Ridden: Vanpowers' Manidae Got Me off the Couch and on the Trails
Before last month, I hadn't ridden a bicycle in 15 years. I may have secretly envied the people on staff here who get to test ride all the fancy bikes that manufacturers sent them for review, but I figured my place in the pecking order meant that wasn't in the cards for me. That was until Vanpowers decided very sweetly to send me their Manidae fat tire e-bike. Safe to say, it got my chubby rear end out of the house and back behind the handlebars in a hurry.
The day my Vanpowers Manidae arrived for testing, I was amazed at just how big and heavy the box it was shipped in was. In truth, I'd only had time to casually skim the spec sheet on the Manidae e-bike before it arrived. But opening the box revealed a sturdy aluminum-alloy bike frame complete with the chunkiest 26x4.0 front and rear tires I'd ever seen on a bicycle. If there was any doubt about the Manidae's capabilities before I took it out of the box, it was all gone by this point.
Indeed, removing the rest of the accessories out of the Manidae's box revealed more and more interesting tech and gadgets than I would've ever expected to find on something you don't need a license to ride. In total, it took a group of three non-all-that-graceful 20-somethings a little over an hour to complete building the partially-assembled Manidae. That's in spite of the front tire quick-release skewer bedeviling us for the better part of 15 minutes.
But once the Manidae was put together and its 48V/650Wh lithium-ion battery installed, I could finally hop on the Manidae and take it for a ride. Before this day, I figured I'd never ride a bicycle ever again. Thoughts of a wipeout so bad that only my ATV helmet saves me from becoming another statistic for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania filled my mind as I took the Manidae's lithium-ion battery off its charger after 12 hours exactly.
The fear radiating from my mind was almost palpable, even through my blacked-out helmet goggles, as I flicked up the Manidae's kickstand, adjusted the power setting to the second-to-highest level four, and attempted my first push-off since I was in middle school. But what I wasn't quite expecting was the Manidae's 750-watt electric motor to fire to life with an audible click and a delightful whirring noise. This was immediately followed by what felt like an almighty force that propelled me at what seemed faster than what my ham hocks of legs could do themselves.
At the last chance I had to check my speedometer before the end of the hill, I was going a scarcely believable 28 mph (46 kph) before I chickened out and panic-squeezed the rear brake like my life depended on it. Somehow, some way, I'd managed to make it down the hill without wiping out, breaking the bike, or otherwise embarrassing myself. In the process, a man who often finds himself gritting his teeth having to share public roads with cyclists was suddenly seeing things from the exact opposite perspective.
So if you save up a little bit of cash and take the city bus for just another few months, working-class city-folk who don't have the space for a car can own an e-bike far that's just as good at getting you to work and back as your mom's hand-me-down Kia Optima is. It can also be a wicked awesome off-road toy on your off days.