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Review of the Gotway 14 MCM from the perspective of a Solowheel owner

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Thanks for the long and detailed review! Where do I buy a Gotway 14, for USA?

Edited by Planetpapi

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Hi Planetpapi,

 

You may buy it from me. I'm the international agent for GotWay. If you are already on our Facebook group, you may look me up, else I can send you more info like prices and specs.

 

Cheers,

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Kevin is a reliable distributor.  He also offers many additional services for the wheel that you purchase.  I am just a user but hear good things about him. 

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Sam, the GW14 is still my daily driver.  It has the best balance between agility and stability.  It is most importantly predictible on uneven surfaces yet nimble to do sudden direction changes.  The 680wh version of this wheel would have been perfect.  Also a higher top speed would have been nice.

 

If I have a longer route, I need to use the GW18 for (1) the  larger battery pack for greater distance over hills, (2) higher speed to mingle with the road bikes in the bike lanes.  But this is really for going straight and fast.  You can still veer quickly but you need to commit a lot more body movement and weight to counter balance this big wheel.

 

On Sundays, I find myself taking out the GW10 to park since it is light and cute and I can do the most tricks on it.  (Not that I can do any tricks).  But it is cute and lite and I can carry it if I like without breaking a sweat. 

 

Once you get better, If you are in the park, I can ride out one or two wheels for you see.  

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So what happened to your SW?  From your review you suggest that the GW14 is a good substitute but the impression I got was that you would still choose a SW if money was no object.  Any reason why the SW not your daily ride anymore?

 

Regarding meeting up for a ride in SF I will message you and other SF people on the FB group about maybe this Sunday.  I'm not supposed to do active things until the end of the month.. but I can't wait that long :)

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@GQS

 

Have you tried the newer 1500W Solowheel. And if so, how does riding the Gotway 14MCM compare with the 1500W Solowheel.

I recently had the the 1000W on load while my own SW was getting a new set of electronics and I liked the older model a whole lot less. Much stiffer and less agile in turns.

Wondering how the Gotway compares to that.

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MwM, I've tried the GW14 and its feels a lot more like the stiffer SW software (I only tried the one mode mode on the GW, whatever the factory default is).   My friend's GW14 and my newly reprogrammed SW feel strange in the same way to me.

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MvM: I never tried the 1500w Solowheel.  I only heard about the differences 2nd hand. 

Sam: The larger battery of the GW makes me ride it more often than the SW.  Just more practical since I don't worry about it running out of juice like I do on the SW.  I like the larger 16" SW ride feel more, but the small 130wh pack is really a problem if I hit one or two hills.  SW battery pack is gone very quickly with hills.

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GQS, what range do you get out of your 340Wh GW14?

 

I have an Airwheel X5 and so far I get around 8km on my usual path with some moderate hill (80 kg, hill about 300m long stretch of 10% slope, at about 0C  temperature). As some other reviewer mentioned, I kind of get frequent range anxiety looking at my LEDs going down to 2. I bought an external 156Wh battery, I'll see if it works attaching it to my unit to get it charged while riding.

Edited by adi

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If I were you adi I would connect the external battery when both it and the internal are fully charged and run them down together in order to get the extended range you're after.

 

Whilst the idea of having the spare in your pocket or bag and connecting when you get low seems like a better idea, in that you could then be fairly sure you still have enough juice to get home, however I would be very nervous of connecting a fully charged battery to a depleted one to charge it as it is very likely to charge the internal battery at much too high a rate and shorten it's life or worse cause an overheat and possibly a fire.

 

My external has just arrived and I haven't had time to test it yet.

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I have arround 15km on light hilly area and maybe arround 20km if it is flat.

With up and down a altitude of arround 80Meter (beetwen 670 and 750  above see level) all the time I get arround 10km out of it.

Outside temp.....my wheel is stored inside but outside arround 2C.

And 100 Kilo with 3 bar in the tire riding on it.

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If I were you adi I would connect the external battery when both it and the internal are fully charged and run them down together in order to get the extended range you're after.

My external has just arrived and I haven't had time to test it yet.

Yes, I would connect the external battery (EB) before I ride, to allow the internal to remain charged -depending on the balance of internal discharge vs EB's ability to restore it.

Please let us know about your EB experience. I see there are 2 versions, 156 and 204Wh, which one did you get? Thx

ps. the moderator might want to move this branching EB discussion to the EB topic. thx

Edited by adi

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adi, I have a Gotway 14 - 260wh.  The 260wh was chosen so that I can stay under the FAA 300wh limit for Li batteries on domestic flights and I can fly with it.  In my city with the a lot of hills, I get roughly 15 miles on it. 

I am looking into adding a 2nd battery pack internally.  I'll let you guys know how that goes by Summer 2015, 

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adi, I have a Gotway 14 - 260wh.  The 260wh was chosen so that I can stay under the FAA 300wh limit for Li batteries on domestic flights and I can fly with it.  In my city with the a lot of hills, I get roughly 15 miles on it. 

I am looking into adding a 2nd battery pack internally.  I'll let you guys know how that goes by Summer 2015, 

Is the FAA rules not 150wh? How do you proove it?

Do they X-Ray it for check the battery?

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Hi Planetpapi,

 

You may buy it from me. I'm the international agent for GotWay. If you are already on our Facebook group, you may look me up, else I can send you more info like prices and specs.

 

Cheers,

I couldn't find you on Facebook. I'm interested in either the GW14, 18, or the 26 inch model I saw in a video. Please PM me.

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You may alternately contact me by email.

kevin.lee@silverland.com.hk

Looking forward to get in touch with you.

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Thankz, for posting review, if solo added swap-out batteries (at 'aiport' max battery compacity) and Bluetooth connectivity, I might think about it at their asking price, until then, give me gotaway...

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Is the FAA rules not 150wh? How do you proove it?

Do they X-Ray it for check the battery?

 

For my Solowheel, I asked Michael Chacon from Inventist to write me a letter on Inventist letterhead declaring conformity to FAA rules and stating the size of the battery as well as the lithium content.  He responded within minutes and I have been travelling internationally with the SW ever since.  Of all the things people dislike about Inventist, post-purchae customer service is not one of their short comings.  They are actually the gold-standard for other EUc to try to emulate.

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Thankz, for posting review, if solo added swap-out batteries (at 'aiport' max battery compacity) and Bluetooth connectivity, I might think about it at their asking price, until then, give me gotaway...

 

BT is supposedly coming.  You need to note that domestic USA FAA regulations are different from international flight regulations regarding lithium battery size.  It's 300wh for domestic USA and I think 160 for International.  And international, you need to check with each airline individually since there is no central authority regulating them like the FAA for the USA.

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Review of the Gotway 14 MCM from the perspective of a Solowheel owner

By: E.Kwok 12/12/2014

 

So I’ve had my Gotway 14 gen2 (herein referred to as “GW14”) for about a week now.  I’ve owned my Solowheel gen3-1000w (herein referred as “SW”) for close to a year now.  I think I have enough information to give a review of the GW14 as compared to the SW.  I refer to electric unicycles as EU in this review.

 

Just some background information, I am originally a SW owner/rider.  I do not otherwise work for nor am I affiliate in any way to Inventist (makers of Solowheel) or Gotway or any branch of their distribution channels or subsidiaries.  I am receiving zero (nothing) compensation for this review.  I am an electric unicycle (EU) enthusiast and consumer only.  This is a review to share my experiences, please do your own research before making any decisions.  The information is subject to change without notice. I accept no responsibility for any harm that may occur if you engage in this sport.  YMMV. 

 

The Gotway 14 is a 14” 500 watt hub motor electric unicycle with either a 260wh, or 340wh battery capacity options.  It is modeled closely to the SW.  The GW14 is more squat being a smaller wheel diameter, but thicker at the legs owing to a larger externally accessible circuitry and battery compartments.  It uses an audible warning system instead of the pedal tilt-back for user feedback.  The batteries are Japanese Li-ion cells and the GW14 has an onboard battery management system (BMS) for individual cell balancing.  Recently the GW14 introduced a 170wh and 680wh battery capacity option as well. 

 

The Inventist Solowheel is a 16” 1000 watt (new model is 1500 watt) hub motor electric unicycle with a 122wh* battery capacity (* source: http://www.solowheeluk.com/#!faq/c9qb). It is the original mass-production seat-less electric unicycle.  It uses a pedal tilt-back or vibration notification to provide feedback to the rider.  The batteries are Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries and has an onboard BMS for individual cell balancing. 

 

Pros of the GW14:

 

Speed – The GW14 is faster [in top speed] than my SW.  On my GPS app on my Samsung phone, the GW14 indicated that I was able to travel at an average speed of 25kph.  I was able to hit a indicated split-second top speed of 31kph on a slight downhill slope before hitting the top speed beep warning and cutoff.  Acceleration feels good even on uphill slopes, nearly as good as the SW.

 

Range – I was able to go roughly 2-3 times the distance that I normally travel on my SW.  The massive battery pack really carries you a long distance.  Even the 260wh option is twice the SW’s 122wh pack.

 

No-Tiltback – The pedals stay parallel to the ground, and as a SW rider, this was a really unnerving experience.  Instead it uses a series of audible beeps to alert the user.  Note: Supposedly there is a tilt-back warning for extremely low battery warning. 

 

Regenerative braking – It does have regenerative braking so you get a little power back during those long downhill paths.  But notably, the single most impressive feature (or lack of feature) is that the GW14 does NOT have the same overcharge vibration warning that renders the SW nearly un-rideable if triggered.  The GW14 will simply give you an audible beep alert in an overcharge situation which does not interfere with your mechanical riding experience.

 

Bluetooth – There is an app that connects with your wheel that lets you select the riding mode [soft, comfort, or aggressive “madden”], as well as to give you information regarding the current, speed, battery life.

Waterproof/dust resistance – Although this has not been certified as being IPxx rated, I think this has demonstrated to be around the same IP56 rating as other wheels.  The GW14 is fairly waterproof, and have survived several rides through a heavy rainstorm.

 

Durability – This wheel can take just as many crashes as the SW and still keep ticking.

 

Mode – There are 3 user settable riding modes on the GW14, a hard, medium, and soft mode that determines how aggressive the reaction of the wheel is to your lean input.  The softer modes allow you do be able to perform aerial tricks (such as large hops and jumps) without having the wheel immediately spin upon losing contact with the ground.

 

Owner/Fan/Aftermarket base – There is a large aftermarket and technically-savvy community that self-supports the GW14.  This is in part because of the ease of user access to the Gotway’s internals and relative simplicity in have a modular electrical design.  Additionally the relatively low initial cost gives greater courage to more folks to try to crack it open for self-service

.

Modular – The GW14 has a design that is friendlier (compared to the SW) for the average DIY’er.  The components and wiring are fairly straightforward, and the electronics compartments can be accessed without having to split open the clamshell case. 

 

Cons of the GW14:

 

Beeping – Why have a high top speed only to have warning beeps start at a much lower level?  I was comfortably travelling at 25km, but at this speed you will constantly hear the speed warning beep.  It causes a lot of noise pollution and cannot be turned off.  Be prepared to beep loudly (like having siren) everywhere you go if you plan to travel fast.  You will scare pets, you will scare children, adults and old people will give you a shocked or annoyed look if your alarm sounds while passing near them.

 

Battery/Charging – The GW14 has a huge Li-ion battery pack.  The Li-ion, although safer due to being from a reputable name brand (Panasonic or Sony), have been known in the past to catch fire as a result of a thermal runaway incident.  All it takes is one single had cell and the whole thing will go up in a 1700 to 2000 degree flame that cannot be put out with sand or water.  The likelihood of a battery fire is very low but does exist with these Li-ion batteries.  Additionally, the large battery pack exceeds most air-travel limits and will prevent this vehicle from being shipped via airmail, nor be brought along on an airplane if you travel.

 

Ergonomics – The large electronics compartment along with the thinner padding and square (non-contoured) leg pads puts more point pressure against the touch point of your inner shin.  Every owner of a GW14 has put additional padding on the leg pad to alleviate this issue.  This is an out-of-box design issue but can be quickly addressed aftermarket with a simple cushion. 

 

Noise – The motor makes a very slight electrical whine when riding.  The motor makes an electrical sound when accelerating.  The charger has an integrated fan that is noticeable and always on during the red LED charging phase.  It makes slightly more sound than the SW, I suspect because it was designed with raw power and performance in mind without allocating the same amount of consideration to other factors such as noise.

 

Acceleration – While the acceleration feels on par with the SW even though the GW14 has half the motor power, it definitely make a little more electrical noise during the acceleration process.  I suspect this has something to do with the programming sacrificing all environmental aspects for the sake of raw power delivery.  The motor noise is never unbearable, in fact, it is actually never even annoying, but is there and you will notice it. 

 

No tactile feedback – For the hearing impaired, the GW’s reliance on audible feedback is a detriment for individuals with hearing disabilities.  Those folks will miss the critical warnings for over-speed protection.

 

New company – Gotway is a relative new company and many of their products are completely new to the market.  It still needs to be seen how durable the products are and how well the support is over time.

 

No local distributors – Gotway distributors are not easy to fine locally in your area.  In fact, they most likely don’t exist where you are.  This is in part due to the relatively newness of the company.  And also in part due to the fact that SW holds an exclusive patent on the seatless electric unicycle in the USA and Chinese markets. 

 

Top Speed Dangers – The manufacturer warns that the GW14 may shut down if you continue to push for acceleration beyond the top speed capabilities of the wheel. While this is the same for all EU manufacturers, an EU shutdown at 25km is catastrophic and will result in you falling down and crashing.  You *think* you can run it off, but you absolutely cannot reliably recover every time at this high speed. 

 

Pros of the SW:

 

Ergonomics - The ergonomics is much better thought out.  The leg pad is contoured to the shape of your legs and the overall width is narrower, not requiring that you spread out your legs as far.  The SW also is a few inches taller which allows it to rest higher on your leg.  This longer length and contoured shape is significant because it reduces the pressure on the contact point where your legs touch the wheel, especially when you are mounting, dismounting, or doing one legged riding. 

 

Original Creator and original product – This is the pioneer of the original seat-less electric unicycle that was mass produced.  If it was not for this product, the army of clones and options may not exist as it does today.  Everything else is a copy of this idea. 

 

Batteries – The SW uses Lithium Iron Phosphate (LiFePO4) batteries.  The main benefit of these batteries is safety.  They are nearly impossible to self-combust due to thermal runaway.  These batteries are more expensive per cell and more cells are needed to reach the same power density.  These are the current premium types of batteries for both high capacity and safety.

 

Established Company and Support – Inventist has been in business for years.  They are well known for their high level of customer service and satisfaction. 

 

Quiet – This wheel runs nearly silent.  The charger is also silent.  It uses tilt-back or vibration feedback to interface with the user.  There is nearly no noise pollution coming from the SW.  This is absolutely a stealth vehicle in your daily commute.

 

Power – At 1000w (or 1500w for the latest model) there is absolutely no lack of power for going up hills or carry a heavy load.  Acceleration is smooth, linear, and nearly unmatched by all other clones (except maybe the GW14 which provides power in a less smooth or less linear manner).  The SW is able to deliver the power and riding experience (especially on hills) in a much gentler, smoother, and predictable manner.  The climbing angle is limited not by power as much as it is by the design of the low apron case.

 

Software – The software has been tuned extensively against multiple factors beyond just power.  Electrical and motor noise, vibration, and harshness has been entirely tuned out.  It runs very smoothly, very reliably, very quietly, and very predictably.  The riding experience, the longevity or the components, and reliability of the electric parts has been optimized for the best overall synergy. 

Waterproof – The SW is IP56 certified.  Water jet and dust proof.  (Not submersion proof)

 

Durability – The design is virtually bulletproof for crashes.  It will survive nearly any normal daily abuse you throw at it and has been proven reliability over years of ownership.  The only issues that cause problems are submersion in deep water and leaving the battery pack in a low state of discharge for an extended period of time.  If anything happens, even outside the warranty period, Inventist has historically stood behind this product 100% with support and repair. 

 

Cons of the SW:

 

Cost – The barrier to entry is much higher in terms of actual retail cost for the SW.  It is especially high when you compare specifications that relate to performance only such as top speed or range, without looking at other intrinsic value propositions such as safety, customer support, reliability, and holistic design.

 

Speed – The wheel is artificially limited in top speed to 16km.  Despite ample user feedback to allow a change to this setting, Inventist has been adamant in their position to stay static.  They cite, and understandably so, that safety as the #1 deciding factor in this setting.  Any faster and you will not be able to run off a crash.  The low speed is actually a feature of the SW, and demonstrates the hard compromises that the company had to make between safety versus competitive features.

 

Range – The battery capacity is 130wh.  Your total range is usually around 16km in ideal situations.  This is ample in flat locations, but I live in San Francisco, and the hills reduce the overall range significantly.  If I travel on a road with a lot of hills, my total range can be cut to as low as 1-3 miles (or 2-5km).  Of course that is partially my fault due to my weight (if I was lighter, it would travel farther).  This is yet another compromise for both safety and ergonomics due to the use of the LiFePO4 batteries within the small and relatively comfortable case. 

 

Mode – There is only one riding mode for the SW (and it is a very soft setting compared to the modes available in the GW14)

 

Overcharge Warning – The SW uses a shudder/vibration pulse (like 10 pulses in a row and repeating until the power is cycled) to warn that you the cells are overcharging.  This happens if you have a 100% charge and start your trip going downhill which will result in regenerative braking pushing your cells past 100% voltage.  Although I agree it is important, this alert is highly intrusive and interferes with normal riding.  On fast and steep downhill runs, my person experience has been that this shudder actually increases the braking distance needed to come to a full stop and makes high speed maneuvers dangerous while this is activated.  I feel the severity of the warning is unwarranted since the cells are the ultra-safe LiFePO4 and would not explode anyways.  Perhaps a single or double pulse ever few seconds is enough, instead of the machine gun effect that occurs.  For those who live and ride in flat areas, this is probably a non-issue.

 

Tricks – The software of the SW does not make it an great choice for big aerial tricks.  The wheel accelerates and spins immediately upon losing contact with the ground, such as in hopping a curb. Although still possible, aerial tricks are not as easy with the SW.

 

No Bluetooth – The current models of SW do not support BT integration nor is there an app.  This may change with the new models.   

 

Lack of Updates – Although the SW is in its 4th or 5th revision, it has made relatively modest upgrades to its design such as upgrading the voltage and motor wattage.  There has been no changes to the case design or added BT functionality.  Although I understand this may be forthcoming, it is unavailable as of the writing of this review. 

 

Not user serviceable – The design is not friendly to the average DIY’er.  The components internal to the SW are not really modular.  Any service will require shipment back to the Inventist HQ in Camas Washington.  The good news is that they will 100% take care of you!  The annoyance is the cost and time of shipping. 

 

Conclusion:

 

If you are already a SW owner, there is no need to jump ship to the GW14 as you will likely already have a great riding experience.  The SW software is the most refined and fine-tuned and theoretically easier for beginners to learn as well as experienced riders to have an enjoyable daily experience.  The SW customer service is the best you can get out of all the EU manufacturers today.  The SW is a solid product that you should continue to be proud to own.  If I had to do over again, I would likely still purchase a SW as it gives me a peace of mind that I don’t otherwise get.  It is also somewhat unfair to compare the current SW designed over 4 years ago to the brand new GW14 product designed earlier this year.  A much better comparison would be against the new batch of Investist Solowheel products that are due to come out early 2015. 

 

As a standalone product, the GW14 is really the best of the clones out there.  It’s durable and incorporates all the features that users have been requesting such as long range, high speed, low price, and high durability/reliability.  Keep in mind that this company is owned by an engineer and this product is geared heavily toward raw performance.  There is noticeably a lack of consideration put in towards ergonomics and niceties of the user experience.  You get great range, lots of power, good dependability, and pay a low price but your tradeoffs are more noise, vibration, harshness, and a slightly less comfortable form-factor out of the box.  I think a good analogy would be the difference between a limousine versus a hot rod, with the SW being the limo and the GW14 being the hot rod.  While the SW is designed to protect you from yourself and is fairly idiot-proof, the GW14 will most definitely allow you to push it to whatever breaking point you or it has.  The higher speed comes at the cost of user safety, and by having a slightly higher speed, you are also simultaneously guaranteeing greater injury in the event of an accident, either to yourself or to others.  The higher capacity battery packs and decision to use Li-ion instead of LiFePO4 trades off lower cost and higher capacity with the tiny risk of catastrophic fire or explosion.  I truly believe that this Gotway exists and is successful because it provided what the EU user-base was demanding for a long time. 

 

If you have a relatively short commute or travel via air often and can afford a Solowheel, I still believe the SW is the go-to product.  As a EU rider myself, I understand the importance of getting more people into the sport and the Solowheel is something that is trying to coexist in the delicate legislative environment as well as the user’s domain.  If cost is a concern, a used (or refurbished) Solowheel is still a really good option in terms of reliability, safety, and holistic design at a lower than retail cost.  Inventist will support you whether you are the original owner or not. 

 

If you have requirements outside what the Solowheel can provide, or you have a limited budget and will likely buy a low-cost clone anyways, for Christ’s sake, get a GW14 so you have the best possible experience.  Just keep in mind that the GW14 is still fairly new and raw, and although it has been very reliable to date, it has not been around long enough to see how it fares years down the line.  These things only time will tell.

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GQS and Gotway 14 users,

Just want to share that when GQS wrote,

 

"The manufacturer warns that the GW14 may shut down if you continue to push for acceleration beyond the top speed capabilities of the wheel. While this is the same for all EU manufacturers, an EU shutdown at 25km is catastrophic and will result in you falling down and crashing.  You *think* you can run it off, but you absolutely cannot reliably recover every time at this high speed,"

 

He wasn't kidding!!!!!  I recently purchased a Gotway 14 with a 680 wh battery that I love BUT yeah, it shut down at top speed while I'd been riding it at top speed for about 2 full hours!  I was caught completely off guard because I'd assumed that if it hadn't shut down by then, it never would.  I attributed it to the huge battery.

 

Nope:  6 stitches on my chin, two loose teeth, and although my jaw isn't broken, I can barely use it.  Plenty of road rash.

 

I can't say I wasn't warned!  But why all of a sudden after 2 full hours at top speeds?  Is it because the battery power was somewhat depleted?  Or some other reason?

 

Anyone have any idea?

 

Thanks!

 

Sky

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I can't say I wasn't warned!  But why all of a sudden after 2 full hours at top speeds?  Is it because the battery power was somewhat depleted?  Or some other reason?

 Sky, thank you for the report. Questions:

1. Did the uni experience BMS shutdown (wouldn't turn on again until charged) or was it a mainboard shutdown (turned on normally after the incident)

2. Was it fully charged before the ride? Do you remember what the battery level was reading at the time of the accident?

3. 2 hours on flat or hills or what?

4. What temperature was it?

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