Am I The Bike Tester From Hell…

…or am I just accidentally really good at it?

Kenda Kraze Tire
The 3" wide Kenda Kraze tire on the A2B Metro

Yesterday I said the A2B Metro was “a solidly-built e-bike.”

Only about 30 minutes after clicking the “publish” button on that post, I was picking myself off the street, and screaming obscenities.

I slid out coming around a downhill corner with a layer of cinders spread all over the road.

(Where you live, you may get sand or salt spread on the road after a snowstorm. Where I live, we get cinders from our local volcanoes.)

The bike is fine. It has a couple of scratches, that’s all. It passed the wipe-out test.

My left knee, however, did not pass the wipe-out test. I’m writing this from a hospital room. Seriously.

I take responsibility for the wipe out. I could have been going more slowly. I could have taken into account the cinders that remained on the road after the snow and ice had melted away. Those wide tires on the Metro were probably at least as good as any other tires would have been under the circumstances.

But this is the second time in less than a month that I’ve wiped out a demo bike.

The first time was at Urban Press Camp. In that incident, I was unscathed, but the bike suffered.

The event was held in DC at the House of Sweden–a building that looks like the lair of a James Bond villain, decorated by Ikea.

Please do not step on the floor...
...lest you fall through the trap door into a tank of man-eating Swedish fish.

Reps from Breezer and NuVinci were side by side hyping the Uptown Infinity, as “the ultimate commuter bike.” I was particularly interested in the Nuvinci N360 Twist Shifter which, between the highest and lowest gears, provides an infinite number of gear ratios.

Breezer Uptown Infiinity
Breezer Uptown Infiinity in its pristine state

I took off along the Rock Creek Park Trail (past the Schwinn Speedster) wanting to find anything resembling a hill so I could test this novel shifting system. I decided I’d find a variety of terrain if I did a loop around the Lincoln Memorial. A James Bond theme was playing in my head.

Something on my right caught my attention. A homeless person? A decomposing corpse? As I zoomed past it, I realized it was just an empty blanket or sleeping bag.

Rock Creek Path
Rubbernecking fodder (yellow) and my trajectory (green)

When I looked again at where I was going, I realized I was about to cut a corner off a deep curb. Instinctively, I pulled a wheelie so that at least the front wheel would clear the corner.

Crunch! Psssst!

The rear wheel dropped (due gravity or something) and hit the curb hard.

Breezer Uptown Infiinity
Breezer Uptown Infiinity after five minutes of my rigorous testing

I was pretty happy not to have gone over the handlebars.

Then I started to think about what I was going to say to the Breezer guys, and began to wonder what my checking account balance happened to be.

I had plenty time to think about this, because I had to push the bike back to House of Sweden, which was about three-quarters of a mile.

The Breezer and NuVinci guys were really nice about it.

One of them said, “I’ll be able to bang that out. I’ve fixed worse.”

I didn’t believe him, but I appreciated his efforts to help me save face.

All I can say about the Breezer Uptown Infinity is that I hope to complete my test ride eventually. It seemed like a pretty well-though-out commuter bike. Ultimate? Maybe. I was definitely the bike’s ultimate rider that day.

Meanwhile, back at the hospital…

Scary Face
My Doctor | Photo: eHow "How to Tell Scary Stories"

This is a little embarrassing. It’s like I had zit on my forehead, and the doctors told me I needed brain surgery.

The last time I spent the night in a hospital, I was seven and having my tonsils taken out.

But my doctor told me two or three worst-case-scenario horror stories and convinced me to go through with surgery. (Debridement: a fancy word that means a really good inside-and-out cleaning of a wound to prevent infection.)

It looks like I won’t be pedaling a bike for a few weeks. I’m wearing a “knee immobilizer.”

Or maybe the irony will be that I’ll commute by bike on the A2B Metro using it (as I dismissively wrote yesterday) “like a scooterwith pedals instead of pegs.”

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9 thoughts on “Am I The Bike Tester From Hell…”

  1. Chrehn says:

    Ted, Sorry about the accident. Take care so that everything heals up well.

  2. James says:

    Ted, Sorry about the knee. Hope your back on your feet soon.

    It seems to me these new electric bikes like the A2B are the 21st century version of a moped. Mopeds had pedals. I crashed a moped when I was driving it home from the store I bought it from and snapped my leg like a twig (this was a couple decades ago). I was not wearing a helmet when the Domino Pizza Delivery driver hit me head on.

    Mopeds suck.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      Mopeds suck.

      I’m kind of a lapsed motorcycle guy. As much as I love human-powered transportation, when it comes to motorcycles and scooters (and mopeds, I guess), I always recommend power–plenty of it. The reason is that there are many dangerous situations that can be resolved by rapid acceleration. Sorry, driver who doesn’t see me and is about to kill me, I’m outta here.

      To think of an e-bike like the A2B (or a weakling moped) as a motorcycle would be dangerous indeed. The right mindset is probably to think of it as a motorized wheelchair that makes you invisible, and assess your risks accordingly.

  3. peteathome says:

    That Kenda Kraze tire looks like it has a really square profile, which is good for traction when you are going straight but lousy for cornering – if you corner too tight you fall right off the edge of the tire and go over. Espcially with somethingt slippery like cinders to get you sliding. But maybe that’s just the picture and the tire has a rounder profile?

    Crunching the Breezer bike – that’s just you 🙂

    Hope your knee gets better qucikly so you don’t miss bicycling in wonderful Spring weather.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      My first draft of this post had all kinds of blame in it for the Kenda tires, but I deleted it once I started feeling like a grownup again. But the image of the tire remained.

      Yes they are kind of square.

      I agree with Josh. The kind of maneuvers you pull on your regular bike might be over-aggressive on an unfamiliar bike.

  4. Josh Lipton says:

    Similar to testing out other vehicles, I’m thinking skis, cars or jet planes, being a test pilot offers up the extra risks of being unfamiliar with the vehicles. We should consider this in our commuter bike test piloting as well.

    After my own bike commuting accident last Fall, where I broke my pinky while unwisely taking my commuter bike on a mountain bike trail at night with brakes not working as well as they could have been, I’ve been actively trying to be a more reserved in all of my cycling.

    Ted, I wish you a smooth recovery. I think now we’ll both be extra cautious in our approach to the perils of commuter bike test piloting.

  5. Chuck says:

    Good grief Ted! Text me if you need a Martannes or burrito run. I eat at the hospital quite a bit. It’s nothing special.

  6. johncoe says:

    bummer, ted. sympathies. we’ve all wiped out on the cinders; they suck. hospitals suck more tho. sorry you down with more than road rash and snapped phalanges. get well soon.

  7. BluesCat says:

    Y’know, Ted, it might just be something with the Kenda tires.

    I’ve got Kenda Kwests on my EZ-Sport recumbent. The tread design looks really spare, like on the Kraze tires.

    I’ve mentioned … several places … how the Kwests just seem kinda “skatey”. There have been several times when I’ve hit a perfectly dry, clean Phoenix roll curb at a really oblique angle, and the front tire on the Sport seems to skate along it for a fraction of a second before it bites and goes up onto the sidewalk.

    On the up side, the Kwests seem to be really smooth and fast … noticeably faster than even the 700c Serfas on my Batavus!

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