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The E-Bike Solution for Today and Going Forward

COVID-safe e-biking at Hanover Adventure Tours. Courtesy image.

Staff article

There is a new business in Norwich, Vermont, Hanover Adventure Tours (HAT), with a focus on e-bikes for sale, rental, and tours. Robert Chambers is the owner and founder of HAT. The general manager is Chip Homeier, and Jayne Trailer is the sales manager, along with a full team of enthusiasts that are part of this exciting new business in town.

Long-time Norwich resident Susan Welch bought a new electric-assisted (e-bike) from HAT in June 2020 and is enjoying it immensely.

Welch has been a cyclist for years, but now, at age 71, she is looking for a little help to stick with her passion for longer road biking trips.

“In my early thirties, I did a lot of bike trips like week-long ones to Maine and the Adirondacks. And so, now that I’m older and I don’t have that endurance anymore, I was thinking that this would get me back into it and do some more biking [and] camping trips,” said Welch.

Another local bicycle enthusiast, Karen Wynkoop from East Thetford, VT, wanted something less taxing to bicycle with after years of cycling. She told the folks at HAT, “I’ve always had a bike, and I bike sporadically. Now I want the will and the power to go up and down hills.”

“I wanted an e-bike, and I met Jayne Trailer, and I finally got one. I ended up with the Magnum Navigator, and it’s wonderful! I’ve been really having a great time with it.”

Her bike not only has electric assistance when she pedals, it also has a throttle that provides power like that of a moped with the touch of her thumb. That appealed to Wynkoop. She explained, “There’s a lot of hills around here, but that’s the thing about this e-bike – it’s not a problem. You can work as hard as you want, or you can just go for a free ride.”

Wynkoop did mention that with a 48-volt battery, the bike has a range of up to 60 miles with some pedaling and can easily exceed 30 miles using the throttle.

HAT stocks a wide variety of e-bikes ranging from high-end Yamaha mountain bikes, “gravel grinders,” and road bikes to more conventional commuter- type bike of the Magnum line. They even have the Payload brand, a bike suitable for carrying cargo as well as commuting.

Welch’s new acquisition, like Wynkoop’s, was the Magnum Navigator. The bike cost about $2,500, but with Green Mountain Power’s $300 credit towards the purchase of any e-bike in Vermont, the purchase fell into a “sweet spot” of affordability.

“That was cool – actually that was one of the incentives you know in terms of doing this now,” commented Welch, a sentiment shared by Wynkoop who said,” I think it’s wonderful that they are promoting that.”

With the arrival of COVID-19, bike sales in Vermont and throughout the nation have increased to the point that many retailers have witnessed record sales in May. One said, “Last month my sales were more than double my best month in thirty years.” Another stated, “In early April, we just started seeing this massive increase in business. New riders, new customers, people wanting to get their ten or twenty-year-old bike serviced, or an e-bike. And there are long term rentals to people escaping cities, people quarantining in place up here.”

For its part, Hanover Adventure Tours has barely opened its doors and is experiencing brisk business.

Though many of the sales of e-bikes have been to folks looking for an easier and more leisurely cycling experience, sales of higher-end e-bikes to people wanting to ride farther and more aggressively have also increased to the point that one shop that sells road bikes, gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrids (also called fitness bikes) reported that e-bikes now account for about 40% of sales.

And with the ever-increasing popularity of fat-biking (bikes with very wide tires) in winter, several manufacturers are offering electric-assisted fat bikes.

Homeier said, “Even avid cyclists are finding that e-bikes take them further. It’s been game-changing.”

HAT is dedicated solely to e-bikes and carries the Magnum and Yamaha lines that offer a wide array of bikes suitable for commuting, recreational riding, or even commercial delivery applications.

The Magnum Peak, a front-suspension hard-tail with a 500-watt geared-hub motor, or a similarly equipped Yamaha bike will take on the class four and five roads and single tracks with the best of them.

HAT carries e-bikes of class 1 (bikes requiring pedal assistance without throttle and having a speed of up to 20 mph), class 2 (bikes with both pedal assist and a throttle limited to 20 mph), and class 3 (bikes with pedal assist and a throttle and a maximum speed of 28 mph.). Of course, the maximum speeds listed can be exceeded if you pedal hard or are going downhill, and so we hesitate to say that speed is limited, but the fun certainly is not, even when used for errands or going to work!

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