With a long hot summer looming for 2013, after a record breaking year in 2012, we thought it was time to do something about making some more shade available for those long days at trade shows, or for the times when we're being digital nomads at Laughing Mind. After watching the awnings solution space for at least 24mths and getting sorely tempted by the Foxwing awnings, we finally took the plunge after discovering Ostrich Wing awnings from South Africa, imported by OstrichWing Australia and finally appearing at Opposite Lock Newcastle.
With a 270 degree arc of coverage and a sub 40 second set-up/90 second pack-up time, we're seriously impressed. The guys at Opposite Lock in Newcastle were great to deal with, taking care of the awning fitting and some custom brackets for a solid fixing to our old van. Whilst we might have just missed out on being able to use it in the downpour at RedAss DownHill championships in Cooranbong on Sunday, we know there's another outing just around the corner. Installation images below will give you an idea of the before, during and after process.
One of the things that makes my Fighter so much fun is the effect it has on helping me up a steep climb when riding with friends. The more technical the climb, the better, as it just makes for a great skills challenge, drawing on balance, traction, strength and line selection - a great mix.
After weeks in front of the keyboard working on projects for Laughing Mind, with a demo ride looming, I headed out for a bit of location scouting today to try and find some terrain with a decent mix of challenges.
One benefit of having moved closer to the Watagans is the extent of trail networks that have been traversed by dirtbike riders over the years. The ride today gave me a chance to put the 'ebikes can't climb like an enduro bike' statement to the test, as well as capture some metrics on rider effort expended. After a quick scout, I found myself on some clearly well used sandstone rock ledge step-ups, clearly stamped with black rubber imprints from riders before me on much larger and more powerful machines. I didn't inspect the terrain closely enough to see if there was perhaps some residual blood stains as well, but am sure that if a string of expletives could leave a mark, I'd have found plenty.
I wanted to see how my little Stealth Fighter might cope with a decent series of step-ups and the amount of effort I would expend in a brief outing, as time was short and I wanted to cover the full spectrum of technique challenge, anaerobic and aerobic workouts. I wasn't disappointed with the outcome! Whilst speeds weren't high, my heart-rate certainly was, which meant two key (usually mutually exclusive) outcomes were achieved - I got a great workout whilst keeping my risk profile relatively low, climbing steep track at low speed/high effort/high concentration, as line selection was crucial. The terrain was all uphill, with a combination of deep slippery ruts, rock ledges and loose surfaces that were easy to lose traction on if care wasn't taken with the right hand and pedal effort. The results of one 30min section of the ride are shown below, captured from my Strava stream (note that average HR here was 165bpm, MaxHR-195bpm, so was working hard):
The overall conclusion - I can still get one hell of a workout, at lower speed and reduced risk, riding silently, without disturbing terrain or other track users / local residents / wildlife, without needing to be suited up like Iron Man - but 3kw is still no match for a larger motor when it comes to raw torque. However, I know which bike I'd rather be riding now and as far as I'm concerned, my Stealth Fighter climbs just fine. I'll be back for more just as soon as I can, with some more suitable tyres than my my Schwalbe Crazy Bobs, at lower pressures for less line deflection - 65psi was just nuts, so Duro Razorbacks for the next effort.
I might even try it at night, just to see how our new lights hold up to the challenge. Longer footage of the ride can be found at the bottom of the page.