filed in Reviews on May.04, 2012
When you get your new IZIP E3 Zuma (or any new IZIP E-bike), the dealer will clue you into many of its needs and operating procedures. You will also receive a very comprehensive manual. I do suggest you read through it thoroughly, but you might find there is almost too much information there. So in this article, I will do my best to let you know the things that I think are the most important. And seeing that the battery is the most valuable piece, and part of what makes it so special, I will spend extra time covering it.
First, just because, record your bike’s serial number on the manual, your receipt and somewhere else where it won’t get misplaced. Take some photos too. Next, read the sections in the manual that cover your particular bike. Highlight any part that you feel could be helpful. Such things as tire pressure and charging info might be on that list. Then, because you love your new E-bike so much, give it a good wipe-down with a slightly moist, soft cloth. This time will allow you to become more familiar with your bike and all its parts.
Your dealer will have made sure your bike is ready to ride, but let’s do our part for our own piece of mind. Use your tire pump (with a built-in pressure gauge) to make sure we like how the tire pressure is set. On the E3 Zuma, 30 to 80 lbs. is what you’re looking for. The lower setting will give a smoother ride, and the higher one will make the bike roll freer. I think you’ll find that 50 lbs. is a good compromise. I personally like to put a tool on each fastener to confirm it is correctly tightened. If you aren’t comfortable with that, then trust that your dealer and Currie Technologies has taken care of this step.
A little riding without the battery installed or turned on can help you make sure the seat and handlebar height is set where you like, (you may have had your dealer help you with this already). This is a good time to make sure the brakes feel good and the shifting is solid. Plus, this time will also help you get the feel of the handling of your new bike. Ok, on to some E-biking stuff.
Treating your battery well is the key to its long life and good performance. The correct charging procedure is important. The main thing here is to make sure the charger power is turned off when you connect and disconnect it to the battery. In addition, I like to wait 5-10 seconds to allow the circuits in the charger and battery to ’talk’ to each other before the battery plug is connected or removed. Before you start, make sure the charger is set to your correct household voltage. The manual covers that.
So here it is—plug the charger into the wall socket and make sure the power switch is in the ‘off’ position. Plug the charger plug into the battery. Wait 5-10 seconds. Turn on the charger switch. At this point, the two lights on the charger will come on. The red light is a charger power ‘on’ indicator and the other is a charge level indicator.
When the charge starts, that light will be yellow. You may hear the cooling fan in the charger start up. It is normal for the fan to turn on and off during the charging cycle. After a certain amount of time the light will turn green to tell you the charge is complete. This amount of time will depend on how much of the energy in the battery was used during your last ride. Now, turn the charger’s power switch to the ‘off ‘position and wait 5-10 seconds. Unplug the charger plug from the battery and now it is ready for use.
The battery can be on or off the bike for charging. If you do remove it, make sure to use the key to lock it to the bike when you reinstall it. It is best to keep your battery away from severe temperature extremes, especially during charging. Keep it dry if possible and don’t drop or damage it. Following these guidelines should allow your battery to last 3-5 years or longer. Your battery will get stronger after the first so many charge and discharge cycles. There is one more thing about your battery I want to cover, and then we will hit the trail.
Currie Technologies would like you to use the battery until it is nearly empty for the first three charge cycles. This is a little bit of an inconvenience, but well worth the trouble. So on your first three charge cycles, ride your bike until the charge indicator lights on the handle bars say it is getting low. You will feel the power diminish some. Then recharge it. After doing this three times, then you can recharge it after every long ride, or after several shorter ones, whatever works best for you.
Wow, too much battery talk, let’s ride. You can use the motor assist without pedaling if you want. It is really best to pedal and use the assist just when you need it. During heavy use, the motor (and its controller) can get hot, so try not to use just the motor, especially on hills. If you find yourself using the motor instead of the pedals, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to stop and let it cool down now and then. Figure to stop after maybe 20 minutes for some short sightseeing. And on a hill, pedal with the motor to help it help you. Don’t go up hills without pedaling.
The motor controls on the E3 Zuma couldn’t be much simpler. You have two switches and a throttle on the handlebars. The green button turns the power on and off. You can ride your Zuma with the power off if you like. It is a bicycle after all and rides without the power just fine. But it is an E-bike and having the power on is part of the reason you got it. So push the green button and you will see the three power level indicator lights come on. Those lights will give you an idea of how much energy is left in the battery at any given time.
These power indicator lights are more accurate when the motor is not being used (under load). That means to check them with the motor not running. Don’t be overly concerned about them unless you are on a really long ride. Also, if it is a bright day, you might need to shade them with your hand to see them, something you should only do when you are stopped. I do it while I am riding, but I would ask you not to.
Make sure to turn your bike off when your ride is complete. The electronics have a built-in mode that will turn off the bike (sleep mode) if it doesn’t sense the power being used after about 5 minutes. If that happens during a ride, simply turn the switch to ‘off’ and then back to ‘on’. This will restore the power to let you continue your ride. This is to protect the motor system, but is not intended to replace turning the power off after a ride. If you bump the power switch by mistake when you are toggling the PAS / TAG switch, just push it again to power it back up. I have done this more than a few times.
The rocker switch allows you to chose between PAS mode (pedal assist system) and TAG mode (twist and go). In the PAS mode, after you start to pedal, the motor assist will come-on automatically (in a soft-start mode), and you will feel the bike’s power add to your own pedal power as you ride. The motor will stay on as long as you are pedaling. The level of power in this mode is lower than the maximum available and allows for a nice cruising speed as you ride.
I really enjoy this mode during most of my rides. You can shift through the gears to match the terrain as you ride. You don’t need to hold the throttle on while you are in this mode. It makes for a comfortable feel and an easy speed range for most riding situations. In this mode, if you need a burst of power, you can twist the throttle for the additional assist. But remember, the throttle will only activate the extra power if you are pedaling.
Now, let’s try the TAG mode. Here, the control of the motor’s assist is fully controlled by you. Like the throttle of a car or motorcycle, the amount of power is controlled by the amount of twist you give the throttle. There is a lot of power available too. This bike has a 500 watt electric motor that has a lot of juice. It will take a little time to get used to the feel as you find the right setting for your ride’s needs at any given time. It is generally best not to just hold it on full power. You want to vary the setting to match your needs. And too, roll the throttle on, don’t just twist it to full power quickly.
I find it is best in TAG mode to hold the throttle with just a small portion of your hand, while using most of your hand to hold the hand grip. Another thing about the TAG mode I like, is that you can add a little power just as you are pushing off from a stop. This can help you get your balance at a crucial time during your ride. You need to be quite careful if you use the power this way, as the motor has a lot of power (enough to make your balance worse). Make sure you are seated and add just the smallest amount of power as you start. If you plan on using the power to help you start like this, practice this technique in an open area on a soft surface–(grass?) It is not hard, but some practice is warranted.
Using the power from a complete stop will also use extra battery power you might want to reserve for extending your ride. You will get the feel for the TAG power-assist mode the more you ride. Getting the maximum range from your battery can be more important for some. Things like using the least amount of power you need and rolling on the power slowly can help increase your range. The distance your battery will take you depends on your use of the power, your terrain, and the total weight of your bike (bike, rider and cargo).
When I am riding, here is the technique I use most of the time. I switch to TAG mode when coming to a stop (or already stopped). When I am ready to go, I twist the throttle ever so slightly as I begin to pedal. Once I am going at a mellow speed, I flip the switch to PAS mode and let the automatic assist take over. If for some reason I need a power boost, or want to go faster, I twist the throttle as I continue to pedal. This makes for a smooth, comfortable ride, allows the battery to give me a very good range and in general feels good.
Your new E-bike will need the occasional maintenance like any other bicycle. Every week or two check your tire pressure. With each ride, check that the brakes and shifting are working well. Every couple months, the chain will need to be lubed. I use a dry type lube that is easy to use. You should consider doing as I do and clean your bike quite often. It is always nice to ride a clean and shiny bicycle. A slightly moist, soft towel is usually enough to do the job. Never use a pressure washer, as it will force water where you don want it.
On each ride, listen and feel for things that don’t seem right. Brake pads will wear and cables will stretch. Fasteners can loosen over time. If anything needs attention, have it taken care of right away. Every year or so, depending on how much and where you ride, your E-bike will need a tune-up by a professional bike mechanic. Don’t overlook this. It will set you back a small amount of cash, but it will keep your bike safe and smooth. As the years go by, heavier maintenance will be required, but don’t worry about this now.
I touched on this subject at the beginning of this article, but I want to repeat it now. Make sure you are comfortable on your new E-bike. Saddle height can be very important. You want your legs to be close to extended when the pedal is in the full down position. The angle of the seat can make a big difference too. I like the front just a bit higher than the rear. Handlebar angle and height can be adjusted to fit you. The brake levers should be at the right angle so you can use them easily. The other handle bar items might need to be adjusted to match. It takes some riding to find the perfect places for these things. Make minor adjustments until everything feels right. All these little things can make your ride better and keep you on your bike longer.
Enjoy your new IZIP E3 Zuma, I know I am. I tried to cover this subject as good as I could, maybe too good? A lot of this information can be used for any E-bike. If you have questions about any of this or other E-bike topics, ask me here or on my own bike blog site. Sorry to bend your ear for so long, Turbo Bob.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing, quite so worthwhile as simply messing about on bicycles.”–Tom Kunich.