Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are at the sole discretion of the writer and is in no part representative of Togoparts or other parties.

 

All Things Bicycle and Its E-Counterparts

Since time immemorial, most of us have known the traditional bicycle.

Traditionally, most of us have known the ordinary bicycle and owned one ourselves. That de facto mode of short-distance transport and exercise, or long distance round-the-sunny-island marathons. Of course, we would probably be familiar with our own bikes: the height of our seats, the smoothness or stiffness with which the gears and chain turn, the force we need to pedal and amount of brake force needed for turning a corner safely. One pictures a family outing out at Punggol Waterway on a fleet of – bicycles. The regular exercise an old man takes is his daily evening bike ride out on his old Wheeler mountain bike to catch the sunset along the waterway.

The wooden dandy horse draisine (around 1820), the first two-wheeler invented by German Baron Karl von Drais that became an archetype for later propelled velocipede.

On the one hand, traditional bikes represent artefacts from centuries bygone, constructed for getting around. They have endured through time, from the first human-propelled two-wheeler dandy horse aka draisine, created by the German Baron Karl von Drais in 1820 that became an archetype for the later front-propelled velocipede.

Watch this video on how the dandy horse was used. (LOL on braking)

 

 

After various transformations over the centuries, it was discovered that two equal-sized wheels was the best way to build a bicycle (more on this the next time).

 

 

The vintage bikes of 1950s are now not very much different from our modern “grocery bikes”.  Thanks to the advent of technology and the needs of various cyclists and terrains, we now have mountain bikes, road bikes, velodromes, fixies, and other bikes suited for marathons.

On the other hand, technology has taken over and transformed our very ideal of traditional: the electric bicycle (e-bike) was later introduced in the 2000s, followed by an assortment of Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) such as the e-scooter, the hoverboard and uni cycle. Equipped with electric motors, these have paralleled the demand for traditional bikes with their ease of use and travel efficiency.

From 14 August 2017 – responding to a spate of accidents caused by e-bikes – the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has made it mandatory for all electric bikes to be registered with a number plate. This is no different than owning the miniaturized version of a motorbike. Comparatively, the traditional bike is free of such formal restraints; a normal bike “just is” – you take it out for rides and store it in your house when not in use. Maintenance is easy and minimal; I personally use damp cloth and water on my Wheeler mountain bike on the cleanable parts. Spoilt or worn-out parts are easily changed by going down to the bike shop. A little grease for the chains at times to maintain smooth rides.

Because of electric bikes, the LTA has enforced a rule of 15km/h for approved PMDs on pavements, and 25km/h anywhere else. Normal bikes can go beyond 30km/h when pedaled hard. It is norm, however, for cyclists to keep to speeds of 15-20km/h on everyday street pavements and parks. The co-existence of these electric motor devices has thus raised the question of safety.

For instance, the Park Connector Networks, where one used to see only traditional bikes, are now shared spaces with these electric critters and their sometimes-errant rider. Mothers bringing children and old people taking jogs are sometimes made to duck out of the path when an e-scooter cuts by at high speed. Many riders are youngsters; some like to show off their antics by weaving in and out of people on the park lanes.

Comparatively, cyclists sharing the park spaces and street pavements are also made aware of giving way to e-scooters, and anything going faster than their conventional metal horses. I myself have been at the receiving end of the unfortunate brashness of young e-scooterists blasting a trail for themselves on the street pavements. Often, these young scooterists imbue their scooters and presences with loud music, and accelerate on clear stretches of the footpath, braking suddenly near midst of people. Because of this, and I myself being an advocate of all things vintage and retro, I have staunchly adhered to my choice for a traditional bike over electric things. Don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing inherently wrong with E-scooters or E-bikes. It’s how one uses them that makes it safe or dangerous to others.

Objectively speaking, the electric counterparts have their uses. Some office people have confessed the convenience of getting to office on their e-scooters. These kids-scooter-with-a-motor save much time and energy – all you need is to twist the throttle to go forward. They are also easily transportable; one can fold and carry his e-scooter on board a bus or train. Compared to bicycles, e-scooters are perhaps the most compact and portable, second only to hoverboards and unicycles.

LTA’s rules regarding the PMDs.

Unlike e-bikes which come with pedals, the e-scooter is devoid of almost everything traditional to a bicycle. Its functions are electric and energy efficient on the rider – he can reach office without the sweat of exertion pedaling a normal bike. LTA regulations have also set limits of 15km/h for the e-scooter on footpaths. It can however go up to 25km/h on cycling/shared/PCN paths.

The electric bicycle however, requires registration with LTA. This has become a sore point for buyers – they find it a hassle to sell their e-bikes afterward due to the paperwork needed for changing hands. Registration woes aside, the e-bike really is a cross between a normal bike and e-scooter. That additional motor adds power to your ride and you have the choice of pedaling whenever you want exercise while riding it.

The e-bike also shares most LTA-enforced rules with the e-scooter: 25km/h cap on cycling/shared/PCN paths. Unlike the e-scooter, e-bikes are banned from footpaths.

All these fancy terms aside, nothing beats the normal bicycle for me. One only truly understands and appreciates the sport of cycling if he owns a traditional bicycle. It can be a mountain bike or a road bike, or simply one for going to market with. That raw exertion of pedaling over a distance leaves your face red and breaths coming in spurts. Cycling has also strengthened my leg muscles over the years. For me, the Herculean experience of conquering the roads on a mountain bike triumphs over any other mode of transport hands down.

I am the proud owner of a Wheeler Pro 09 bike. Though basic and rather vintage, its 26 inch wheels are smooth to the roads and its Shimano brakes and shifters respond well to my touch. It is personally tuned for my height and riding needs. I have gone on round-the-island excursions with it, ridden to Tampines from Pasir Ris and back for my weekly riding exercise, and enjoyed group outings with cycling buddies. At times, we’d pass by a delinquent e-scooter going beyond our cruising speed. Far from cursing, we’d laugh it off, and base our humor on one fact: the e-scooterist does not have the exercise we get from manually pedaling our bikes. The view of Nature is also open to us, absorbed slowly and wondrously as we ride three abreast up to our necks in conversation with one another.

 

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed here are at the sole discretion of the writer and is in no part representative of Togoparts or other parties.

 

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