By Larry Gilbert
After selling and promoting e-bikes for five years, I found there are a handful of common reasons people find an e-bike to be a great investment. There are four very common reasons people purchase an e-bike.
First, many people have stopped riding their regular bikes but want to keep riding. American garages almost always have a bike stored inside. But the sad fact is that as we get older, we find reasons to not use our bikes. The hills are more daunting, the knees just aren’t what they used to be, and the thrill seems to have slipped away. It is so easy to get in the car and run to town for a loaf of bread, that we don’t even consider that there might be another option.
Second, some people have a spouses or partners who are avid riders who are very fit, and it becomes daunting just to keep up with them. Riding together is a great way to cement a relationship. But when one person is way ahead and waiting for the other to catch up, it can be less enjoyable for both. For Jeb Bouchard of Waitsfield, an e-bike was the solution: “I haven’t ridden a bike in 30 years, because the Vermont hills are too exhausting. Now I climb them with ease and leave my biking enthusiast hubby in the dust. We now have a fun outdoor activity we can do together. It really levels the playing field for me.”
Third, many people want to reduce their use of their cars. A smaller carbon footprint is the goal of a lot of environmentally concerned riders. If the average trip with a car is less than five miles, a bike is a great alternative. Or if the daily commute can occur on two wheels instead of four, it reduces fossil fuel use and gives you some exercise.
Fourth, people usually find riding an e-bike to be a lot of fun. Behind all the health, relationship and environmental reasons for choosing an e-bike, the undeniable truth is that riding e-bikes can be a thrilling experience. Getting a little assistance suddenly makes the hilly world look a lot flatter and a lot more accessible.
One question I often hear is: if I have an electric motor, will I get any exercise? A recent study from Portland State University showed that on average, owners of electric bikes ride nearly twice as often as when they owned regular bikes. It is true that the workout is not as rigorous, but if you are clocking more miles, you are getting exercise. Most of the new e-bikes are what’s called pedal assist. This means that when you crank the pedals, the assistance kicks in. If you don’t pedal, nothing happens. So you have to work to receive the benefit of the motor.
Electric bikes are not a complete solution to our transportation concerns. Riding in January or in the pouring rain is not much fun on any kind of bike. But for well over half the year, having a tool that flattens the hills and is a blast to use, electric bikes are a great choice.
Larry Gilbert is the owner of Zoombikes, Vermont’s first electric bike dealership. Larry lives in East Montpelier, VT, where he operates his e-bike business. He can be reached through www.zoombikes.net.