Putting 1500 miles on the rear axle

As I mentioned in the last post: When we travel with the Bolt it gets dragged around instead of driving. We just returned from a week long trip to New Jersey dragging the Bolt all the way.

First to Jersey City at Liberty Harbor RV park (camping on asphalt!)

Then at The Depot Travel Park in Cape May, NJ.

Didn’t notice any strange looks (a EV with Michigan plates driving around?); I did notice a ton of Tesla’s and no other EV’s. Tesla’s where everywhere. The only other non-Tesla EV I saw was ours. (Comparing this to my last few trips to California: there were EVs of all manufacturers everywhere in CA.)

Our sightseeing activities only amounted to about 100 miles or so. I charged up once: About 1/2 way through the trip the car was at 1/2 a “tank”–didn’t really need the charge but this was the first time the Bolt charged at a campground.

It was very nice to have a small car driving around the tight areas on the East Coast (this was only highlighted by the trek into the campground with camper and car in tow). The Bolt easily fit in small spots and narrow roads, even the small one way lanes (I’d call them an alley).

After this successful long trip, perhaps we’ll plan some more….

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Putting 1500 miles on the rear axle

Travelling with the Bolt

This is a bit different as anyone who knows about EVs will read the above headline and expect a post describing an EV road trip talking about how easy it is to go from A to B, where fast chargers were found, and attempts at debunking the many EV myths about long distance EV travel.

This is not that blog post. Here is how our Bolt goes long distance travelling:

Taking the Bolt for a trip

This summer has been and will be filled with some long-distance (400 miles, 800 miles, etc.) trips with the RV + Bolt combo. So far things have gone well: Bolt pulls very nicely on the dolly behind the RV. I even haven’t had to charge up at a campground–the Bolt’s 200+ mile range has been more than sufficient to handle any running around the campground without requiring a recharge. Nonetheless I’ve been reserving 50-amp sites so that I can recharge if necessary. Now that I have that long “extension cord” I don’t have to move the car close to the power pedestal.

Here we are all setup near Toronto, Canada–visiting our last ballpark (might do a long post about that in the near future as well). I don’t even think anyone gave it a 2nd thought: seeing a Michigan plated Bolt/EV long way from its home–we did notice a few fellow campers pointing out the Bolt, however.

The manual lists a specific sequence that must be performed to tow the Bolt on a dolly (can’t tow it 4-wheels down)–I detailed that a bit in this post. Part of that is to wait 2 minutes and then disconnect the 12V battery. This is required because the Bolt has an electronic e-brake and it really really likes to engage it; a lot. I installed a knife switch to make it easier to disconnect the battery but even so I wrap 3 or 4 rubber bands around the knife switch just in case the “knife” part somehow falls and makes closes the disconnect (with the rubber bands blocking it the circuit won’t be made). Can’t be too careful.

Stay tuned I may have another post or more about dragging a Bolt around–maybe even one that doesn’t talk about the Bolt at all, just some goofy ballparks.

Travelling with the Bolt

60 Miles in and…

Wow. Its been almost two weeks with the eBike and what a blast! The odometer on the bike just ticked over 60 miles and I’ve only charged it to full twice (neither time was the battery fully empty). An indication of how much or little assist that the motor is providing.

eBikes have been in the back of my mind since the first Drive Electric Week event I participated in back in 2014 (in 2013 it was just a day called “National Plugin Day”, the name and duration was changed for 2014). At that event there was a vendor showing off some eBikes.

As the lament kind of goes: Now that I’ve got one, why didn’t I do this earlier?

The Rad Mini is sort of a two-step change for me: 1) its an eBike, and 2) its a “fat bike” (one with fat tires, this one has 4″ wide tires). After seeing fat bikes before I was always curious if they were harder to pedal due to the larger contact patch and, likely, heavier weight. Now I know: Not as much as you think (yeah it has an assist but you can turn that off to see what pedaling the bike w/o assist feels like).

I never realized what a difference the fat tires makes. This bike can ride through terrain that I never would with my old hybrid with skinny tires. The fat tires just float right over stuff. Sand, rocks, muddy/swampy areas, etc. no problem. In addition to that just kick in a little assist and just about anything can be conquered LOL. (On one of my rides this past week a utility truck had blocked the sidewalk ahead. The area around the sidewalk was all muddy with tall cat-tails. I just rode the bike around the truck and crew like nothing, mowing down cat-tails ! )

Now you’re probably thinking: Ok come on its an eBike you’re hardly getting any sort of workout with the motor providing most of the drive power. Well sort of: I usually ride with the assist set at 1 or 2 on pavement and 2 or 3 when not on pavement. This provides plenty of workout for me as my heart rate would attest to. In addition, its been fun enough that I try to get out on the bike at least every other day–far more activity than before the eBike.

If you’ve been looking at eBikes and sitting on the fence about it…do it; you won’t regret it.

60 Miles in and…

A year with the Bolt

Today marks a complete year with the Bolt. My few thoughts on a year:

  • The seats: I find the seats quite comfortable and haven’t had a single issue with them. (I believe GM addressed the seats in the 2018 model year–mine is a 2018. There may also be a difference between the leather seats and the cloth ones.)
  • As far as an EV: The Bolt drives very much like the FFE did: silently, and efficiently.
  • The best part of the Bolt vs the FFE range baby. Its pretty amazing what 238 miles vs 70 miles will do for you. Even in winter I was getting 150 miles. This really was a game changer: I can drive several days without charging and the odd long trip simply isn’t an issue.
  • When parked next to one of our Escapes it looks almost as big but it isn’t: Its skinnier, a little shorter and thus can’t hold as much (although there is a lot of rear seat legroom).
  • There isn’t as much of a “family” of Bolts (e.g. if you see another on the road it isn’t that big of a deal–seeing another FFE on the road is surprising and you usually would get a wave).
  • The choice of included features seems a bit odd: I have the LT trim level instead of premier. It has power mirrors, blind-spot alert, but manual seats, and auto headlamps. It seems like GM just went through a check list for LT: “don’t need that, uncheck, don’t need that uncheck, etc.”
  • The HVAC system still takes some getting used to. In the FFE it was easy to put it into “vent” mode (turn A/C off and turn temp to “LO”) in the Bolt you turn off Heat/A/C but that doesn’t seem to turn off all the high-current HVAC systems.
A year with the Bolt

Adding a new EV to the stable..sort of

Today I added another EV to the garage. The battery isn’t nearly as big as the Bolt’s, its open air, has two wheels, and …. pedals. (Yeah not a motorcycle although those Zero’s look cool but I’d probably kill myself on one.)

The recommendation for this addition comes from a rather unusual source–at least for EV related things: a camping forum. There has been some discussion about eBikes over in a camping forum I follow. I’ve enjoyed the occasional bike ride since I was a kid–I wouldn’t call myself a “serious” rider, just a casual one. The idea, however, of a bike that I could ride for miles and wouldn’t tire me out nearly as much sounded very appealing.

The next decision is: wow that is the most expensive bike I’ve ever purchased (yeah I know you can find bikes much much more expensive but again “casual” rider). At some point, however, you have to decide: either s$$t or get off the pot…

So here we are, an ebike in front of an ecar LOL:

Bike in front of Bolt

That my dear friends is a Rad Mini eBike. Like I said above: $1,499 is the most I’ve ever paid for a bike, but boy is it fun. It arrived today and I’ve already put 14 miles on the thing–more miles than I’ve put on my normal bike in the past year (yeah I said “casual” LOL). I figure I’ll get out on this far more than my old bike.

What to do when you get a new bike? Head off to the local park with a bunch of bike trails (actually two different parks but who’s counting). The thing really eats up the trails and pavement.

All of the Rad bikes have both a throttle (if you’re feeling really lazy), or an assist feature. The assist feature has 6 levels: 0 – 5. Level 0 is no assist–you can feel what it takes to push you and the bike’s mass (31 kg) around. Level 5 is maximum assist: you barely have to pedal to keep moving. The bike has a rotation sensor on the front sprocket measuring how fast you’re pedaling. That speed combined with the assist level determines how much power is sent to the motor. Since its a speed sensor and not a torque sensor it takes about a revolution of the front sprocket before you feel the motor kick in (this invisible hand just pushes you along LOL).

I’ve found, in the short time I’ve had it, that it is really easy to use the gears to set how fast you want to pedal, then you set the assist level to determine how hard you want to pedal. The park I visited is very flat with wide open spaces that are prone to a lot of wind. On the non windy areas I was using level 2 and when the wind kicked in level 3. Both settings made it easy to maintain about a 16 mph pace–a bit faster than the parks 10 mph limit..oops! LOL

At the end of the day, however, its time to pack up the bike and bring it home. I don’t have a rack that can hold the Mini–yet so what to do? Well it has a neat trick: it folds up so I can just shove it into the Bolt LOL:

A Bike in a Bolt

You may be wondering: hey if the bike is doing the work, how are you getting any exercise? Well on 2 or 3 I still have to pedal and help move the bike, and if its more fun I’ll be out using it a lot more than the regular bike–just don’t tell Google fit; it thinks I’m an Olympic Cyclist now.

Adding a new EV to the stable..sort of

This is what EVs need

This is kind of cool: I’ve now seen two OEM’s EV commercials on TV (the other one I mentioned in this post). The new commercial prompting this post is this one:

Audi e-tron commercial

This is great: Take people’s reservations about owning an EV and turn them around throwing them in your face. Love it.

Another interesting thing about these two commercials is that they are for non-US based manufacturers. Clearly the US companies aren’t really interested in selling their EVs (Haven’t seen any Bolt commercials or Focus Electric commercials [back when they sold it] at all).

Keep them coming: more commercials mean more people see that EVs are a viable product.

This is what EVs need