== lostluck.dev ==

Burning Man Bike 2022

burningman bikes gear

I’m intending to go to Burning Man for a second time. One place where I underdid it, was getting the cheapest bike that fit. It was old. It was rusty. The best thing about it was its blue colour. It was a pain to move anything other than myself with it.

So this year, I’d like to try something different, if a bit spendier: a folding electric bike.

Some of this was spurred by other members of my camp having them last time.

The problem with an old cheap bike, is that you get problems associated with an old cheap bike. For me, this was mechanical problems: from bolts being rusted solid to their holes, to tires being persistently deflating, to gear changes, and a rusty chain.

I did take it into a mechanic to replace the chain, and tires, and get it minimally safe to ride. Sadly, it didn’t last through the burn. The new chain began to seize up from the existing rust on the gearing, and the tires developed slow leaks from the rust in the tire rims. The pedals and handlebar are non-removable from the rusted bolts, which is inconvenient for transit.

On top of that, I underestimated how useful it would be to carry things around Black Rock City, especially ice from Arctica. The bike had no cargo space to speak of. It was hilarious getting a bag of ice back to camp in my lap.

All in all, while what I had worked, it wasn’t convenient by any stretch for my rudimentary bike maintenance skills.

What I’m looking for is:

  • Folding: It can transit to the burn more easily.
  • Cargo space: I like bringing things along, and have space to put decorations or similar.
  • Electric: Because Zooms. That, and to give it purpose outside of one week this summer. Seattle has hills.

Weight isn’t so much a factor, since the transporting is going to be handled by cars or trucks, rather than being carried up and down stairs.

Finally cost: If I plan on taking it to Black Rock City, it needs to be a price where I won’t feel awful if it doesn’t survive the experience.

This weekend, during the gaps in the rain, I tried out some electric folding bikes at Electric and Folding Bikes NW, and at RadPower. While both stops were educational, I think I’ll probably be getting a Lectric XP 2.0 Step Thru, from the internet instead. Ultimately, it comes down to a combination being able to fit on the bike and cost.

At EBikesNW, I tried out a Brompton and a Tern, and glanced at a non-electric Dahon.

Overall, I think I liked the Brompton the most, because of how small and light it is.

The few electric bikes I’ve tried all have the same feeling zippiness, but the Brompton’s architecture makes it feel nimble. Kind of like moving from a thick marker to a fine tip pen. That’s probably the 16 inch wheels over the 20 inch ones. But the accessories aren’t set for load hauling, more commute bags that work with the bike. No basket for example. That’s not as amazing for Burning Man, when my goal is something that can make ice runs easier, or lug things around Seattle’s hills. So it would be great for my commute, and other travel, but not for the burn. Certainly not at that cost.

Maybe as a later upgrade for my commute, if I like the commute I get out of the Lectric. I won’t go into commute uses too much right now, but the short version is I would need to bike way more to justify that cost.

At RadPower: the RadExpand 5 doesn’t work for my 6'2" w/ 34" inseam. Their size chart is spot on. I needed another 3-5 inches to sit comfortably with my knees not going into the handlebars. It’s 1500 base cost, before taxes, accessories, and then needing to do the rest of the assembly myself, made it a non starter.

Early March, they discontinued the RadMini line for the RadExpand. But they still had some of their previous model, the RadMini 4, in store for me to try. They worked much better for my size and were quite comfortable! However, there was still the same cost issue to get going. One needs to pay a fair amount to be able to have the carry racks for them, and that’s before a basket.

So, probably all I’ll get from RadPower in the near future are reflective safety stickers, and a cargo net.

Meanwhile everything I’ve seen for the Lectric is that it would accommodate my size. They come standard with piles of other things I like, like a front suspension fork, a neat battery/motor display, wide handlebars and flip up pedals. Even with getting the cargo baskets, they’re still end up with something cheaper than I’d get at RadPower. Similar to the RadPower folding bike, it’s about 64 lbs, which is pretty weighty.

The main issue is I haven’t tried it.

I’ve had to binge several reviews to get to my conclusion. A comparison review between the Lectric and a RadMini had them pretty much neck and neck, but the edge going to the Lectric due to the price. So Lectric it is.

The final elephant in the room is the cute little electric Citizen bikes that members of my theme camp had last time: compact, pretty light, has a carrying bag. Airless tires are neat too. Unfortunately they don’t have the kind of cargo basket I’m looking for for the burn. Their measurements do seem to have a better max pedal to saddle height than the RadExpand 5 for some of them. I’d probably go with them for cost x weight minimizing (~40lbs for their London model) otherwise.

OK. Now I’m coveting again. If I decide that’s what I’d prefer in my commuting needs, then it’ll be available when I’m ready.

In any case, the Lectric has now been ordered, and while their return policy is not worth speaking of, I think it’ll be fine for experimenting with over the summer.