This past weekend the Psyclists got together after a month hiatus to brave the 90+ degree weather for a 14-mile excursion from Princeton to Lawrenceville.
We first rode through the comfortably shaded Institute Woods, and then picked up the D&R Canal Towpath southbound until we reached the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT) connector. Here we were met with our first construction detour where we had to ride 0.5 miles along Meadow Road to Princeton Pike instead of following the LHT through the office park to reach Princeton Pike. Not a big deal, but just be aware of that small detour and follow the signs.
About a mile later we encountered our next obstacle: The LHT through the Lawrenceville School campus was closed due to construction. Getting around this one is a bit trickier, but all you need to do is make a left to go behind the field house and then travel on the grass along the south side of the pond. Eventually you’ll end up on Woods Drive which will let you traverse the campus. The upshot is you get to ride through the most scenic areas of the campus before reaching Lawrenceville Village.
In the village there are a few snack/drink options including Starbucks, the Gingered Peach, and the Purple Cow Ice Cream. We decided to turn around there, but one could continue to follow the LHT northward into Village Park and beyond.
The trails were in excellent condition, but we did struggle at times on the D&R Towpath where the gravel and sand would get a bit too deep for comfort. There isn’t much you can do in those situations beyond slowing down and trying to keep the bike steady to push through the gravel without wiping out. This is also where having wide tires, especially on a recumbent, is beneficial.
Next week we plan to explore some more of the LHT between Pennington and Lawrenceville.
While e-bikes can be a divisive topic among cyclists, it’s hard to ignore their increasing popularity. Admittedly it took me some time to warm up to the idea. Do I still get a workout? Is it “cheating”? After test riding an upright e-bike, I realized my worries were unfounded and it was time to transform the MINI once again. This time into an e-recumbent bike suitable for just about any terrain.
Azub offers attractive e-assist builds with Shimano Steps or Brose. The electric motors are integrated into custom booms, wires run internally, and the battery is mounted on the rack. Unfortunately, Azub can’t sell an e-assist upgrade (probably licensing-related?). Thankfully there are plenty of after-market options. While they won’t look as sleek, they’ll be a fraction of the cost if you don’t mind a little DIY work.
Some e-assist kits place the motors in the rear or front wheel hubs while others place them at the cranks (i.e. mid-drives). Two popular mid-drive manufacturers are Bafang and TongSheng. Both seem like good choices, and in the end, I decided to get the TongSheng TSDZ2 motor.
TSDZ2 specs and features
The TSDZ2 has a small form factor yet puts out an impressive 500W of power and 100Nm of torque. The 8 lb motor assists at up to 28MPH and/or 100RPM (you can always go faster but the motor won’t assist you). It can be installed on any bike that has a standard 68-73mm bottom bracket.
The most attractive feature of the TSDZ2 is the torque sensor which provides a more natural pedaling feel. With a torque sensor, if you pedal gently you get a gentle assist, and if you pedal hard the motor will assist more. In contrast, without a torque sensor, a motor will give a flat level of assist as long as you are pedaling. The torque sensor obviates the need for brake sensors to cut power since the motor is quick to respond when you stop pedaling.
While the motors are widely available, I purchased a recumbent-specific kit (the ECO+) offered by Eco-Cycles. They provide cable extensions to accommodate long recumbent frames, and a boom clamp specific to your boom diameter for securely mounting the motor. Eco also offers additional upgrades, including a software upgrade (OSF upgrade) that allows for custom assist levels and higher RPM assist.
The kit I chose included a more durable PEEK plastic gear inside the motor unit, the SW102 small LCD screen, and a 42T chainring to handle moderate hills. I skipped the throttle option in favor of always having to pedal. I also passed on the custom software upgrade to keep things simple.
My local bike shop installed the motor onto the boom for me, and I installed the rest myself. I used zip ties to run three cables along the bike. One cable ran up the steering assembly to the display screen. Another cable ran to the back chainstays for a speed sensor. The third cable ran to the battery. I mounted the battery (52v 13ah Jumbo Hailong Shark; 11 lbs; 30-60 mile range) beneath the seat with the versatile T-Cycle universal battery mount.
Riding with e-assist
It’s no wonder e-bikes are so popular. With the pedal assist, I no longer have to worry about how hilly a particular route is before I go out. I still have to work to get up those hills, but I can get there faster.
I can choose from four assist levels (eco, standard, super, turbo). With the torque sensing system, at each assist level, the system will add a percentage of the power you are outputting. So if I’m putting out 100 watts while using the first assist level, the motor will add 40% (or 40 watts) to the output. That percentage keeps going up at each assist level, so you can decide how fast you want to go at the output you’re producing.
Another benefit I had not anticipated is being able to quickly clear intersections from a stop. Cars don’t have to wait for me to get up to speed, and I can spend less time worrying about them getting mad. Relatedly, I can also be more patient since slowing down or stopping for others isn’t such a big deal when I can get back up to speed easier.
It’s only been a few weeks of riding my electrified MINI, but I can safely recommend e-assist to anyone looking to enjoy more time on their bikes without fearing those hills.
The Princeton Psychology/Neuroscience cycling group dusted off their bikes and reconvened after a long winter.
Today’s route took us along the scenic D&R Canal towpath from Princeton to Rocky Hill. From there we crossed to the other side of the canal and looped back with a stop at PJ’s Pancake House in Kingston for some coffee and snacks.
Interesting sightings included a few dozen sunbathing turtle, some hissing geese, and a great blue heron flyby.
In total, we rode 13 miles– most of which were flat except for the steep hill along Rt 27 into Kingston.
While the condition of the NJ towpath made for very easy riding with well packed fine gravel, the PA side was in dire need of maintenance on the northern end. Once we reached New Hope on our way back down to Washington Crossing, the PA towpath did improve dramatically.
The LHT is a mix of paved and gravel trails running through Lawrence and Hopewell Townships, and offers safe, off-road access for cyclists, runners, and hikers to enjoy nature. The trail is a member of the Circuit Trails, a 750-mile network of trails connecting communities in the Greater Philadelphia Region. It is still a work in progress, but is very close to completion with just 3 miles left of the 22 mile circuit.
From Princeton we headed south along the D&R Towpath until we reached the LHT connector trail that took us to the historic Brearley House. From there we passed through Bristol Meyers Squibb and the Lawrenceville School campus, and headed into downtown Lawrenceville. We continued north through Village Park before reaching the most scenic segment of the ride through Mercer Meadows. There we visited a few more historic sites (the Pole Farm, the Hunt House) before looping back and stopping at the Gingered Peach in Lawrenceville for some tasty baked goods and coffee.
If you’re interested in doing this route yourself, note that there were a few trail segments with deep pockets of fine sand/gravel making riding a bit tricky at times. Yours truly did manage to fall over once, but thankfully I don’t have far to go from the low seated recumbent!