ROD "Fed up with paying for parking on campus and sitting in traffic"
I'm Rod, a 51 year old research engineer and lab manager at UT Austin. I spent a lot of my life riding sport bikes so I wanted an ebike that was fast and would also give me a good workout. I opted for the Stromer ST1 Platinum. It is pretty much the Ferrari of ebikes. It's even the right shade of red! I commute on my ebike from the Zilker neighborhood almost everyday. The only days I don’t ride are when the forecast predicts ice or lightning. Because of the combined bus/bike lanes on Guadalupe, I can make the 7 mile trip from UT to the South Lamar area in less than 20 minutes--if I pedal hard enough.
That’s the thing about the Stromer--there’s no throttle; it only moves as fast as you pedal it; and the speed is so enticing that you find yourself pedaling as hard as you can. I routinely go 20 mph on flat ground, and go much faster coming down Guadalupe toward the river or on the hills behind Zilker Park. After nearly a year of pedaling a 63-pound ebike, my stamina has increased to the point that when I’m riding with other people, I don’t even turn the bike on. I can usually keep up, even while pulling a trailer! I even pulled the trailer up the hill where Flipnotics used to be (Kinney). I’ve also dropped some weight, and I look much fitter.
In addition to going fast on my commute, the ebike is really fun because I get to ride on trails and sidewalks. Whipping down a curve under a bridge with railroad ties on one side and a handrail on the other is every bit as much of a fun thrill as leaning a sportbike into twisting turns in the Hill Country. I drive a fast car and, when there aren’t cars in the way, there are some select turns I four-wheel-drift through on my way to work. I like riding my Stromer even more than that! I am pumped when I get to work. I would rather ride in freezing or boiling weather than sit in traffic. I really had no idea how much I would love riding this ebike. I was just fed up with paying for parking on campus and sitting in traffic for 45 minutes to go 7 miles.
Another thing about my ebike is that the motor is whisper quiet. On a routine errand I make to Mopac and Bee Caves, I ride the back way down narrow foot trails, bouncing over roots and rocks, and ducking under branches. I have surprised wild turkeys and watched them run down the trail in front of me. The other day I came around a turn and dozens of birds took flight all around me. That doesn’t happen on a motorcycle or in a car. I love riding along Shoal Creek under the buildings downtown--I had no idea how pretty some of that scenery is. Sometimes after it rains, the water is so clear that I can see the turtles and fish swimming around. I used to see bumpers and brake lights.
I also have a detachable trailer I use to take my dog to daycare three days a week. With my help, the motor has no trouble pulling my dog and trailer up very steep hills. He loves to ride in the trailer! I just put him in the trailer, drop him off at daycare, and pick him up on the way home. The trailer also comes in handy for carrying sandwiches from Thundercloud, beer from the store, and swimming gear like my kickboard and towels.
I am a fairly big guy (6’1”, 220lbs) and obviously I ride the bike hard--often over bumpy trails. So I rattle screws loose, blow out tires, and go through brake pads. Rocket Electrics has bailed me out several times. I call from work and they send one of their Rocket Wrenches to fix my bike so I can get home. When I need service that entails their keeping my ebike, they provide a loaner bike for me to use. When the service is only going to take an hour, they let me test drive all the bikes in the showroom. They even came and picked up my bike at the house once to fix a warrantied issue. Who else does that?
Obviously I love my ebike. I picked one that really fits my personality and hardcore attitude. It has even inspired me to make a soon-to-be released phone app and some other inventions. (I am a geek, after all). There are some others in the showroom I would like to have--the fat tire one is really fun to ride, and the mountain bikes would be great for all those rocks. I wouldn’t buy an ebike from anybody else. I have a friend who was a manager at another bike shop, so I could have bought the same bike at a deep discount. But I liked what Rocket Electrics was about--I could tell they were passionate about making the ebike thing work in Austin for the long term; and I sensed they really meant it when they talked about customer service. Plus, everybody is so friendly and they are genuinely happy to see me when I come in the door.