so you have to use the Kissing Bridge bypass anyways
Standard trail gates at intersections with adjacent roads
We have tried out a few trails this year: Welland Canal from Lock 3 to Port Colborne, Elora Cataract Trailway - Bellwood Lake to Elora, Elora Cataract Trailway - Bellwood Lake to Terra Cotta Conservation Area, Friendship Trail -Port Colborne to Fort Erie. And thanks to a great website called Ontario Bike Trails we have just started exploring trails like G2G - Guelph to Kissing Bridge in West Montrose. The website lists the rides, shows maps and provides information and reviews of the many trails in Ontario. Trails are identified for Mountain Biking, Rail, BMX and Parks. We are planning to ride the Oro - Medonte Rail Trail from Barrie to Orillia next year.
A friendly cat named Sandy came to us at the Kissing Bridge
Cottontail Road Trail shows the route to Elora

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