Bikes in action
This page is our Bike of the Month archive (from our previous website). For more recent bikes in action have a look at our blog. On this page you will find real information, in people's own words, about our bikes, why they have purchased them and how they are using them.
Bike of Month
John purchased his Volto e-bike from us in 2012.
Letting go of the car
"A man needs a little madness, or else... he never dares cut the rope and be free.”
- Nikos Kazantzakis
I bought an electric bike in June, 2012, after using a push bike for six years. It was supposed to be the final step allowing me to give up owning a car. I had kept records of my mileage driven for several years, and even created a graphic image showing the declining curve of weekly mileage. I had changed my lifestyle thoroughly, so there were only two car trips a week of seven kilometres each way, which I was then able to do on the electric bike. Even so, I kept the car at home, on the grounds that I might occasionally need it, and it did no harm to the environment just sitting there. There was just the cost of registration, which would be nice to avoid.
I had tried using buses, and my first experience was so uncomfortable I stayed off them for months. Later my knee became a temporary problem, so I stopped using the electric bike and got back on the buses, and became a competent, if unenthusiastic, bus user. This is one of my backup options.
I had owned a car for most of fifty years, and old habits die hard. It was a wrench to finally let go! I delayed for three years. The continuing offer to borrow a friend's car seemed pretty solid. So finally I sold the car in August, 2015.
Friends still ask me, "Do you miss the car". "Not for one moment", I reply. Hey! I never have to worry about parking again, and usually I can ride right to the door. I can get to my seven kilometre destination faster than taking the bus, despite a long hill, and I can do a week's fruit and vegetable shopping using pannier bags.
Without a car you need to be a bit more disciplined and plan more carefully. Do you really need to cart all that junk around that was so easy on the back seat of the car? You soon figure out the essentials. One new item to carry is a lightweight waterproof jacket. Ok - sometimes you get wet. It's not the end of the world. In cold weather you need gloves and a scarf - easy in a backpack. I have always ridden in all seasons. Occasionally I have to decide just not to go somewhere, especially after dark. There's always something else to do.
I live walking distance from my electric bike supplier, which is very handy for servicing. I also decided to buy from a business that specialised in electric bikes only, rather than from a regular bike shop that sold the occasional ebike. I think that was a good decision.
It is a lot easier for a retired person, like me, to let go of the car and rely on bicycles and buses. We have more time and less money. I greatly sympathise with families with young children, or older children! They are so busy and pressed for time, a car is hugely convenient. There's a role for oldies to become leaders here.
My entire motivation has been around climate change and the environment. At first I was mildly irritated when people said, "Oh! Of course... You are doing this for your health". No - I am doing it for the health of the planet, and I'm also glad there's a side benefit to my health. I still use a push bike for most short journeys, and that is indeed partly for the health and exercise benefits.
I appreciate, from experience, that it takes a long time to thoroughly downsize and reduce one's ecological footprint, in more aspects than transport, without feeling diminished or deprived. It takes years. So start now! Slow change is easy change.
Joshua had his much loved old giant hybrid bike converted to an e-bike with a mid drive in January 2015 and it's given the bike a new life. In Joshua's words,
"In early 2015 I had my old Giant mountain bike converted to an electric bike. Being a consultant with varied work sites, and with just one car for the family, I needed to look at my travel options. I can honestly say that the electric bike has been the best investment decision I have made in years. It has enabled greater flexibility with travelling around Canberra, and has eliminated our consideration of purchasing a second vehicle - saving a significant amount of money and benefiting the environment. Finally I cannot speak highly enough of Simone and Kym's professionalism, passion, and attention to detail".
Harri and pooch on Harri's converted recumbant.
Pooches and Pedals
It seems like dogs and our e-bikes go hand in hand. Harri and his dog have been enjoying rides on Harri's converted recumbant for sometime now. As have Cliff, Cathy and family who have built a contraption which has the dual purposes of carrying their dog and keeping them on track (literally) while they explore disused railway lines on their Perptual Motion e-bikes. Digger loves his recovery vehicle pulled by a converted bike and we just converted a Gomier trike (the trike comes with a big basket) for Susan to carry her two pooches! No picture yet but we will put it on facebook when we have one.
Digger and his recovery vehicle (which has now been converted to an e-bike).
Exploring the railway near Queanbeyan
Shaun and Sandra's converted bikes at the Art Gallery
Shaun and Sandra
Shaun and Sandra came to us wanting to retro-fit their Townie and Crusier style bikes. We did a custom fit on the bikes, as both frames were a little challenging to fit. Shuan's bike ended up with a front hub motor and a 16 amp rack style battery and Sandra got one of our brand new 8Fun light weight kits, with an 8.8 amp battery and an Bottom bracket sensor -very nice!
In Shaun's word's, "We asked Switched on Cycles to convert our bicycles. They did an incredibly wonderful job of sympathetically retrofitting the gear to turn them into electric bikes. In particular it's great for me to be cycling again as the electric assistance takes the pressure of my injured knees so I can cycle without pain and still get the benefit of exercise and the sheer fun of cruising around. I know Switched on Cycles could have sold us groovy new electric bikes, but it was important to us to have 'our' bikes converted as they suit us as comfortable and quirky 'rides'. I recommend people with favoured bikes talk to Switched on Cycles about this option. It certainly worked well for us".
One of the reaons why we choose these bikes for this page is that the bikes are being used all over Canberra!
Chris loves his bike so much he now works for us as our electrical specialist!
In Chris's words:
Why I Love My E-Bike.
I had the opportunity to test a good range of E-bikes marketed by Switched On Cycles shortly after I retired from CSIRO in Jan 2011. This was after 25 years of commuting between Fraser and the City on a number of push bikes that I simply wore out, but then I realised that perhaps my body was wearing out too with those few niggling pains that wouldn’t go away. So, the idea of practically effortless riding had great appeal and I managed to test a number of models that Switched On Cycles had to offer.
In the end I opted for a fold bike that I could squeeze into the back of the Suzuki Jimny if I needed to with the longer range 16Ah battery option that would get me to and from the City plus a bit more if I wanted. So far I’ve clocked up just over 2,500Km and use the bike mainly to get me to the Wig & Pen every Thursday lunchtime, a round trip of 37Km, for a social chat over a couple of pints over the best beer in town with fellow retirees, mainly ex-military guys like myself. I also use the E-bike to pop over the hill to the local Spence shops, thus saving some petrol money and helping the environment. I like the notion of charging my battery for virtually free from the sun too, with solar panels mounted on my roof these days.
I enjoy passing other riders at my usual speed of 30km who are using the more conventional means of pedal power. I’m sure they quietly envy the ease at which I’m able to speed past them whilst some of the fitter cyclists seize the opportunity to slip stream very close to my back wheel which I don’t mind as I used to do the same thing to moped riders.
The other pleasures are just cruising along the bike paths on brilliant sunny days around Canberra just taking in the views, the bird life and keeping a wary eye for the odd snake that happens to be sharing the cycle path. You can’t beat a ride around Lake Burley Griffin or Lake Ginninderra on a sunny day, stopping for a half way soothing ice cream before cruising gently back to base with that satisfied feeling of been out and about with not too much exertion. Chris Drury - E-Bike enthusiast.
Cath on her Gear-ee
In Cath's word:
My name is Cath and I ride my electric bike to client's homes. I am a Home Energy Auditor and I I feel great that I am reducing my own carbon footprint whilst 'on the job' advising folks on how they can reduce household carbon emissions and energy costs. Some say that I'm cheating by using power assist on my bike. I tell them that at my age, fitness level and the steep hill on which I live, that if I didn't have the electric bike, I would be
using my car. And by the way, I still get a work out! A perfect all-round solution. I also purchased an iphone bike bracket from an electronics retail store. I use Google Earth and Google Maps together to show location of bike tracks in relation to my destination.
Carl came to us through a Demo day we ran at his workplace.
Two years ago I was driving my car to work and back 4 times a week - a total of 120 ks a week. I decided to start riding my mountain bike instead at least twice a week just for exercise. I was extremely unfit. I could not imagine how riding was going to change my fitness levels (though I’m not an athlete yet) things are 3 times more than what they were. And I have become a fanatic....Some six months into the cycling I was fortunate enough to be able to meet Simone from Switched on Cycles doing a display at my work place. Then I hatched a plan to get one of those e-bikes for myself (ie be very nice to my wife lol). I have taken it on as a hobby and been able to do a few upgrades to suit me. The figures are like thi . The cost of driving to work 25 dollars a week, parking in the city in daytime is 15 dollars a day. Now I pay a grand total of 40 cents a week to run the bike. My car sits at home for 6 days out of seven. The savings in fuel and wear and tear and servicing and repairs on my car have gone through the floor. I now have to start my car once a week just see if it’s ok.
I will be honest with you, I am a heavy guy and have had some problems but have managed to be able to sort them out. My wife however is telling me that I should MARRY MY BIKE and teach it how to clean and cook . I talk about it so much. The major difference between the e-bike and the mountain bike is that the time taken to get to work is much shorter and I believe I still get plenty of exercise. I will recommend Kim and Simone as the dealings that I have had with them in the past has been fantastic.
Colleen & Bill
Our bike of the month for January is in fact many bikes. Bill & Colleen Fulton are the proud owners of multiple bikes, including two e-bikes. While they don't actually own any of our bikes, (we have helped them keep their bikes on the road), what we like about this couple is the way they use different bikes for different purposes, rather than jumping in the car for everything.
Our bike of the month for September/ October is a cautionary tale and comes from Rebecca the proud owner of an E-commuter. Rebecca has had her E-commuter for 6 months.
I love my electric bike. It does give the green inner glow because I am using the car a lot less. My fitness is building up so I use the electricity less and less and pedal more and more. It is hard to think of an excuse not to use the bike when I don’t even HAVE to pedal. It keeps me fit and helps me sleep at night as I want to cut down my emissions.
But one night on a dark and narrow cycle track another bike and I collided. Suddenly I was sailing through the air and THWACK…my head hit the ground. The other cyclist was groaning. I hauled myself up and went to help him. He asked me call an ambulance…..and then I waited for one to arrive. It was a terrible half hour wait because I didn't’t know what had happened to the other guy. Other cyclists stopped to help us. Thank you so much to people who will care at these times.
After some weeks the injured man called me to say he hadn't’t broken his neck…but still had some bad injuries. I got off with lighter elbow, neck and shoulder injuries. My helmet was split to the crown…so glad I had it on.
Canberra’s cycle paths are not very safe. They are not lit and have tight corners. We all have to keep our speed slow especially at night and stay alert and attentive for every second to avoid prangs.
I cant stop riding because I love it but now I am now going to join Pedal Power who are working to improve cycling conditions in Canberra.
Godfrey has had his Breez-ee since 2010 and has given us a great bike of the month.
"Once upon a time ---
there was a man who enjoyed riding his bicycle to work each day of the week.
In his youth cycling 16 kilometres from Queanbeyan to Civic in the morning;
And another 16 km back home in the evening was like eating yam---easy.
Good exercise, fresh air, clean refreshing sweat!
Then one day his knees started to complain.
A little bit of pain here and there.
Exhausted short legs.
Shivering, irritated muscles.
He would sit down and his legs dared him to stand up.
The legs won.
Serious. He could not ignore the complaints from his legs.
He knew it was the ‘A’ factor which kicks in as the years go by.
So he cut down to three days a week on the push bike and two days on a Deane’s bus.
The tired legs tax was 12 dollars return each day; 24 dollars a week on a bus.
One day, by accident, when browsing through a local newspaper
he noticed an advertisement in the Chronicles
“ Switched on bicycles”.
He did a quick calculation.
With the money he was spending on the bus
He could borrow money from a credit union, buy an electric bicycle
And pay back (using saved bus fares) the principal plus interest in one year and a bit.
Next day he bought the electric bike and sold his push bike.
A switched on bicycle give this man speed without sweat.
But the reason he loved a push-bike was the exercise.
So he has to control his desires. He only uses his electric bike twice a week. The other days he goes back to the push-bike.
Simple, he just leaves the battery at home. Or carry the battery along but switch it off . He is back
To familiar territory; pedal harder; sweat even more; wreck those legs to-day. He can do that without guilt now.
Because tomorrow he can rest and just pull the throttle. ---Godfrey Lubulwa (0407291725)" August 2011
Martin has had his E-city Roller, townie style bike since 2010 and lives in Redfern, Sydney.
"After a few years of riding the Sydney suburban trains and busses to get to work, I can now say the commute is actually something I look forward to, thanks to my electric pushbike.
I get a few looks because of the ‘euro’ design and the front basket, but mostly people’s eyes glance toward the battery and then their questions start. It can be quite the talking point at a set of traffic lights.
The main benefits to me are that I can ride in my work clothes ( and no need for lyrca), I have more confidence in the traffic as I can take off from lights quickly and maintain a reasonable speed, and that the design lets me sit upright, and therefore I get a good look at the traffic and pedestrians up ahead.
For me, it’s all about practicality and the ease with which I can get around the city at anytime – weekday or weekend. I can pedal hard for a bit more of a workout if I want, but I can also cruise home after a busy day". July 201
"I just wanted to send a note about how much I love the bike. I have ridden it to work from McKellar to Civic four times now and it takes about 35 to 40 minutes. I measured the bike path route on Google Earth and it is about 13km from my house to work. Driving to work in the morning can take 25-30 minutes on average so the bike riding time is very comparable, plus I get exercise and don't pay for parking. I can follow the bike path for almost all of the distance and I love the ride through the forest. I have no problems getting up the 'hill' past the stadium when I am going home. The electric bike has extended my range so I can ride to work from home (before I drove half way and rode my mountain bike half way - about 6 km). I tend to ride with the pedal assist on the lowest speed increasing for hills and turning off when I am going downhill. The battery holds up fine for a round trip and appears to be very robust. In fact one day I decided to see how much charge was left in the battery after a round trip to work. It took me an additional 40 minutes of riding around my neighborhood (without peddle assit, I only used power, and tried to find hills in McKellar to run it down) to flatten the battery completely. Very impressive. For me the best benefit is the trip itself. Riding the electric bike makes the journey to work a pleasure, I enjoy the entire trip. If I drive to work, I don't usually enjoy the trip, I just want to get there. Given a choice, I know which method of transport I want to use for my daily commute!" Jan 2011
Update on Colin - Colin, (see his story below), has now had his bike for 9 months. During this time, he has ridden it around 4000kms (the distance from Canberra to Perth!) This has saved him about $638 in petrol, and avoided around 1104 kgs of CO 2 emissions. Good work Colin! June 2011
Colin with his townie style "E city Roller"
"I have been riding to work every day for 3 months, which is about 110 Km‘s a week. I chose the E-Bike because I have three hills to negotiate and because of the distance which is longer than I would like to ride on a conventional bike. Riding the E-Bike takes me about 10 minutes longer that driving. In addition to the moderate daily exercise I am getting, my ride takes me along the bike path on the edges of Lake Burley Griffin - and this is a really great ride. On my way to and from work I am able to see the swans raising their cygnets. I like the townie because it’s more retro in style and has traditional things- like mudguards, a comfortable seat and a basket to carry gear in". Colin, November 2010
Katie Cole has had her Volto Star since 2009. Since then, Katie and family have purchased another 4 e-bikes from us.
"Electric bikes make cycling a real and infinitely more sustainable alternative to driving cars! With my trailer attached to my electric bike, I can carry my entire family of three children (age 7,9,10) to and fro around Canberra, on OFF ROAD cycle paths most of the time, without encountering any traffic or arriving exhausted at my destination! And when I'm on my own, I simply detabuy a car yet thanks to the advent of electric bikes, probably never will! Thanks Simone and Kim". Katie Cole September 2010.