Robert Dempster

My new ebike
Giant Talon E+1
the bikes
retired in my retirement
1 November 2021

A comparison of the three XL Mountain Bikes (MTBs) I have had the pleasure of riding since I retired more than ten years ago and developed a passion for cycling. The first was a Carbon Fibre Merida Big 9 that Wally Flint from Jowetts Cycles built for me. It was a gift from my family for my seventieth birthday. It fitted like a glove and almost purred when it moved. It was a really pleasure to ride.

Then a couple of years ago I grew tired of the last two climbs of the return leg of the Karkloof Road. I started to think about and electric MTB (eMTB), and when I decided I would give the Berg 100 another go in 2020, it was a done deal. I would do it on an electric Mountain Bike (eMTB). During a trip to Joburg to ride the 2019 94.7 (aka Ride Joburg), I visited Relectro and bought a big battery and a Green Pedal eBike conversion kit. After that I bought a 2016 XL Merida MTB and then did the conversion with Bruce's help. We had hardly finished the the build, when Edith's brother William announced that he would travel from Germany to also do the ride.

Well, no one expected what happened next. COVID arrived and William's flight was cancelled. The disappointment was huge. All was however not lost, as Edith then bought an eMT (Giant LIV) with the intention of joining me in William's place. Then the event was cancelled, and we had to be satisfied with riding around the neighbourhood within a five kilometer radius of our home once the 'hard' Lock Down had ended. Matters did of course improve and we were able to venture further away from home. But COVID was and remains a tough nut. The 2020 Berg 100 was cancelled and the same happened again in 2020

It is now almost two years since Bruce and I built the eMTB. Two years spent improving it to the point that the motor remained firmly mounted, and it almost never lost the chain. It was going like the proverbial bomb and with the second battery I had bought, had a range of 130+ kilometers. Then (early in November) it packed up. The motor ceased to turn, and my guess would be that it was the controller that was embedded in the motor that had packed up. So short of sending the motor back to China, that was it. Shova Cycles is kindly putting the bits and pieces back in order to return the bike to its original state. If it is subsequently sold, we will happily take a share of the takings.

My next stop was Hattons Cycles in Pietermaritzburg were Brett sold me a Giant Talon E+1 (GTE+1). I would have preferred another Merida, but the budget did not stretch that far. Hattons also accepted Bruce's Merida MTB as a trade-in, and so I headed back to Howick with my new eBike tired and reasonably pleased with myself. The next day I took the bike out for a trial run, only to return rather disappointed with my purchase. The battery dropped a bar after 8 kms, and I seemed to struggle on the uphills. The ride was also not a comfortable one.

After returning home, communicating with Brett, and reexamining the situation, it was decided that I needed to charge the battery and take the bike for a serious test on the Karkloof Road.

Basically the test involved riding the 40 kms in much the same manner as I would ride the first 40 kilometers of the Berg 100. Basically I would put in the same amount of effort i.e., I would push myself as hard as I would have on an MTB. The big difference would be that the ride would not take as long, and would in a sense be easier as the climbs would take less time to complete.

The result? Well I was pleasantly surprised, I did not drop a bar until I had completed 28 kms. A great result, and it remains to be seen whether that translates to a range of 5 x 28 kms over similar terrain.

Ultimately I need to test my ability to cover 100 km on this bike, as I still have, as I have already mentioned, ambitions in terms of the 2022 Berg 100. With that in mind I immediately changed the very minimalist stem on the bike to a stem riser that significantly raised the handle bars on the bike. The handle bars were simply far to low for me to comfortably ride 100kms on the bike. Brett kindly allowed me to swap the minimalist stem from the GTE+1 for the stem riser that was on Bruce's trade-in MTB. You can see the difference it makes in the pic comparing the bikes below. With that done, Edith and I rode to The Terberdore (Coffee Stop) via the Karkloof Road and Khyber's Pass. We returning via the Curry's Post Road and Howick (such as it is). I completed the 56 km ride with two bars to spare. Not good enough. I guess it would have been better if I had not pushed it a bit to: 1) beat the occasional rain, and 2) deal with the slow puncture I had picked up in my rear wheel as I reached the summit of Khyber's Pass.

This morning I set off again with some friends with slime in my tubes hoping that the slime will keep punctures at bay. Once again I managed to get more than 20 kms out of each of the batter bars I used up. The Berg 100 awaits!

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      How is it going?

  1. 13 November 2021 - The Dargle Valley: My first attempt to completely flatten the battery in order to determine how far I could ride on a fully charged battery saw me cover 64 kms and climb 1094 meters. I had hoped to do more, but the group turned after an outward leg of 32 kms as one of the riders was, to coin a phrase, running out of battery.

  2. 14 November 2021 - The Karkloof Valley: To complete the test I had started the previous day, I then set off down the Karkloof Road. A good choice as the last 8 kms of the ride is mostly downhill, and would make it easier to pedal home sans Pedal Assist (PAS) i.e., e battery, she is finished. During the second ride I also discovered that when the PAS drops to 1, you are locked into 'Eco' mode. Giant is determined to see you arrive at you intended destination. Never mind that you only have 1 km to go, and it is a category 4 climb all the way.

  3. 15 November 2021 - Having recharged the battery I thought I would ride over to Protea Gardens on the Currys Post Road where a cottage is being built for Edith and me. I switched the bike on and then remembered being told by Peter Wyngaard that doing so puts the bike into 'auto' mode. This mode is similar to the automatic transmission of a car, it tries to determine how you intend to drive between A and B, and then adjusts the gearing and throttle accordingly. I need to say that I have been impressed with the manner in which the PAS modes also accomodate the rider's pedaling effort, I was once more impressed. While it is probably draining the battery faster than I would using my pedalling and PAS, it does as claimed, make for pleasant cycling. So much so that I will probably use 'auto' when I cycle in and around the Howick Village.
Returning to the Berg ONE HUNDRED, I looked into acquiring another battery to augment the one on the bike. Initially I was excited to discover that Giant has exactly that, the Giant Range Extender Battery (240WH) & Accesory. Alas, it does not work on the Talon. I found that ironic, as it does work on the LIV Tempt :-)

I guess if I can get over / ignore not doing the Berg 100, I would be able to say that I am happy with the bike, it has now been been engineered by me to accomodate my frame, and it will allow me to complete the rides Edith and I set out on, as we probably never go beyond 80 kms. I guess if we are concerned about me completing a ride, Edith could carry a second battery on her carbon fibre Chilled Squirrel conver Scott. I will carry the rope.

!!! QED !!!

      Money can't buy happiness,
     but it can buy a bicycle.

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I would appreciate it if you would communicate the same to me.

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