The eBig Tour …

The blame or the credit has to be sheeted home to friends John and Carole. They are both older and fitter than we are, how annoying. Gayle observed the difference in circumference between John and I and declared a war on my waist.

They keep trim by cycling and keep flexible with yoga. Cycling OK. Yoga is for yuppies. John extolled the ebike for a someone making a comeback. I negotiated a good price for two ebikes but Gayle chickened out and picked up a second hand ladies mountain bike of conventional propulsion.

I picked up my Merida eBig Tour on the first of December 2019 and off we went.

It has three levels of assistance from a Shimano motor cunningly concealed in the crankcase. Shimano terminology for them is eco, trail and boost. They are selectable via a control that falls under the left hand. The right hand controls the derailleur gears. Both hands have a disc brake to manage.

Eco provides a pleasant tailwind effect and the battery may be good for 120 km or so. I’ve never got that far. Trail provides more assistance but the range drops. Boost will leave a Ferrari for dead or at least make climbing hills easy. Take care the first time you select it.

There is a fourth option which is to have the computer on but the motor off. I really like the computer which provides your speed and average speed, elapsed time, distance traveled, cadence, odometer or range. You can review them all after the ride. Bloody luxury.

Now surely this is cheating. How are you going to get fit if a motor does the work?

The first thing to note is that if you don’t pedal it doesn’t go. There is no throttle. What happens is that your effort on the crank is measured and the motor adds some extra. You can work as hard as you like. Under Australian law the motor must cut out at 25 kph any way.

Riding the ebike is just like riding any other bike. The big difference is that you became a Tour de France quality rider overnight. It’s huge fun.

The eBig Tour is essentially a trekking bike. It has big fat tyres suggesting that it will do well in the gravel of our local roads and it can be ridden on fairly technical terrain. There is no suspension at the rear (a Hard Tail in Mountain Bike jargon) but the front forks compress and provide some relief on the corrugations. Reviews I’ve read generally find the forks adequate but they’ve not been tested on the roads round here. The ride can be uncomfortably hard at times.

After two months I’d done about 700 km mainly on gravel roads and forest tracks. I spent one afternoon climbing a little hill called Mount Hooghly and bombing down the other side. Boost got a work out on the climbs, I survived the descents.

The main problem was the disparity in riding speed between Gayle on her 24 inch conventional bike and my turbocharged eMTB. In order to get a good workout I did most of my riding with the motor off which gave me a good idea …

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