After our trip to southern Tasmania, Sue and I both caught the shitty cold that is circulating the state. Much coughing and stuffed up heads for 2 weeks for me. After that, the weather has been objectionable. So, all in all nothing much has happened.
BUT all that changed on Friday!
The above picture was taken on Friday morning and shows the Tamar River downstream from Launceston. Somewhere down there is the road Colin and I cycled a few weeks back when we went out to Paper Beach. It’s an aerial shot of course but not from a drone.
Later on Friday I lay back in the uncomfortable recliner chair on the Spirit of Tasmania Ferry thinking about how the day went.
Some of my long-term readers may well be thinking – “hasn’t he done this before?” – and the answer is YES. Yellow Anura in May 2018 and red Magnum in September 2018.
My destination this time was Glen Iris, a Melbourne suburb I knew little about. Objective: to check out a Greenspeed Magnum XL recumbent trike fitting with an electric motor that is for sale. It’s a 2018 model and offered for 2/3rds of the cost new last year. The owner tells me it has only travelled 1-200 kilometers. So I have been severely tempted once more!!
The plane was late. We had to stuff around getting into the disembarkation zone as we were out of our time slot. After that though everything went like clockwork – Skybus into Spencer Street station (or Southern Cross) then take a couple of trains out to Burwood.
From Burwood Station I walked to the home of the trike. I had printed out a Google map of the walk but didn’t find the most direct route. It was OK though as Glen Iris turned out to be a very smart area with older houses and old gardens. Camellias are flowering in Glen Iris while ours in Longford are just showing minute traces of colour at the tips of the buds. Magnolias are out while ours are still just furry buds. Obviously it’s a bit warmer than Longford over winter.
The Lady of the House showed me the trike and I set off on a test ride. Initially I couldn’t work out how to turn the electrics on but a couple of goes got that sorted. Pedalling the trike without power assist is quite hard. Why? Well, the Magnum XL is surprisingly large compared to the Standard model I currently own. Although about the same in weight, it runs enormous Big Apple tyres – not to fat bike standard but big enough – a single front chainring (part of the motor) and a NuVinchi 360 CVT hub gear on the back. All this makes for an unusual transmission and results in a heavy pedalling load. Just down the road is a shared pathway and I cycled down to it not using power. Then stopped on the trail and sorted out what I was doing wrong and got the power on. Pedal Assist Level 1 (lowest power) was a revelation. Suddenly the trike stopped feeling heavy and lumpy and it underwent a character change to light, airy and easy to manage.
The CVT gearbox was interesting. Controlled by a knob, you turn it one way to lower gearing and the other to get higher gears. The knob can be turned while you are stationary so no more “wrong gear” after a sudden stop. The 360 doesn’t have such a wide gear range as the 380 but should be fine in this set up. It is said the NuVinchi hubs don’t handle power well but other writers say “No Worries – they are tough”. I will not be pushing a heap of watts through it so all should be OK.
It’s not possible to show just how large the trike is in the picture but it is so long I have to have the boom in almost all the way to suit my leg length. Prior to jumping on board I had been worried it would not fit me but it does, just.
I cycled bits of the cycle trail on tarmac and bits on gravel to get the feel of it. I think it is quite a bit smoother than red Magnum. I guess the larger seat, longer wheelbase and increased width along with the wider tyres all play a part in this. At the end of the ride I knew – time to buy!! Colin would like to take on red Magnum so I had better start the chain reaction.
Bought, paid for and after a check for other items belonging to the trike I set off heading to the Ferry. The shared trail I used to test the trike runs down to the Main Yarra Trail. After running alongside the Yarra River it then runs through the City at Southbank and from there up to the rail train that takes you down to the Ferry. So, no roads need to be ridden.
The Gardiner’s Creek Trail was a good ride, in the sun, passing and interacting with lots of dogs and their owners. Some cyclists were out and I did feel the width of the trike when we passed each other. Gradually I realised blue Magnum was not that much wider than red Magnum and we would not hit anyone coming the other way. Unless they were cutting the corner!
I enjoy riding these Melbourne trails because they are so different to anything we have in Tasmania and they make it so easy to get around by bike. All around me there are roads filled with cars (including above at this point!) but I can cycle on, freely enjoying the views of the Yarra.
As I approached Southbank I realised that I didn’t have the battery charger with me! Then the seller phoned to say “hi” and we discussed the charger. He will arrange for it to be shipped over on Monday – with a Mountain Drive that goes in the front. I suspect he forgot to tell his wife/partner that there was a box of stuff to give me. If I had thought “Charger” all would have been OK.
Cycling through Southbank I turned the power off. It’s very busy there and I didn’t want to hit anyone by mis-using the electrics. There are 3 blocks of busyness before turning left after the Casino. Then it’s a short block up to the start of the Rail Trail leading down to the Ferry. I am never sure quite how to tackle the short block but going across the road and cycling up the footpath seems to work OK. At one point cyclists are told to dismount. We don’t.
Busyness over, power back on it was a quick rail trail ride down to Station Pier. The only thing to watch is that the trail crosses tram tracks in a couple of places – just make sure no trams are approaching before crossing.
By the time I reached the pier it was quite cool and I dug out my fleece. There was a little while to go before loading began so I cruised the trail out to the container docks to fill in the time.
The answer was YES so I returned and got in the queue.
It was a quiet crossing weatherwise and 6.30am saw me trying to get the trike off ship. The door to use this morning was narrow and the trike would not fit through! I had to take one wheel off and tilt the thing to get there. So, the trike really is larger than red Magnum.
The car park outside was very busy. Parents of two parties of school kids returning on the Ferry were picking up their sons and daughters. We waited until things cleared a bit and then Sue and I folded up the trike hoping it would fit in the car. And it did – just!
So. Why join the Dark Side and go electric? Well, I had planned to fit a motor to red Magnum next year. The idea was to be able to tour with the ability to manage 100ks in a day rather than the 50 to 60 I can do at the moment. Also, I quite like the look of a tour that would run through some of the Victorian Highlands and would mean quite a bit of climbing. As my climbing rate is really slow, the distances would be impossible. So, an electrically assisted trike sounds good. When this one popped up in Gumtree I just couldn’t resist!
I will have to have a think about the distance challenge for 2019. It seems cheating somehow to keep chasing the target riding with electricity. But, then again, I need a target. Let’s think about this and reboot the challenge in August.