Folding e-bike: Time to “push the envelope” (again)?

We purchased our Onya F19 folding electric bikes just over two years ago and in the intervening period we have taken our little folders where little folders are not expecting to go. I think the most inappropriate thing that I have done on my Onya was to pass a hard core Tour Aotearoa rider on the ascent of the Haast Pass back in March, just before Covid-19 shut down the country and our adventures. In retrospect, I was pleased that we had decided to simply complete some more “testing day trips” rather than multi-day touring. Being stuck at the wrong end of the country as the country went into lockdown would not have been fun.

The F19 (and the rider) get a deserved rest at the summit – the promise of a quick descent looms ahead.

The “more testing day rides” were 80+km on hilly terrain. Could both I and the bike handle it? If we could, then with Ruth having ‘retired’ from multi-day rides, I would undertake some more challenging tours on my own. She can come and find me in the Zoe when she feels like it.

Having two Onya F19s means that I can borrow her battery which allows me to tackle more challenging rides where there is up to around 1,300 metres of climbing. In New Zealand, that is most rides of over 50km. A single battery gets me up around 600m of ascent using pedal assist level 1.

The spare battery was bungeed onto the luggage in a dry bag.

I have toyed with following the Tour Aotearoa route, with quite a few route modifications to avoid terrain that would be crazy to attempt on a laden folder. I would be in no hurry, and certainly not attempting to complete the 3000+ km in 30 days – my objective is to ‘tour’ not compete. As I would be riding solo, I can rough-it a bit and camp. There are limits to the roughing-it bit though, I would still need access to electricity (for battery charging) and, I suspect, the occasional softer bed for ensuring a better night’s rest every few days. The other factor that I need to test, is the addition of extra gear to what we have toured with. For example; a tent, sleeping mat and bag, and some unappealing camp food. The Covid lockdown saw off the last of the outdoor friendly weather so I need to wait for spring before I attempt that test. When I mention this new plan to Ruth she simply rolls her eyes and smirks.

The bikes loaded up with gear for our few days on the Wilderness Trail – all I need to do is add a little more such as a tent, sleeping bag and air bed.

I have worked up a rough “test” tour route that will take me on a ‘circular’ ride of the Far North. From Kerikeri, up the east coast to Cape Reinga and then back down the West Coast, across the Hokianga Harbour, and back to Kerikeri – roughly 500km over 7-8 days. The added advantage of completing my ‘trial run’ in that area is that I can always ‘phone home’ if it all turns to custard. I am sure Ruth will get plenty of joy out of coming to ‘rescue’ the silly old bugger.

In the meantime, I took the bike for a run with a sleeping back strapped to the handlebar (pic below) – it worked better than expected. A promising start to my plan.

While I wait for the weather to settle, there is plenty of tree planting and track building to be done. We were out planting on Urupukapuka Island last weekend. I have never encountered the place in such a deserted state. With no international visitors the tour boats have been mothballed along with most other tourist related businesses. On a more positive note, it was great to revisit our 2016 planting site. Despite the back to back drought years (maybe the new normal), the progress was impressive.

A very deserted Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island
Squid Bay June 2020

Squid Bay when we planted it in May 2016


    1. Hi Teri – Good to hear from you – hope all is well with you. We are here in our island bubble of 5million – looks like this year is the year to see our country without any other tourists. Take care.


  1. Joe is riding many days now and when he sees your post it will make him envious. Too bad you’re so distant (as well as the problem of the pandemic!), as this sounds like a wonderful tour he’d love to do, too.


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