May 22

OmniWheel Review

Omniwheel electric bike conversion

OmniWheel by Evelo

OmniWheel Makes Any Bike an Electric Bike

This OmniWheel Review is part of an ongoing series of trail-related products featured on Trailsnet.com. The OmniWheel is a revolutionary new product, made by Evelo, designed to make just about any bicycle into an electric bike. In essence, when you purchase an OmniWheel, you are purchasing a wheel, tire, battery, console and motor. You provide the rest of the bike, install the OmniWheel, and you’re ready to go.

Why OmniWheel & Other Electric Bikes on Trails?

Before I go into more details about OmniWheel, let me give a quick recap about electric bikes in general, and what they have to do with trails. As you may recall, the most commented-on post on Trailsnet thus far has been the one about Electric Bikes on Trails. Trailsnet has always been a supporter of inclusiveness when it comes to trails. Other than motorized (internal combustion engines) vehicles, we believe that most personal transportation vehicles (PTVs) should be allowed on trails. This includes electric bikes. We believe that America should adopt rules that are already in place across the rest of the world where Pedal Assist (PAS) electric bikes with some kind of governor/regulator are allowed (often encouraged) on most bike paths. It’s simple. Pedal-assist e-bikes have pretty much all the same benefits as regular bikes. They encourage exercise, they are safe, they are affordable for most people, they do not pollute, and they do not use fossil fuel. But electric bicycles have an added advantage: They make trails and bicycling more readily available to a wider cross-section of folks. They take the intimidation factor out of trails that may be a bit lengthy or may contain hilly sections. Thus they make trail cycling more accessible to those who may be less physically fit or may have some sort of minor disability. In addition, electric bikes make bicycle commuting much more feasible. They allow a commuter to carry more work-related items (daypack, pannier, satchel) and to arrive at work less sweaty and bedraggled.

What Kind of Bikes Would Work With an OmniWheel?

This question is easy to answer. Take a look at the list of bikes that might work well with an OmniWheel:

  • most urban bikes

    installed OmniWheel electric wheel

    OmniWheel on a Cruiser

  • most road bikes
  • most mountain bikes
  • most cruisers
  • most tandems
  • some recumbents (bikes and trikes)
  • most classic bikes

So, as you can see, the OmniWheel has the potential of working well on a wide variety of bikes. I can’t quite say that it works on all bikes, though. Check out the section (below) about which bikes may not be suitable for an Omniwheel.

Who Might Want to Purchase an OmniWheel?

So, as mentioned in the first paragraph, the OmniWheel, by Evelo, allows you to turn just about any bike into an electric bicycle. E-bikes are a great option for recreational bicyclists, commuters or even folks on bike tours including long-distance trail tours. Electric bikes are common in Europe and offered on most of the trail bike tours in addition to non-electric bikes. Electric bikes come in especially handy for hilly terrain or when longer distances might make bicycle riding too much for the average bike rider. The OmniWheel is particularly suitable for someone who may want the benefits of owning an e-bike but doesn’t want the expense of buying the entire bikes. Someone who has a bike that they aren’t using much could especially benefit from transforming that bike into an e-bike.

What Are Some Bikes That Might Not be Suitable for the OmniWheel?

The OmniWheel does not work on every single bicycle. In most cases, it works well, but here are some possible bikes that may not be suitable for use with an OmniWheel:

  • bikes with a carbon fork
  • bikes used mainly for single track mountain biking
  • bikes that have wheel sizes other than 26″ (often mountain bikes & cruisers) or 700c road wheels
  • bikes that do not have at least a 100mm (3.9 inch) space between the fork dropouts (inside dimension)

For more information check out the OmniWheel Compatibility web page.

Installing an OmniWheel

How difficult is it to install an OmniWheel? The answer to that question depends on two factors:

  • How mechanically inclined are you?
  • What type of bicycle will you be installing it on?

These two factors are interrelated. For most bikes, the OmniWheel is quite easy to install, even if you aren’t particularly mechanically inclined. Assuming you have a bicycle that meets the correct specifications and are able to follow directions, installing OmniWheel is not very difficult at all. However, if your bike has issues, such as the fork isn’t wide enough, the bottom bracket is atypical or your brakes are incompatible, then it will take a bit more mechanical know-how and/or patience. Fortunately, both the phone and email support provided by Evelo/OmniWheel are top-notch and extremely helpful. They will walk you through the process with great patience and even send you replacement parts if the regular ones don’t work for your bicycle. In the end, if you’re not the least bit mechanically inclined, you may want to consider having someone from a bike-repair shop install the OmniWheel for you. If you go that route, be sure to take the OmniWheel Installation Guide with you as well as all the parts that came with the OmniWheel.

OmniWheel Review Summary

  • Do I recommend the OmniWheel? – Definitely. If you’re in the market for an electric bike, I highly recommend you check out Evelo and the OmniWheel.
  • Can the OmniWheel and other electric bikes be ridden on your local trails? – Unfortunately that question is way too complicated in the United States. Our laws are way too convoluted on this topic. Those who own/enjoy e-bikes as well as those who manufacture/sell e-bikes should work together to change the system. Once you spend some time on a pedal-assisted e-bike, you’ll realize that they are every bit as safe as any other bike.
  • How far can the OmniWheel go on a single charge? – I was able to go slightly over 40 miles on a single charge with my OmniWheel. Of course that will vary depending on the terrain and the individual riding bike. Keep in mind, the OmniWheel is pedal-assist, so part of that 40 miles was human power and (the biggest) part was the electric-assist of the OmniWheel. 40 miles with a pedal-assist electric bike provides some exercise/activity but is not overly taxing.

If you have ever thought of purchasing an electric bicycle, I would recommend you contact Evelo/OmniWheel at the links provided in this Trailsnet blog-post. It is a high-quality product that is relatively affordable. And, as always, Trailsnet welcomes comments (below) from subscribers, guests, potential e-bike converts, current e-bike owners or members of the Evelo/OmniWheel team.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/05/22/omniwheel-review/

May 15

World Trails Network

World HIKING Trails Network

dirt trail with trail sign

Uniting the World, One Trail at a Time

I was so excited when I learned that there was a World Trails Network complete with a World Trails Network Conference. Was this finally it?… the Holy Grail of trail organizations and trail websites. There are certainly some awesome organizations out there with American Trails and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy right up there at the top. But they both have a decidedly focused approach both geographically and functionally. They both mainly focus on one country and RTC focuses mostly on, understandably, rail-trails. Don’t get me wrong. I love America, and I love rail-trails. But what about everything else?

Worldwide Trails

So where was I?…. trails…world…Network… Conference… Oh yeah, now I remember. I was excited about the World Trails Network…. and I still am… to a slightly lesser degree. It turns out that all that world trails stuff was exclusively for hiking trails. Once again, I love hiking trails, but… what about bikes, trikes, Trikkes, inline skates, horses, etc.? So when it comes to a worldwide network of trails on the internet, Trailsnet.com is still it. All trails, all countries, all types of trail users all in one network. I’m not gloating. Seriously. Quite the opposite actually. Building such a network takes a lot of time and $$$$. It ain’t going to be easy my friends. But, as the saying goes: It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/05/15/world-trails-network/

May 08

Starry Nights Bike Path

Starry Nights bike path in the Netherlands

illuminated bike path

Back to the Future Bike Path

A very futuristic Dutch Starry Nights bike path pays tribute to Van Gogh and one of his most iconic paintings. This glowing bike path is in the town of Eindhoven in the Netherlands. (see map below) Eindhoven is southeast of Amsterdam and was once home to Vincent Van Gogh. Daan Roosegaarde, the artist who created this path, wanted to pay tribute to both Van Gogh and the Netherlands cycling culture. The result was this half mile stretch of bike path that is lit up with thousands of glowing LED lights. Not only is it a great place for riding bikes, but it’s also a popular spot for first dates. Wow this just keeps getting better. exercise, recreation, the arts AND romance. Leave it to those ingenious Dutch folks to get so much bang for their buck. Ya gotta love it!!

map showing where Eindhoven is in the Netherlands

Eindhoven, the Netherlands

Thanks to Trailsnet subscriber Audrey for submitting this blog-post idea and to NPR for their A Glowing Bike Path Inspired By Van Gogh story.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/05/08/starry-nights-bike-path/

May 01

The Difference Between Bicycle Routes & Bicycle Trails

Bicycle Routes Are Not the Same as Bicycle Trails

It can be frustrating to search for destination bike trails when planning an active travel tour. Attempting an internet search using the keywords best bike trails in Europe will likely produce nothing but web pages about bike routes rather than bike trails. This is somewhat true in the United States, but even more so in Europe. Looking for trail tours results in a similar outcome. There are many of us who love to plan our active vacations around bike trails, but it’s difficult finding tours & trails. This is mainly because travel companies & the tourism industry in general don’t get the difference between bicycle routes & bicycle trails.

Route of the Hiawatha trail in Idaho

Bike Trail

Bicycle Trails

A bike trail can go by many different names: bike path, greenway, cycleway, bicycle boulevards. But what they (should) have in common is that they are completely separate from any form of motorized traffic. Completely separate is the key phrase. So bike lanes, even if they are protected lanes, do not constitute bike trails or bike paths. Touring on a bike trail is a completely different experience than road touring or touring on a cycle route. Touring on a bike trail offers safety, scenery and community. The safety is obvious since bikes won’t be mixing with fast-moving cars & trucks. The scenery is something that people don’t fully realize until they’ve experienced trail touring. By taking away the constant threat of cars, bike riders are able to relax & enjoy their surroundings. They can look around, stop whenever they want and generally focus on the scenery rather than their safety. The community comes from the same source. Because riders are free to travel at their own pace and stop at random, without worrying about traffic, they tend to meet other riders more easily. They also tend to interact with those riders throughout their journey. It’s almost as if the trail becomes the common bond of a disparate band of travelers.

bike route sign

Bike Route

Bicycle Route

Bicycle routes are often mistakenly called bicycle trails. A Bicycle route may contain sections of bike trails, but they are usually heavily dependent upon roads, streets and/or highways to connect the trails. If over 20% of a particular passage is on roadways of some kind, then it is a bicycle route as opposed to a bicycle trail. Bicycle routes are often signposted and linked with helpful amenities such as accommodations, eateries & interesting (scenic or historical) attractions. So Bicycle routes are desirable, but not quite up to the standards of a bicycle trail in terms of safety and relaxation.

Examples of Bike Trails and Bike Routes

The Great Allegheny Passage is an example of a bicycle trail. It is safe, easy to follow, scenic, historic and, most important, free of traffic. It is possible that a bike trail such as the Great Allegheny Passage may contain road crossings or occasional short sections of riding alongside a road; but in general, it is free of the usual foul smells and dangers of road riding. On the other hand, La Loire a Velo in France, often called La Loire a Velo trail, is actually a bicycle route … for now. They are doing a wonderful job of gradually expanding the trail portions of the route. But at the present, it is still a bicycle route with long sections of road riding.

Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2015/05/01/the-difference-between-bicycle-routes-bicycle-trails/

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