Sheldon going for a ride in a maxi taxi

My electric bicycle is pure genius. Good looking in a bit of a nerdy kind of way. A bit annoying at times. Can’t always count on him. But essentially of good character. That’s why I named him Sheldon.

I purchased Sheldon back in June 2011 from Electro Bikes after securing a new job and losing my company car after 6 years of free new car, free fuel, free maintenance, free rego, free insurance, free everything! I had a car park at work and therefore drove to work everyday without fail.

When I gave up my fancy job and fancy car to commence a fancier job with no carpark and no car, it was a strange time as many people in my life were trying to convince me to buy a car. I flatly knew a few things: a/ I would not be able to afford a car and b/ I was a Green Grrrl who was addicted to fuel which contradicted my value system and c/Now was the perfect time to test whether I could survive without a car on the mean (yet clean) streets of Brisbane. That was the theory. I was unsure if the practice would be quite so romantic.

As someone who loves driving, not having a car and instead choosing to buy an electric bicycle is the most ‘unme’ thing I’ve ever done. I was the type of driver who would take out a group of friends or a date, get them to pick a random place in the street directory and we would drive there. Just for fun. Nothing to do with getting from A-B. Gratuitous fun. And while I will miss it, buying the electric bicycle has been extraordinarily liberating. I love every minute of being on it.

Well, except when a yobbo intentionally blocks my path, sticks out his elbow and stands his ground in order to watch me career into a tree.

And except when my complimentary Queensland Rail bike locker lock breaks – three times.

And except when my chain falls off and I don’t have the tools handy to remove the chain protector.

The big bang is that having an electric bicycle is different than I anticipated, but way better than I ever imagined.

I have a Lancaster Galaxy Mk3. The reason I chose this one was because it had a ‘load limit’ that could support a big bootied grrrl like myself. However, speaking of bootie, it’s a great way to get fit because you can swap between cycling for pure commute and cycling for fitness. The former means I don’t have to shower when I get to work and the latter means I can kick it up a notch on the way home.

It doesn’t go up hills very well. Despite the whole notion of ‘electric’ and the sales pitch that it would be ‘easy to go up hills’, it actually still takes a lot of effort. However, it takes less effort than a normal bike. On a normal bike I would be rolling backwards on a hill. I’m sure I will get better as my thigh muscles build up. Anyway, the whole hill thing wouldn’t really worry me except that the steepest hill of the day is right on my doorstep which is far from a pleasant way to start the morning. Huff. Puff. Good morning heart!

One thing that’s a bit of a shit is that, when the e-bike is powered down or completely runs out of battery juice, I cannot peddle it manually up even the slightest incline. I consider this a major fault. The sales pitch was that, when powered down, it would ride like a normal bicycle but it’s not true at all. It is very heavy and has this strange ‘resistance’ feeling to it rendering it completely useless. I have to get off and push it. I literally cannot ride it up even the slightest incline. Given most roads and pathways aren’t flat, I consider this to be a major problem and flaw. The fear of running out of power causes me untold anxiety. It’s really heavy to push and I hate the idea of accidentally getting stuck miles away from home or miles away from my destination. I have dodgy feet and ankles (which is another reason for owning a bicycle instead of simply walking everywhere). Not being able to ride it like a normal bicycle makes its versatility a bit sucky.

The TV Sheldon’s not flexible either. Can’t be too tough on the poor darling. Either that or it’s my way of rationalising spending $1600 on a vehicle that purports to be a normal bicycle when powered down, but isn’t.

But I suppose cars don’t go anywhere when they run out of fuel. Same diff right?

And yet I still love him.

For the last 6 weeks a friend leant me her partner’s car. It’s been handy having their car as it meant I was able to get the most out of my long days of work/study/work/study/flu/cough/work/study not to mention the fact that my Qld Rail bike locker was stuffed on and off for weeks. But it was nice to wave car goodbye tonight so I can get back on the e-bike tomorrow with new lock and health all sorted – and Masters thesis complete. I can now again cope with anything Sheldon throws at me!

Every day Sheldon and I experience a grand new adventure together.

This blog’s about that.

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