As we move ever closer to higher and higher tax with less money to spend (this is called “net-zero” and I think they are referring to the amount of money left for us after they help themselves to far too much of our money in the form of income tax) we need to find less expensive transport so when my employer provided a way to buy a bike through salary sacrifice so that I would not pay income tax on the cost of the bike I decided to get myself one. Still had to pay VAT on it so the robbing bastards still get something.
So I picked a local supplier for my new bike, Hikobike a company from New Zealand whose UK distribution is based near Tiverton. I bought the HikoBike Ranger and upgraded the battery to the maximum capacity of 840wh which should get me about 40miles or so. The sales team were very helpful and my bike was delivered by them and they took me through how it all works and put it all together for me. I really do recommend Hikobike if you are looking for a well built rugged e-bike.
Since owning it I have completed a few rides, mostly off road, which it has taken in its stride and Ive found the pedal assist to be more than adequate for me and my gear, maximum assist is just right to get up nearly all the hills nearby even for someone as unfit as me, and the disc brakes are just right to keep to a safe speed on the downhill bits many of which can get me up to about 40mph without pedalling 🙂 I’ve so far cycled just over 100 miles on it and am more than happy with it, its taken me places I’ve never seen before. Because it’s a bicycle I can legally go anywhere you can on a horse on Exmoor so there are many miles of rights of way available to me just a couple of miles on road from home, and also many miles of single track roads with very low traffic, most of the rides on road parts I never see another vehicle but I always wear bright clothing and put lights on to make sure they can see me especially those giant tractors with spiky bits sticking out. Very cool and Mad Max-esque but look quite painful to collide with!
The bike has a carrying capacity of 130kg so will be able to take me around Exmoor along with my Portable radio gear with some spare weight for sandwiches and fizzy pop.
Up to today I’ve only carried a couple of handheld radios, my Icom ID-52 for voice and Yeasu FT3D for APRS, the FT3D uses a flexible antenna that I mounted on the bike rack which is much better than the included antenna and I can use the mount point for other antennas when I am off the bike, on my last ride I did a SOTA Activation on Dunkery Beacon (G/SC-001). This SOTA Peak is easily accessible on my bike and its only about 8 miles from home so I will be returning many times I am sure.
But obviously I’m not only planning to use VHF/UHF when portable and my absolute number one favourite radio for portable operation is my Icom IC-705 and I have a few ways of carrying the radio and other gear I need into the field, so I wanted to come up with an option to bring it on the bike crossing all terrain in all weathers.
Current set up was in a Peli Storm iM2100 case that has enough room for the radio, AH-705 tuner, mic, wire for antenna and all connecting cables, or if I leave out the tuner there is room for one of my 12Ah LiFePo4 batteries. The only ‘problem’ with this case is attaching it to the bike in such a way that I can quickly use it without undoing straps holding it on.
It just so happens that a few years ago I had the same type of case set up on a trolly that meant I could easily take my radio out to the beach and also use the trolly as part of the antenna, I had already drilled holes in that case and bolted on eyelets to attach it to the trolly. as it is the same case as my new one it means swapping the contents from one to the other was quite simple so I can try out the setup on the bike really easily. Future plans are for a bit more padding in the case to protect from shock and vibration off road but this existing setup will be enough for now. The case was easily attached to the rack using some heavy duty zip ties that I’ve used to secure other things to the bike and car so I’m confident that they will hold it in place and not snap, but I can carry spares just in case. In this configuration I’m still able to use the saddle bags for anything else I need to bring with me.
Once the case was attached and the IC-705 safety inside I took its all for a test ride round the farm to make sure it didn’t come loose off road and as expected it stayed firmly in place and kept the inevitable rain off the radio and tuner.
My plan is to ride the bike at least 30 miles every weekend and also operate on HF digital and voice from various locations around Exmoor, POTA, SOTA and Castles on the Air are all possible within just a couple of miles, POTA being possible from the entrance to the farm if I really can’t be bothered to go far 😉
Bicycle portable will feature in my operating for the rest of the summer at least but will continue into the winter weather permitting.
the only major problem I can see following moving the radio onto the bike is that now I have an empty case that’s the perfect size for a second Icom IC-705 😉