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The Seattle Bike Swap and E-Bike Expo is Saturday

Photo from above of people browsing a bike swap meet with text Seattle Bike Swap and E-bike Demo Saturday February 3, 2024 8 a.m. to  2 p.m.
From the Cascade event page.

Cascade Bicycle Club’s annual Seattle Bike Swap is Saturday (February 3) at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall. The flea market is a treasure trove of bike stuff from local bike business and DIY bike geeks. You can find rare and odd stuff as well as deals on used bikes and parts.

Doors open for general admission at 9 a.m. and close at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door or $8 if you buy online by the end of today (February 1). If you want a chance to get the first crack at everything, you can pay $25 at the door (or $20 online) to get in at 8 a.m. Kids 15 and under are free.

Cascade will also host an expanded “E-Bike Expo” during the Bike Swap to give people a chance to check out and test ride a wide range of e-bike options. This is a great opportunity for anyone interested in an e-bike because there’s no better way to know which bike will work for you than to try it yourself. Seattle has some great brick-and-mortar e-bike shops, some of which will be at the swap, but some online-only (and online-mostly) companies will be there, too. I get asked about budget e-bikes all the time, and I am reluctant to advise someone to buy a bike without trying it first. But I also understand how appealing the prices can be, especially right now when many are on significant discount for the first time in years. Well, here’s your chance to try them out.

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Even if you’re not looking for anything in particular, the Bike Swap is a fun bike community space. Just try not to take on any projects you can’t actually finish. Yes, I’m talking to you.

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3 responses to “The Seattle Bike Swap and E-Bike Expo is Saturday”

  1. Al Dimond

    I’m not an e-bike guy… the last thing I need in my life is another battery to keep charged and the second-last thing I need is to go faster, especially since my crash. But I have to hand this to the e-bike sector: they’re doing more to put practically useful bikes in front of normal people than any other part of the bike industry. I’m going to be in the market for a new bike soon (it’s a long and stupid story) and… it’s kinda shocking how poorly suited every bike is to our city until you bolt a bunch of stuff onto it yourself. How many “city” bikes have super-wide handlebars straight from the MTB parts bin? We’re trying to navigate tight bridge sidewalks, not shred downhill trails!

    I see photos of new, reasonably-priced e-bikes with decent-looking fork-mounted headlights. They apparently come with that, standard! Where’s that for the rest of us? I will end up with a bike with a dynamo hub and high-quality lights that stay on the frame almost all the time. And it won’t take me all that much time because I have a pretty good idea what I’m looking for. But it took years of trying things to figure all that out. I think the old BSNYC phrase was, “Fuck it, I’m buying a Hyundai.” “Fuck it, I’m buying a RadPower,” ain’t half so bad, but… if we’re hosting an expo to put practical bikes in front of normal people, and the catch is that only the e-bike sector is doing it and the rest of the industry isn’t bothering… it sure feels like we’re leaving a lot of the bicycle’s power for good on the garage floor.

    1. NickS

      Hi Al,

      I hear you regarding concern of speed after your crash. But I think conflating e-bikes with high speed isn’t terribly accurate. I have and love my Haibike class 1 e-bike. It’s a trekking style bike (a factory commuter, really) that I bought back in 2017, equipped with sturdy rack, fenders, basic Suntour front suspension fork, hard-wired front and rear lights (running off the main battery, so need to recharge them), and a suspension seat post that I added to soak up some of the bumps. It uses a Yamaha mid-drive motor; mid-drive means that it still has a standard (Shimano Deore) derailleur, and rides and operates just like a “regular” bike — you must pedal to go, and you will need to shift gears appropriately). The Class 1 means it provides support up to 20mph (as long as you are pedaling hard), which is achievable in the highest levels of power assist.

      That said, I -never- ride at 20mph, except when coasting downhill. When I’m commuting to work, I tend to ride at 13-14 mph in a low assist mode. This essentially strips away the extra 20 pounds from the electric drivetrain and puts the level of effort at what I’d use on an “acoustic” bike. I then bump the assist level up when climbing hills; I still get exercise without working up a big sweat.

      What the e-bike does for me, rather than providing high speed, is flatten the city and turns biking, for ME, from something merely recreational into general transportation (I realize many people achieve this with an “acoustic” bike, and I’m glad for you). I wear “normal” street clothes rather than exercise gear. I don’t arrive at work or a pub or a grocery store with sweat stains under my arms. If it’s raining, the assist allows me to wear rain gear without feeling like I’m in a steam room. I carry a heavy U-lock, laptop, rain jacket, lunch, and repair kit in my panniers or strap a package to my rack without minding the weight. My commute is shortened and I take more direct routes that I would avoid due to steep hills.

      Remembering to charge the battery isn’t a big deal for me. My style of bike has a locked and easily removable battery mounted on the downtube. I keep the bike in the garage, and bring the battery inside to store and charge. It’s a consideration for some bikes, though — the frame integrated batteries on some models while sleek can be more difficult to remove, and if you don’t have a place to charge where you store your bike (say, a shed without power) then you’d want to make sure you select an appropriate model for your needs.

      The only downside to my e-bike is the weight (approximately 50lbs). I remove the battery (around 7-8 pounds) when transporting on a bike carrier, and when working on it in a bike repair stand. But the beefier frame, motor, heavy rack, fenders, etc. means that you wouldn’t want to try to hang the bike from a hook on light rail or street car, and I personally wouldn’t hang it vertically in a garage. Specialized offers a range of “SL” (super light) e-bikes (Como SL, Vado SL, Levo SL) that they claim are 40% lighter than average e-bikes, and I hope this approach gains traction with other manufacturers. We don’t all need a bike capable of supporting a 300lb rider or going 75 miles on a charge or powering up a super steep grade with little rider effort. The typical e-bike is very over-engineered because range and torque stats sell.

      1. Al Dimond

        It’s great if that’s what people are into… for me, literally the only thing I hate about my current bike is having to take off and charge the lights (there are other things I’d like to improve that the frame can’t accommodate as-is, but they’re not as annoying day-to-day). It’s been the biggest quality-of-life drop-off since my second dynamo-hub bike was stolen (out of a locked but poorly-secured bike room in my apartment building, by a thief that cut my U Lock with a power tool) and I decided to stop putting much effort or money into a bike until I had a better storage situation. Now it’s like… time to go somewhere, are my lights by/on the bike, in my bag, in the pocket of my coat (which one?), sitting on my desk to charge? If I have a dynamo hub the lights are on the bike because they’re always on the bike.

        TBH I didn’t even realize a typical e-bike weighed as much as 50 pounds! Maybe for a lot of people flattening the hills is worth dealing with a bike that heavy… for someone my size that’s way too much. I have to get up stairs and over curbs and stuff! Even at significantly less than 50 pounds, adding weight to flatten hills would be a tough tradeoff. I’ve certainly noticed how much heavier the bikeshare fleet is since they’ve gone electric (I try to do my part to move inconsiderately-parked bikes out of the way of travel) — I have to be a lot more careful with the new ones!

        My mom’s 10-speed from the 70s has dynamo lights and I’m pretty sure she didn’t wire ’em up herself (pretty sure my dad didn’t do it either). Where did that energy go in the bike world? I’m glad it’s resurfaced in the e-bike sector… but that’s kinda just not where I’m going.

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