Our customer and friend Jim Kirk answered some questions from a person who was interested in his bike, I thought his answers would be worth sharing:
Jim’s email (not edited):
I’ve owned my 850 since 4/2009 and have about 9.5K miles on it. I use it daily for lunch commuting (3 miles) and an afternoon or evening ride [about 12-15 miles].
I’ve done all work on the bike myself and have recently tested a 26AH battery for Opti before they released it for their current line of bikes. I’ve posted often on my work and upgrades on the Google Optibike forum:
You can browse through my web folders where you have numerous pictures and documents that you can look over.
1. Have you liked/enjoyed the bike as much as you thought you would?
Yes. I went from having several Iacocca Electric bikes [still have one] to the Opti. Here’s a link on an Iacocca bike I sold:
I find I use and enjoy the Opti much more than my other electric bikes, my car, or my boat. It’s just fun to drive.
2. Has the bike performed as well as you thought it would?
Since I added the Rohloff geared hub I’ve eliminated chain maintenance and performance is excellent. Riding A1A [Bahia Mar to Oakland Park bridge] I go from a nice leisurely 15-18 mph up to around 28 mph when I really start pumping. Don’t do 28 mph very often but its nice to know its there :-). Come to one of the ICW bridges [17th Street Causeway is the highest] and you’ll still pedal but you really notice the electric assist. Without undue effort I go up the 17th St. Causeway Bridge at 15mph using full electric power and very modest effort. On the downhill I often hit 32 mph with no pedalling and when I drop down to about 28 mph I turn on the power and pedal for bit to keep up the nice high speed I’ve gotten. Get lots of looks from cars when you move along that fast :-D.
3. Is the bike worth the amount of money that one spends on this type of bike?
It was worth every penny to me but I’m a mechanical engineer who appreciates well designed products that actually work in the real world as Opti does. You’ll have to make that decision but there is really nothing in the market that I think is comparable. Also Opti stands behind their product so if you have a problem they will take care of it. If you can afford the extra money there is an extended warranty available which is worth considering.
4. Can you feel the electric power when you have it on?
Yes. If you want you can stand on the pedals to rest your bottom and run as far as you like on electric power alone [I do this often for 1/2 mile or so]. The 850R encourages you to pedal because electric power comes through the motor mounted in the area between pedals [called a MBB=motorized bottom bracket]. So you twist the throttle [similiar to a motorcycle] to assist your pedalling. Don’t twist as much you pedal harder [good exercise], twist more you get more assist. Don’t pedal at all and you can go 20 mph using only battery power. With pedalling I can go up to 30 mph using full throttle and with less power you can pedal slower, go slower and use less battery. Want to go slower up a hill you’ve got 14 speeds in the Rohloff geared rear hub so you can drop down to gear 5 and go 8 mph using as little throttle as your legs feel like putting out. Twist the throttle more and your legs will work less. Shift up and down and turn the throttle to attain whatever speed or pedal effort you like-that’s the beauty of the MBB. Not other bike has this since its a patented design by Jim Turner, owner of Opti. Take a quick look at the patent:
5. Have you traveled any amount of ground down here on this bike in the Ft. Lauderdale/Pompano Beach area?
Yes. I hardly use my car any more. Summer riding is no problem in the FL heat because you have motor assist. Not sweaty and in need of a shower after an exhilarating bike ride to work, shopping, or just for fun. I like ridding at night in the summer [take about an hour ride after supper and go along the beach]. Less traffic, no sunburn, and just plain fun.
Bottom line. It’s about the most expensive bike you can get but it sure is a lot of fun and was well worth every penny I spent. Without reservation I recommend it. I would suggest the 850R with the new 26AH battery for the most fun and reliability. 40 miles or more range should be easily attainable based on my experience with the new battery.