Playing With Dolphins

Posted January 19, 2021 – Narrated by Carmen

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“Riding a bicycle is the closest you can get to flying”

       – Robin Williams, comedian and life-long bicycle enthusiast

We finally took the plunge and joined the e-bike revolution.

RVing cross-country from San Diego to Florida with our sassy new Dolphin e-bikes has opened up a new dimension to LIB. We get out more now – go farther – see places we’ve been missing due to the limitations of distance, winter daylight hours, and the natural effects of aging.

We’re so fond of these bikes that we’ve reached out to the awesome folks at Qualisports USA, and asked them to give LIB followers a discount. So if you decide to go with a Dolphin, use this discount code: LIVINGINBEAUTY, and the link below, to receive a $100 discount per Dolphin and free shipping at checkout.


If there’s anything more exhilarating than a good bike ride, don’t tell us because it’s either illegal, immoral, too dangerous, or we can’t afford it.

Cycling time is adventure time. Riding through new places every week makes us feel like explorers – but bicycles alone are a mystery of the universe.

Science understands more about the aerodynamic force of lift in flight than about the stability of bicycles. So, when you straddle the seat of a two-wheeled conundrum of geometry and physics that even MIT can’t explain … and then, place your feet on the pedals, bear down and move forward steadily in a balanced position – Voila, you are participating in an experiment of human potential and contributing to the future progress of safe fuel-free transportation. May the camber forces be with you.

Cycling is rebellious.

As cycling advocates since way back in the 70’s in San Diego, we were demonized by motorist groups. As life-long cycling enthusiasts, we were early adaptors – among the first to have a Winchester child trailer in San Diego,

and, to wear Skid Lids which saved both our lives in 1981 when we were young, clueless immortals riding downhill during heavy storm runoff.

If you don’t take the time to slow down and calculate risk, life will step in and do it for you.

So, there was no dragging our heels toward e-bikes. We were holding out for a model that could efficiently and safely partner with the LIB lifestyle – biding our time until a lightweight folding model with all of the safety and comfort measures we require grabbed our attention.

Portable folding bikes are essential LIB equipment.

They serve as both recreation and alternative transportation – especially when we’re in congested metro areas or old towns with narrow roads where driving and parking The Beast is problematic.

Our first year on the road, we bought a pair of pre-owned folding Dahons in Tennessee.

These trusty bikes were our traveling companions for our first four LIB years.

In 2018, on a tour of the Eastern Seaboard, we encountered the thrill of rail trails …

… and during that time, we longed for e-bikes.

But the internet search was not productive. It was a like a bad dating site experience. Every good-looking contestant was either out of our league or not up to our potential. Our e-bike hadn’t been born yet, so we put it out of our minds. We were good with the Dahons.

Then, last year, Jim damaged his achilles tendon. The therapeutic boot presented a cycling challenge. Uphill peddling around Lake Tahoe caused awful chaffing and blistering on his leg.

So, I began pushing hard for e-bikes as Jim continually cooled my wheels with his exasperating list of bullet-pointed must-haves:

  • Adjustable height hand bars
  • Easy to access battery to recharge
  • Recharge the battery on the bike or off the bike
  • Safe space for a chihuahua in a front basket
  • Low top tube for ease in getting on and off the bike
  • Pedal assist and a throttle 
  • 20 inch fat tires
  • Disk brakes
  • At least 6 gears
  • Fit in the same spot on the back seat of the truck as the old folding Dahons.
  • Use common bike parts so we can take to any bike shop
  • As easy to fold and unfold as the Dahons.
  • Light enough to lift it into the truck without assistance
  • Comfortable to ride
  • Battery Range at least 40 miles
  • Stealth. Quiet motor and invisible battery casing so it looks and sounds like a normal bike
  • User-friendly motor/battery/speed LED monitor 
  • Rides like a normal 6-speed without the motor engaged

And … it had to be affordable.

By far, the most forbidding requirement was space management. There’s no messing with Jim’s organizational triumphs – no way he’d give an inch.

But, he felt hopeful that soon there would emerge a model in dimensions comparable to the trusty old folding Dahons which fit positioned side-by-side, on half the length of The Beast’s back seat.

No fair, I pouted. That’s the kiss of death, I argued. E-bikes tend to run heavier and larger than average, I reasoned.

“Hey, what about a bike rack inside the trailer, you know, something to hold them in place, wedged into the bathroom between the toilet and the shower while we’re in motion … Or store them on top of a tarp spread out over the bed. Yeah, that’ll work. And, when it rains we can put them under the trailer or in the Clam Quickset …”

Jim responded calmly (so annoying) countering my arguments with the dozens of reasons (which I already knew) about why settling presented more problems than solutions, “Something will come up,” he said, “Let’s keep looking. Maybe the right e-bike is already out there and we just haven’t found it. Until then, we have the Dahons.”

Flashback to six years ago, pre LIB: We learn that Full-time Airstreaming is a luxurious travel lifestyle, but only for dedicated Minimalists. So, well before we started out, we made a pact (but not a blood-pact, which leaves me some wiggle room) to travel as small as possible – no follies, fantasies or flamingoes. The key to more adventure (accomplishing more in less time) is to travel light (with, of course, the notable exception of wine).

But I was feeling desperate – for Jim’s sake, and also for my own. These sixty-four year-old knees are okay, I guess, but grinding uphill in granny-gear is certainly not getting any less painful for each of us as the years go by.

Patience, he says.

Yeah, tell that to my arthritis.

The Perfect LIB e-Bike Is Not A Myth

Then, early last September, Jim texted to me a video of the Dolphin by Qualisports USA. Under the video he wrote, “Eureka! Our e-bikes really do exist. The price isn’t over our heads and I found two in stock in Dana Point.”

We were traveling south through wine country on our way to San Diego. In three days, we’d pass through Dana Point. Just like my old man said, our e-bike solution would surface out of the blue with every bullet point accounted for. I felt like jumping up and down like a nine year-old. Okay, I jumped up and down like a nine year-old … and squealed, “New bikes for Christmas!”

Let’s Take a Ride

The Dolphin, by Qualisports USA, emerged in 2019 but somehow this bike escaped our sketchy powers of internet research which we paused in frustration back in 2018 – so now we’re putting it out there for other RVers and boaters who are looking for a similar e-bike solution.

As we drove south toward Dana Point, we kept up the Dolphin research. Apparently, it has a larger battery than most and is far less expensive than we expected. Also, the Dolphin is light-weight for easier lifting, handling and assembly, and the universal parts are available in North America – so, no dependence on proprietary parts or specialty maintenance.

It all seemed too perfect. Doubts began to set in.

We had to go see it.

As we pulled into Dana Point our excitement escalated. We parked The Beast and took a moment to prepare.

We’ll be cool. Take’m for a ride, kick the tires, and if we’re stoked we’ll perform the Cinderella test and try to cram ’em into the Dahon space.

If they don’t fit, or if we can’t lift them with average effort, we walk away. No big thing.

But the moment Robbie, owner of EZ Green Bike Shop rolled out the Dolphins we knew this was it.

We love everything about these bikes! Even our lil’ wolf, Pico de Gallo, is delighted with the upgrade. The fabulous front rack makes his ride more stable and less bumpy.

We’re so fond of these bikes that we’ve reached out to the awesome folks at Qualisports USA, and asked them to give LIB followers a discount. So if you decide to go with a Dolphin, use this discount code: LIVINGINBEAUTY, and the link below, to receive a $100 discount per Dolphin and free shipping at checkout.


Someday soon we will outfit the Dolphins with panniers, and replace our homemade dog carrier with something snazzy. The front and back racks will be perfect for grocery shopping and picnics.

The batteries are better than expected. In several months of riding, we’ve never lost power. Haven’t even come close.

At the end of an all-day forty-mile urban bike ride around coastal San Diego, the batteries were still half full.

So, moving forward, hello Dolphins and goodbye Dahons.

“‘Hello, Goodbye’ …There are Geminian influences here I think: the twins. It’s such a deep theme in the universe, duality – man woman, black white, ebony ivory, high low, right wrong, up down, hello goodbye – I was advocating the more positive side of the duality, and I still do to this day.” Paul McCartney quoted in “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles

Old bikes carry your story. It’s tough to let them go. But, when we arrived to San Diego, we posted the pair on Craigslist. Due to COVID and closures, a bidding war began. But in the end, we let them go to the first contact who offered our original full price. The next morning, an excited young couple pulled into our campground in a brand new Lotus. They were delighted when Jim rolled the bikes out and gave them a short tutorial. Then, the Dahons split with the Lotus and never looked back. That’s what bikes do – move forward. Ride on, Old Friends, ride on.

Now, that our bike riding possibilities are kinda endless, we’re thinking bigger and more strategically about rail trails and off-street bike lanes like Tammany Trace, Luce Line, maybe the entire Erie Canal

Whee! … Pico at the helm … Sun on my shoulders … Wind whipping through Jim’s chest hair … The Dolphins make us feel plucky as the cares of the world recede into the background.

Here’s the deal: we take the Dolphins out as often as possible and they make sure we’re home in time for dinner. In the last few months, we’ve ridden with them over all kinds of surfaces – pavements, packed earth, gravel and sand. The fat all-terrain tires smooth out the rough spots and take the hit for our old butts.

So, yeah. The wait was worth it. The Dolphins are getting us out there, coaxing us to go farther, stay out longer – encouraging us to experience the world like a couple of forty year-olds with a happy puppy-dog.

We’re so fond of these bikes that we’ve reached out to the awesome folks at Qualisports USA, and asked them to give LIB followers a discount. So if you decide to go with a Dolphin, use this discount code: LIVINGINBEAUTY, and the link below, to receive a $100 discount per Dolphin and free shipping at checkout.


Have fun. Stay safe. Look both ways. Respect the rules of the road, wear a helmet, avoid crowded areas and …

See you out there!


History of Bicycles

Bicycles are fascinating contraptions. The Bicycle Museum Of America is a great place to stop and learn The History of The Bicycle.

Bicycle Museum Of America

Fun Facts:

In 1815 the eruption of Mt. Tambura in Indonesia resulted in a drop in global temperatures and famine across Europe and North America. Horses and livestock were no longer dependable for transportation. So in 1818, Karl Drais invented the Laufmaschine (German for “running machine”), the world’s first bicycle.

Laufmaschine

Susan B. Anthony considered the invention of the bicycle to be the single most important factor in women’s fight for equal rights.

Susan B. Anthony

Henry Ford’s invention of the “quadricycle” in 1896 served as forerunner for the Model T in 1908.

quadricycle

The military introduced bicycles in 1908 to conserve fuel and steel and horses.

In 1940, the military’s most extensive experimentation on bicycle units was carried out by the 25th United States Infantry, an African American regiment known as Buffalo Soldiers. Stationed in Montana, the soldiers rode bicycles across harsh landscapes without roads for hundreds of miles at high speeds, making mountain biking history.

Buffalo Soldiers

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.


30 thoughts on “Playing With Dolphins

  1. What a perfect blog for this chilly, sunny day! Old ankle injury has kept me from even considering bringing a bike along on extended camping trips_____but electric bikes? Lots of possibilities there! I love all the photos and appreciate the labeled locations. So many places yet to go…your stories are so anticipated and welcomed. When the LIB email shows up, everything stops as we sit to read, comment, reread and look up places on the map. Fun! Fun! Fun! Thank you so much for sharing your exciting lives. And a special “hello” to Little Pico!

    1. Hey Jo! How wonderful to hear from you again! Your comment has made our day!!! We have big smiles and hearts full of joy to know that you are with us and share our love of RV travel.

      Thank you for stepping into this LIB world and being a part of the journey.

      Regrets about that ankle injury – sounds like a bad one. Be careful and don’t to anything too risky. An e-bike is really just a bike that gives you a bit of a push. If you don’t feel comfortable riding a regular bike, an e-bike might not be for you. But the way technology is progressing who knows what wonderful people-movers will be out in the near future – and hopefully before we start having joint replacement surgeries.

      Pico is soaking up the Florida sunshine right now … laying on his side, panting in hot-chihuahua bliss … I just gave him a treat and told him it’s from Jo.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey! Thanks so much for coming along for the ride, for the smiles and for being good company.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Donna!

      We debated the question of transferring to e-bikes for years. I think most lifelong bike riders take this move very seriously. And, we’re glad we waited because the technology is so much better now than it was even a year ago. Of course, in a few years we might want to upgrade … but it was time for us.

      We were just lucky the Dolphins were there when we needed them.

      Thank you for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels,

      LIB

  2. Super post….we’re a little old to start this adventure (86/81 respectively) however, enjoy reading your posts. (We’re still Airstreamin’ though….now I’m the driver and hubby the passenger). Arlene Matches (#7403)

    1. Hey Arlene! It’s always wonderful to hear from other Airstreamers.

      Good for you! You are so wise to take the helm so you can both stay active and enjoy Airstream travel.

      Every woman – even if she has a travel partner – should know how to drive and maintain her own Airstream. It’s so important to know how to do everything. We make it a point not take on anything that I cannot handle all by myself, if necessary. Driving the rig, hitching, unhitching, tank maintenance, propane management and packing up – should come naturally.

      In fact, our good friend, Airstream Ambassador, Dianne Barbara Tripels, organized an Airstream rally for women in 2019 called, I CAN DO IT – to encourage and equip women of all ages to improve their Airstream skills, driving and maintenance. It really was a brilliant idea, and much needed … however, it had to be cancelled due to COVID-19. I hope she decides to organize another rally in the future.

      Thank you so much for being with us Arlene.

      Safe and Happy Travels to #7403

      LIB

    1. Hey Chris! Thank you. Yeah, we love’m – that little push really helps these days. The motor goes from 1 to 5. One, feels like my Dad gaving me that gentle push from behind when I was learning to ride – and that’s where I keep it mostly. Two, feels like a tandem. Three is what I use to peddle up an average hill which is just no big deal for me anymore – and, the sensation is similar to walking on an escalator. I can’t comment on Four and Five because I haven’t used them yet – but Jim has because he used to ride motorbikes. But, cycling primarily in One – I feel I could cycle from Chula Vista to Oceanside before the need to recharge … pretty awesome.

      We miss you SO much!!! loveLoveLOVE to you and the family!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      Carmen & Jim (LIB)

  3. These bikes sound like the perfect travel E-bike. Some that I’ve looked at are so darn heavy which is why I gave up. Hmm, might have to persuade hubby with this info. Thanks!

    1. Hey Ingrid!

      That was our experience, too. We just need lightweight bikes that we can pull out of the truck and ride at a moment’s notice. No heavy lifting for us. I think there are some even lighter weight folding bikes out there, but they cost at least twice as much. We’re thrilled with the Dolphins. Life is good.

      Thank you for being with us!

      LIB

    1. Hey Lori Ann! Great to hear from you.

      Yes, e-bikes are a passionate topic right now – especially among people our age. It seems there’s a glut of models on the market and most of them are very good bikes. We know because we test-drove a lot of them. The wait was long, but we now have the ideal bikes for us. Also, the Dolphins are head-turners – especially for young people. Almost every time we’re out riding at least one kid says, “Cool bike.” Nice.

      Thank you for being with us!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

  4. As always, I love to read your LIB blog.
    Your peripatetic lifestyle sounds magical. Each day’s adventures, photos, and gustatory experiences are eagerly anticipated.

    I particularly like this blog on finding your Dolphin e-bikes. As you may remember, Mike and I have traveled from Calgary to Vancouver and from San Francisco to San Diego on our tandem over the years, as well as around England. We haven’t ridden much in the past ten years since his heart surgeries. This might be the ticket! Thanks for sharing!

    God bless you all! Laurie and Mike

    1. Hey Laurie! Wonderful to hear from you – always is. Our last San Diego stop was so difficult – having to keep the necessary covid’s distance from family and friends. Hopefully, our next visit will be a post pandemic holiday – what bliss!

      Yes – most days are like magic. Today is one of those as we are parked a few feet from a bay near Apalachicola – our favorite part of Florida. We adore the small towns and the small vintage homes which the locals lovingly call Cracker Shacks, the quiet undeveloped coastline, sandbars full of pelicans and wintering seabirds, the cool salty breeze and fresh local catch which we pick up at the little roadside market.

      Thank you for keeping an eye on us. Our friends and family holding us in thought and prayer keeps us safe and sound and able to continue this open-ended trek. All travelers need these blessings, and we are all travelers of some variety or other.

      Yes, I remember your cycling adventures. You and Mike might enjoy campfire stories with our tandem-cycling friends Tom and Cathy who live in your neighborhood.

      An old-farts ride across America would be marvelous. I need to research cross-country e-bike group tours. I’d feel safer with a physician and a SAG driver 😀

      https://thedyrt.com/magazine/lifestyle/cross-country-bike-routes/

      Love to you and Mike and …

      Safe and Happy Travels,

      Carmen & Jim (LIB)

    1. Hello! Yes, and thank you – e-biking is a good healthy hobby – especially for people our age. We’re getting more exercise, not less because we’re going out more often, staying out longer, and not avoiding hilly terrain. We still peddle uphill, but not stressing our knees so much that we need to ice them and take pain medicine when we get home. At the end of the day we are exhilerated but not exhausted.

      Thanks for being here!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

    1. Hey Morgan!

      Bike lanes are a great way to navigate around San Diego. Rent or borrow one first and see if it’s for you.

      Love,

      Carmen

  5. We went from packing our standard bikes on the beds (painful process), to Dahons a couple of years ago. We still love the Dahons but know that e-bikes are in our not-too-distant future. We are happy that you found the perfect way to accommodate Jim’s injury with the Dolphin.

    Kathy and Steve

    1. Hey Kathy! Always wonderful to hear from you!

      Yes, we are lucky it all fell into place at the right moment. Another great thing about the Dolphin is the low step-through. I have hip pain on my right side (that old bicycle injury) and on a bad day, lifting my leg over the Dahon’s top tube (which is just a couple of inches higher) could be painful. The Dolphins have this nice low slant so I barely have to lift my knee higher than I do to go up an average step. So nice! The Dolphin’s low slanted top tube is feature I didn’t even know I was looking for until I had it – and Jim loves it too.

      Okay, you two stay safe out there and maybe we’ll see you down the road!

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  6. Wow, you two have a lot of biking photos! The Dolphin does look perfect and so much fun. Where is the battery located? I was trying to figure that out by enlarging some of the photos, to no avail… Did you create a charging station in LIB as well?

    My husband and I bought electric bikes – hybrids between a mountain bike and a street bike – with assist motors a few years ago. We love them. But, ever since we adopted our 60-pound dog, we have used them much less. We can’t put our Maya in a basket, you see… 🙂 And we have no room in the van for a doggie trailer.

    Just today, as a desert boondocking neighbor rode by on his foldable e-bike (not sure of the brand), Mark and I discussed foldable electric bikes with fat tires… Good timing to read your post. If we ever change campers, we will probably sell our current bikes and get smaller ones.

    1. Hey Liesbet!

      The battery on the Dolphin is located in the seat post. We really like the low-profile battery. In fact, we’re often asked if they are e-bikes.

      Yes, for cycling with Maya you would need a barrow bicycle. I’ve seen a few and they’re great for big dogs who are good about sitting still – but a barrow bike is a large item of specialty equipment which I doubt you have no room for – and neither would we.

      Living small is all about the math isn’t it? It’s kind of funny to think that we spent more years of strategy to take on a couple of folding e-bikes than to plan and execute a 1,200 square foot addition to our house … and we wouldn’t have it any other way. The space restrictions are what we deal with to live life in the best way possible.

      Safe and Happy Travels to you, Mark and Maya!

      Carmen@LIB

  7. Wanted to thank you for the very timely post on the e-bikes. My wife Colleen and I are fellow Airstream owners and have traveled with our Dahons for many years. I recently had to shutter my company due to the pandemic so with my forced retirement we have been traveling and riding more often. About a week before your post we had just finished a ride and commented on how e-bikes would be in our future so that we could extend our rides past our current limits. Next thing your post pops up and gives us the nudge we needed to take the next step. A little research (and a lot of positive reviews) and we ordered the bikes yesterday. I just wanted to thank you for working out the discount, much appreciated as the savings allow us to get the racks. Have enjoyed living through your exploits and travels vicariously for quite some time and really enjoyed your recent wine post. Again, much appreciated, safe travels and hope to cross paths sometime.

    1. John,

      Sounds like you two have traveled the same road we did from Dahons to Dolphins while traveling in an Airstream.

      After you have had the opportunity to ride your Dolphins for awhile, please reach out to us and give us some feedback.

      Thanks for following Living in Beauty and we hope our paths cross someday on the road… maybe while riding our Dolphins.

      Safe and Happy Travels!

      LIB

  8. On your recommendation my wife and I just ordered and received 2 Dolphins! I see you have the front light mounted on the front of the basket. I’m putting our bikes together and noticed that the cable to the front light is not long enough to reach the bracket where it mounts. How did you resolve this issue? Love your blog. It always makes for a great read with wonderful pictures. Thank you.

    1. Hey Chuck! Congratulations on your new Dolphins! We picked ours up from E-Z Green Bike Shop. Robby, the owner, assembled them. Robbie said that you can open up the control box and you’ll be able to pull out plenty of wire that you need.

      Hope this helps, let us know.

      Also, here is a good article about e-bike safety. #4 and #5 are very important. Get in the habit of braking sooner and beware of higher speeds until you are very confident in the lowest speeds.

      Safe and Happy Cycling, Chuck!

      LIB

      1. Thanks for the Q&A on the light on basket. We just purchased a pair of Dolphins based on this review and ,intending to mount the light on the front of the basket, was looking for this very answer!

        1. Nonie, glad you found the Dolphins and hope you enjoy them as much as we are loving the ride. Today we rode them all over Saint Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. They still ride as smooth as can be and we have yet to deplete the batteries on a ride, even an all day ride of more than 50 miles. Stay safe! Jim

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