I used to cycle quite a lot, but a dodgy knee meant my old 10-speed stayed unused for 20 years, and I used my car to go to work. Then I saw more cycling infrastructure going in, and started checking maps and working out how much of my trip would be on the road compared to cycle lanes, shared paths or cycle ways. It turned out to be more than I had thought, and I started to seriously think about e-bikes.
In Jun 2015 I purchased my Volto. I see so many good reasons to get around by cycle, including the environment, my health and fitness, and the cost savings. I live in Titirangi and work in the CBD – a return trip of 40 km, and a trip takes a little less than 50 min. That’s about the same as a car at rush hour, though one advantage is that it is very consistent regardless of when I leave. With the car it is far more variable – leaving 10 mins late may add 15 minutes to a trip. Out my way there are major sewerage upgrades happening that having been causing traffic chaos for months, but I just cycle past km’s of cars and am unaffected.
To date I have done 34,000km and still feel that it is a new bike with a lot of km left in it.
I knew that I needed to do more exercise. My IT job means I am sitting in front of a computer far too much to be healthy. I was in my 50’s and my blood pressure and cholesterol were high. I’d tried running after work but just hated it. The bike seemed to be something that I could do, and I really enjoy it. Along with a better diet I now have good blood pressure and cholesterol. But perhaps what I didn’t expect was that I’d also feel a lot happier, and would (for some strange reason) feel a lot more connected to the city and my surroundings. I think there’s a big difference between being in a car, and being out in the elements, the environment, and having much more eye-to-eye contact with people.
I decided that I would cycle regardless of the weather. It rains a lot in Auckland. But what I notice is that while there are lots of showery days, there are not many days where there are long periods of rain. If the weather appears unsettled I always check out Metservice Rain Radar to see what is coming up. I often find I can miss the worst by leaving a little early or a little late. But even if I do get wet, I just tell myself that it is only water, and I’ll dry out.
Safety on the roads
I’m lucky there a fair amount of my trip is on a cycle way, shared path, or at least there is a painted bike strip on the road. These all help, but I still don’t mind admitting that cyclists need to be so alert and there’s a desperate need to separate the various transport modes for everyone’s safety. 99.9% of people in cars are great. There’s a small group of people who come too close, are on their phones, pull out without looking properly or open their car doors without checking. There’s a desperate need to separate the various transport modes for everyone’s sake, but in the meantime I do what I can to keep myself safe: stay alert, never assume people have seen me and wear high vis gear. I also think it’s important to be friendly, smile and nod to acknowledge the people who do give way – these small things that build better relations between those that share the road.
Maintenance and issues
I have been really pleased with the bike and how it is lasting. I once came across another Volto user who wasn’t impressed with his – but I found out that he wasn’t doing any maintenance on his bike, and his issues were clearly related to that. I adjust brakes, replace brake pads as necessary, check cables and have replaced a few, check my tyre pressure. I’ve replaced the chain four times. I haven’t had any issues with the motor or electronics on my bike. I’m onto my second battery, which still seems like new.