Velocity Steps E8000 electric assist

Tuesday 30 October 2018, Filed in: General

Our Orbit electric assist tandems are flying out, tempted to try one then read on ....

Why do people ride electric assist tandems?

As people age they tend to adapt to the ageing process without often being aware that they have changed their habits. Many of our older customers start to go on shorter and less hilly cycle rides. Instead of riding on the beautiful quiet back roads, they use a busier main route instead because it’s easier. With an electric assist tandem it isn’t necessary to avoid the hills, in fact you’ll find yourselves seeking out hilly routes because the electric assist makes climbing so much fun.

You don’t need to be getting on in years to ride an electric assist tandem either. If you have cycled in Europe recently you’ll have noticed how trendy electric cycles have become, and young people use them just as much as the older generation. They are great for cyclists with a disability or those rehabilitating from an injury too.

What’s it like riding an electric assist tandem?

Incredibly natural is the most common adjective used to describe how the experience of riding a tandem with a mid-drive engine feels. And it is very confidence inspiring, it removes the doubt as to whether you are fit enough for a specific ride or if you are concerned the route is too long. The grin on our customers faces when they return from their first test ride says it all.

How do mid-drive electric systems work?

The motor is located in one of the bottom brackets, it has a specific shell which is needed to house the motor. The motor then drives a chain ring which is attached to the cranks. The system we use has the Shimano E8000 electric assist motor located at the front.

There are three different power settings available, a lower setting called Eco, a medium setting which the Shimano system we use calls Trail and the highest amount of assistance available which is called Boost. Most tandem couples use the Eco mode for the vast majority of the ride, only selecting Trail or Boost for very steep climbs.

You have to be pedalling to operate the electric assist, as it operates through your gears. If you freewheel the system will not provide any assistance. These systems work at their best when you select low gears on the hills, and that is because the lower the gear and the faster you pedal the faster the motor turns. And motors are at their most efficient when rotating quickly, so selecting low gears on the hills will give you the greatest performance from the electric assist.

What is the range of the 504 Wh battery?

That depends upon several factors.
• How hilly the terrain is
• The level of electric assistance you select
• The weight of the two riders
• How windy it is
• How much drag there is from your tyres

Used on Eco with the higher power settings selected only occasionally you might expect as much as 70 plus miles from one charge. Using the motor on maximum assist in a very hilly area the range might be as little as 30 miles or so.

The system is clever though, the display unit will show what mileage you have left in the battery at any moment in time, and it adjusts to the type of riding you are doing. So if you set off on a gentle route using Eco and the wind is behind you it will give you a run time based upon that, but if you then hit the hills and turn up the assist level it will adjust again. And if you don’t use the electric assist at any time there’s no resistance from the motor.

People ask how long the battery itself will last, and Shimano say you would expect no deterioration in it’s performance for at least 1,000 charges, so that’s a lot of rides.

How do you decide if an electric assist tandem is for you?

Come and have a test ride, I think you’ll be impressed. We build all of our electric assist Orbit tandems with the amazing Shimano Steps E8000 system, which has an impressive 70Nm of torque, the motor provides 250 watts of power, the highest amount of output you can legally use on the road.

Each tandem is assembled from the frame upwards so we can build it to suit your exact requirements, a drop handlebar option for the front and rear riders is available too.

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