Bike Hugger Bettie Delivers

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by Byron on May 04, 2007 at 8:21 AM

Running the kids around, errands, dates, and mostly delivering the goods is what we’ve been doing with Bettie. I’ve got suggestions for Stokemonkey, observations, and a movie after the jump.

Bettie

Long Term Bettie

Reporting on a long-term relationship with our sport utility bike, it’s mostly good, with a few improvements we can eventually roll into a Bettie 2.0:

  • Stand Over Height – Fully loaded, with kids, a spouse, or Clip-n-Seals, the stand-over height of Bettie is always a concern and difficult. You’re balancing a hundred pounds or so, then stepping up, and over to get onto Bettie. The top tube of a cargo Bettie would need to be as low as possible or made like a factory worker’s cruiser bike with a basket in front or back.
  • Whippiness – Bettie is a whip machine. Some cyclist may like that sensation, I most certainly do not. While I understand why Bettie whips under load and deal with it, standing up is scary, and a Bettie 2.0, Surly, or custom frame should address that problem.
  • ShroudMonkey – even after being extra careful, I had a nice pair of track pants instantly sucked up into the Stokemonkey gear and ripped right off my leg. A shroud should cover the Stokemonkey drive gear to protect your pants and leg.
  • MonkeyThumb – Riding Bettie with the power on eventually strains your thumb. Don’t mean to sound like a wuss, but it does. It’s the pressure on the trigger. It doesn’t help the MonkeyThumb that I bling the bell everywhere I go. I’m just so happy to ride Bettie, that I declare it with a bling, bling, bling when I pass anyone (embarrassing my children the whole time)
  • MonkeyMusic – It’s the harmonic music the Stokemonkey makes that alarms dogs. Todd described it as, “there are eight distinct tones in that hum . . I can hear five of them … My wife can hear seven.” One of those eight tones dogs hear as “bark!” MonkeyMusic could sell as cosmic, carbon-reducing ringtones.
  • MonkeyMeter – Even if it wasn’t accurate at all, I’d really like a MonkeyMeter that’d tell me where I was at on power supply.
  • StopMonkey – After several tries, working with XtraCycle, and a trip to a downhill bike shop (I was totally out of place in that joint!) for an alignment, we still couldn’t get the rear disc to work right on Bettie because of the tolerances between the mounts. We had to settle for the Magura Gustav in the front and the crappy Shimano disc in the back. That means, I’m slowly stopping from the rear, then suddenly stopping on the front. Note that your needs may differ, but with the loads we carry on Bettie and the hills, we needed full on stopping ability. I don’t know what Shimano’s deal is with their disc brakes, but stopping power ain’t it.

Slow Ride

Over time with Bettie, I learned to just slow down. There’s an exhilaration with the power from the Stokemonkey and cyclists are genetically programmed for speed. So, I was always pushing it faster, running right of out battery, and blowing up my legs. It’s best to just let the Stokemonkey torque get you up the hill, at a leisure speed, instead of attempting to go 35 mph with traffic (blinging the bell at motorists …).

Slowing down on Bettie also lets you talk more to the people that want to know what the deal is with that red (Stokemonkey’s motor is bright red) thing on your big bike. Take Bettie out for coffee, park it, and watch they crowds gather, debate, talk and try to figure it out. A viral marketing plan for a longtail bike is to just ride it around and talk to people about it.

Bettie Delivers

Check the Bettie Delivers movie. The clip shows me delivering 100 pound of Clip-n-Seals on the Bettie to Alki Mail and Dispatch for shipment to the Netherlands.

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Comments: 4

Thanks for the review, Byron. A couple responses:

- ShroudMonkey: it’s amazingly tough to design a chain guard that will fit arbitrary Stokemonkey installations, where you can’t count on any mounting points apart from the motor bracket itself, the length or angles of the chain. But we persist in trying; latest scheme is 2 teflon tubes joined to one another covering the chain runs, with fill material. A half-measure we may design in to the next bracket run would be a simple shield for the freewheel pinch point. Until then, ya gotta pretend you’re riding a fixie and do for your left leg what you’d do for your right.

- MonkeyThumb: there’s a half-twist type throttle available that is less fatiguing, but I’m increasingly fond of the thumb type as safer in panic-stopping situations, where your weight being thrown forward onto a whole-hand-throttle can lead to unwanted/dangerous motor engagement. So I say give your thumb a rest and pedal the old fashion way more often?

- MonkeyMusic: I swear dogs don’t bark at me. First I’ve heard of this.

- MonkeyMeter: You want the DrainBrain accessory. It’s been available the whole time you’ve had Bettie. This functionality may be rolled into the base product before long.

- Slow ride. Hauling ass is really expensive in wind-resistance/range terms, yes. It’s also usually illegal. Stokemonkey is very likely to get a speed limiter built in soon. 20 with substantial cargo or passengers is plenty fast, especially in consideration of the braking and whippiness issues you have. It will also let bike shops like our own not worry about liability issues so much.

Thanks for the fair and thorough response and I look forward to working with you on the next Bettie. Regarding the MonkeyShroud, would it be possible in future models to encase the gear at the Stokemonkey? I understand what you mean about custom installations and addressing seat tubes and such and also not making something that looks lame.

Overall, we’re very happy with the Bettie, xTracycle, and Stokemoney. It def works as a sport-utility bike and reduced our car trips. You can see that in the movie—using Bettie to deliver Clip-n-Seals is where it’s at for us.

Towards Bettie 2.0, we’ll base that on the [Big Dummy](http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=surly+big+dummy&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8) and other refinements and post them all here. The Big Dummy should address the whippiness (we hope) and what have you learned or seen with internally gear hubs like he Nexus, Rohloff, and possibly NuVinci? Once at zen with the speed, you’d think you could ride with less gears, less mechanisms, and maintenance.

On the MonkeyMeter (getting crazy with the CamelCasing) above, what I meant specifically was a product feature instead of another add-on seemingly meant for engineers. It’s an effort to make the Bettie more user friendly (at least in our thinking).

I think, again, it’s us with those darn hills. Bettie is quite rideable without the motor assist, but most of what we do is up and down steep hills. Laying off the blinging bell should help the thumb!

 

Thanks BH and Todd.

Do either of you have any experience yet with the Yuba Mundo?  I think it addresses the stand-over issue to some degree, but I don’t know if its StokeMonkey-capable.  Love to here your thoughts on it, nonetheless.

—David

We’ve got a Mundo on the way for a review and we’ll blog it up.

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