Monday, April 16, 2012

Trek Electric Bicycles--Part Two

usbackroads information--Trek Electric Bicycles Part 2

We have had the Trek Electric bicycles for a couple of months now.  So here is the update after riding for a couple of months.  They still are great bikes!!  We have joined the flat earth society as all the hills have disappeared due to the bicycles.

We have two slightly different models.  Susie rides the FX+.   I ride the 7200+.  At first glance, it looks like the 7200+ is the better bike, however, the price difference between the two indicates that the FX+ is the better bike.  The 380 dollars went into better components and a larger battery.  My battery is only a 33 cell model, while the FX+ has a 44 cell battery.

I liked the FX+  but the dealer in Eugene only had one FX+, fortunately in Susie's size and one 7200+ in my size.  So we bought both bikes.  However, I suspect that I will end up upgrading to an FX+ sometime in the future.

The 7200+ has a suspension fork, while the FX+ does not, however, for most riding you will never notice the difference.  My bike also has a large, cushy saddle that while Susie's bike has a small bicycle saddle.   We swapped the two bike saddles due to our respective genders.  More on this later.  The 7200+ is more of a "comfort" bicycle, while the FX+ is a standard bicycle design.  So if you were a bicyclist at one time, buy the FX+, otherwise you might want to consider the 7200+ for its plush design.

Should you get a WSD model even if your a male?  You should consider it, particularly if swinging your leg over the bicycle is getting more difficult.  The step-through design does make it much easier to get on a bike.  My 7200+ is a "male" model.  No problem, swinging the leg over the  However, that tube is awful close to a very sensitive part of my anatomy when I  jump off the saddle.  Good thing, I have completed the biological imperative and passed on my genetic material.

As long as we are on gender we might as well discuss bicycle saddles.  Here is the low down on women's saddles.  So generally, a wider saddle is much better design for the women rider.  However, men are not exempt from problems with bicycle saddles.  It seems that bicycles are a problem for hard core riders.  There is more to be afraid of than a too tall main tube!!!   However, at the turn of the century the problem with bicycles was that they were perceived to be more than a little risque.  As always right click to open a new tab for these links.

We did discover one additional problem in that our existing handlebar packs and panniers do not fit the electric bicycles.  So there is an additional cost and my very COOL Eclipse handlebar pack from 1976 will not fit!!  So our next shopping step will be new saddlebags for the silver wings.

Here is an up close picture of the forks.  My suspension fork is not worth it.  Not sure about the headlamps.  Mine has already broken as the picture shows.  I would rather the headlamp be on my head!!  I managed to fix by using epoxy glue and it broke again on the next ride.  The design is such that anytime your front wheel pivots to the max the headlamp breaks.  Bad design. Very bad design.

Charging the bicycles has been a disappointment.  The chargers work fine on 120-volt grid power, except for one small issue.   Trek recommends that you unplug the charger after the batteries reach full charge.  The full charge light is subject to interpretation.  Lithium-ion batteries should NOT be overcharged, so I am unsure if Trek's recommendation is based on the charger not being able to taper a charge or just being careful.  If I used the bike on a daily basis I would get an electrical auto-shut off so the charger quits working on its own after charging for three or four hours.

But we were hoping that we could use solar to charge the battery pack while camping.  So I gave it a try with this solar panel and battery combination.  The battery is there to act as a buffer as clouds affect solar charging significantly.

The solar panel is 56 inches by 26 inches.  It is a 125 watt panel to puts out 7 amps at 12 volts.  The Trek battery charger outputs 2 amps at 40.7 volts.  That is a significant mis-match.  As soon as the charger was hooked up to the panel the battery voltage started dropping on the battery pack at a significant clip!!  After five minutes even with full sun on the panel the battery was pretty much drained of power.

This past winter while camping we were using our 2000 watt generator to charge the bicycles.  That is a significant draw even on the Honda generator.  Oh well, I guess when camping we will have to be very careful about making sure we have the generator and keeping the bicycles topped off at all times.  It would be great to find a solar charging system for the batteries that would slowly charge the batteries over a longer period of time.

Solar does not generate much power and it is very difficult to scale up enough to keep the batteries charged on the bicycles.  Breaking free of the grid is difficult!!

In reviews it seems the focus just naturally shifts to what is wrong.  Must be human nature and our need to FIX all problems.

The basic fact is the bikes are a kick in the pants to ride.   If your living in a sticks and bricks house you can replace many, many auto trips with there bikes and get exercise and fresh air to boot.   If you are traveling they are the best way to explore new areas.  You will see things on a bicycle that are just plain missed while traveling inside a metal box.  The bicycles also make you much more accessible to people as you travel.  You will meet more local people and have a much more interesting trip.

Here is the link to Part One.

and the link to Part Three.

We are really enjoying the electric bicycles.  That ride in the Yosemite Valley is a great memory.  Next posting the Apple Capitol Loop Trail.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seven Feathers RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon

usbackroads destination- Seven Feathers RV Resort, Canyonville, Oregon

We were on our run back to Wenatchee and the choice was between staying at the Valley of the Rogue State Park or pushing on to Canyonville, Oregon and the Seven Feathers RV Resort.  We loved the Valley of the Rogue State Park, but one time in my working world I spent a day with a lawyer that represented the Indian Tribe that manages Seven Feathers RV resort and the adjacent casino.  So for me it was an opportunity to see what he was talking about and how well run the Casino and adjacent area is managed.

The casino and campground is run by the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Tribe.    The facilities consist of a Casino, Hotel, Truck Stop, and the campground.  

First things first.  This is the best managed campground we have stayed in our travels the past two years. Our plan was to spend just one night.  Well we extended for one more night to take advantage of the pool and hot tub.  Yeah, it was cold and rainy and that pool and hot tub with a temperature in the high 70's and high humidity was the perfect spot to read that book on Steven Jobs that was in the exchange library.

Well managed, they have a escort to your site.  Most sites are pull-through sites.

The fees for the campground are very reasonable for the level of services provided.   Sites with discounts range from around $32 to $39.   A bargain given the level of amenities.  The sites is just off I-5, but up a small draw and it is quiet at night.   As noted, before we extended for one night to take advantage of the pool and hot tub.  Then it snowed  NINE inches in Eugene and we extended for another day so we did not have to travel in the snow.  The office handled it without the slightest blip.  Like I said a well run and managed park that is highly recommended for a stop to just recharge the batteries as you travel up or down I-5.

We are not casino folks.  I believe it was my statistics professor that said "gambling is a tax on people that do not understand statistics".  That said, we did go to the casino to spend $5 of our money and $5 of Cow Creek Band money, but never did figure out have to operate the slot machines!!!  What ever happened to nickles and dimes!!

We had the "special" at the restaurant and we not impressed.  However, the other food looked better when we walked the dinning area.  The best buy at the casino was the ice cream parlor.  Don't miss it!

The truck stop has good access for RV's from I-5 and accessible pumps plus a easy return to the "mother road" of I-5.  We did have breakfast at the truck stop and visited the gift shop.  Great breakfast and the gift shop has some unique items for sale and well worth the visit.

Canyonville and the Seven Feathers will be a stop on our travels up and down I-5 from here on.  Oh, damn I do remember all those English teachers telling me not to end sentences with prepositions.  English is my third sorry.

The Forest Service and the Indian tribes have always had a close relationship due to treaty rights, proximity, fire crews, and a shared history of the American west.  I am impressed with what the Cow Creek Band has done here.   I ran into a Forest Service Job Corps crew that was constructing a sidewalk  for the tribe.  The tribe was paying for the work and the Job Corps crew got training in how to build a sidewalk.  A great partnership between the tribe and Federal Government.  So go visit that Casino and consider it entertainment or maybe payback for mistakes and errors made several generations ago.

As I walked to the truck stop I noticed a "Forest Service flower" hanging in the creek.  This flagging probably marks the spot of a spawning redd for salmon or steelhead.

Like the salmon we will return to Seven Feathers RV Resort in the future.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California

Durango RV Resort, Red Bluff, California

Driving up the "mother road for the 70's" known as I5 I kept looking at the National Weather Service forecasts for Oregon and Washington.  It looked like a week of cold, wet temperatures with periods of snow in up North.  The forecast was for rain and rain showers for all week in northern California.  The decision was made to hold up for a week while the weather worked it self out.  

We discussed camping at the Red Bluff Recreation Area managed by the Forest Service for the week, but decided that in foul weather what we really wanted was full hook-ups, solid wi-fi, and maybe even cable TV.  The bonus was that Durango RV resort has all that plus a hot tub.  

And they have a dog run within the park and just under the I5 bridge 40 acres of open space for Bugaboo to chase a ball.   Just be aware that those 40 acres are NOT fenced off from I5 so you need voice control over your dog to make sure they don't go playing in the traffic!!  Also there are a few of California's less fortunate campers staying in the 40 acres.  They were not a problem.

The park is new and the facilities well designed.  We chose to pay extra for the river view lots since they were close to Bugaboo's dog run and laundry facilities.  This is the view out our back window.  The area between the camping spur and river has lawn and is fenced.

This has been the most expensive park we have stayed in the past two years.  However, it was worth it for the amenities during a period of bad weather.   There is road noise from I5 since the freeway skirts one side of the RV park.  It is close to a shopping mall with grocery store, the town of Red Bluff, and the Red Bluff Recreation Area.  A short drive brings you to the BLM's Sacramento River Bend area that was discussed in a previous posting.

Here is the link to the RV Park:  Durango RV Resort.