Two electric bike fans have proven the durability of their machines with an epic trip across southern Africa’s desolate Namib Desert. The idea was to show off electric bikes to the public and prove that they’re one of the most reliable, low-cost forms of transport.
South Africa-based trail guide Rupert Nanni and eZee Bikes founder Wai Won Ching travelled 1,800 miles (2,900km) from Katima on the banks of the ZambeziRiver in Namibia to Cape Town, South Africa.
Their eZee Torq electric hybrids stood up to the fierce heat and unsurfaced roads with just a bit of extra oil on the chains, a bit less air in the tyres and two battery changes per day (they were accompanied by a support car carrying plenty of spares).
The only technical problem was one overheating controller, which was cured by the unusual method of pouring water over it, and was hardly surprising given temperatures of over 40C.
On the first day of the 14-day trip they covered a remarkable 193 miles (312km) and overall averaged 130 miles (210km) per day at an average speed of 17mph (28kmh).
Rupert said the most challenging section of the trip was the second leg along dirt roads through the Namib Desert. “I must confess I was a little nervous about this,” he said. “I’d done some off road (E-bike) testing… but never with a bike this loaded, and never through loose gravel and sand. After a couple of kilometres though, I started to get the feel of the bike and, used carefully, it was a lot of fun.”
Summing up the trip, Rupert said: “We had ventured into true 4×4 territory and covered distances that would be impossible on a normal bike.”
The expedition raised money for Cycling out of Poverty, a Dutch foundation which fundraises for bicycle micro-credit projects in Africa. For more information about the trip, visit www.ezeebike.co.za.
About the bikes
The pair rode modified versions of eZee’s Torq 28in-wheeled hybrid. This has a 37V 10Ah lithium polymer battery which powers a brushless electric motor in the front hub. The standard 250rpm motor was changed to a 300rpm version to allow higher speeds, but at the expense of some torque, and the standard throttle was replaced with a cruise control dial to prevent wrist fatigue.