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How I Bought An Electric Moped – An E-Rider Model 30

Previously I wrote about deciding to buy an electric moped – an E-Rider Model 30.

This article describes what happens next, looking at the financial costs and time taken. Journeying through the licensing I needed, my E-Rider ordering experience, vehicle registration, buying equipment and the first ride.

CBT – Compulsory Basic Training

The license required to ride a motorcycle/moped is a bit complicated and depends on what sort of drivers license you already have (provisional, car), when you passed you car test, and what the class of motorcycle is. Thankfully the DVLA have a flow chart for you to follow to work out what you need to do and if you need to display L plates. The E-Rider Model 30 is classed in the UK as “AM” (moped).

I have a full car license, but I passed after 1st February 2001, so needed to do a CBT to ride the E-Rider Model 30 on the road. A CBT is basically a training day on how to ride a motorcycle, safely, on the road.

I decided to do a CBT before ordering the Model 30 in case I really disliked being on a motorbike. I made a booking to do the CBT in two weeks.

I booked my CBT with Safe Riders, near Brighton for £115. Safe Riders were fantastic, really enthusiastic, friendly and helpful without being at all alienating to non ‘biker’ people.

The CBT began slightly harder than I anticipated. I opted to do it on a 125cc geared motorcycle, rather than a twist and go 50cc moped, to give me more options in the future. But by the afternoon we were out on public roads and I’d pretty much got the hang of it.

The following day I ordered my E-Rider Model 30.

Buying the E-Rider Model 30

I paid £1295. I kept an eye on the price for a while whilst I was deciding on transport options. Full price is £1595 but at one point it was £995, and it’s often around £1095.

The website worked fine, and they use PayPal for payments (which is great!).

They claim that delivery will normally be in 5 working days, mine took longer than that and arrived after 10 working days. During this time Ken from E-Rider was very responsive, and replied to emails sometimes within minutes. I understand the delay was with the delivery company, Network 4, who apparently sometimes have issues moving things between depots.

It was delivered by two very friendly delivery people, who put the bike exactly where I asked for it, they even stopped to have a little chat about the bike as they were curious about it! (Side note – they were using a modern Android app to record the delivery / signature which I particularly enjoyed)

Putting the E-Rider Together

This was probably the most challenging part.

To give you an idea of my skill level: I have no problems with Ikea furniture, I generally know what I’m doing with servicing a bicycle – things like adjusting brakes and gears, changing wheels / tyres / inner tubes, and as a child I used to help my Dad fix things on cars as he used a Haynes Manual and I passed him tools and parts whilst also holding bits in place.

The assembly instructions are incredibly minimal. Here some are some examples of the lack of detail: “Fit the remaining pieces of trim, the back box, mirrors and stand springs” and “Finally, adjust the headlight and brakes so that they are operating
correctly”. But no detail on how to actually do that…

I managed to put the bike together, but not with any pleasure. I needed basically every size spanner, a few screwdrivers, patience, time, and probably other tools I’ve forgotten since. If you’re not confident with the minimal level of detail in the instructions then I’d highly recommend paying the extra £95 to have it assembled for you. I think I wish I had.

This isn’t slot together flat pack furniture.

Registering the Model 30

To ride the bike on public roads, you need to register it with the DVLA and get a number plate.

The first step of this is emailing E-Rider once you’ve received the bike with the chassis number. Ken will then email you back very quickly telling you he’s put some paperwork in the post. What a nice man.

Ken -

Ken – “A Nice Man”

You’ll also need to acquire a V55/4 form from the DVLA to use to register the E-Rider Model 30, you can do that on their website, where they also provide a thrilling guide to filling out the V55/4. Ken’s and the DVLA’s paper work arrived a few days later and Ken had very kindly included an example V55/4 form so you know what most of what needs to be filled out.

This is where you learn that the E-Rider Model 30 is actually an imported and rebranded Dayun DYTDR605z. Fun fact.

Filling the form out took me about 45 minutes and the vehicle registration cost £55. I had to write my first cheque in 8 years… And 5th cheque in my life.

My registration came back about 2 weeks later.

Other Equipment

I ordered a number plate from my local Halfords for £20, I probably could have got it cheaper elsewhere but Halford was easy, nearby and open.

I also purchased a helmet from Halford for £45. My local Halfords in Brighton were incredibly helpful, there was an older gentleman who advised me and helped me choose the right helmet, choose the right size. He was one of the most friendly and helpful people I’ve met in a shop.

I purchased some gloves online from SPORTSBIKESHOP.co.uk (their choice of ALLSHOUTCAPS). I ordered this pair for £30 because a friendly older gentleman in once told me that Buffalo gloves are the best.

(A little while later I also ordered a thicker pair of winter gloves, also for £30)

Insurance for a year cost me £178, I used a price comparison website and got a free Meerkat doll.

The First Ride

After a few days my numberplate arrived and I spent an hour contemplating how best to attach it, and then about 5 minutes actually attaching it. It was then quite late in the evening and dark, so I waited until the next morning to take the bike out for ride.

I chose my commute to work as it’s first ride, but leaving plenty of time. I was a bit nervous as it had been almost 6 weeks since I’d last been on a motorbike. But handling the bike was much easier than I’d expected. The electric bike was eerily quiet, all I could hear birds tweeting in the trees and the tire noise. It was great fun.

However this lasted about 5 minutes, at which point the battery indicator immediately went down to zero and the bike went dead. Uh oh. The bike slowed in the road and I pulled over to let the cars go past and then tried turning the ignition on and off. The power came back for about three seconds and then died again. I did this a few times, then cried on the inside.

I then proceeded to push the bike back home, uphill. Upon arriving home, very sweaty and upset, I sent Ken a very disappointed email. He replied in 45 minutes. Apparently some of the E-Rider mopeds have their trip switched mounted too high under the seat, causing the seat to depress the switch slightly and break the circuit. He advised me to reposition the switch a little lower down.

If it was a known issue I’d have preferred them to have checked their existing stock and fixed any issues before sending products out to customers. Perhaps this would have been picked up if I’d paid the £95 for assembly.

So off the garage I went (again) and took the seat off, disconnected the switch, drilled some new holes, reattached the switch and put the seat back on. All without electrocuting myself. It took a little over an hour, and this resolved the issue. The ride later than evening went much smoother.

This is the sort of support you would be unlikely to get if just bought an electric motorcycle from a random importer on eBay and, along with the warranty, is why you pay a little bit more.

Time & Cost Summary

Overall, from ordering the bike to having it on the road took me just under 6 weeks.

It could have been a few days quicker if I’d ordered a number plate immediately, and filled out and returned the V55/4 form on the day I received it.

The E-Rider Model 30 cost me £1295 and the total other costs came to £473, making a grand total of £1768.

I hope this will have helped people thinking about buying an electric moped, and I will follow this up in the new year with my experience of the first 1000km.

 

Why I Bought An Electric Moped – An E-Rider Model 30

A week before Christmas 2015 my wife and I moved from our flat in the very centre of Brighton to the picturesque Brighton suburb of Bevendean.

My commute to work became very different. Gone was the casual 10 minute stroll to the Ocasta office.

Thus ensued a few months of experimentation, starting with buses, then, cycling, a long period of walking and eventually settling on an electric moped.

If you just want to read about the E-Rider Model 30 electric moped, I’ve written a post about the process from buying one to getting it on the road, and will write a post about the first 1000km.

Buses

The bus was great at first. I tried out a few different bus routes and found that if I put on some sturdy shoes and walked 10 minutes along a country path, I could get a fantastic view, say hello to some horses in the morning and encounter the smell of urine and sick much less frequently.

The peace and opportunity to sit, think, and pray was great initially, but the novelty wore off and the reality of the unreliability hit. Sometimes they don’t turn up, sometimes they drive past you, sometimes they are so full you have nowhere to sit – or someone sits on you (true story).

The whole journey was taking 45 minutes when everything went smoothly. A full 4.5 times longer than my previous commute. After trying this experiment for 4 months, it was time for something else.

Bicycles

A quick Google Maps search showed that I could apparently cycle the route in less than 20 minutes. Cycling didn’t last long.

There’s nowhere secure to keep the bike at work (I’ve had at least 3 bicycles stolen or majorly vandalised in Brighton in the past). Hills, which means arriving work drenched in sweat and smelling like the 48.

Walking

Another tap on the Google Maps app claimed that I could walk to work in 52 minutes. Normally I’m a bit quicker than than Google Maps, so this was putting walking at only marginally more than getting the bus.

I walked for many months, got slightly fitter and developed some nice muscle definition on my lower legs. This was great. Physical fitness is also great for mental well-being, so there were benefits there too.

But maintaining a 45ish minute walk meant keeping a quick walking pace up the whole time, twice a day, five days a week. Even after a long day at work, or when feeling tired in the morning.

Walking experiment over. Time for some sort of powered vehicle. Google Maps reckons 20 minutes journey time.

Options that aren’t electric mopeds

What about an electric bicycle? I still had the issue of where to store it when at work. Despite this, I borrowed a friend’s electric bicycle to try it out. Brighton’s hills were still a problem. The electric part of the electric bicycle would frequently conk out on steeper (but common) inclines, leaving you with a very very very heavy bicycle to haul up the hill.

A car? Don’t be silly. Parking, petrol, traffic.

A petrol moped? I didn’t really consider this option, once I decided on an electric one.

So why an electric moped?

Tesla cars are cool and I hadn’t even thought about electric motorcycles until I read an article in 2015 about Gogoro electric scooters.

Electric vehicles seem like the future. Less maintenance needed as there’s less moving parts. They can be charged at home. The electricity used to charge can be generated in many different ways, some using finite fossil fuels, but some not. Petrol etc will run out eventually.

Why an E-Rider Model 30?

Cost, and Google search result ranking.

When you search for “electric moped” the first result was the E-Rider website. Their forums have just enough people talking about their bikes to make them seem legit.

When you break down the total cost of ownership over three years (which I’ll do in another post), including buying the bike, equipment, MOT, CBT etc it works out only slightly more expensive than three years of Brighton bus tickets. And at the end of the three years you’re left with an asset.

Now my whole commute takes just over 20 minutes. That’s from walking out the door to arriving at my desk!

(Only 2x as long as before my move, but now I get to live in more beautiful part of the city, and afford a house)

Android Espresso Test Hangs With Indeterminate ProgressBar

I encountered a fun problem today… My Espresso tests started hanging after I added a ProgressDialog into my layout that was visible when the Activity started.

This was the error in the logs:

Could not launch intent Intent { act=android.intent.action.MAIN flg=0x14000000 cmp=co.blah/.ui.activity.MainActivity } within 45 seconds. Perhaps the main thread has not gone idle within a reasonable amount of time? There could be an animation or something constantly repainting the screen. Or the activity is doing network calls on creation? See the threaddump logs. For your reference the last time the event queue was idle before your activity launch request was 1476277650154 and now the last time the queue went idle was: 1476277650154. If these numbers are the same your activity might be hogging the event queue.

It was only happening on devices running Lollipop (Android 5.0, 5.1) or higher. So Marshmallow (6.0) and Nougat (7.0) as well.

Apparently the indeterminate ProgressBar animation causes Espresso to think things are still happening. And it just waits. And waits. Until it gets killed after 45 seconds. Great. This happens even though animations are turned off in the developer options.

There were a couple of workarounds I found on the internet, but I felt they had their own issues so I’ve come up with my own.

Just replace uses of ProgressDialog with TestableIndeterminateProgressBar from this gist (and make sure you have animations disabled in the developer options, which of course you’re already doing).

Connecting To ADB Over The Internet

We used to have a physical server in our studio to run our Jenkins continuous integration for our Android projects, but after several machines gave up in quick succession I decided it would be cheaper and less time consuming to set one up in the cloud (we chose Digital Ocean as we already have a few virtual servers there). This means we don’t have to worry about hardware failures, our studio internet connection, or backing up (digital ocean can do that for you). One less thing to worry about!

However, this presented us with a challenge… We like to run some of our tests (connectedAndroidTest) on real devices, and you can’t really plug a usb hub into a ‘cloud’.

Solving The Problem

I solved this problem with a Raspberry Pi and an ssh tunnel.

ADB

Adb has several parts: a client, a server, and the bit that runs on the Android device.

Essentially, the adb client runs when you type ‘adb’ on the command line, this then connects to the adb daemon (over a port). The adb daemon runs in the background and is the bit that connects to the devices over usb.

Tunnel Pi

We now have a Pi in our studio that the Android devices are plugged into. The adb daemon runs on this Pi.

Whenever Jenkins wants to use the devices, it opens an ssh tunnel to the Pi, forwarding a port, so Jenkins’ adb client can connect to the Pis’ adb daemon. Once this port has been forwarded, adb works as normal. It’s actually quite simple!

Limitations

Your local internet connection. It’s gotta be fairly good. For example, it works flawlessly on a 30mb connection, but sometimes timed out over a very busy 6mb connection.

Adb isn’t available to download for the Pi, so you have to compile it yourself. You have to make sure the adb client and adb daemon are the same versions, otherwise they refuse to talk to each other.

How Do I Set This Up?

For detailed step by step instructions, including compiling adb on the Pi and what to run in your Jenkins job, I’ve written it up as a Gist

Read Android App Data Folder Without Root

I’m currently debugging an Android app that has a data directory size that’s increasing to several hundred megabytes, not good! It should be only a few kilobytes.

To find out what is going on I needed to see inside the data directory, but this is only possible if the phone is rooted, I don’t want to that, so I needed an alternative.

After some browsing I found an github project that converts android backups into a tar (compressed file) format.

I’ve compiled the jar for you to download, but if you don’t want that, you can compile it yourself. Once you’ve downloaded the jar just run:

adb backup -noapk com.instagram.android
java -jar path/to/abe-all.jar unpack backup.ab backup.tar

Then extract the backup.tar file with your favourite compression utility, and you’ll have a whole load of exciting files!