Some parts of Bruny are easy, but in some places (often remote) the going can be quite tough, we need tough and reliable bikes for the job
The bikes arrived by courier, boxed and 95% assembled. the usual re-attach of handlebars, battery, adjust the lever angles, do the tyre pressure and the bikes are then ready to roll.
It’s obvious that the styling and build specifications are top class
The frame is both practical and attractive in its design. We always perform a thorough inspection of the bikes before taking them for a test ride, before the first ride its a good idea with all new bikes to check all bolt tensions, gear shifting, brake operation, cable routing, wheel trueness and spoke tension along with a general good look over everything. The Rugas proved to be well put together, everything nice. Next we fitted the bikes with mudguards, racks, suspension saddle posts, stand and luggage kit. The accessory fit up went smoothly, Eurocycles had performed a pre-delivery accessory mock fit up to make sure everything was going to fit.
The first ride brought a smile to my face. The bikes were everything and more than I had remembered from a previous test riding. Over the next couple of weeks between our team and our clients, we put the bikes through their paces, including some off road expeditions while carrying touring luggage. The touring routes here on Bruny Island are quite variable and in some places quite demanding. We have sealed main road surfaces, some of which are often steep but well maintained. Then there are winding dirt roads, some good and some potholed and corrugated along with rough bush tracks and beaches. On the paved surface the Ruger lopes along beautifully, easily averaging speeds of over 20km/h with bugger all effort, On the dirt roads the Ruger really comes into its own with the front Suntour XCR fork and ‘byschulz’ saddle post soaking the bumps and corrugations up nicely. We pushed the bikes to the limits on some very fast down hill sections with ‘switch back’ turns. To simulate what some riders may do we included tests of crossing over the pebbly crown while cornering hard and braking mid turn, the Ruger turns in well and holds its line, delivering predictable and fairly neutral handling characteristics. The Ruger is also impressive on the rough bush and single tracks delivering minimal wheel spin even on the steepest of climbs.
The Bosch system delivering through the 9-speed drivetrain to the Rapid Rob tires amounts to serious off road capability
There is a push assist button for when the going gets really tough. Some of the off road tracks tested required the crossing of streams and quite deep puddles, there was no ill effects but I wouldn’t like to put the motor completely under.
Display and Information The digital display is clear and easy to use and provides information for power Mode, Battery Level, Range, Level of Assist, Speed, Trip Time and Distance, Odometer and Time. The odometer reading didn’t quite agree with our mobile GPS unit but there is a setting in the bikes computer that allows you to adjust the bike distance reading to allowing for different diameter tyres and match the GPS reading. The e-assist stops assisting at 25kph, but the bikes handle well on the faster downhill sections.
The Battery Charging on the go - adjusting to extra weight Carrying the charger along with you when doing extended rides is a bit of an inconvenience. If you are taking it with you it is a good idea to protect it from moisture, vibration and impact damage. To assist with this, we made up a snug fitting cardboard protective slide in box with a push on lid for both the charger and another for a spare battery. These are carried in waterproof bag inside of one of the side panniers. The inner base of the pannier bag is lined with another piece of cardboard and contains other useful items such as; a spare fold up tire, tubes, tools, chain lube, maps, shower jacket, leg warmers, first aid kit, spare water, couple of ocky straps, a lighter, toilet paper, plastic bags, gps and phone chargers, chux cloths and a piece of wire and string, having 10 or 15kg spread between the two rear pannier bags alters the bikes handling characteristics but the Ruga carries the weight well, you do need to make sure that the bags are securely attached and can’t move around. Care is always needed when mounting a loaded bike as the added weight may surprise you! Once you get moving, the weight seems to fade away to a large degree. When you’re in the saddle the front end will feel a little lighter but after a short time it all feels fine. Whilst heavy loaded it is better to stay seated when climbing most of the time. It helps to do a couple of slow dummy runs of standing in the pedals to gain the feel of the back end sway transmitted by the heavy pannier filled tail. When climbing, remember to lock out the front forks and when not climbing don’t forget to unlock them.
Battery Life The rider, the luggage and the conditions along with what power mode you use will determine the distance traveled between charges,
most of our clients are getting between 45 and 60Km per charge
which is plenty for most people who therefore don’t need to pack an extra battery. We have also been establishing relationships with Cafe's and the like where riders came 'plug in' while lunching or doing some other attraction. You can charge the battery either in the bike or remove the battery and take it to a power point, when you connect it to the charger green lights start flashing on the battery level indicator. The number of solid lights displayed indicates the battery’s state of charge, each of the 5 bar lights represent 20% of battery charge. One flashing light indicates the unit is charging. As the battery charges the number of solid lights increases. Once fully charged, 5 solid green bars will show before it all turns itself off and goes to sleep. If the lights don’t show that the battery is charging, disconnect the battery from the charger and bike, press the small ‘battery level’ button below the bar lights and hold for 10 seconds, this ‘resets’ the battery.
Our Wrap Up We have now had the bikes for several months, one of them now has over a thousand kilometres on it, none of the bikes have failed in any way at this stage, not even a puncture, our clients love them, and the opportunity they provide to go further on beautiful Bruny Island. Kids or 'slightly' unfit people can keep up, only having rear gears makes them simple to operate, but more than anything, the bikes open the door for relaxed and more adventurous riding.