You know about the health benefits of cycling, but you don’t prefer to exercise indoors and on a stationary bike. You also know about economic and environmental benefits of outdoor cycling, but unlike your cycling-obsessed social media friends (it’s the shorts, isn’t it?), you’re maybe not quite ready to commit to battling hilly terrain on human- rather than horse-power.
Enter the eBike! (“e” is for “electric.”)
I watched a bunch of Youtube videos about how they work, and I recently spent 4 hours riding one around the coastal city of Wellington, New Zealand. So, I am by no means an expert on eBikes (except to verify that it makes very good sense to own an eBike in this lovely but hilly, windy city).
eBikes sell for between $1000-3000. Apparently there were over 32 million of them sold in the Asian Pacific in 2016, compared to about 150,000 in North America. In 2017, Buddy from Forbes was fairly impressed with his eBike experience, describing lightness, ease of use, good top speed, and rain-proofing. As with all batteries, eBikes have a defined life cycle (Buddy reports 2-4 years, about 500 charges).
My report on eBikes, based on my limited but quite fun experience, will be simple:
- EASY: With all the same gears, brakes, pedals, etc., it’s literally so easy it’s like riding a bike.
- CHEAP: This is likely true if comparing money invested in both cars and gym memberships.
- GOOD OUTDOOR EXERCISE: Go not with the throttle type but the type whose motor engages only when you pedal, and you can actually cycle in all types of weather.
- FLEXIBLE INTENSITY: If you’re not feeling the burn on any particular day (or part of the ride), you can instantly toggle between electric gears to get a moderate to high “boost” when you pedal.
Just like any other device of convenience, you’ll have to remember to plug it in. And you may have to put up with jibes from your purist cycling-obsessed friends when you’re out on the trail together. (But when you’re passing them up the next steep incline, who will be laughing then?!)
Above: eBiking. Scenery and vistas will vary.
Have you used/owned an eBike? What was your experience? Are there any downsides I have not considered?