Thursday, March 5, 2020

The E-bike Grin

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I resisted for a year. A friend kept insisting I would love an ebike but the price, in the thousands, was impossibly beyond my budget. Then the bike company made the changes he deemed necessary. I paid attention. He was an ebike wonk, afterall. He'd researched them for months and had a couple thousand ebike miles under his belt. The company he recommended sold direct. No middleman and much lower prices. As the saying goes, timing is everything. I was assisting my dying soul sister into the next realm, as well as my dog-companion of twelve years. In desperate need of an energy diversion, I took the plunge. I purchased a step thru ... new name for a girl's bike since men are buying them too ... SO much easier than hefting a leg over a bar.

I never anticipated the changes this bike brought to my life. From the moment I straddled the bike and took off I felt pure exhilaration. First of all, it has a throttle. It launches from a standstill position with no effort which is waaay fun. Once riding, it has five levels of assist. Technically speaking, there are no more hills. Come to an incline, press the button and go into assist 4 or 5. Up I go, pedaling at the same rate. Throughout my life I'd had road bikes, mountain bikes and cross bikes. I stayed in the shape necessary to ride them. In my sixties I didn't ride enough to stay in shape to take on big hills. With an ebike this was no longer an issue. The bike can go 50 miles on a charge, depending on wind resistance and hills. Battery life is excellent and it is a powerful 750 watts. The speed tops out at 20 mph. except for coasting down hill when I've reached 37 mph. To top it off, the bike folds, convenient for womad life. It has four inch tires for stability and is as snazzy as can be.

My odometer has hit 1200 miles. Here is what I have learned from nine months in the saddle:
  • It is age resistant. It has given countless seniors a new lease on life.
  • It is excellent physical therapy. One gets the motion and flex without the pressure and can easily bike many miles. My hip pain has disappeared. When I broke my fibula and ankle last year the bike was key to quick recovery and no need for formal PT.
  • It is NOT a regular bike. Take time with it. Respect the speed. Learn to interact intuitively with the assist levels and gears. 
  • It's an attention-getter! Expect to be stopped. People want to know about it and it's a far superior man-or-woman magnet than a dog! No poop bags needed. 
  • They carry weight ... groceries, camping gear, library books ... perfect for errands and adventures.
  • Saves on gas while improving health. Studies show that calories burned are only slightly different for ebikes compared to a non-ebike. 20% less on an ebike BUT ebike riders ride longer, further and more often. Soooo....
  • Be prepared for the most fun ever.
  • It's heavy. Sixty-eight pounds with battery; sixty without. I can't comfortably lift sixty pounds onto an elevated bike rack and I'm not about to wrench my back. Even if I have a friend to help, my solitary life demands I can go it alone. I bought a ramp and roll it into VAN-essa. Easy Peasy! 
  • Ebike racks are expensive in order to support the extra weight.
  • Ebike service isn't readily available, but as ebikes gain in popularity, it's better all the time. I've not had trouble getting tune-ups, etc.
  • Price. RAD ebikes top out at $1500. Other brands go beyond $5,000. RAD's customer support is excellent and RAD customers have a FaceBook page if you want to get an idea of ebike realities, pros and cons. Their only US showroom is in Seattle. RADS are only available online but you can find RAD owners on the FaceBook page for a test drive.  
  • Once on the bike, one can't wipe that grin off your face.
Occasionally I hear "Cheater" erupt from a gawker's lips. I look at them and smile wide: "You betcha, I'm cheating death!" 

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Panniers/saddle bags are awesome. The bike effortlessly carries weight. 

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Sonoran desert rides are a dream. Baboquivari Peak in the distance.

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Lil Pony on a Wyoming back road. 

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Devils Tower (Mato Tipila) WY, my last NPS Ranger assignment
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Devils Tower Monolith

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Back Road's Babe

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Lil Pony and Rainbow. 

If you decide to go with RAD, mention me as a referral (first and last name) when you order. You get $50 off and I get a $50 gift certificate. Cool, eh? I'm happy to try to answer your ebike questions.