By: Caleb Magoon
It seems like electric bikes have been coming for a loooong time. Although I can’t say for certain that they have arrived, they are as close as they’ve ever been. I won’t claim that they are the perfect fitness and transportation product for everyone, but the cost continues to come down and they are an excellent option for folks looking to get a good, safe workout. Yes, you heard me correctly. While you might think that an electric motor on a bike makes it just an electric vehicle, they remain excellent for fitness as well. Yet this fitness vehicle is much safer for many folks who can’t take some of the risks associated with traditional biking.
Many older people and those recovering from injury fear getting far away from help on a bike. Fear of an accident, injury or other issue limiting the rider’s abilities is legitimate. It’s true, compared to being at a gym or other controlled environment, a bike offers a hair more danger. That said, bikes are also transportation, freedom, fun, and fitness.
E-bikes level the playing field for those who fear the dangers of cycling. Most E-bikes offer both pedal assist and throttle-only options. Pedal assist is simply riding the bike with the motor giving you a little boost, making hills much easier and flats a little faster. But should the worst happen, the rider has the ability to use the throttle (not pedaling at all if necessary) to get back to home, help, or safety depending on the urgency of the issue. Thus, they offer a safe option for many riders who have concerns about their physical ability to ride.
That said, these bikes are just as good for an enthusiast, too. Many think that they don’t need an electric motor and that may indeed be the case. I can ride many miles comfortably in a day. Yet all that a motor does is expand your potential mileage. Most motor systems allow you to input how much help you want from the motor. You can add a little help or a lot. Most experienced riders add a small amount of help and ride faster than their average and for many more miles. Plus, if you ever get tired, there is always more help at the push of a button.
One important thing to note here is that you are still getting a workout. At a low level of help, you’re still pedaling hard (if that is what you want). Biking has always been a great workout because of the low impact and great variability in doing “what you can handle”. E-bikes simply expand the possibilities.
As I said, price remains a challenge and obstacle for some. E-bike setups do start over $1,000 and many still remain over $2,000. That said, they all started above $2,000 not that long ago and most have come down. Used E-bikes are also becoming available. My suspicion is that the price will continue to come down and financial assistance will become available for those who can most benefit from an E-bike. Vermont State Employees Credit Union does offer loans for bikes at this time.
One note of caution- buyers should beware of the many options available on the market. Because these bikes are a burgeoning market there are many companies now jumping in; some are making quality products and some are not. There are big differences between the brand-name bike shop versions, the conversion kits, and off-brand electric bikes. Talk with your local bike shop or someone whom you know is riding an E-Bike (many people are already enthusiasts).
The benefit of a crowded market is that there is an option for everyone. Between conversion kits for most bikes to purpose build E-bikes, with the right advice, you can get on the road or trails you want. Plus, these bikes make much better commuters and long ride bikes. So look into an E-bike today! They are the wave of the…present!
Caleb Magoon is a Hyde Park native who grew up hiking, hunting, biking and exploring Vermont’s Green Mountains. His passions for sports and recreation have fueled his career as the owner of Power Play Sports and Waterbury Sports. Caleb encourages outdoor activity and believes it is an essential element to a healthy lifestyle and the Vermont way of life. Caleb serves the Lamoille Valley by volunteering on numerous community boards such as the Lamoille County Planning Commission, The Morrisville Alliance for Commerce and Culture, Mellow Velo, and the state chapter of The Main Street Alliance. He lives, plays and works in Hyde Park with his wife Kerrie.