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Annual Great Victorian Bike Ride in Australia, 9-Days, 600 km

For over 30 years now, several friends and I have taken part in the annual Great Victorian Bike Ride; a 600 km, 9-day, entirely catered touring event. Last year the event climbed into the Australian Alps. Part of that involved a 20+km climb with angles above 15 degrees. I have, and most others have never been able to climb it without walking at least part way. When it was announced that we would climb it twice, it was time to look for an e-bike.

After some months of research, it became evident that most dedicated e-bikes could not cope with the 80-120 km daily grind, let alone the same distances in hilly terrain. They were excellent for suburban commuting, but definitely not for touring. During this same time, a friend who had bought a dedicated e-bike, had experience faulty wiring\charging, leaving the battery flat. Just out of the 12-month warranty, it would have cost him half the price of the bike just to repair. Due to the cost and availability of parts in Australia, he threw his e-bike out. It became evident to the rest of us, that an add-on was a better option.

Moreover, as far as I am aware, there are no e-bikes sold in Australia with regenerative braking. The choice came down to 2, but the Falco had better specs and more importantly, a much much more extended warranty. Moreover, the installation had to be simple. There are no distributors here in Australia to help out.

After placing the order, the wheel and battery arrived some weeks later in a sturdy, well-protected box. Another friend also purchased a Falco motor as well. I read the manual several times as there is a lot of information in it, but not all of it is necessary for the build itself. This was a bit confusing for my friend, so after building my bike, I helped with his build and installation. The wheels simply bolted into place without any hiccup whatsoever. My friend's bike was an old touring bike, so there were no problems with mounting the torque arms (to stop the axle from spinning). However, I was converting an old (aluminum) Cannondale Jekyll, mountain bike. Like most mountain bikes, it had no mount holes for a rack or the torque arms. However it did have disc brakes, so I simply used the brake mount with a longer bolt. I did have to replace the 15-year-old caliper though. The old one was too big and not as streamlined as the newer ones.

Because of the distances involved, both of us were unhappy with the Bluetooth transceiver mounted under the bike. To overcome our concern, I found some stiff plastic from discarded car radio packaging, cut it into shape, drilled some holes, and vertically secured it between the rear forks with cable ties. The transceiver was then securely cable tied to the plastic mount. An easy fix that eliminated our concern of any potential hazard on gravel\rocky roads. Electronically, the wheels and other components were easy to wire up, though for the suspended bike I had to allow for the movement in the suspension.

The Li9 battery was a different matter for both bikes. My friend's touring bike had the bidon cage mounts well down on his frame. The battery mounting holes were too high, and the battery could not be reversed as the power cable was then too short. A strip of thick aluminum mounted where the bidon would typically go, and recessed holes for the battery mount would easily overcome the problem. A hose clamp at the top end would also work to restrict any sideways movement in a fall say. However, one of my customers is an engineering plant, so we simply took the bikes down there and had a professional looking adapter made up. As I said, my friend's bike was simple enough. For the Jekyll though, there was no alternative but to have a bracket manufactured to fit the space. To be fair, I did not think I would be able to use a suspended mountain bike with the Falco. I had my doubts, but now I can really go anywhere.

Despite the time to get the bikes up and running, would I recommend the Falco? Hell yeah! I was able to do the daily 80-120km and get into camp by midday, find a good camping site, not one left by others in harsh terrain or gravel, beat the rush to the showers and I still had the afternoon to explore the town and surrounds. In the past, I would have got into camp mid-afternoon exhausted and basically crashed. Can't wait to explore the coast on this year's ride. That is the difference the Falco made for my buddy and me.