It was exactly one year ago when I changed my mind about e-bikes. Prior to that, when those irritating super-charged-two-wheelers passed me climbing up Terwilliger Boulevard as I sweatily made my way to work, I’d let out a harrumph. (Is that really what we say – or just what we put in print?) I clearly remember muttering to myself one morning as a well-dressed woman, wedge sandals and all, pedaled past me as if she was lolligagging on a Sunday afternoon. Yes, harrumph to me, assertive in my opinion that – well, I was doing the good work on my long commute. And after all, I was getting closer each day to the magic mark of 60, certainly several decades older than my fellow lolligagger.
Before I get to more of that, I was about to acknowledge finally crafting a blog that has nothing to do with COVID-19, except it does. For it is exactly because of that dreaded infection, nearly five months later my commute is from my kitchen to my dining room – no need for shoes, not to mention an e-bike. So for now, I get on my e-bike to sneak away for a break to visit my mom or circle around to the river or or beyond. As I ride, COVID-19 fears slip away for a bit, although during these times I also stay away from crowded trails. Yep, and I have that mask stashed in my bra, just in case.
When I started shopping for e-bikes, I quickly learned I had a steep learning curve. E-bikes are often referred to as “pedal assist” as they work by engaging the motor as you pedal. I ended up selecting a Class 1 e-bike, which is limited to lower speeds than a Class 3 which can reach up to 28 mph, exceeding mixed used trails in some states like California. Both of these classes of e-bikes require you to petal to move the bike forward. Class 2 e-bikes are activated by a throttle element either as a button or grip-twist or trigger, a bit like a scooter, allowing you to kick back and not pedal if you so choose.
The e-bikes I considered operated with either a Yamaha or a Bosch motor. I’m no techie when it comes to outdoor gear, just ask my spouse about my early windsurfing experiences. (Drive all that way and have the wind die? Put up one sail only to have to take time to put up a different? No way – give me my running shoes or bike or kayak any day!) Others might list technical pros and cons of either, but for me: the Yamaha motor appeared quieter although I’ve been told it depends. A decision I hadn’t even considered until I test rode bikes was my final slight upgrade to a belt system, rather than the traditional chain. The smoother shifting experience I noticed felt worth paying a few hundred dollars more for. (Shout out to the good people at Cynergy E-bikes with a variety of makes and models to make it easier to find what you want.)
Now that I’ve owned this bike for almost a year, here’s my takeaways:
- An e-bike will encourage you to use your car far less, if you are a driver, or a bus if you take transit.
The wonderful thing for me about my e-bike is that, even though I live in a very hilly area, I don’t think twice about riding down to the flats to pick up books at the library (or my favorite closest book store White Rabbit Gifts), or groceries.
- I ride much more than I ever did.
One of my concerns was that I wouldn’t get as much exercise as with a road bike. While that is true for each mile equivalent ridden, those I queried told me I would ride my e-bike so much more than my road bike, and I have found that to be absolutely true! (And yes, I do still occasionally ride my road bike. That’s another story for another day.)
- If you are a daylight-only commuter, it expands how much of the year you can commute by bike.
For safety reasons, I don’t ride to work during the darkest months of the year because by the time I work my full shift, and allow an hour of commute time on either end, it is dark. Because my e-bike ride is a bit shorter (in my case 40-45 minutes instead of 55-60 each way), it makes a surprising difference. I loved riding so much that I even found a way during a few cold winter days when I could first work an hour at home so I could still commute by bike. I have to admit, the main reason I want to move past teleworking all days of the week is to be able to enjoy my commute again! (How many drivers say that?)
- E-bikes are best for those with lots of hills.
I probably wouldn’t have made the investment in an e-bike if I didn’t live where I did, unless I had a physical condition that could benefit from extra pedal power.
- Buying my e-bike was the best investment I have made in many years.
- E-bikes are simply darn fun to ride!
How many things give you that much pleasure? It’s pretty awesome to add one more to our list.
- Watch the video for the final important reason!