Coffee Outside, Hierve-style

A gloopy e-bike overnighter to Hierve el Agua...

I’ve been meaning to share more detailed thoughts on the Jones LWB HD/E, with regards to both the bike and the Bafang BBS02 motor that’s currently bolted to it. But for now, here are some images from an e-bikepacking overnighter (shock horror!)


Our ride to Hierve el Agua followed a route posted to @bikepackingcom – Miendras en Mitla – albeit an edited out-and-back version. It’s 70km to get to these bubbling mineral pools: flat dirt roads across the valley for the most part (though it can be windy heading south east), with a stout 650m climb to contend with at the end of the day. This accrues to some 900m of elevation gain from Oaxaca, making it a solid enough ride for those wanting to enjoy a Coffee Outside Overnighter, Hierve-style. I say this because I’d recommend camping there and savouring the late afternoon glow and the morning panorama, when the light is glorious and you’ll likely have this popular spot to yourself. Right now, the seasonal storms are whisking up wonderful cloudscapes into the ether and when the sun permeates them, the mountain folds, carpeted in oak forest, are all the more magical.


Still, rain brings mud, turning the Camino Real, which the route follows for a stretch parallel to Dainzu, into a gloopfest – a good testing ground for the Bafang! ⁣I suspect a certain amount of ‘battery anxiety’ is to be expected with e-bike touring (perhaps in the same way that food-anxiety is associated with its non-assisted brethren). In terms of battery life, we took no chances and plugged it in opportunistically in Mitla. Not only is there a solar-powered ‘cactus’ with USB and power outlets in the main plaza, but there are vendors too selling delicious homemade ice cream (coconut is a favourite, as is queso con zarzamora)… Then we charged it up fully at night, in the Hierve el Agua complex that we paid to camp in. I’ll admit that I was concerned about leaving the battery charging unattended – I believe it takes six or so hours to charge from flat – and set my alarm for 5.30am so I could scoop it up before anyone arrived.


Still, even by being careful and keeping the controller mostly on an energy-efficient setting (2 out of 5), it made pulling a trailer with 18kg of Huesos (plus extra food and water) much more fun. And hence, perhaps something you’d be more likely to do regularly? Emma noted that it didn’t provide as much of a workout as on a solo bike (with or without a trailer), and we wondered if a setting between 1 and 2 would actually be ideal, allowing us to ride at the same pace, and still feel like we were working for our dinners. Finding a challenging but comfortable pace for bike and e-bike rider is definitely something I’ve yet to fully figure out – and I know that some systems have smartphone apps that makes them more easily tuned than the Bafang. I’d add that the e-assist was especially welcome when riding back into the city during rush hour. Being the eve of Independence Day, traffic seemed especially hectic and erratic (is it just me, or are there more cars with every passing day?!), which is where some the Bafang really shines.


We got back with 50% battery in the bank; I’m sure some of this ‘battery anxiety’ could be alleviated some of the concern with experience. I’d also add that overall I find that the Bafang kit, which has a speed sensor rather than a torque sensor, scores on power but feels less intuitive when riding trails – a feeling that is further difused by the slight delay when power kicks in (as you pedal) and cuts out (when you brake), along with the sheer heft of the bike. So far, I favour this style of e-bike for fast commutes in the city and big day rides into the countryside with Huesos – which actually suits me well, as I prefer to be riding my trail bike on singletrack anyway. I’m intending to remove the motor and try the LWB HD/E as a ‘bicycle’… but I’m enjoying it so much I keep putting it off 🤪.


And, while I don’t personally ‘need’ an e-bike for a ride like this, it can clearly open up the experience to a much wider cross-section of people… and be far more immersive than embarking on the same trip in a vehicle, which is what almost everyone does. I’m now dreaming of a world with less cars and more e-bikes!

Some stats:

Oaxaca to Hierve El Agua; 68.5km, 898m climbing, 4hr 37 ride time, 33% battery left with a 10% charge in Mitla. Huesos in and out of the trailer.

Hierve El Agua to Oaxaca; 68.5km, 696m climbing, 4hr 15 ride time, 50% battery left. Huesos mostly in the trailer.

Cameras: Fuji x100v and Sony A74/85mm 1.8. Processed in LR with Astia and a Provia 400 custom preset.

Here’s a map of the route as we rode it. Ignore RWGPS when it comes to terrain – it’s mostly unpaved.

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