Pedelec pioneer Susanne Brüsch and her Pedelec Adventures team rode through Iceland's amazing landscapes on electric bikes for four weeks. On 4,000 km the Mongolia-proven adventurers faced the elements of the North and ever new challenges for electric mobility. Susanne Brüsch reports.
After having crossed Morocco and Mongolia on electric bikes in 2011 and 2012, Iceland Challenge was our third adventure on electric bikes.
In Morocco the challenge was to cross the Atlas mountains and Sahara desert and cover distances of up to 175 km per day while pulling solar trailers that generated most of the energy we needed to recharge the batteries.
In Mongolia, we crossed wide steppe and climbed up steep mountains in a completely self-sufficient way. This ambitious goal created new challenges such as logistics and finding a light-weight solar charging infrastructure that would be rigid enough for cross-country riding.
In Iceland, in midsummer of 2013, we really faced the elements while crossing several hundred kilometers of vast lava desert, jagged glaciers, wild rivers, and populated surroundings. While wind and rain hit our faces in chilly temperatures we challenged the all-round talent of our speed-pedelecs provided by the tour's main sponsor eflow.
This time, the founders of the Pedelec Adventures project, Susanne Brüsch and Ondra Veltrusky, joined forces with mobility specialist Uwe Schlemender and film maker Andreas Gutmann.
4,000 Kilometers Hardness Test
In urban Reykjavík, on gravel roads in the remote West Fjords and in the rough terrain of the highlands we put the rear hub motor by TDCM and the latest Lithium-ion battery pack from co-sponsor HiTech Energy using high performance battery cells from Samsung SDI to a tough test.
On good roads we easily reached the bikes top speed of 32 km/h. The torque of the 500 Watt motor was fully sufficient to climb up steep inclines of 14 to 17 percent even on bumpy surface. Although the bikes are primarily designed for urban surroundings, they survived a 4,000 kilometer bumping test including all the rough rides through the highlands and lots of water crossings, sometimes in heavy rain.
When we arrived in Iceland on mid June, snow-covered mountains, clouds and muddy roads welcomed us to the beauty of the North! Hat, rain jacket and ski underwear would soon become our best friends! But there was more:
We were amazed by the diversity of the Icelandic nature with its gigantic waterfalls, hot springs, lovely green meadows and deserts of black lava stone. Our most most spectacular rides happened in the Westfjords where stunning views showed up behind every other fjord––fields of purple flowers, sandy beaches, or the cliffs of Látrabjarg where over one million birds breed every year.
Our midnight bike ride at the surreal scene of Jökulsárlón where luminous-blue icebergs calve from Iceland's largest glacier and float through the glacier lagoon towards the ocean was unforgettable. Thanks to 24 hours of daylight it soon became our habit to travel at night time when the roads were empty and we had the most popular spots such as the Dettifoss waterfall, the Geysir completely to ourselves.
Another extraordinary experience was diving between the European and the American continental plates, in ice-cold water wearing dry suits and then cycling back to the dive site on our eflow bikes - in full diver's gear.
Trading a Pedelec Ride
We well remembered trading a pedelec ride for a horse ride in Mongolia. In Iceland, however, we traded eflow for a flight – not the bike just a ride! The pilot loved the ride just as much as we enjoyed the flight cruising over the colorful mountains and volcanic landscapes of Landmannalaugar.
Electric Bikes – A Novelty
Like on all our trips before, the electric bikes caught a lot of attention among natives and visitors alike. Cycling in general is getting more popular in Iceland now. The local authorities in Reykjavík have recently invested in cycling infrastructure such as cycling lanes. Electric bikes are still a novelty to most Icelanders. But the ones who took a test ride came back with a big smile. This is also the experience of the one and only specialized electric bike shop in Reykjavík called Rafhjól, which means electric bike in Icelandic.
Short film: Iceland Challenge - eflow through ice and fire
Lean back, open full-screen view, turn on the music and enjoy 13 minutes of a unique adventure in Iceland!
Live Show at ExtraEnergy
During the open day at ExtraEnergy in Tanna, on May 24, 2014, Susanne Brüsch will share the highlights and challenges and amazing pictures. The show will start at 1 pm and end with the team's short film about their unique journey.
Further information on Iceland Challenge
About the Author
Susanne Brüsch has started her career in light electric vehicles with ExtraEnergy in the mid 90s. As head of the editorial team she has helped shape both, the organization itself and the emerging LEV industry when she coined the term pedelec. In 2011, as a widely published journalist and passionate photographer and cyclist, Susanne took off to new horizons with the Pedelec Adventures project. Together with her team of media, travel and technology professionals she organizes and rides multi-week pedelec expeditions to exciting destinations worldwide. The team's unique tour reports, spectacular pictures and films have been an inspiration to the international bike scene. After Morocco in 2011 (www.tour-de-sahara.com) and Mongolia in 2012 (www.tour-de-mongolia.com) Iceland Challenge was the third journey under the Pedelec Adventures flag.
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Text: Susanne Brüsch
Photo: Andreas Gutmann, Pedelec Adventures
19 May 2014
Last update: 6 June 2014