We’ve now had a bit more time to play with Trish’s new Gitane Organ e-bike. This isn’t going to be a review – that will come but we’ll need far more experience with the bike first. This post is more in the way of first impressions.
And what’s the first thing you do with a new bike? Why, pimp it out just the way you like it, of course.
So far our changes have been small. The bike came fitted with an Axa circular lock. During the long wait for our bikes, we’ve busied ourselves with shopping – as you do. And we’d already bought Axa locks, the Defender model, which seem slightly superior to the one fitted to the bike – chunkier, with a more positive return spring and in bright colours, rather than black, which means they scream out ‘this bike is locked’ from a distance. Also, the more colour on the bike the better, as far as I’m concerned. So, five minutes work with an Allen key had that sorted. Mind you, if you don’t care about the colour, the lock that comes with the bike is more than adequate.
I also mounted a bottle carrier. This involved using straps because the Gitane Organ has no mount points. It might need to be moved, too, because it’s perilously close to Trish’s delicate regions when she comes off the saddle when stopping the bike.
We fitted a mirror, the Busch und Muller CycleStar 80. This is described on Dutch Bike Bits as “especially designed for e-bikes”. Gallingly, the description goes on to say, “taking into account that these are often ridden by older people who require a larger mirror”. So, it’s official. We’re half-blind old geezers. Never mind: it’s an extremely well-built bit of kit that fits perfectly into the end of the handlebars.
After the above picture was taken, we replaced the pedals with grippier mountain bike types – €15 from the local bike store. The ones supplied are hard plastic and Trish’s training shoes had a habit of slipping. We’re not going to be going for any form of cleat or clipless.
That’s it so far for mods. I’m sure Trish will be adding a great deal more personalisation – and quite a lot more pink – over the coming weeks. But what about the bike itself?
The immediate impression is one of high quality, in every area except the cheap Chao Yang tyres. We’ll be replacing those with Schwalbe Marathons.
The control panel for the e-bike features has more options than I’d expected. In addition to battery state and the selected level of assist (0-3), you can also switch the front and rear lights on and off using the ‘+’ button. Holding down the ‘-‘ for more than two seconds propels the bike at 6kph without pedalling (although I suspect it’ll hit the battery hard). And you can opt for two modes of assist acceleration. In the default mode, the assist motor kicks in at the set level straight away. With the other setting, it accelerates more slowly and smoothly to the set level. I suspect we’ll keep the default setting for now, as we mainly want the assist for hills, and having all the power straight away isn’t a bad idea. Underneath the panel is a standard USB socket allowing you to use the bike’s main battery to power your smartphone, another light or whatever gizmo gives you pleasure.
As to the lights: the front light is the Axa Pico 30, an inexpensive 30-lux model with built-in reflector. It’s okay but I don’t think it’s going to be nearly enough light for dark country lanes. We’ve already bought additional lights and will be posting about those anon.
The rear light, cleverly, is built into the battery. The light itself is a strip of LEDs that wraps around to the sides, providing some conspicuity abeam of the bike. And it also has a large reflector. Neither light has a blink mode, which is fine.
Both lights run from the e-bike’s main battery. When the battery gets near to exhaustion, the bike’s electronics shut off the 36V assist function to avoid damage to the cells. However, you still get two hours’ worth of lighting. I simply can’t foresee a situation where we will have been cycling so much that the assist isn’t available but we still need to ride for more than two hours. So what this means is that we will always have at least these basic lights available.
The Kinetic ‘Confort’ saddle is adequate – I can’t be more enthusiastic about it than that. I foresee the word ‘Brooks’ in our future.
The rack is excellent, but because of having to accommodate the battery, it’s slightly wider than a normal rack. The bars along the side provide a solid clipping point for individual panniers. But Trish has a set of Red panniers that come as a joined pair, and when slung over the rack they stick out at a angle because the fabric that joins the two panniers isn’t quite wide enough. We can fettle it. But I think it’s probably safest to use individual panniers rather than the type that are joined together.
We’ll take about the ride – and the assist that effectively renders the whole world flat – in future posts. Because right now we have some riding to do…