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FELA v. Bike as a Commuter

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

What cycling does for your personal mobility? Can its benefits be leveraged and setbacks be mitigated or even solved? Let's see from my or FELA perspective.

Having decided to ride for utility, you choose your bike and consider following:

1. Weight: The lighter the better, providing safety and practical sturdiness. One-two kg lighter bike shaves imperceptible 1-2 % in the gross weight at a few thousand dollars markup,

FELA doesn't present this dilemma. Weighing around 40 kg FELA can be configured or customized for your purposes and fitness level as you order it. At first, you can get perplexed with so many choices, but no worries – start with a basic, cheap FELA and then you will trade in for more performing and suitable modules.

2. Multi-geared for hilly terrain, or "fixie" for flat: I can imagine guys who adjust their physique to single-speed, no-brakes but highest quality material and craft bike. But I prefer to have a choice of cadence, power-assist, kinesthetics and muscles' engagement (to avoid fitness plateau" or repetitive strain injuries).

FELA allows to do all that and even more because opposed to a bike or car, FELA has not only many adjustable or configurable features but swappable modules.

3. Racks, fenders, reflectors, lights, bell, kickstand, chain guard... Forget this fuss: protecting from mud and splashes, FELA doesn't have even the oil leakage normal in a bike. You can lock FELA upright to bike rack.

4. As a utility cyclist, for your route, you rule out most direct, traffic-heavy roads.

Forget these constrains: FELA merges into traffic at virtue of its sufficient agility and cruise speed. Still, just like velonaut, you can use bike path. Compact as velomobile (even shorter), but more agile and road worthy FELA effectively increases permeability of the city for you that makes it swiftest urban vehicle despite unreasonably-restricted (for cycling devices) maximum speed.

5. Riding aware of trip conditions and defensively, you pass clear of parked cars to avoid “open door accident". You anticipate that drivers entering from side road haven't seen you and make eye contact with them before you proceed. Head lamp can help with this by putting a spot on them and get their attention. Bright colored clothing and bags can help drivers spot you during the day time, while reflectors and lights can help at night... It’s daunting and detering for anyone except bike-addicts.

Being a microcar, FELA is much safer than a bike. Still, following those rules, in a bit lax manner, you will save troubles of repairing or replacing damaged parts.

6. Carrying stuff on a bike, consider weight, capacity, portability and waterproofing.

FELA has 100 liters easy accessible weather-proof cargo space. Rather than insufficient cargo space, you have opposite problem: you want to check for necessities not to impede your performance with excessive weights.

7. Most accidents are due to lack of visibility and conspicuity: ".. with all the bike lights available, you can make yourself a Christmas tree. At a minimum, a strong light on handlebar or helmet will light up the way ahead; flashing red light on the rear. The reflective tape sewn on to bags and cloth, or affixed to your bike frame and helmet help motorists size you in conflict zone. Brightly colored and/or reflective clothing you easily stash away in a pack when not in use. Adhesive reflective strips can also be affixed to the pant legs, shoes, helmets, etc."

Even reading this seems too much, let alone following meticulously. Yet these, turning you into a clown, measures are inefficient in flashy at nights downtown or in bright day of southern cities. Whereas, FELA has standard automotive industry lightening and for extra traffic visibility it has 360-deg camera at 6' level and blinkers on its mast for conspicuity. It's that simple yet of proven effectiveness.

8. On thief protection: Always secure your bike to a post in a heavily trafficked, well lit area with robust-hard-to-cut locks. Secure a U-lock around the post, through the frame and rear wheel, and then remove the front wheel and lean it against the bike, closing the U-lock around the front wheel. This way, it's unlikely that a thief can force the lock apart. Or carry an armored cable or heavy duty chain to reach around the post and snake through your wheels in addition to the U-lock.

And again, it's so damn involving. As a bike commuter for many years, I've never followed this: it's exercising in futility to protect hi-quality expensive bike. Just as with extraneous conspicuity measures, being fussy about old or cheap bike is not prudency to me, but a reason to see a psychotherapist. What I do is I just commute on Wal-Mart bike and lock it with $9 cable just to indicate that it's not curbed to be picked up.

Thieves have problems with an innovation, before FELA becomes as prevalent as cars it's unlikely to be stolen (FELA must get coveted by masses first). Until black market for stolen FELAs emerges, just take the lithium battery with you for recharge or for protection in cold. Besides, motor control unit and parking brake can be programed to recognize only your smart phone with FELA instrumentation app in it.

9. As for perspiration that is inevitable for any training effect, I agree with this: ".. Stock up on baby wipes and plan for a quick changes in the bathroom."

Those, who are squeamish about their own sweat or too fussy about their "freshness" in an office, must educate self about history of hygiene products and physiology, which is worth to know regardless what you do for living. To put it in a few words: fresh sweat of a fit and healthy body never stinks. What does is your wetted yet unwashed for a few days cloth. If you were fresh before ride and your sweat stinks, see your doctor. Ancient Chinese quarks diagnosed and cured based on smell of their patients.

FELA has option to go without pedaling, if you need it for any reason or quirky mood.

Reasonably bikeable commute is 5-10 km in good weather-traffic conditions and with minimal cargo, whereas too many trips require less physical stress to ride beyond 10km at faster than 20km/h, more protection from elements and in crashes.

The recommendations for long bike-commuting is nothing but a "fitness selfie". I had and I still can bike-commute over 20km but not every day, at least not without detriment to my mental performance - after all I'm not a pro athlete, I'm just a relatively fit yet R&D engineer. FELA pilots don't need those recommendations (pointless for other than athletes) because they can average 40km/h and get optimal level of daily workout for maximum fitness.

I'd love to read your well-reasoned objections, not just profanity.

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