Walton is a great guy and we have a shared interest in bikes and industrial design. I met Walton when track racing at the Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland Oregon and it’s great to see this story of how technologies like Shimano’s can help. Reposted article from the Shimano blog.
I borrowed the Gazelle EasyFlow and after a month of riding it, I can confidently say: This bike is amazing! It hasn’t stopped making me smiling yet.
So, let’s get right to it! This is an electric bike. An electrically assisted bicycle, it doesn’t have a throttle like a motorcycle, you ride it just like a normal bike, except it helps you along as you pedal. There are three settings, eco, normal, and high that adjust how much help the motor gives you. When on high, going up a steep hill or starting up from a stop sign becomes effortless. To me this is the joy of the assisted ride. The EasyFlow with the Shimano STEPS system removes most factors present when deciding if I should take my bike or a car. Distance, hills, transporting stuff, and showing up sweating and out of breath are no longer factors! I now commute further, faster, much more efficiently, and best of all I’m happier while I do it.
Let’s back up! My name is Walton Brush, and until recently my life has been defined by bicycles. I professionally raced road bikes for a while, and over the years I’ve ridden every other type of bicycle, I just love bikes! I’ve taken BMX bikes off jumps and got scars to prove it, I rode commuter bikes loaded up with groceries, and fixed gears on oval velodromes, in illegal bike messenger races, and in dangerous fixed gear criteriums (you can google the Red Hook Crit), and let’s not forget my roots, I grew up riding mountain bikes with my dad through the White Mountains!
All of this came to an end a couple years ago, when I came down with ME/CFS. An illness that left me in bed for six months, then with extreme fatigue for the next year. It took me a long time to realize what was wrong with me and what the limits of my health were. I accepted that I can no longer ride, and walked away from racing, but I couldn’t come to terms with driving places that in the past I would have ridden to. Traffic, parking, all the frustration that driving causes, makes me nuts! I was struggling with this dilemma when I picked the EasyFlow, and once I tried it, I immediately realized that with this bike my problems were solved.
Now let’s talk about the bike. This bike is smooth! In the way it handles, the Shimano STEPS electric assist, and the parts that are spec’d. Big tires, a low center of gravity, and stable geometry make going around turns fluid. The bike handles well while riding fast, at slow speeds (which is great in traffic or when coming to a stop on the sidewalk), and when riding with a lot of weight on the racks. The Shimano STEPS system works very naturally. The technology is good enough that you can accelerate very quickly from a stop sign, but the motor doesn’t lurch or abruptly accelerate. It behaves seamlessly. Lastly let’s go over the parts on the bike. Full fenders make riding on wet pavement a non-factor, the rear rack makes transporting your stuff simple, and there are bright lights permanently wired to the battery which means they are never forgotten at home. When you ride the EasyFlow, it is obvious that comfort is key. The upright position, wide gel seat and ergonomic cockpit place you in a position that keeps you comfortable, alert, and able to look around. The power from the motor combined with this upright position, make me feel safer and more confident than ever while riding on city streets. Because I can be more aware of my surroundings and move faster, so cars treat me more like another car.