Early Adopter Stories: Tom

In our continued series featuring real customers and their experiences with Electron Wheel, it’s a privilege to introduce you Tom, one of our early adopters from Seattle. Tom is a retired engineer and owns a 700c Electron Wheel. We asked him a few questions about his experience with Electron so far.

Thanks for talking with us today! Can you share a little about yourself?

I am a retired engineer. I live and bike in Seattle, Washington, a very bike friendly city, but a very hilly one as well. I’m 67 years old and bought my first, used, 10 speed bike, a Schwinn Varsity, when I was a student at the University of Cincinnati back in 1971. Bikes were discouraged on campus at that time. In fact, it was forbidden to ride a bike on campus back then because bikes “interfered with cars on the streets and people on the sidewalks.” I ignored the rules and persevered. I’ve been biking ever since.

You’re one of Electron Wheel’s early adopters. How did you hear about us? What about the wheel caught your attention?

I first got familiar with the Electron Wheel while researching all the bike assist options available a year and a half ago. There was only the smaller size option at that time and I needed a 700c size to fit on my bike. I decided to get a bike “kit” because most of the full electric bikes were too heavy and too expensive for me. There were a lot of products out there, some of which were “vapor-ware” at that time. I was impressed with the review that Court Rye did on the Electron Wheel at Electric Bike Review and when I looked at your web site I noticed that you were getting ready to ship the new 700c model. What I liked about the Electron Wheel was that it was a “pedal assist” device. I did not want a throttle because I wanted to contribute to the propulsion. Since it was on the front wheel, I could easily change it back to my regular wheel for long, level rides. It was also very reasonably priced. Though the 700c Wheel was not yet shipping, I decided to order it last May hoping to get it for this summer’s biking season.

Can you describe your riding experience before the Electron Wheel?

I only bike for pleasure. I’m not a commuter or a competitive cycler. My longest ride was 100 mikes and a normal ride for me is 15 to 25 miles. I live at the top of a long steep hill that rises about 300 feet. As I have gotten older, riding up that hill to my house, after a long ride, was getting less and less fun. So, I decided to see if I could supplement my riding with an electric assist to help me back up that hill to my home.

Has the wheel helped improve your riding? How?

I found that I was riding less often because I dreaded climbing that big hill to my house. Now, with the Electron Wheel, I fear no hill. It has encouraged me to ride more often because I now have a little help up that hill. I mostly ride on bike trails that are fairly level where the assist is not needed. I keep it turned off until I approach a hill and then switch it on for help up the hill. At first I was concerned that the extra 10 bounds that the Electron Wheel added to my bike was going to be a burden to carry around. However, I was surprised to discover that the added weight doesn’t matter at all. And, interestingly, the weight of the Electron Wheel acts like a kind of gyroscope, making my bike a little more stable while I ride.

Do you notice the wheel helping you up hills?

As I mentioned above, I bought it specifically for helping me climb up a long hill to my house at the end of a bike ride. I find it also very helpful when I’m out riding on streets and encounter a hill. It takes me up steep hills while I exert about the same energy as riding on level ground.

Have you ever ridden another e-bike? How does Electron Wheel compare to other systems on the market?

I have tried out all kinds of electric bikes during my search for one. Many of them have throttles, which I don’t like. I prefer the Electron Wheel specifically because it just “helps” me up hills. I can still get my exercise on the bike while getting a little assist up the hills when I want it. This system works really well for me.

Is installing the wheel a simple process? How long did it take to get used to riding with the wheel?

I was very impressed with how easy the wheel was to install. I watched the video online before I received my Wheel and was prepared for the installation when it arrived. It couldn’t have been any easier. It’s only a little more fuss than just changing out the front wheel with the quick release. It only took a few minutes to get the hang of riding with the Electron Wheel. It was a rush when I felt the assist kick in for the first time, WOW! I have let many of my friends try it out and they were all very impressed as well.

Can you describe the type of bike you ride Electron with, and your typical ride?

My normal touring bike is a hybrid 700c Marin Larkspur. I’ve had it for about 8 years. The front wheel has a quick-release hub and the Electron Wheel fits perfectly in its place. I typically ride from my house over the neighborhood roads to one of several bike trails in Seattle. A typical ride is 15 to 20 miles with a lunch or dinner stop in the middle. I ride with the wheel turned off in the beginning (partly down hill) and only switch it on when I come to a hill or if I get tired on the way back home.

Thanks for telling us about your experience! Is there anything else you hope to see out of Electron Wheel looking into the future? Upgrades to the app or wheel’s functionality?

Yes, thanks for asking about this. As I mentioned above I don’t ride with the wheel turned on all the time. I only use it when going up hills or when I am very tired at the end of a long ride. To that end turning the Electron Wheel on and off from the app would be very helpful. Currently I must stop, dismount and then press the on/off switch on the Wheel. This is inconvenient. Being able to turn it on and off from the app would be much better.

Also, when the Electron Wheel is on and giving me assist, it always wants me to ride faster than I like. Even in the “low” assist mode. This is the main reason I keep the Wheel turned off when just cruising. For me it would be very helpful if I could set a maximum speed in the app, above which the assist diminishes or shuts off. That way I could set the speed to 12 MPH and then keep peddling continuously while I cruise on level ground.

I don’t know if these upgrades would be possible on an existing Electron Wheel, but I would be very pleased if I could upgrade my wheel with these new options.

Thanks Tom!