I did it! I went electric! Or as my buddy Tom said, “you’ve crossed over to the dark side”. Of course, I don’t see it that way. I’ve now been riding my electric-assist bike for just over a month and I love it. I’ve put on about 250 miles in that time and haven’t driven my car to work once. I feel like I have super powers, but in actuality, the electric-assist just evens out the playing field a bit. That has been made clear to me by the experience of people riding non-electric bikes still occasionally passing me by. I’m 50 years old with recalcitrant knees. My electric bike basically allows me to keep pace with other riders and allows me to get out of harms way more quickly.
There are some downsides to this bike. The biggest issue for me is the weight of the bike which primarily comes into play when I’m performing routine maintenance on the bike. Even when I take the battery off the bike, the extra weight of the motor in the rear wheel hub, makes it more difficult for me to lift the bike into the stand. The second week I owned the bike, I experienced a rear flat. The extra weight of the rear wheel definitely made re-installing the wheel more difficult. I actually needed to sit under the bike on a stool so that I could use my leg to apply upward pressure while I used my hands to position the wheel into the dropouts. I also recently attempted to put the bike on a bus bike rack at a test rack site. I was unsuccessful in part due to the heft of the bike and in part due to the design of the rack–I don’t have enough hand strength to stabilize the bike with one hand and squeeze the trigger and extend the support arm up over the front wheel. I may attempt this again when I’m feeling a bit stronger. I don’t anticipate a need for bike/bus commute, but I thought I would explore this option in the event of a dead battery situation. Another issue is the fact that since this bike has electric componentry, it is less compatible with being left out in the elements for long periods of time. For this reason I decided to rent a bike locker at work. Having a locker also eliminated worrying about my bike being stolen while locked up all day at work. For locking up in other situations, I purchased an Abus Bordo folding lock which gives me the most flexibilty for locking both the frame and the battery simultaneously.
The bottom line is my new bike makes me want to ride every day! If you see me out and about and want to talk electric-assist bikes or bikes in general, just give me a shout. I’m so psyched that electric-assist is becoming more popular and that more bike shops in our area are offering some pedelecs or add-ons. My feeling is that whatever it takes to get us out there riding and keep us out of cars is a positive thing.