f you’re curious about my other rides, I’ve written up a few posts about them under my “All-City Pop Rocket” and “Space Horse Disc“. Today’s post is about the Riese & Müller Load 75 Electric Cargo Bike and the adventures we’ve gone on so far! If you’re curious about the exact specs, I’ll have those at the very end of this post.
Day 1 – Pick Up @ G & O
The first day involved pick up. I only mention this because it wasn’t merely a “go in store, buy bike, take home” type of scenario. With one of these bikes amidst these modern day supply challenges, combined with America’s inferior transportation systems and draconian take on anything but automobile travel, these bikes are kind of hard to get. So on day 1, at pick up, I’d already purchased and waited through shipping from Germany and the final assembly of the bike here in the USA. That’s where I’m happy to highly recommend G & O Family Cyclery in Seattle.
G & O Family Cyclery is a shop that focuses on bikes for people with families, like me, that want to have the extra advantage of a powered bicycle (or non-electric if you want to give that a go, but this is Seattle, land of hills and mountains!) or replace a car outright. In my case, I have no car to replace, so this is merely an addition that my son can ride in or I can just run errands and pick up metric tons of pizzas for game night! Whatever your reason for wanting an electric family focused bike, G & O Family Cyclery is your place in Seattle for the premium options.
Once I had made this decision and purchased the bike, it started it’s route from Darnstadt, Germany to Seattle, Washington, USA. This took well over a month and into the 6+ weeks time frame. To note, I also ordered a bike that was basically ready to be shipped too, another that is ordered custom and still has to be made ready to ship could easily take another 2-4 weeks or more depending on the build queue. Needless to say, if you want a high quality, durable, and capable e-bike of this caliber then you’ll likely have to wait a bit for it to arrive.
Once it arrived G & O assembled the bike and added various accoutrements to the bike. I didn’t get just the base bike, which I’ve included a picture of here for reference of what the “base” bike looks like.
The base cargo bike itself is extremely smooth riding, powerful, with one of the more (most?) powerful electric motors from a torque perspective on the market. Which, when you live in a place like I do that torque is crazy important to get up the hills! But I didn’t just purchase the basic bike because I wanted more flexibility. Some of the things I wanted to be able to do with this bike includes:
The ability to pick up food from town, about 1-2 miles away, in the heart of Redmond. Then return with that food while it’s still hot and fresh. Not a single soggy ass hamburger will be allowed, not a single dried out set of soup dumplings, not a single cold kebab!
The ability to safely carry a child with seat belts to keep em’ in the bay, with protection from the wind and rain, because again, I do live in Redmond, Washington where it rains about 8 months of the year!
The ability to load up for outdoor expeditions that trek at least 20+ miles out into the woods in one direction. Then be able to trek back from that location without needing a recharge!
The ability to get into and out of Seattle from way over here in the boonies of Redmond, without using any mode but the bike and without requiring a recharge. In addition, while in Seattle I’d need at least 10-20 miles worth of charge to run errands, pick up equipment, tools, or other things like 1U, 2U, or 4U Rack Servers since I’m a hardware nerd and I pick up things like that sometimes. For those not versed, that’s about 20-80 lbs (9-36 kilograms) of metal computer gear that is about 2-3 feet long (0.6-1 meter deep from the rack perspective) and ~2 foot wide (0.6 meters) and a few inches tall (7-8 cm).
The ability to carry a keg. Not that I’d likely be doing that because these days I generally just fill a growler if I’m going to carry a quantity of beer somewhere or buy a bunch of singles. Which, in that case this bike would also need to carry 24-36 bottles of beer or wine as smoothly as possible so they don’t break.
The ability to carry a propane tank for things like a grill. Ya know, cuz sometimes ya gotta cook veggies for the vegans AND you want to whip out some wicked steaks on the grill. Propane is pretty wicked efficient for that!
Carry 1-2 guitars and a 2×12″ Amp. Weighing in at a solid 100-140 lbs (45-64 kilograms).
That rounds out the tasks this bike needs to achieve for me on a daily basis, so when I ordered it I bumped up the gear, which Riese and Müller are of course more than prepared for! To ensure that this bike would be able to accomplish every single one of those goals I consulted with the G & O Cyclery Crew and they put together a build for me that included the following:
Low Side Walls & Child Cover, along with three child seats (albeit I’ve not got three kids, but YOLO!), footwell, and a luggage shelf for the kiddo.
This took care of several of the tasks, almost 90% of the need around food pick up, and carrying an amp and a guitar in a hardshell case. All those things were check, check, and checked!
There were a few more amenities needed to really round out things and ensure that not 90% of the need was fulfilled but 100% of the need. That included a rear carrier rack, additional lock chain and bag for the lock chain, multicharger, and upgrading form single battery to dual battery! With those additions every single one of those tasks is now met, and beyond day 1 I’ll be providing some coverage right here about the Load 75 adventures!
We come full circle now with full context of new bike pick up day! What did new bike pick up day at G & O Family Cyclery consist of? Well, Davey Oil (Jenna and the rest of the crew that had been helping me pick this out where there too! Hey y’all! 👋🏻) gave a run down of all the bike gear, battery system, engineering, and coverage of maintenance and check ups for the bike. He didn’t just spit it all out to me as an unknown quantity either like happens sometimes in bike shops, he discussed with me my own experience with bikes, took into account that I basically have a bike shop of gear to work on bikes with, albeit often don’t have time to. He also took into account after a little discussion, that I’ve been riding and been car-free – i.e. only used a bike for my primary transportation for over a decade – and then went over those topics.
Davey going over these things with me before going over all of these things allowed him to specifically cater what details I could really use, was able to answer specific questions I had, and really set me up for successful usage of the bike! The TLDR, I was impressed and I’m not usually impressed very often.
With that, day 1 was complete and I set out from G & O for that 17 mile ride back home to Redmond, Washington!
This is the first set of a few short posts I’m writing up detailing the bike gear and rides I currently use on an almost daily basis. This first, part gear and *part* bike, is the Surly Bill Trailer. I purchased this trailer a few years ago and have, over the years I’ve owned it done some of the following.
Moved from a location in Seattle to another location in Seattle. It took about 9 loads but it got done.
In Portland moved from downtown in the Ladd Apartment tower downtown to Precott & Interstate Avenue. Another moving adventure of about 4 loads.
Ikea pickups, ranging from a mere ~30 pounds to almost 260 pounds for the biggest load I picked up. Which, at Ikea, considering much of the stuff is pretty light, 260 pounds is a lot of furniture to assemble!
More MMRs (Midnight Myster Rides), other party rides during pedalpalooza, and related events than I can even count a this point.
About 15-20 different trips to and from the office with computer gear, music gear, and other related things like guitars and whatever as sometimes I want something at the office, and sometimes I want something back at home – or elsewhere.
All in all, it’s been a few tons of actual weight carried to and from all at a mere price of about ~$900 for the trailer, and it still had years, if not a solid decade or more of life to go!
300 lbs load
37 lbs weight
63″ x 24″ (length x width)
16″ load height
Note: I am not sponsored or paid by any of these related companies. I’m merely writing these up out of interest and a desire to log what I use for reference. For more information check out Surly’s link on the trailer.
Recently I purchased a trackball and a hardshell case for that trackball, which I then wrote a review of over yonder “A Review of the MX Ergo Advanced Wireless“. The hardshell case primarily because I displace a lot during the course of the day. Whether traveling far away from home or just within the city in which I live (i.e. Seattle these days, but in the past Portland, Memphis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Krakow, etc) it’s been very important to have computer gear that holds up well to these movements during the day. Here is a video that details the trackball, hardshell case, and some of the different places I’ve used it since purchase. Below the video I elaborate on two of the scenarios I use these devices.
Coffee Shop Cycling Displacements
Often during the day, at least a non-pandemic day, I work coffee shop to coffee shop. Meeting other coders, working alone, or having meetings in person in coffee shops. As I move from coffee shop to coffee shop, sometimes I use transit (bus/train/tram/streetcar/etc) but more often I bike from shop to shop. During these displacements computer gear can get banged up heavily. That’s where the hardshell case for the trackball is hugely important!
While cycling all sorts of things can happen. I could biff it (i.e. *wreck*) on my pack (i.e. messenger bag, or backpack) and things are safe from direct impact in there, but can still be squished. I could toss my bag down or set it somewhere and it gets kicked, hit, or falls. The number of impact scenarios are numerous. But it doesn’t stop there while out cycling, since most of my packs are waterproof it’s nice to have individual elements packed in water resistant packages for when I pull them out of their pack. You get the idea, there’s a lot of potential oops scenarios, and for maximum gear lifespan it’s best to keep them safe.
Railroading Baggage Pannier Packing Style
Alright, using panniers for bike and train combo trips is another one of my specialties. I take a lot of train trips. Sometimes I ride coach, sometimes I get a roomette or bedroom, and on some trains I may end up standing. Whatever the case, traveling means luggage of some sort and luggage gets banged around. Again I’ve got my packs, but also in this scenario I routinely use my panniers. The combination is great as the survivability of devices – Apple Laptop + hardshell case for pointing device plus tough packs with panniers holding the remainder of things means surviving insane things like train wrecks (i.e. my experience of the train wreck of 501), or just regular travel trips like my trips to San Francisco for QCon, or my trip to Olympia, Washington to speak at a users’ group.
In summary, if you want to enjoy the bikey life combo powered with the rail life and keep your gear intact, it’s a good idea to pick up a hardshell case.
Ever since I moved to Seattle some years back, I’ve ridden all over the city pretty much all the time, any weather, by bike. But even amidst all this riding combined with tons of requisite hill climbing, I do enjoy cheating a hill climb every now and again. These are some of the ways I do this, and a giant thanks to KC Metro and Sound Transit for providing solid, reliable, and kick ass services to be able to pull off these hill cheats!
Capitol & First Hill Cheats
The easiest ways when riding to get up to the top of Capitol or First Hill, or mostly to the top of Capitol or First Hill, is to use the LINK, and secondarily the Capitol Hill Streetcar (which is by no means fast, but it’s real easy). The reason I bring up these two modes as the easiest, is because you can just roll on and roll off with a bike. No need to rack anything or go to any trouble, just on and off, with an ORCA swipe off of the vehicle. Let’s take a further look at the map of these two options, but first we should look at where the tops of Capitol/First Hills are here.
On this map above there are the two red rectangles, 1 is of the first and largely most populace and business heavy area of Capital Hill and First Hill. The 2 rectangle is of the higher, and has less business and more residential part of Capital and First Hills. Both areas have things anyone in Seattle will generally want to swing by on a semi-frequent basis if they’re into food, art, music, parks, or what not. It is, after all, pretty much the heart of downtown here. To the right of the 2 rectangle leads to Central District, Madison Valley, which is a huge drop from the hill tops. The other directions, such as westward into downtown Seattle are both huge drops from areas 1 and 2.
That leads to the first of several maps for the Capitol and First Hill cheats. First up, is the Sound Transit LINK light rail service. The downtown segment of course is just a small snippet of the overall line, but that’s perfect as it gets us up the hill pretty quickly and easily. One can board at Westlake Station (2 below) or anywhere south really, and then ride to the stop designated by 3, the Capitol Hill stop. Then just take the elevators up to the service. Boom, you’re now at Cal Anderson Park (the big green park there near 3) and can get about easily to anywhere in box 1 from the map above. The other hill here, is climbing from point 1, in the Pioneer Square area up to any point north. Since between 1 and 2 is also a significant, albeit less severe hill, just like going from point 2 to point 3.
Next up, the Capitol Hill Steetcar.
This is a great option, the downside being it is really slow compared to the LINK and even when exhausted, it’s probably faster by leaps and bounds to just ride. But hey, we’re talking about being super lazy here!
Starting in the Pioneer Square are, start at 1 to 2 is almost no hill, but provide two stop to board. Then 3 is up towards the midway point on the hill and near some pretty awesome asian food places! As is, of course 2 and the not shown stop between 2 and 3. Getting to 4 reaches the top of First Hill near the hospital zone. Which is great to deboard and then just downhill it to 12th, Broadway, or over to 12th to swing into any of those joints. Staying aboard though, while piddling the day away reading a novel or something, you can climb the next hill to point 5 and onward to the end of the link on Capitol Hill for the easiest of access via all downhill at that point.
Except of course for the final peak, of the second red rectangle from the first map. That one, is only accessible via hill cheats by boarding a bus and racking the bike. Some I tend to refrain from doing except at my most laziest (which is still pretty frequent). That’s where this next map comes into play, it’s a soup of buses and all that which King County Metro operates.
On the above map, the busses that’ll get you to the very top (rectangle 2 in the first map), include 10, 11, 12, and 2. To get to the top of, if for example you don’t want to swing into the tunnel for the LINK or board the Capitol Hill Streetcar, First Hill board the 2, 12, 3, or 4. They’ll all get you up the super steep hills! Two other bus options that will get you into the 1 rectangle in the first map, include the 48 and 49 busses. If you’re aim is to just cheat yourself into a nice lazy ride to the 1 rectangle, any of these busses will work. Which means there are multiple places downtown that you can board, or from other points in downtown, to get up the hill without needing to put in any excessive amount of energy!
As a freebie, it’s also fun to just take the transit up, then have a downhill ride for the hell of it! 🤙🏻
That’s it for my Capital Hill cheats, I’m thinking about writing up Phinney Ridge or maybe Magnolia or Beacon Hill cheats next. Let me know if you’ve got a hill in Seattle you’d like cheats for and I’ll build up a list of routes.