Saturday, May 21, 2022

First Impression of a New Toy


Jupiter Bike Discovery X5 350W Pedal Assist eBike

A little backstory since I have been woefully absent from blogging for far too long: last year I contracted with a new publisher to write a book on what it's like to cycle in your senior years. Granted there are a lot of cycling books out there, but this one will (presumably, I know how things go when you're writing and it often goes in a whole other direction) look at it from the perspective of someone who isn't a hard-core cyclist. Just someone who rides for fun, enjoys it, and is looking for ways to make it a bit more fun and comfortable as the twilight years start making everything hurt.

As a part of that, I'm trying out some bikes I otherwise wouldn't have. An electric cargo bike. A couple of road bikes. An electric cruiser. An electric town bike. A single speed with no power other than my aching and aging body.

A couple of days ago I took delivery on one of the test bikes. Well, two, actually, since my editor and publisher thought that since this bike folds and is more portable than my other bikes, the Spouse Thingy might want to play with one, too. I admit, I was not as excited about this as I've been about other bikes. It's tiny; it looks like a toy. It's got a smaller battery than I'd like. The wheel size and the wheelbase is short, which gave me a few concerns about stability.'s a bike and I'm game.

So today I got out before the heat could convince me to stay home and play a stupid number of hours on Animal Crossing. The battery was fully charged, the tires had been properly inflated after bike assembly, and it was more ready to go than I was. I made the deliberate decision to not stray too far from home for the first couple of miles, just in case, decided to ride at pedal assist level two, and off I went.

Gotta admit, for a first was fun. There are some drawbacks to it; there's a bit of a delay in the pedal assist kicking in when starting from a dead stop, which is fine for me but I could see it being an issue for someone with bad knees. The grips have this texture on them that left a literal impression on my palms, and was a bit uncomfortable--but I can fix that with some fingerless cycling gloves. There is no bottle cage mount, which really isn't a major issue given the battery range, but if you're like me and drink a lot, you're going to want a water bottle.

The upside: the throttle is very responsive, so that delay in pedal assist isn't a major deal. Just crack on the throttle to get going, start pedaling, and it's all good. A $10 handlebar extension can provide a spot for an easily reachable bottle cage. And I can wear gloves; I usually do, anyway, for no reason other than if I go down, I want the gloves to get ripped up and not my hands.

My concerns about the battery range are not out of line. It's advertised as having a 30 miles range, and I presume that's with a rider that weighs quite a bit less than I do, and only using PA1 with zero throttle. At PA2, averaging 12mph (which is slower than I get on the road bike without any sort of assist), I went 12 miles and ended with 35% of the battery left.

That reading was while still in motion. When I stopped, the gauge jumped up. I presume that's what it would have left if I dropped to PA1 and were a thin person. I expected a shorter range, but hoped I would hit 10-12 miles with half the battery left. was fun. The seat is reasonably comfy and I may try riding leaned forward quite a bit for a couple miles to see if it would work on my road bike (I'm guessing not; it's meant for upright riding.) And because I had no water with me, I used that as an excuse to stop at Starbucks...and the feeling of locking up this $700 bike (at's more on the manufacturer's site) compared to locking up a $5000 road bike is significant. I didn't worry about it at all while inside, while I always sit where I can see my bike out the window otherwise.

I could see this becoming my go-to-Starbucks bike. I'll need a backpack to haul my computer, but being as upright as it is, that's not a problem.

Hopefully next week we'll get a chance to fold the bikes up and determine how easy it is to haul them somewhere else to ride.

Gotta admit, so far I am not unhappy with how it rides. 12 miles is not a real test, but it's a decent start.