My new Flyer ebike: fast and fun!

flyer-t8hs.jpgI recently bought a new Flyer electric bike, got a faster T8 HS ex-demo for a good price.

I sold the previous C8+ to my nephew, happy that it’s staying in the family! In about 15’000km all year in any weather (including snow and accompanying salt on the road) over 4 1/2 years, I have had exactly zero problems with the C8, which says a lot about the build quality and maturity of those bikes. It needed just the usual bike maintenance, and an expected change of battery after about 600 charging cycles, but zero maintenance related to the electronics or motor. Not to mention only two punctures in 15’000km, thanks to the Schwalbe Marathon puncture-proof tires. Over time, those tires get full of small superficial holes which are mostly punctures that didn’t happen, very cool!

The new bike is an HS model, as in high speed: contrary to the old one which would only assist me until 25kmh (so you’d be faster on flat with a good bike), this one happily helps up to 45kmh or more, and it’s also a better bike to start with: 28″ wheels, more rigid frame and thinner higher-pressure tires. As with all so-called pedelec bikes, the Flyers don’t go anywhere if you don’t pedal, the assistance only kicks in (very naturally) when you ride normally, and gives you more power.

And this thing is fast: I just beat my record on the commute back from the office, 350m elevation over 12km, getting home in 29:30 which means 24kmh average speed on Lausanne’s steep hills. Not bad – you do have to pedal hard to reach such speeds uphill, but it’s a lot of fun and I get home almost as fast as any other transportation, considering the traffic density – and I don’t need to spend time at the gym after that, so I’m probably saving time all in all! The morning downhill ride takes about 20 minutes, unbeatable at 8AM unless you ride a helicopter.

The equipment is very good: Magura hydraulic rim brakes (almost as good as discs, I guess newer models have them), LED lights, lockable front fork and the SRAM dual drive which combines a 3-gear hub with an 8-gear rear derailleur to get 24 usable combinations (no “forbidden” ones like dual derailleurs). You cannot have a front derailleur on the Flyer due to the motor wheel which drives the chain, and the dual drive is really the best of both worlds in the city: gear hub for quick downchanging when stopping or surprised, and derailleur for fine tuning.

All in all, an excellent commuter’s bike if your ride is steep, or just for the fun of riding faster. The big plus with the ebike is that you can use less of your own energy if you’re tired or if conditions are bad, while still getting to your destination in a reasonable amount of time.

You do have to ride very carefully as sleepy car drivers and pedestrians often don’t realize how fast you ride on that thing, nor that you’re actually faster than cars in many tight or bumpy places. After years of motorcycling and cycling I’m used to being very clear about my intentions on the road, using obvious positioning in lanes, and that helps a lot! The city of Lausanne is also doing an excellent job in helping cyclists find safe space to ride, and most of my commute is on very low-traffic roads as a result.

Do I sound enthusiastic? That’s because I am – electric bikes are by far the best way of commuting in a steep city like Lausanne. They are somewhat expensive to buy, but maintenance costs almost nothing, and you save a lot on gym costs (and doctor’s fees I guess – cycling is good for your health). And if you drive a car or motorbike to work, you should really calculate how much that costs and draw the right conclusions!

3 Responses to My new Flyer ebike: fast and fun!

  1. That looks like a lot of fun – I want one! Tough to justify, as my journey to work is only 50m elevation. Maybe worth it for the extra 4-5kph on the average speed, though. Hmmm…

  2. Mark says:

    Betrand- so good to see real people posting real life stats for ebikes. What is the maximum range that you can achieve, on average?

  3. bdelacretaz says:

    Maximum range depends a lot on the assistance setting, that bike has 3 levels. Going uphill fast on my commute back from the office I use almost all the battery capacity (10AH, and it’s not 100% new as the bike is ex-demo), so range is down to about 15km but that’s with > 300m elevation.

    On flat with the medium assistance I’d estimate a range of 30-40km, but I use a normal bike for longer tours so I haven’t really tried.

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