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Tag : Motostrano

08 May 2017

Why I love my ebike

UPDATE October 23 2017

Four flats in 1200 miles….is that normal? Well I found that the OEM tires that came on my Haibike Sduro Fullnine RC were light, but fragile. Schwalbe Racing Ralph Performance, 29 x 2.25 pinched the inner tube like nobody’s business. Granted I am far from a hard core MTBer, but since I raced motocross for many years I love to bomb downhill when the need arises. It seems that that’s when it happens, a flat. Front, rear it doesn’t seem to matter. So I switched to Maxxis Tread Lite Dual Compound EXO Tubeless Ready 29er’s. Much more robust sidewalls and the tread pattern is more suited to the type of riding I normally do. Hard pack dirt covered by gravel, pavement and some sand. The Tread Lites are not full blown MTB tires, but then again I’m not hard core MTBer. I believe in using the right tool for the job at hand. I laughed when I raced a Honda RC51 because I used Dunlop slicks and when talking to street riders they wanted to know why I would not run slicks on the street. Enough said….. 

I continued to run tubes in my Maxxis tires and guess what? More flats. So I switched to tubeless by converting my OEM rims to tubeless ready using:

The aforementioned Maxxis Tread Lite tubeless ready tires

Stan’s tire sealant

Stan’s Presta tubeless tire valves

Stan’s tubeless rim tape

Not including the tires the conversion is about fifty bucks. I still carry a tube in case I get a flat out on the trail, but being able to run much lower air pressure when needed and only worrying about large cuts in my tires is much better. How hard is the conversion? Easy!

UPDATE: September 29 2017

On December 23 2016 I purchased my Haibike Fullnine RC from Motostrano in Redwood City and took delivery seven days later. With 1100 miles on my bike I can safely say that it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made in my life. That includes umpteen motorcycles, handguns, knives, cameras, etc. What makes it so different is that whenever I ride I feel like a 12 year old kid who is getting away with something for free! No matter how foul a mood I’m in or how tired I may feel, once I get on “Sofia” and begin my ride I forget about all of the shit that put me in a bad mood. It’s the same feeling I use to get when I would smoke. I’d go outside by myself and literally “Zen Out” while I smoked. I’d have some of my best ideas about photographic concepts while smoking. Giving up smoking literally paid for Sofia after ten months! I don’t have a regular commute and I live in an area where I only have to ride 1/2 mile to get to the wonderful Bay Trail. Yeah I’m a lucky SOB, but I’ll tell you, it’s literally changed how I look at life now. Go figure!

My daily ride.

One of the piers on the way to my favorite donut shop! LOL Seriously I ride to the donut shop!

UPDATE: 5-24-17

It’s hard to describe the pleasure I get from riding and exploring my area.

UPDATE 5-21-17

I ride my Haibike Sduro Fullnine RC almost every day. I don’t have a ‘daily commute’ so I ride for pleasure or for errands. That includes fire roads with steep hills, paved paths and street riding to do errands. Sometimes I need navigation to assist me so I use Google Maps which has a bicycle feature which takes me on routes I’ve never done in a car. Well Duh Mark of course since I’m on a bike. I searched long and hard for just the ‘right’ mounting unit for my cell phone (a Galaxy S7 Edge) to mount to my bike’s handlebar stem. You see I want my unit in the landscape position and most of the cell phone mounting solutions are for your handlebar and in the vertical position. I’m not using my phone for anything other than navigation on my bike. Here’s what I found is the best for my needs, a Sahara Sailor Phone Bike Mount. It fits perfectly on a head stem and holds a phone very securely. I highly recommend this unit.

The mounting band and prefabricated curve is perfect for a head stem.

The unit mounted on the stem of my Haibike where I’ve installed a 90mm head stem.

My Galaxy S7 Edge is held perfectly in the Sahara unit.

Original Article

I never mean to be an early adopter, but tend to be so with new strobes. Lighting is developing much more rapidly than cameras or lenses. But this is about a new passion of mine, riding my ebike, a Haibike Sduro Fullnine RC. Ebikes are new to the US and relatively unknown, yet are popular in Europe where using any type of bicycle for transportation is mainstream. I began my interest two years ago when I noticed a Kickstarter campaign for an eMTB called the Flx bike. At 1399.00 USD it was ‘affordable’ enough to interest me, yet since I had been burned by two crowd funding campaigns I was not excited enough to commit 1400 bucks with the chance I would not get shit. You should know that they have delivered on their product and many of their owners are thrilled with the product.

Mother’s Day Ride 2017

In the Fall of 2016 I was vacationing in one of my favorite locations, Avila Beach, CA. Across from my hotel is Pedego Avila Beach  which is an electric bike dealership. Upon entering the store Glenn, the owner asked if I had ever ridden an ebike. When I replied “No” he said “Well we’re gonna change all of that..” and immediately put me on a Haibike hard tail mountain bike. Just outside of his storefront are two hills just like those in San Francisco. As soon as I began peddling up the hills I WAS SOLD. A mid drive, centrally mounted battery made the Haibike feel just like a normal bike, but with power that made me feel like Lance Armstrong with blood doping to the max! So I told myself that I would buy one right away.

Riding along the shoreline in Pismo Beach underneath the pier was a complete blast!

Upon returning home to the Bay Area I found a local dealer, Motostrano in Redwood City. So I purchased my bike from Joe at Motostrano since he was running a killer sale in December. In March of 2017 I had saved enough money by quitting smoking that it paid for my Haibike Fullnine RC!

Riding in the cypress grove of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve near Half Moon Bay was amazing. I’ve been there hundreds of times to photograph dancers and nudes, but it was like I rediscovered the area.

You can read all about ebikes online by searching along with all of the haters calling ebikes “Cheaters.” But just like all things such as ATM cards, snowboarding, digital cameras, chairlifts (yes there was a time when you had to WALK UP THE HILL to ski), ABS braking, etc. humans always resist what is ‘new’ and out of the ordinary. It’s really all about fear, fear of change fear of the unknown, fear of something new. So often it’s negative talk from those who feel they are the ‘purists’ like skiers who didn’t want to share the hill with new snowboarders, film photographers who felt and still feel digital photography lacks ‘soul’ or now mountain bikers who feel eMTBs are ‘cheaters’ and ‘bad for the trails.’ Hell I remember when Brownie Instamatic film cameras were shunned by ‘real photographers’ because the new little film cameras did everything for you including exposure! Hahahahaha. Fuck haters. They usually want to ‘keep’ their domain all to themselves and elite.

Crossing the Bay on the Dumbarton Bridge to go to the East Bay is amazing. And the park Coyote Hills has the most challenging hills I’ve descended and climbed to date. OMG what fun!

I love riding my ebike simply because it’s so much fun. I’ve raced motorcycles both on and off road all of my life. No my ebike does not have a throttle nor do I want it to have one. I have to pedal and I love that. So much so that I find excuses to ‘go somewhere’ or run an errand just to get on my ebike. Yes I’ve had a traditional mountain bike before, but rode it much less often than I do my eMTB.

If I wanted my ebike to have a throttle I’d go back to doing this, a REAL throttle. Turn 5 Laguna Seca.

I’ve given up trying to explain to people how it feels. In my crude manner I compare it to trying to explain to someone what a fantastic orgasm feels like. Go ahead; try to explain that, the FEELING of one. It’s the same about an ebike; the feeling is something that makes me smile every single time I ride. When I first got a digital camera off eBay I rediscovered the Bay Area by going to places with new eyes. On my ebike I ride to places I’ve been many times, but with a new outlook. I do Costco runs with my bike, I pack a dinner and go for a dinner ride with my girlfriend. I run errands like going to the bank, the hardware store, the donut shop on my ebike. It’s a complete joke and when my doctor asks “How often do you exercise?” and I have to remind myself that I do so every single day. I don’t think about riding 12-20 miles a day as exercise because like having a great orgasm it’s such a great feeling! (Not to worry, an orgasm is still better, but you get the point about having to feel something to KNOW)

It was at this very spot I encountered a man with his wife and son who asked me about my ebike. I encouraged him to ride it so he could FEEL how it feels to ride. His wife asked my girlfriend “Is there anything special here to see?” OMG if someone needs to ask something like that in scenery like this, they need to go home and watch some reality TV on their fucking iPad. Unbelievable.

Picking the right ebike is up to each individual. Renting one or several in your area or attending an ebike convention where you get to ride various models is the key. There are plenty of “Meet Ups” where people who love/own/are curious about ebikes gather just like photography meet ups. I’ve never been a ‘meet up’ kinda guy, but they are damn valuable for many people. I can simply say that I’ve never had anything in my life that is so much fun and enjoyable that I can do WHENEVER AND WHEREEVER I WANT TO DO SO. Not having to load my race bike on a truck or trailer, driving to the track, get fuel, etc. Sure those days were a complete blast, but the quiet joy of riding through neighborhoods, up in the hills, around town is so simple and sweet. One of the things I’ve missed about racing motorcycles is the ‘wrenching’ and although it’s on a MUCH more simple level with my ebike, it brings back some of that fun.

Packing lunch or dinner to ride around my house ain’t exercise! Even if we ride 16 miles before or after dinner.

A favorite spot to ride from my home in the evenings.

I don’t have a ‘commute’ per se since my job has odd hours and I often am on an airplane. But if I did have to commute and it was 10-20 miles each way I’d definitely use my ebike to go to and fro. Not showing up to work sweating because I’ve bucked a headwind or up hills to work is epic. More importantly, it’s just fun.

A damn great view reward after climbing the most challenging hill to date. Steep, long and full of gravel – a true trifecta! Pretty cool that we rode all the way from the land mass in the background of this photo. That’s the Peninsula area where we started.

The questions I’m most often asked:

  1. Do you have to plug it in? – Yes to recharge the battery
  2. How far will a full charge allow you to go? – It depends, on High, into high wind or up steep hills maybe 20-30 miles. In Eco mode on flat ground probably 70 miles
  3. Does peddling recharge the battery? – No
  4. Do you need a license? – No
  5. Does it have a throttle? – No, not this one, but some ebikes do have a throttle.
  6. How long does it take to charge? – I’ve never drained mine completely so I cannot say. When my battery has been down to 30% it has taken about 1.2 hours to fully recharge.
  7. Where is the engine? – It’s attached to the crank on this model.
  8. Can you recharge the bike on solar power? – No
  9. Does the bike come with a headlight and taillight? – No I installed those myself.

An idiot’s view of what happens when you lock your bike to enjoy lunch and then remember you didn’t bring the key!!!!


My favorite ebike retailers

23 Mar 2017

Supernova M99 Pure Review

UPDATE 10-23-17

Although this has little to do with the M99 Pure, I have another post about my ebike if you’re interested about my upgrades….

UPDATE: 5-21-17

I recently changed the mounting of my M99 Pure. Why? Well because I wanted to bring the headlight closer into the bike in the event of a crash. Also I wanted a longer stem to bring my riding position a bit more forward. So in searching online I found that none other than Supernova offers two stems that extend the reach of my arms to the handlebars but also offers an elegant mounting solution for the M99 headlights! The Promax 90 is the one I purchased. Installation is a snap and I could not be more pleased with the mounting solution for the M99 headlight as well.

Supernova Promax 90 for their M99 line of headlights

As you can see the Promax 90 stem allows mounting the M99 units directly to the stem keeping the light out of harm’s way should you (I) crash!

My prior mounting solution for the M99 unit places it much further away from the stem.

Side view of the Promax mounting solution.

Side view of my former mounting solution.

How I mount my cell phone to my bike’s handlebar stem.

UPDATE 4-18-17

Someone had asked me on a bike forum if I could compare the Supernova lights to others on the market. I thought a better comparison is how they compare to car headlights/taillights. So here is a side by side comparison made during dusk.

The Supernova M99 is using its daytime running LED lights since it’s not dark enough for it to switch automatically to the headlight mode. It gives you a good idea how it compares to a car’s headlight’s low beam.

This gives you an idea how bright the Supernova’s E3 2 tail light is compared to an automobile’s rear tail lights at dusk.

UPDATE 4-1-17

I wanted to update my post regarding Supernova products. After installing their M99 Pure on my Haibike Sduro Fullnine RC I decided to purchase one of their E3 Taillights. Since none of the US retailers had the blue color I opted to buy directly from Supernova in Germany. I was fully prepared to wait a while for shipping/customs/etc but to my pleasant amazement the items were delivered in four days from Germany to the Bay Area in California via UPS’s international service!

Supernova E3 2 Tail light in black.

I’m old school and like to work on things myself for two reasons. First there is a satisfaction I get installing or working on my gear and second I know the job will be done to my satisfaction. (most of the time…LOL) Like so many others I had chosen to purchase aftermarket battery powered lights for my bike, both the headlight and tail lights. Since my girlfriend’s Haibike Trekking came with a headlight and taillight installed so she could simply use the light keypad on the Sduro line I was envious. It was then I decided I was tired of recharging different lights on my ebike (with its own friggin battery!) and took the plunge. Installing the M99 Pure on my ebike was straightforward. But installing the tail light was different.

I had installed a Thule Pack and Pedal rack on the back of my eMTB so that I can carry different items. I had to fabricate a mount for the tail light and ascertain how to route the wires from the motor through the frame and then integrate it into the rack.

The top tube of the Sduro and the down tube at the head stem are solid with only two small holes between them. So fishing the wire from the top tube to the down tube was tricky and took some time. If you look closely you can see I routed the tail light wire on the left side of the bike into some chemical tubing to prevent the wire from fraying.

I routed the taillight wire up through the Pack and Pedal left brace. (Oh and the water bottle cage bosses were custom fabricated by moi using truss clamps and are NOT part of the Pack and Pedal rack.

My fabricated mounting bar for the Thule Pack and Pedal rack with my blue Supernova E3 2 tail light installed. I also purchased and installed their red reflector as well.

It’s really tough to tell from any photograph how bright a light is in real life. I can simply say that their tail light is bright and waterproof.

I also purchased directly from Supernova their Supernova SL Carbon Central Handlebarmount. It fits a Haibike Sduro handlebar perfectly keeping the M99 centered and securely mounted…typical German stuff! The white bit you see is some PVC tubing I used to shim the mounting bracket to the carbon tube. The bracket is designed to fit a 31.8mm shaft and the carbon tube is 26mm. Why buy their version? As you can see the aluminum mounting brackets are super thin so I could perfectly center the bracket between the head stem and display mounts.

Profile view of my mounting configuration.

Original Article on the M99 Pure

Supernova M99 Pure

Why is Mark posting an article about a flippin ‘ebike light’ when his site is about photography!!???? Well because life isn’t just about photography and after all this is my blog and I can write about whatever I want! LOL. In truth I tend to be an early adopter of ‘things’ having to do with light. Photographic strobes in particular and now ebike lights. I had researched ebikes for a year and a half before ever riding one. They intrigued me since I’ve raced motorcycles all of my life, first motocross and then closed course racetracks. But alas age caught up with me and rather than endangering the lives of my fellow racers I decided to hang up my leathers and knee sliders….sigh.

Once I actually rode an ebike at Pedego Avila Beach I was SOLD. And not the throttle kind but the power assisted pedal type. (you must pedal) I ended up purchasing my bike locally at Motostrano in Redwood City, CA. Joe, the owner along with his primary mechanic Luis are good fellas. Of course after getting my bike I wanted to add some things like a rear rack for a full suspension bike (not easy) and some lights since I like to ride off road at night. (and on the street too)

Apparently there are two schools of thought on lights for bikes; those who use a light primarily to be seen and those who use lights to SEE at night. I am from the latter school although I also want to be seen too. For a headlight several items were MUST haves for me:

  • The ability of the headlight to use my ebike’s battery as its source of power. I didn’t want to have to charge another light for my bike
  • Being able to use the light button on the Sduro’s existing control pad to turn the light on and off
  • The ability to bolt the light onto my bike rather than having a rubber or silicon band holding the unit to the handlebars
  • Most important, a wide and bright beam pattern of light. Not a pinpoint light.

Supernova includes wire clips to install the unit but I have always preferred to solder my connects and then shrink wrap the wires. Sano!

It’s necessary to drop the motor to install the wiring into the OEM harness, but it’s no big deal to do so. The most difficult part is arranging the wiring harnesses back so that the engine will pivot back up to clear the engine bolts.

This is the Sduro 4 button controller. As you can see the upper right button controls the light you install into the main harness system. I installed the M99 Pure to take advantage of this OEM button.

Searching online through Amazon and other sources produced a wide selection of bike lights. Some 1600 lumen, but all of those used an external battery pack. Some had separate diffusion lenses to spread the light. What I found that matched my needs/wants was the Supernova M99 line of lights built in Germany specifically for ebikes. Being light greedy I first purchased a M99 Pro from Joe which puts out 1600 lumens using its high beam. But I failed to read the fine print to determine the voltage the Sduro line of bikes output for lights from the built in wiring. The Pro must have 24v minimum to work. I called Yamaha America to find out what voltage their Sduro line of bikes output is and they didn’t even know Yamaha USA has a electric bike motor! Since Haibike is produced in Germany but USES Yamaha motors (along with Bosch) Yamaha USA has no information. So I ran my own voltage test on the Sduro’s light line output controlled by the built in switch; the output is 6v DC. So I exchanged the Pro version of the M99 for the Pure version which is rated at 6v. (BTW Supernova responded to me that none of the current Sduro line will work with the M99 Pro)

Daytime running lights. You don’t need to run lights at all. Just don’t press the light button on the keypad.

The Supernova M99 Pure works FLAWLESSLY on my Haibike Sduro! The light pattern is just what I wanted, bright and wide much like my former street motorcycles on low beam. The correct way to mount to unit is parallel to the ground since Supernova’s design points the main beam of light downward as to not blind oncoming viewers. It automatically changes from daytime running lights (ala Audi’s LED running lights) to regular headlight when going through a tunnel or when it becomes dark. If you’re worried that the headlight doesn’t activate until it’s too dark, not to worry, it’s engineered to come on well before it gets too dark. I’ve only had it installed for two days and the power drain on my battery is null. And the best part is the illumination and beam pattern. Nice and wide.

A moonless sky on the bike path where I live. Wonderful light pattern and illumination.

Aiming the angle of light on my garage door to match a car’s low beam angle.

I write this because ebikes are relatively rare in the USA right now and reviews of the Supernova line are even more scarce. And yes they’re expensive…..but that’s OK for a headlight that ticks all of my requirements.