Review: Ridekick E-Trailer

Right after Interbike we got our hands on a demo unit from RideKick. If you’re not familiar with them, it’s basically a utility trailer that has an electric motor which in turn propels any bicycle forward giving it e-bike capabilities.

This was our demo unit. My daughter graciously help “model” these photos for me.
RideKick Review bikecommuters.com

Features/Specs

Pushes your bike up to 19 Mph
Lead Acid Battery Ridekick Trailer weighs 43 lbs and the Lithium Ridekick Trailer weighs 38 lbs.
Simple throttle gives you variable speed control
Ride 10-12 miles on a full charge on the Lead Acid Battery and 25 miles on the Lithium
Room for a briefcase or bags of groceries
Clicks on or off your bike in 15 seconds
Weather resistant storage case with combination lock
Installs on most any bike in under 12 minutes
Designed to be safe, stable in turns and when stopped
Your bicycle feels comfortable even with a full cargo load
Provides all the benefits of an electric bike or ebike conversion kit without modifying your bike

Cool little feature, the trailer has a built in LED tail light. Great idea, but it would have been great if it was bigger and brighter.
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The left drive wheel is powered by the motor via chain.
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To attach the RideKick, simply place it on the rear, loop the strap and run the throttle control to your handlebar.
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Access to the trunk/battery compartment is guarded by a combination lock. This area allows you to store all sorts of goodies like groceries, bags and whatever else can fit in there.
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On a depleted battery, it took 5-6 hours for the RideKick to fully charge. My top speed via GPS was 18.2 miles. The site says it can reach up to 19mph, but I’m sure that could be easily achieved with a lighter rider. I was able to travel 11 miles on a single charge. One of the things I liked about the RideKick was its throttle. Most e-bikes will surge forward as soon as you twist or hit the throttle. But the RideKick will gradually increase speed. So that means if I’m at a stop sign, I hit the button; it will start moving and within a few feet will be up to 100%. It’s a bit of a safety feature if you think about it.

The RideKick is pretty fun device. It allows the rider to carry extra cargo in its trunk and get ample speed if needed. The price for the trailer ranges from $699 to $1359, depending on features. To some this may be steep, but if you compare it to other e-bikes out there, it’s relatively affordable. Most e-bikes start with a price point over $1000, and they’ll charge you an extra few hundred for battery upgrades and etc.

So how does this feel when you ride it? It’s a blast! The Ridekick is very stable and when you weigh it down with load, it will bounce less. During our testing period, we took it through various terrains such as street, grass, dirt and gravel. On the street is where the RideKick excels, but on wet grass or loose gravel, the drive wheel will spin out due to lack of traction. But then again, I really don’t think it was made to ride over that terrain. The only thing I really didn’t like about the RideKick was its size. Granted, it’s a trailer, but having to store it if you’re not using it or even when charging it will require some space. Lucky for me, I have garage with ample room, but for folks with limited space who live in apartments or smaller homes, this might become cumbersome.

I need to mention that our demo unit suddenly died during one of our tests( jumping off the curb). I sent an email to the folks at RideKick and a person named Mike W. responded. He reassured me that the issue I had was nothing but a connection that had gone loose (from all the times we were hopping the curb). All I had to do was open the battery bag and reconnect it. Sure enough when I check it, that was exactly the problem. So if you decide to get one of these, you’ll be in good hands if you ever have any technical issues.

Overall, we were pretty pleased with the RideKick Trailer. It performed well during our tests and their customer support was excellent. So if you’re in the market for an e-bike, you may want to consider the RideKick Trailer for the mere fact that you’re investing into something that will attach to any of your current bikes and gives you room to carry a small load. The advantage of going with this trailer versus getting a whole new e-bike is repurposing your current bike.

Our disclaimer.

Public Meetings announced for Chicago Bike Share Input

For those of you interested in helping to build a great bike share program in Chicago:

First public meetings are next Monday and Tuesday OR chime in online.

CITY TO HOLD PUBLIC MEETINGS TO DISCUSS PLANS FOR NEW CHICAGO BIKE SHARE PROGRAM

Chicagoans Can Suggest Bike Share Station Locations on New Website

The Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) today announced five public meetings to introduce Chicago residents and businesses to the city’s new bike share program, and has launched a website for Chicagoans to suggest locations for bike share stations.

“Bike share will introduce a new way to get around Chicago. It’s fast, convenient, and affordable,” said CDOT Commissioner, Gabe Klein. “We look forward to feedback from the public and generating excitement for this new way of getting around Chicago.”

At the meetings in late October and early November, representatives from CDOT and Alta, the bicycle provider and operator, will discuss the new program and answer questions. Attendees can suggest locations to install bike stations in the proposed service area.

Chicagoans can also use a new website — www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare — to suggest locations for bike stations and receive additional information on the program.

Chicago’s initial bike share service area will span from 41st Street to Montrose Avenue, and from the lakefront to Damen Avenue. The meetings will be held in the North, South and Central regions of the service area. They are free and open to everyone, with no RSVP required. All meeting locations are accessible by CTA.

Chicago Bike Share Meetings:

Monday, October 29
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue

3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pop-up meeting at Union Station

6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Chicago Architecture Foundation
224 S. Michigan Avenue

Tuesday, October 30
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Lincoln Belmont Public Library
1659 W. Melrose Street

Wednesday, November 7
6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Charles Hayes Center
4859 S. Wabash Avenue

Chicago’s bike share system will provide a convenient, easy-to-use transit option available 24/7. It is envisioned for point-to-point short trips, or as alternative option for a multi-mode commute. Users will pick up a bike from a self-service docking station and return it to the station nearest their destination.

The specially designed bikes will be comfortable for all users. Features include a one-size fits all design, upright handlebars, wide seats, hand brakes, and a chain guard to protect clothing.

Membership and user fees will be affordable for Chicagoans and visitors alike. Users will be able to purchase yearly memberships or daily passes. Members will sign up via a website, while one-time cyclists will use a credit card at the automated kiosk.

The solar-powered docking stations will be placed approximately a quarter-mile apart and located in high-density areas, including near transit stations. CDOT will work with the operator and the public to determine station locations. Stations are modular and mobile; they can be expanded in reaction to demand, or moved based on need or construction. Initial funding for the program is from federal grants for projects that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality.

People are encouraged to visit www.chicagobikes.org/bikeshare to learn more about the program, and follow CDOT on Twitter (@ChicagoDOT) and Facebook.com/CDOTnews.

Friday Musings: Your thoughts on “sharrows”?

Many of my bike buddies have heard me go on and on about sharrows for a few years now. I’m sure our Facebook followers have heard me mention my concerns about sharrows from time to time, too.

For those of you who may have missed it, here are some of my thoughts on them: while I think they can be a useful tool in the arsenal of bike-friendly infrastructure, I am very concerned that many cyclists and motorists both don’t really understand what they represent. Neither group is particularly good about “sharing” the road (the operative part of “sharrow”) at times. I’ve seen cyclists treat road with sharrows as a full-width “bike lane”, despite cars backing up behind them. I’ve also seen motorists crowd riders against parked cars when sharrows are present. Further, I’m afraid that some cities use sharrows as a quick pacifier; slap some down on the pavement and then tell cyclists, “yeah, we’re building bike infrastructure…what more do you want?”

sharrow

It’s my belief that when a city chooses to add sharrows to a road surface, that MUST come with an advertising campaign or some other method to get the word out to road users — so that everyone knows what those mysterious chevrons represent and to remind folks that yes, we must all actually share the road. We all know that there is far more to bicycle infrastructure than simply putting up some signs, or spreading some paint onto the roadway…a lot of planning, logistics and study must come with it in order for all that effort to be of value to road users.

So, I was a bit surprised to read the following article, which appeared in the Edmonton Journal the other day:

A new study out of British Columbia suggests the use of shared bike-car lanes on major roads doesn’t actually increase safety for cyclists and may pose a greater risk if they add confusion to the streets…

…The shared bike-car lanes, called sharrows, are seen as a simple solution when the city, neighbourhood residents or local businesses don’t want to remove parking or a lane currently used for vehicle traffic. They consist of a painted bike with arrows on the pavement, and signs along the side of the road.

When researchers at the University of British Columbia looked at 690 cyclist collisions serious enough to land a cyclist in the hospital, they found the only bike infrastructure that significantly reduces risk is having a separate route for bikes.

Please read the rest of this enlightening article by visiting the Edmonton Journal page.

I’d love to hear our readers thoughts on sharrows: do you love them? Hate them? Are you indifferent to them? Do you find them effective and well-placed, or see them as an “easy out” for cities who don’t want to spend much on improved bicycle infrastructure? Please leave your comments below.

Spinlister: Peer-to-peer bicycle rental

Ever go on a business trip, or a vacation, and wish you had a bike? Don’t want to deal with a bike shop in an unfamiliar city but still want to get your ride on? Spinlister may be another avenue for you…we received this blurb about it a few days ago and wanted to share:

Hope all is well. Reaching out as I thought you’d be interested in learning about Spinlister – a marketplace that lets bike owners rent their bikes to travelers, cyclists, locals looking to explore over 400 cities in 80 countries.
We launched in NYC and San Francisco in April, recently opened up a national beta program in late-September, and were hoping that you might take us for a…spin!

How it works:
-For bike owners, it’s easy to list a bike and earn cash. After filling out a few details, and submitting photos of your sweet chariot, within 24 to 48 hours (after we check for quality, price, and accuracy), your bike will be ready for rent.

-For bike renters, you have it easy too! Simply search by location, bike size, and type to get a list of available bikes near you. From there, you can request a rental from the bike’s owner and ask questions. Once the Lister approves your request, it’s a match made in bicycle heaven.

Take a look at the rest of the details by visiting the Spinlister site. It could be a pretty cool resource for you travelers out there!

Guest article: Interactive commuter data

The following article was written by Luke Clum of Distilled Creative. Take a look — the interactive data linked to the image below is a handy “one stop” resource for stats on your location.

How Pedal Friendly Is Your State?

Let’s be honest, we all like to have a few bragging rights. Well, if you’re a bike commuter in Washington DC, you get those rights. As of a recent study by the Alliance for Biking and Walking DC ranks first as having the highest number of bike commuters according to population. The study compiled important information from state and city rankings about commuters who walk, bike, the number of fatalities, and the amount of government aid allocated for alternative transportation. In sum they found a sharp rise in the total number of bike commuters – in some cases almost doubling.

But besides the urban sprawl of DC, many other states compared really well in their biking behaviors. Coming in at second was, you guessed it, those fixie-loving Oregonians. While this state, renowned for its expressive bikers, fell behind DC with only 2.25% or bike commuters, it excelled compared with the rest of the more expansive states.

One of the major benefits to this large scale rise in bike commuting is an increase in safety developments. Many cities are renovating their streets to include larger shoulders and more prominent bike lanes. My hometown of Seattle (a respectable 8th on the list) has been making substantial changes both inside the city limits and within the smaller sub-city districts. With traffic lanes being narrowed and bike lanes growing, I’m also noticing a lot more bikers on the road – which is a great thing. Hopefully with biking becoming more and more prominent we’ll see a sharper awareness of car drivers and a limit in the amount of accidents.

With gas prices continuing to rise and a greater environmental awareness, I’m hopeful that bike commuting will continue to blossom. In the meantime, look up your state and celebrate, or grovel in your respective ranking. For more info on the study itself check out the 2012 Alliance Benchmarking Report.

The State Stats – Find Out How You Rank


Click image to open interactive version (via BikeGuard).

Author Bio
Luke Clum is a Seattle based graphic designer, cyclist and outdoorsman. While he loves creating unique designs, he’s most content hiking or alpine climbing in the North Cascades. You can follow him on Twitter @lukeclum