Thursday, June 9, 2011

Re-Evaluating Electric Bikes

120 S. Phoenix Avenue.
Local e-retailer and bike trailer manufacturer Bike Shop Hub celebrated their grand opening and the installation of their new sign a few weekends ago in front of their new showroom and where visitors could try out the e-bikes they are carry. 

The Bike Shop Hub showroom with oh-so-many bike bags!
Like many bike commuters, I've been a little leery of electronic bikes, wondering "what's the point?".    I assumed the electric motor would do all the work, eliminating the exercise benefit that many of us value.  I wanted to test one though before I formed a firm opinion about the likelihood of ever owning one. 

Another Flagstaff company, Motor Excellence, recently started manufacturing bike motors locally and is exporting them all over the world.  It would be nice to see two local businesses succeed with this innovation in bicycles, especially if one of the results is to see more people accepting bicycles as a transportation option.

In Flagstaff, the high elevation, hilly streets and wind combine as a significant barrier to regular bike commuting for many people.  Lately, the wind has been unusually strong, often over 30 mph, sometimes adding 10 - 20 minutes to my trips.  For the most part I just plan for this and role with it but not everyone is will to or can be that flexible with their time.

After testing an A2B Velociti24 and an Ohm XU700, I realized the motor does not do all the work for you.  The rider still has to pedal but it does give the a boost.  That's it, just a boost to get you up a hill or long incline, making a long hilly route or pedaling into strong winds much more feasible. 

A2B Velociti24
The Velocity24 works with a "power demand acceleration system", which I loved because I got to decide when and how much of a boost I wanted.  I definitely needed to pedal but I didn't have to worry about running out of gears on the way up a steep hill.  The XU700 is engineered with "intelligent pedal assistance" in which a sensor in the motor measures the rider's pedaling force and provides proportionate assistance.  Living in Flagstaff, if I had a 10 - 15 bike commute to work every day I would give an e-bike serious consideration.  It would also be a great bike alternative in parts of the country where high heat and humidity plus a long, hilly route create a potentially embarrassing work situation.   At $2000+  these are not inexpensive bikes, but compared to $16,000 and up for a car, the price looks a deal.  And if that isn't enough to convince you . . .


Amanda said...

Thanks for the information! I'm definitely in the high heat & humidity situation, though am lucky enough to have a shower at work. Still, those days with ridiculous wind gusts off the water would be made a lot easier with one of these!

Dottie said...

Interesting shop and bikes! I like electric bikes because they underscore the fact that bike commuting is not simply a sport for the superfit/fast/aggressive.

She Rides a Bike said...

Good point Dottie. I don't think I'd consider one in a flat location like Chicago but in hilly, high elevation Flagstaff people who do not have a moderate level of fitness can easily become discouraged on a bicycle to give bike commuting a fair shot.

Julie said...

Delivery drivers are being extremely rude and abusive with e-bikes. They're riding them on the sidewalks. It's dangerous!

I also kind-of think they're lazy. OK- I think they're totally lazy.

I hope they get outlawed in NYC, but I don't think that will happen. I DO think someone in NYC will be killed by one. Very scary.

Xander Lawson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xander Lawson said...

That should make commuting a lot easier, especially in hilly areas. There should be regulations though to keep crazy riders in check.

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