In a recent post, I blogged about how I’ve owned 4 electric bikes in the past couple of years and have spent over $9,000 CAD on them (yikes!). In this blog post, I’m going to explain why I love them so much.
I am not a bike rider. I don’t own any spandex, I hadn’t ridden a bike since I was a kid until recently, and I live in a part of the world that rains 7-8 months of the year and isn’t bike-friendly. So why then do I still love electric bikes?
One of the things that sucks when going for a ride on a normal bicycle is that you always have to worry about getting back home. Going for a bike ride is nice and all, until you get really tired and it just becomes a chore.
With an electric bike, you never have to worry about the return trip. As long as you leave the battery at least 50% full, you can go as far as you want and know that your trip back will be just as easy or easier than your trip out.
And hills are never a concern anymore. I live in British Columbia and we have a lot of hills. I’m not as young as I used to be, and with a weak heart, tackling all those hills on a normal bike would completely knock the wind out of me. But with a good electric bike, I can go up the steepest of hills with ease.
In addition to the practical uses, there is also a sense of freedom from simply riding the act of riding an electric bike itself. When you have pedal assist on high or use the throttle, the extra power you get makes you feel kind of like a superhero. I know, I know, I sound ridiculous… but really, this is how I often feel when riding. I guess I’d say it’s similar to the first time you drive a car and press the accelerator for the very first time – the power you get is a lot more than you imagined, and you feel so powerful. The feeling is similar to this, only it doesn’t completely go away like it does in a car.
There is something in the e-bike community called the “e-grin”. It’s the smile on the face everyone gets the first time they try an electric bike. All my friends who have tried the bike have had the e-grin, and I actually enjoy demoing the bike out to people who have responded to my used bikes, as they are always surprised how powerful and fun they are to ride.
I know that a lot, perhaps even the majority, of people tend to scoff at the mere mention of e-bikes. They’ll often say things such as “you’re so lazy” or “why don’t you just ride a motorbike then?”.
An electric bike is not a scooter. It is basically a normal bike with a battery and motor. With pedal assist, you can control how much added power you want. At level 0 you will be pedaling completely by yourself (which is actually harder than a normal bike due to the added weight of the battery and motor). At mid-level you will only have to put about 40% the same effort you would on a normal bike. Even on the highest pedal assist level you will still be pedaling – you may only be exerting 10% of the normal amount required to pedal a bike, but you’re still balancing yourself on the bike and moving your legs. It’s a lot more exercise than driving a car.
While the throttle provides a lot less exercise than pedal assist since you don’t need to pedal to activate the motor, you can still use it in conjunction to pedaling, and twist the throttle as little or as much as you desire.
Personally, I tend to mostly stay on a low assist of around 2 or 3 most of the time, then temporarily going to the highest assist when I hit a big hill, or I want to go really fast for some reason. If you are thinking you need more exercise then I would suggest that you buy yourself an e-bike which you can check it out here. What I’ve heard is that e-bike users actually tend to ride their e-bikes a lot more often and for longer intervals than regular bike users because they’re simply so much more fun to ride.
I’m not a huge tech spec geek, but after owning 4 electric bikes, each one an upgrade over the previous one, I’ve come to enjoy experiencing the differences and improvements of e-bike technology.
Overall, electric bikes are evolving very rapidly: batteries are getting lighter, more powerful, and more capacity, motors are improving by leaps and bounds, displays are getting a lot more advanced, and relatively newer technologies such as gear-sensing and torque sensing are coming out all the time.
A higher-end e-bike in 10-year’s time will be amazing to see.
E-bikes are perfect for people like me who have health problems and aren’t in the best of shape, but still want to get out and ride a bike for some added exercise and enjoyment. I wouldn’t ride a bike otherwise.
A lot of older people ride e-bikes. As do younger people who have been injured and need some added assistance. I’ve seen mothers use them to tow along their kids in the back. The police have increasingly been using them to cut down on the price of gas (it only takes a few cents to charge the battery).
There are a lot of cheap e-bikes out there. In fact, most e-bikes are 36V or lower with rear-hub motors and even super heavy ancient SLA batteries. They basically give you a minor added ‘push’.
But get your hands on a 48V+ mid-drive (or high quality rear hub) bike, and you will feel a lot of power at your fingertips.
I mentioned this in my previous e-bike blog post, but one of my favourite things to do when I find myself at a stop sign or red light (I try to avoid riding with traffic when possible though), is to see the expression of the driver when they see me keeping up with them for the first 7-8 seconds after acceleration. My bikes can go 55+ KM/H – although the fastest you’ll see me go is around 40KM/H as that is already super fast for a bike – typically I’ll go around 30KM/H.
Last summer I was riding my bike, fairly slow with a pedal assist of about 1 so that I could get more exercise, when I saw a young guy (mid or early 20s), very far behind me on a bike. When he saw me look back at him, I saw him start to pedal really fast in an obvious attempt to pass me and show off. I went to the highest pedal assist and full throttle and left him completely in the dust. He probably wonder where the hell I went, lol.I’ve seen a few other e-bikes in my city, but I know that my bikes are more powerful than 99% of them (I know one guy in my city custom builds his own and they are super illegal and super powerful). Unfortunately, I’ve never been riding my bike when seeing another e-bike – I can’t tell you how much I want to race another e-biker here :)Technically my bikes are illegal – they surpass the 500W motor limit here for an e-bike, but really the law is ridiculous for a number of reasons. I ride safely and slowly when not alone on a trail. As long as you don’t ride like an idiot around people, cops will usually admire your bike.Give an E-Bike a Try!
It’s winter now, but come spring why not give an electric bike a try? Try to find a good mid-drive if possible. They are a bit pricey of a hobby to get into though, and I’d recommend avoiding getting any of the cheaper-end of the market bikes. A lot of ebikes are also really overpriced, such as Pedego – so don’t just think that more expensive is better.