|My e-bike on a bike ride in Maine this year.|
Founder, Cycling Talk
It was August of last year when I bought my first e-bike from Bike-Link in Hoover. I've now logged over 3000 miles, changed the disc brakes, changed tires, been hit by a pick up truck, and now I play games with the motor to see how long I can go without it.
Do I still like my e-bike? More than ever, and I'll tell you why in this article.
A Love of Bicycles
Our family has a long history of cycling that goes back to our love of weekend camping and throwing Dahon Folding bicycles in the back of the Tundra pickup on our many weekend camping trips. How much did we camp? We gave the state of Alabama our website, outdooralabama.com, that's how much.
Riding around campgrounds was a combination of road biking, mountain biking, and dodging vehicles and walkers in great numbers. If you have ever been to Wind Creek State Park you know how crowded it gets. My wife and I let our 3 boys enjoy the same freedoms on a bike we enjoyed from an early age back to my yellow Schwinn 10 speed of the 70's, that in my young mind was the ultimate freedom and exploration machine.
Fast Forward a Few Years
Campground cycling was about it for our time on bikes other than the boys riding around the neighborhood, as life during the work week was busy like it was for most everyone raising kids. We lived in the burbs and I have to admit, I was one of those fighting to keep my ego in check that would gripe about cyclist that got in my way.
I've found through a couple of years of group riding that my last statement is very common to those who pick biking up again during the middle age years. So why did I make this journey down memory lane to get to e-bikes?
It's Great to Ride Again, BUT THOSE DAMN KNEES
Yep, and I'll even spare you how riding again, helps me keep my diabetes in check, or the 40 pounds I've kept off in two years, but I will tell you I'm not a spring chicken anymore, and no matter how much "motivation" is thrown your way, or GUILT for that matter, your body will tell you what is going on.
Now, after saying that, the waters separate and people start picking sides about getting an e-bike, or toughing it out and building muscle, and lot's of other advice as well. ALL I can say to that is I know my body and others don't, and if it weren't for my e-bike I would not have made the 3000 plus miles I rode since last year, especially up hills.
Heck Yeah I get a Workout!
IT didn't take me long on an e-bike to realize the range you get from the battery is NOT what everyone thinks it is. It's really pretty simple in regard to physics as what you get or take if you prefer from the pedal assist motor, directly impacts what is left in the battery. So if your ride is all on flat roads, you'll have a lot more range on your battery than if you've been climbing hills all day on a ride.
So my IZip E3 Dash bike has a range of about 30 miles on the lowest power setting and with mostly flat roads. That's more than enough for most group bike rides or even the average daily commute to work, but I pedal a little further than that many times and I've learned to stay out of the motor until I truly need it. Doing that gives me even more of a workout because my ebike weighs about 65 pounds without the stuff I have in my hard shell case on the back rack.
Oh if I had a dollar every time I've heard that one from somebody, yet I've not entered one race since I was in the Air Force years ago. My Strava rides clearly indicate my ebike and most of the time I'm the sweeper on group rides, so there isn't going to be too many personal records or king of the mountain stats. BUT, haters gonna hate. Let them, they didn't buy it and they aren't you. If you didn't have an ebike they'd gripe about the spandex you are or aren't wearing and several other things too, so let's move on from those folks and just learn to laugh them off.
Don't Forget the Gears
I did a lot of research before I bought my ebike and saw several cheaper models with no gears and some with a throttle. The throttle was NOT something I even wanted to consider as I wanted the workout from pedaling, but you may need or want one and they do exist.
My ebike has 10 gears and I use them and the ebike cadence sensor knows when I'm using them too. Let me explain. If I'm riding down the road and I'm in 9th gear and turn on the motor (remember I keep it off a lot until needed) for an approaching hill, I can't feel any help from the motor at all! BUT if I drop down to 4th gear the sensor and motor kicks in and says, OH he's going up a hill, OK, have some juice.
It won't take long on a smart ebike with a cadence sensor to realize it works with your gears. This is what allows you to continue to get a workout albeit an assisted one when needed. Look carefully at the gears available when buying one and I strongly encourage you to turn the motor off on a test ride and try out the gears without the motor on as well.
Charge It Please!
|Removable battery with key in lock on an IZip ebike.|
This brings us to another buying decision. Some batteries can be removed and some can't and that can cause charging problems if you have to drag the entire bike near an outlet as opposed to just taking off the battery and going to the outlet. If you have a removable battery make sure it comes with a key and lock or you'll have to worry about someone stealing in when parked and batteries are around $500 for a replacement.
After a year of riding and learning about my ebike I am more than happy! I'm riding more than ever, maintaining my weight loss and it allows me to do other things too like pull a trailer on group rides with supplies without giving it much of a thought. Don't forget that extra weight like a loaded trailer does impact the battery life.
If you want to cycle and feel it's too hard, or if you have health issues, or if you'd just like a more pleasant ride, by all means start researching and trying out ebikes. I'm always happy to let someone give mine a test drive. Be safe out there.