On 3 and 4 October the ExtraEnergy showroom in Stuttgart was a hive of activity when over 100 volunteers turned up to help with the ergonomic testing of the pedelecs and e-bikes in the Autumn 2009 Test of Tanna-based test authority ExtraEnergy, reports Nora Manthey.
By the end of the second day (4 October), volunteer testers had completed and submitted almost 1,000 evaluation forms for the 30 bikes of the 30 manufacturers in the test.
The ergonomic test, to end on 8 October, measures the suitability of the bikes for everyday use. It also marked the start of the ExtraEnergy Autumn 2009 Test, which will continue in Tanna from 11 to 26 October. The Autumn Test is ExtraEnergy’s second big test of 2009 - the first was the Spring Test conducted in April/May.
The ergonomic test tests bikes in a variety of everyday situations, including their intuitive usability (without the help of a user manual), portability and the afforded overall riding experience. It is the first part of a 3-part test specially developed by ExtraEnergy for pedelecs and e-bikes.
Early on Saturday, 3 October over 50 volunteers assembled at the ExtraEnergy showroom to help with the testing. Sunday was just as busy, although testing was spread out more evenly over the day as volunteers came and went.
ExtraEnergy recorded the vital statistics of all test riders, such as their age and weight, before testing started, to be able to evaluate the results more accurately afterwards.
A short introduction and demonstration of the different test stations and testing started in all earnest. The test riders were given route cards and questionnaires to complete, before they were allowed to start testing the bikes of their choice.
They had to test as many bikes as possible. Some volunteers got carried away and tested up to 20 bikes over a period of 8 hours! Over the course of the day, a tight community feeling developed as testers swopped bikes, identified favorites and passionately debated the pros and cons of every bike.
Seven party-sized pizzas, 5 jumbo-sized pots of goulash and an uncountable number of coffees kept testers and the testing team happy. Still, at the end of the second day, all were really tired.
The test stations
First of all, the battery had to be removed and the battery re-charger for the specific battery be found in a heap of chargers. Then the battery had to be replaced and the ease and unambiguousness of the removal, charging and replacement activities be evaluated.
The allotted values depended on a big number of small factors, eg. should the key be left in the battery, or should it be taken out to remove the battery? Should the battery be pulled, or lifted to get it out? Do bike parts obstruct the way out? How is the re-charger connected to the electric plug?
Once the battery was back in, the bike had to be loaded onto two auto-mounted carrier racks. Here not only the weight of the bike could be problematic, but also a too thick frame.
Next, the portability of the bike was tested on a standard staircase designed by ExtraEnergy. Here the everyday situations encountered with steps found in inner-cities and building entrances were simulated.
Then testers had to lift bikes onto a podium the height of a lorry boot sill, to test the transportability of the bikes. The last task, before testers set off on a test ride, was to evaluate the bikes’ ability to adapt ergonomically to the specific needs of riders. Here was checked how easily (or not) the height of the saddle, or angle of the handlebar could be adjusted.
Finally, the bikes were taken on short test rides, where the following aspects were tested: the general riding behaviour, support level felt by the rider on hilly and on flat terrain and how it was to ride without motor support. All testing was done without the help of a user manual.
As was to be expected, the results differed from bike to bike, and from tester to tester. Still, at the end of the day the active participation of the volunteer testers over a wide age spectrum and high number of test rounds, produced a representative test result.
This ergonomic test was the first leg of a 3-leg pedelec and e-bike test developed and conducted by ExtraEnergy. From Stuttgart the test bikes and test team will now go to the ExtraEnergy head office in Tanna, where the bikes will be subjected to the actual riding tests with unique measuring technology. Here data about, among others, assistance levels, ranges and durability of batteries will be collected.
ExtraEnergy also started testing the mechanical and electro-technical safety of the bikes earlier in 2009. Once the test rides have been completed in Tanna, the bikes will go to the laboratories of SLG and velotech.de in Chemnitz and Schweinfurt respectively, for the mechanical and electro-technical safety tests. These tests also constitute the final leg of the Autumn 2009 Test.
The overall results of the Autumn 2009 Test will be published in February 2010.
Copy: Nora Manthey
Translation: Christoffel Volschenk
Photos: Thomas Hammer, Michael Burger
10 October 2009