Viking E-Bikes, Vol. 3: The Good & The Bad

eprodigy-bikeI confess, thanks to holiday interruptions, snow, and general laziness, it’s been several weeks of not riding my Viking E-Bike.

(As the title of this post suggests, this is the third installment in my continuing series on my experiences with this loaner electric assist bicycle.)

BUT…this week I’ve been back in the saddle, despite freezing temperatures, and I have some Goods & Bads to report:

The Good

  • There’s simply no way, at least in my current state of fitness, that I’d be able to do my 5-mile each way commute without the power assist.
  • I am still getting a workout, since I’m only using just enough power assist to make the hills manageable. And, with research suggesting that riders of e-bikes, on average, may get as much exercise as riders of conventional bikes — because they ride more often and for longer distances — I’m excited about getting in better shape!
  • The upright riding position of the eProdigy Jasper is incredibly comfortable! After riding a hybrid bike with mountain bike geometry for 20+ years, I can’t believe I went so long just tolerating how uncomfortable and fatiguing the hunched over riding position was.
  • The suspension — Suntour front fork combined with seat post suspension — does a nice job of smoothing out the ride, especially welcome as some of the road shoulder along my commute route is bumpy and pothole-ridden.
  • The factory installed front headlight provides excellent visibility; critical given that the time of year has me riding to and from work in the dark. That it’s powered by the bike motor’s battery and there’s no need to change AAs or AAAs or whatever all the time is a big plus.
  • Though I haven’t braved the rain yet (forecast says this ends on my commute home this Friday), I can already tell that the full front and rear fenders will be great to have. Additionally, this bike has unusual side fenders that I’ve never seen before, two plastic panels on either side of the rear wheel, and I’ll be interested to see how they contribute to rain protection.
  • The throttle is a nice feature. With the bike as ridiculously heavy as it is (see below), if you’re at a stop, in traffic, it can be a lifesaver, to get you off the line and out of the way of cars, trucks, and buses, especially on hills.

The Bad

  • As mentioned in my last Viking E-Bikes post, the eProdigy Jasper is WAY, WAY too heavy for my taste. Pushing the thing around is ridiculously clumsy and laborious, riding it on the flats feels like the brakes are engaged, it feels like I’m riding a motorcycle, or at least a scooter. It gives the bike, despite the motor, an incredibly sluggish feeling, but worse, from a safety perspective, it feels like it would be very difficult to maneuver in a crisis moment that demands a quick, agile, response.
  • No factory installed rear light seems odd, given the front light is included. (Luckily the Viking E-Bikes program outfitted their bikes with well-made third party rear lights.)
  • The experience of shifting gears and adjusting the power assist level feels like it’s not engineered well. While I’ve not ridden other electric bikes, I HAVE read a lot of reviews, and smooth shifting and level adjusting is a primary desire, and while the eProdigy Jasper got good marks for this when it was reviewed, I find the process choppy and annoying. This could possibly be the fault of the shop — where these bikes are tuned up quarterly — not having adjusted the gears correctly.
  • Several other shop-related and no fault of the manufacturer problems: 1. The rear wheel is WAY out of true and wobbly, not fun or safe on icy roads or in the rain, and so the bike is headed back to shop today for this and the other issues; 2. The brakes are spongy, and are either not adjusted correctly or the pads need replacing; 3. There is a clicking sound coming from the front wheel, could be a loose spoke; 4. The chain guard is broken and the chain is rubbing on it when in the lowest gears.
  • The LCD display is annoying and I don’t like it. Unlike many e-bike riders who LOVE all technology (some bikes come with an app with which you can communicate with the bike using your smartphone), when I’m on a bicycle I don’t want the IT in my face. For the duration of my ride I do not need to know the time, the temperature, the speed at which I’m traveling, the number of miles I’ve ridden, etc. The battery level is useful, but redundant, since there is a battery level indicator on the battery itself, and one learns very quickly just how much they can ride between charges. Finally, the display on my bike obviously needs recalibrating, as the time and speedometer are incorrect, and I just can’t be bothered to figure out how to do that.
  • It would be great if the bike came with something to help you hold things on the rear rack. Oh, it can accommodate panniers, but sometimes you just want to go for a spin without all the luggage. A simple built-in bungee device, like I’ve seen on other rear racks would be very functional.

The Somewhere In Between

  • The step-through frame takes some getting used to: my conditioning as a male has me stupidly feeling emasculated, but I can’t shake it. Hopefully that will fade. Also, I just simply forget and swing my leg up and over for no good reason.

So, there it is, the initial assessment.

I’ll be generating more observations over the next 10 weeks I’ll be riding, and I’ll include in my last post in this series an updated Goods & Bads list, comparing the before and after.

Until next time…!

 

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