By Amelia Willis, Community Ranger
Central Plateau Operations Ranger Roy Baker’s past life as a bike builder has proved valuable, giving his team the opportunity to lead the way with a new safe, efficient and environmentally friendly tool for DOC.
The ‘Ubco 2×2‘ is a kiwi-designed, electric off-road bike which debuted at the 2014 Fieldays as a farm utility vehicle. Roy’s long history in the cycling world tipped him off to the innovative new bike, so he went along to Fieldays to see the Ubco 2×2 first-hand.
After a test drive and a chat with designers Anthony Clyde and Daryl Neal, Roy was asked to take a prototype home for a closer look.
Roy is a motor and push bike expert – whether it’s wheel building, mechanics or frame design, motorbikes, BMX or mountain bikes, Roy knows his stuff. He owned and operated ‘Roy’s Cycle World’ in Taupo from the age of 19, was a founding member of the NZ BMX Association and even set up and participated in the first ever Round the Lake Cycle Challenge forty years ago.
After taking the Ubco 2×2 home, Roy wasted no time taking it to pieces, analysing its features and mechanics – always with DOC use in mind. He made a series of recommendations to Anthony and Daryl, who worked with the manufacturers in China to upgrade and correct some of the issues Roy had noted.
Roy says he is happy to have picked up on the bike early to be able to promote its benefits for DOC. Following further trials, and a comprehensive business case, the Central Plateau team now have two Ubco bikes at the field centre.
With hundreds of kilometres of popular walking and mountain bike tracks in the district it is important to be able to respond quickly to windfalls and other issues. Quad bikes are no longer used due to safety risks, and other side-by-sides are unable to navigate the narrow tracks and tight turns making the new Ubco bike the ideal option. It can go where mountain bikes go, but can carry chainsaws, fuel, gear and other tools.
The Ubco 2×2 is battery powered making it quiet, cost effective and environmentally friendly; it has a range of 100 kilometres and is both powerful and agile enough to navigate our range of tracks. It’s lightweight meaning there’s no risk of being crushed, and with its low centre of gravity and step-through design it is easy and safe to manoeuvre.
“The real plus with the Ubco bikes is allowing us to work more efficiently” says Operations Manager for the Central Plateau Dave Lumley. “Not only will high use tracks like Huka Falls be attended to quickly, but on our backcountry tracks in the Kaimanawa Forest Park we will have easy access to windfalls, completing work in one day, where previously it involved either tramping or flying in, camping and doing the work over several days.”
The use of electric powered bikes (e-bikes) is a relatively new activity in New Zealand, and raises questions about what bikes can legally be used on public conservation land. The 2 kilowatt Ubco 2×2 and any other bike with more than 300 watts of power is classed as a motorbike, and subject to the same regulations as motor vehicles.
Nice one, Roy! As a tramper (and a mad, keen MTBer) I’m more than happy to see these bikes out on the trail, going where those clunky, fossil-fuelled old quads used to go (we once watched a ranger squeezing over a Timber Trail swing bridge on a quad – hilarious!).
Thanks Sarah, yes we’ve found them friendly to other track users as well as helping us doing our job efficiently, so hope we can get them around other areas soon.
This is very interesting!