Category Archives: Electric Bikes

The 8 Accessories Every eBiker Needs

Originally published on CleanTechnica

So you’ve bought a new eBike or are considering pulling the trigger on an eBike purchase. While eBikes are in many ways just glorified bicycles, there are a few differences that require some additional thought.

eBikes in Barcelona, Spain. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

I recommend ordering the first 3 of these along with your bike because when it shows up, the first thing you are going to want to do is to get out there and ride it. Having a helmet, bike lock, and tire protection will set you up for success even before you start riding.

Buy A Helmet

eBikes travel at higher speeds than your brain is used to traveling at on a bike. Protect it from its own inability to sense danger with a helmet. Moving at higher average speeds also means that any accidents are going to be at those same higher speeds, making full face helmets, gloves, elbow pads, etc., worth considering.

Get A Lock

eBikes are typically much more expensive than traditional bikes and thieves know it. Avoid the oh crap moment of coming out of the store to find your bike gone by buying a nice lock or two. I’m not talking about a $5 cable lock either. Go get a hardened steel chain lock, u-bolt, folding lock, or all of the above. You kicked down big bucks for an eBike, so don’t go cheap on the thing that will keep it safe.

For extra safety, pull the battery off and take it with you into the store, as the battery is a big chunk of the value of the bike. I’ve also built a habit of keeping my tools, spare tire, and pump in a rack bag that I can quickly pull off and take into the store with me. That’s one less thing for thieves to snatch and one less thing I have to worry about when I’m picking up some fresh veggies or some not quite as healthy Doritos.

Protect Your Tubes

I’m sure I’m deserving of an award for this one, but I have managed to get a flat tire in every ebike I’ve put any sort of serious mileage on in just the first couple of days. I know, I’m a slow learner, but when the inevitable flat tire comes, the first thing I do is to order some tube protection.

That starts with tire liners that put up a protective barrier between the outer tire and the inner tube to shield it from any thorns, staples, nails, and the like. Mr Tuffy’s makes a lineup of go-to products for different diameter tires and with different thicknesses, but there are many other options out there to choose from.

The second layer of protection is Slime. I stole this hack from Bosch’s ebike guru Brian Sarmiento who has embarked on several multi-day road trips on his fleet of eBikes. Slime stuff surfaced many years back and people have been pumping the snot colored goop into their inner tubes ever since. The goopy liquid contains solids in it that essentially clot up on any holes that might show up in the tube. You can buy Slime by itself or buy tubes pre-filled with it. They also have a heavy duty tube that comes with thicker walls for even more protection.

Image courtesy: Bosch

The reason tube protection is so important for eBikes compared to normal bikes is that it’s likely that you’ll be traveling longer distances and traveling on commuting roads or paths. In my neck of the woods city here in Southern California, that translates to riding on the side of otherwise very busy streets on unkempt bike lanes. My tires inevitably end up eating all of the loose construction materials thrown out of vehicles and onto the side of the road. It’s not great. I wish it was better (and it may be in your area), but it has been a reality for me. Level up your protection by adding Slime to your tubes and by getting thicker tubes before you end up on the side of the road wondering what happened.

eBikes also tend to have rear wheels that are more complicated to take off, thanks to the drive motors and electronics that go with them. Protecting your tubes means less flat tires on the side of the road that you may or may not have the tools to repair in the field.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

Just like on a normal bike, tires are more susceptible to roadside debris when they are less inflated. Keep your tires filled up to the lesser of the tire’s max rating and the bike manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You’ll want to check this every couple of weeks to ensure they stay safe and give you the best riding experience.

Image courtesy: Pure Cycles

It may sound obvious, but just as it some time to build new routines around cars, rebuilding those routines around bikes will take some time. Don’t rush yourself, just take your time and be patient with yourself through the inevitable learning or (re-learning) process.

Spare Tube

Even if you’re prepared and have taken measures to protect your tubes, #FlatsHappen. It’s never a bad idea to carry a spare tube to avoid getting stranded miles from home without options. I tossed one of the stock tubes that came with the bike in my repair kit after replacing them with Slime-filled tires. It’s not the ideal long term solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Tube Patch Kit & Tire Irons

Doing a field replacement of a front tire can be done in the field, but depending on the eBike, that might not be an option for the rear (or driven) tire. For these, it’s best to bring a tire patch kit. A key part of any patch kit is the tire irons that help you pull the outer tire off in order to gain access to the tube itself.

Roadside repair. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Patch kits haven’t changed much in years and there are essentially two types. The first type of patch uses a vulcanizing fluid to marry up the rubber in the tube and the rubber from the patch. The second type of patch comes with integrated adhesive. Park Tools is a staple in the bicycle maintenance world and makes a great patch kit with integrated adhesive that keeps it simple while ensuring high quality.

Tire Pump

To fill up the tire after a tube replacement or patch, you’ll need a tire pump. Most portable pumps are tiny, but that means you’ll be pumping hundreds of times to fill up your big eBike tires. I opted for a larger full-sized pump from Zefal, but there are many options out there for pumps. Save yourself the headache of having to walk your bike back home by being prepared before heading out.

Gear Bag

With all this gear, it’s a good idea to find a permanent home for it on the bike. That can be a backpack, pannier, or a rack top bag. Find a solution that fits with your lifestyle and fill it with the eBike essentials.

There are endless options for bicycle configurations and eBikes take that to an entirely new level with more power, higher speeds, more range, and accommodations for riders of different levels of fitness. Do you have a must-have accessory that we missed? Let us know in the comments! 

Rayvolt Is Not-So-Secretly Plotting An eBike Revolution Powered By The Sun

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A former boat captain might not seem like the most likely person to start the next big electric mobility company, but sometimes, it is just that kind of outside the box thinking that creates the perfect storm.

Mat Rauzier launched his career designing watercraft for several companies before taking a left turn when a new adventure presented itself and found himself at the helm of a boat. As captain, he shuttled clients around the world on their adventures, exploring the wonders of the seven seas day after day. After several years on the water, he found that it was not actually the siren song of the sea that called to him, but rather, an innate desire to create, to explore, and to bring his own style of change to the world that was his true passion.

That desire boiled up inside of him and led him to a degree in nautical engineering, which provided the structure and the technical cred to frame up his ideas in the real world, but it was not boats he would ultimately be creating. Rather, his dissatisfaction for the status quo and the pollution created from the vehicles that moved him around in the world led him to build something new. What it was at the time was not clear, but after some tinkering in his workshop and with the advice of friends turned business partners, Rayvolt was born.

From the glossy pages of its catalogs and the beautiful pictures that adorn the Rayvolt website, it is not immediately clear what kind of company Rayvolt is. So when they invited* CleanTechnica out to their headquarters to meet the team and to see their new lineup of ebikes for 2019, we were excited to get a look behind the curtain at what it was that really made them tick. *Rayvolt paid for our travel to and from Barcelona for the meeting.

After winding through the twisted alleys of Barcelona, I cracked the door to their showroom that also served as the company headquarters and R&D facility, and caught my first glimpse of what they stood for. A lineup of beautifully crafted electric bikes stood in a row to the right in what was clearly the showroom, but it was clear that it required an intentional effort to keep the handful of bikes polished up and pretty amidst the fray that lay beyond. A closer inspection revealed that two of those bikes were actually partially assembled prototypes that I later found were actively being developed for a huge new deal for a local bike-sharing company (more on that later).

Rayvolt’s Barcelona headquarters. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

As I looked up from the row of bikes that signaled that I was indeed at the right place, several desks full of smiling faces looked up to greet me. I caught a glimpse of CEO and founder of Rayvolt, Mathieu Rauzier, and Rayvolt co-founder and CTO Jaime Pla Vallve De Aviles, whom I had shared a lengthy Barcelona-style welcome dinner with the night before. Mat excitedly came over and welcomed me to the space before taking me on a tour of every nook and cranny of the facility.

The workspace was strewn with bolts, batteries, motors, and partially assembled (or disassembled) bikes. It felt comfortable and made a lot of sense to me, as I love tinkering with just about anything and everything to better understand how things work (or don’t) to try to make them work better, with varying degrees of success.

Mat introduced me to the diverse team of experts behind Rayvolt that handle sourcing, sales, engineering, and the more technical aspects of the business. They were enthusiastic and clearly felt at home in the space. In the days that followed, I saw each of them pushing their respective parts of the business forward in their own ways, whether it was tearing down and rebuilding the latest Rayvolt motor to integrate the another improvement or negotiating a change request with a parts supplier.

Detail on the Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We went down a set of stairs into the basement of the building they clearly outgrew months ago and entered into the workshop, and that’s when everything changed. Bike parts were laid out on and stacked up in every nook and cranny of the workshop like docked boats in a harbor. Each bike clearly had its place, but the sheer volume of the barely organized chaos was imposing and I tread carefully, so as to not accidentally disturb the one bike that might be holding everything else in place. Mat looked back at me as we covered the last few steps and the glow on his face made it clear that this was his domain.

A row of early prototypes lined the wall on the right. To the back, a few older Rayvolt Cruisers were in the middle of being upgraded with some new tech. Mat reached around a corner and as if pulling a rabbit from his hat, whipped out a hybrid bike frame that he was working on as one of his pet projects. His passion for design, electric motors, batteries, quality, and technology overflowed out into room as if trying to paint his vision onto the empty frame as he spoke.

The workshop and Mat’s passion for combining classic bicycle and motorcycle lines with the best electrification technology available to create the ebikes that will pull new riders into a new take on an old school mode of getting around. The challenge was clear: what is the best way to harness the firehose that is Mat’s passion for ebikes each and every single day and shape it into beautiful ebikes for customers.

Mat and his team of creators, of doers, of engineers, have built up a line of ebikes that continue to improve with each generation. On our first night in town, Mat shared that Rayvolt had initially struggled to bring its vision for technology-powered classic bikes into reality as they met with supplier after supplier in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Their volumes were too low for any suppliers to be willing to make the changes Mat and his team wanted, but after many long weeks in China and a lot of pushing from his Chinese-born wife and now Chief Operating Officer Ying Zhang, they found a handful of suppliers to work with.

These new suppliers were willing to customize parts to Rayvolt’s specifications and to the high quality standards they needed. Strong relationships forged through long days spent not just at the factory, but out on the factory floor with suppliers followed by drink-sodden business dinners, stretched out from days into weeks of what could best be described as Undergrad Engineering school meets the Hangover.

Putting in the time to design and build their bikes from the ground up without compromise meant designing their own motors, instead of using the off-the-shelf motors that find their way onto many electric bikes around the world. Rayvolt’s motors are optimized for efficiency and power, and building them from the ground up allows them to be constantly improved with numerous small improvements. Mat shared how the next generation motors will move from rectangular to curved magnets to allow for a seamless ring of magnetic field versus a sub-optimized design.

Rayvolt has built up an impressive lineup of ebikes for its customers including its flagship bike, the Cruiser, which pays homage to the early days of motorcycles. The seat sits low on the long frame and pushes the pedals to the front of the frame. It’s a sight to be seen and as we toured Barcelona’s most famous sites on a pair of Rayvolt’s bikes, we felt like the talk of the town as numerous bystanders gawked at the unique ebikes.

Mat also showed us an early build of a bike cover that he is working on that uses a set of integrated solar cells to recharge the battery. The solution folds up neatly into a briefcase sized package for travel, then unfolds to cover and power the bike. Stay tuned for more about this as it develops, but we are excited at the prospect of riding more bikes, powering them with batteries, and recharging it all from the sun. Beautiful!

The Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Bike-friendly cities like Barcelona make electric bicycles an even more obvious alternative to gasoline vehicles and the injection of Rayvolt’s ebikes into an already bike-centric city like Barcelona is sure to fuel the flames even further. In addition to Rayvolt’s impressive lineup of ebikes, the company has a number of irons in the fire, so stay tuned here on CleanTechnica for the news as it breaks.

We worked with Mat and the team on a special win-win deal for CleanTechnica and our readers. If you buy a bike using our link and our affiliate code KEEPSAFECT, Rayvolt will give you a free classic helmet with purchase of one of their ebikes. On our end, Rayvolt kicks down a few bucks to CleanTechnica through their affiliate program to help us keep the lights on. To get the deal, you do need to use our referral link to complete your purchase, then drop the coupon code ‘keepsafect’ in when you’re ready to checkout. The best part is that doing this costs you absolutely nothing extra and supports CleanTechnica at the same time.