Dear Craig Taber and Optibike,
The Twin Cities of Minnesota has a strong band of bicycle commuters, many of whom commute to work all year, despite the frigid winters. I live north of the Twin Cities with a 68 mile round trip commute, and yearned to ride my bicycle to work. I have been aserious bicycle rider since four years of age, and contemplated using the road bike and quickly realized its impracticality because my best riding times far exceeded the round trip time spent commuting by automobile. There had to be a way!
The round trip commute only becomes practical when the elapsed time falls below three and a half hours: round trip driving to work (2 hours) followed by a bike ride (1 1/2 hours). Electric assisted bicycles came to mind, but my initial investigations of available electric assist bicycles revealed that they did not have sufficient range to get me to work. Second, the limited range meant an average road speed that did not improve upon my unassisted road bike speed. This all changed when I stumbled upon the Optibike website.
Wow! Here was a bicycle that could do it. I ordered a 600T with a 2nd battery and anxiously awaited its arrival. It arrived early September 2007, and I was immediately impressed with the quality and care taken in packaging the bicycle. I assembled the bicycle that night and took it for its first ride the following day to get a feel for its road manners and capabilities. Then for my second ride, with a huge leap of faith and full trust in the specs, I rode it to work the next day. Guess what? The batteries made it with power to spare. I commuted until the beginning of October when the daylight hours became too short to complete my commute without the headlights.
This bike’s ride is smooth, like a Cadillac. Bumps that rattle your teeth on your typical road bike barely send a ripple through this one. Riding a washboard gravel road is truly amazing. The speed is only slightly slower than on a paved road. The suspension eats up all the divots with nary a complaint. Railroad tracks, no need to back off for these unless they happen to be wet. This bike beckons to be ridden, the first bike I ever yearned to ride. It is that much fun!
As a scientist, I truly appreciate the engineering execution of this bicycle. It is extremely well thought out. All elements of this design work together as a whole, both functionally and aesthetically, to create an elegant machine that resembles other bicycles, yet stands apart. A feature I especially like about this design is its ease of upgrading. Its layout facilitates the incorporation of future advances. The most recent Optibike website already highlights several advances over the 2007 models. I suspect more are in the works.
I choose to commute during daylight hours for safety reasons. This constrains my riding season to around six months a year. The beginning of the riding season must wait for a couple of good rains to wash the winter salt off the roads. Over the course of the next six months I expect to commute 7000 miles, with an additional 1500 miles of pleasure riding bringing the total to around 8500 miles annually. For these six months a gas-powered vehicle comes off the road. With $4/gallon gasoline on the horizon this quickly puts money in the bank. From an environmental standpoint, this prevents 8,800 lbs of CO2from entering the atmosphere. Health benefits are icing on the cake. I now have more time to do other things: the Optibike commuting time is less than the cumulative time of commuting by car followed by a bicycle ride. In addition, my available riding season increased due to using the daylight spent commuting by car. Finally, the stresses of work are gone by the time I get home. My hat is off to the designers and people of Optibike.
Phil M. PhD