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December 16, 2017
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  • gpop87

    Not sure what their purpose is when mopeds/scooters already exist and occupy that intended use…

    • Morten Reippuert Knudsen

      exohost gases, noice, co2 footprint, fuel consupmtion + yous still execise on an ebike – ebikes are the way to go. imaginge Nepales with ebikes instead of mopeds/scooters. could be a nice place

    • winkybiker

      The difference between an e-bike and an electric scooter is maybe pretty subtle. Well, pedals obviously, but the usage would overlap quite a bit. We see electric scooters on bike paths here in Vancouver. Not many, so they’re not really a problem, but it could be if they became numerous. They’re quite fast. E-bikes are quite common but seem to co-exist with bikes just fine. They can also be quite fast, but so can regular bikes.

      Bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters are all menaces to pedestrians on shared use paths, and require extreme care and courtesy on behalf of their riders. The “e” is not material to this requirement..

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      For this purpose, as an alternative to other motorized vehicles, I think they make perfect sense: a light-duty moped that is entirely electrified, as opposed to using fuel. I still don’t like them for MTB trail or most multi-use or bike paths (read: non-motorized). On the roads? sure.

    • Wily_Quixote

      Scooters require no pedaling effort. Any exercise is good exercise when you are talking epidemiology and population health.

      Not to mention the exhaust gas and noise pollution issues with scooters.

    • Jaybo

      no rego and insurance required for e-bikes, so cheaper upkeep to some degree.
      still getting some slight resemblance of phyiscal exercise too which is handy, plus you can still ride on bike paths – depending on where you live and work that may be a lot safer, quicker, or relaxing.

    • Mat Kudinoff

      Because you don’t have to register an e bike

    • Dunbar

      Mopeds and scooters are not allowed in the bike lanes and are verboten from using off-street multi-use paths. I looked up the author’s commute on Strava and he is spending about half the commute on multi-use paths.

  • David9482

    I understand comparing the e-bike to your car, as a replacement. But for someone who rides to work in large part for the exercise component, e-bikes are effectively the same as driving to work.

    • Steak

      Simply not true. You have to pedal an e-bike. I read one analysis in which a rider put a power-meter on an e-bike to compare watts for riding it compared to commute on road bike. In the end, the total work was only 10-20% less. Which means it’s about 80-90% more than sitting on your bum in the car.

      • Alix Holmes

        Great to know this estimate. I recently converted my commuter to an ebike. I know I still get “lots of” exercise, but did not have much idea on how much. I went to an ebike so I could ride more often and my commute would take less time. My one way trip to work is 14 miles, mostly on bike path. I’m not fit enough to do this without feeling tired at the end of the day and then not wanting to ride as often.

    • Wily_Quixote

      The author is getting his low intensity base miles in and getting to work at the same time. Do you have to be ion the race bike to do base miles?

      • Dunbar

        Yes, it would be hard to do interval training on an e-bike but most road cyclists I see commuting in lycra are doing exactly the type of moderate intensity riding one can do on an e-bike. I would recommend buying an e-bike with a torque sensor to better replicate the feel of a standard bike. Here’s a video of a guy commuting on a Stromer ST2 e-bike with Powertap P1 pedals installed so that you can see his power output. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHM9HY5bMO4

        • Wily_Quixote

          Interesting post, thanks.

  • Marcus

    I’d never seen too many until moving to Sydney with its many hills. I can’t see myself using one in a hurry, but I think they’re great – they get people riding who’d otherwise be reluctant to due to terrain and/or distance, and they increase the number of cyclists on the road, (hopefully) helping cycling to become more socially acceptable. I have to flog myself to hold their wheel up some of the hills, but even if they’re only burning half the energy I am, it’s a win for society.

  • Superpilot

    Hmm, these comment show some see them as threatening or uncool. I agree entirely with this fantastic article.

    1) It gets more people on bikes. I don’t care who they are or what they ride, more bikes are good. More bikes means more justification for cycling infrastructure. It’s a win win, you just have to learn to put any bias aside, realise e-bikes are here to stay, and smile and wave, just like you want people to accept riding a roady in lycra (I commute in clothes, ride an MTB and ride a roady so you could say I get criticism from all sides!)…

    2) I always say, it’s about getting people like your mum and dad active. Typically I see middle aged men doing some rash overtaking maneuvers because they brought their driving attitude to the bike path, but the other group is middle aged women cruising to work. These are car centric people who are giving riding a go. And as pointed out, you do need to continue to pedal to get power assistance on most models. So they are getting some exercise, more than they would be in their car. Plus the more of these ‘normal’ people who take it up, they talk to their friends, who talk to theirs, and we get a exponential boost in rider numbers.

    3) My LBS has seen a real boost in business. These are heavy to ship so buying online is less attractive, and new cyclists are typical of going to a shop when they are initially looking to purchase, so LBS is a good place to start. They also have plenty of servicing business as many are either mechanically averse, or are yet to learn maintenance. The disk brakes in particular really fly through the pads I hear because of the speed and weight.

    IMO, just gotta bench our personal preferences and accept that e-bikes are only going to get more popular, and more of any kind of bikes is better overall for the cycling community in general.

  • Robert Merkel

    Interesting article.

    Not quite the same in Australia and the EU, where the regs restrict e-bikes to 25 km/h before the electric assistance cuts out.

    For any regular road rider, unless you’re into a strong headwind maintaining 25 km/h is something you can do without breaking a sweat. The e-bike is likely to be slower than the unassisted road bike.

    Still a great option for getting non-cyclists commuting though.

    • Angus Reynolds

      What about in Tasmania though? So dam hilly.

    • jules

      that’s not quite the rule in Australia. we brought the EU standard in (the one that limits e-bikes to 25 km/h) for importation purposes. but prior that, no import restrictions applied. so there are a heap of power-assisted bikes still around that do more than 25 km/h. in some states (e.g. Vic) > 25 km/h is OK, so long as the motor is < 200w. but no one can measure the power output, which is one reason why you get passed by petrol-powered bikes doing 45+ km/h.

      • Robert Merkel

        Yep, fair point.

        FWIW, I hope those petrol “bicycles” are banned at some point – aside from the ridiculous speeds that some of them can reach, they are more polluting than most cars.

        While alignment with the EU regs is convenient, I reckon they’re still a little slow for Australian conditions. The US de facto standard of 32 km/h (20 mph) is probably about right.

        • jules

          the non-EU ones are banned in some parts of Australia. this was a bit naughty of those govts to do that, as people who’d shelled out for what were perfectly legal power-assisted bikes now find that they are scrap metal. as most of our govts follow a vaguely democratic process, you can still use them in most states.

          • Robert Merkel

            A fair proportion of those petrol power-assisted bikes were never legal (in that they produce >>>200 W).

            • jules

              they’re all illegal. it’s the same as a cyclist’s power trace. you can average 200w for 10 mins., but you will by definition produce > 200w at some point. that makes all petrol-powered bikes illegal. electric bikes can produce a smoother power profile.

  • Luke Farrugia

    The one point this article lacks is that 55 minutes each way is still 55 minutes of lost time on a bike. Working your legs, cardiovascular system and maintaining, or if you are pushing hard, developing your cycling body.

    For me, being able to push out 50km a day without waking up at 5am to get a ride in, to then get on an e-bike to travel 40 minutes to work is beneficial. I’m not a morning person…nor is there always the energy at the end of a long day to unpack my mind after getting home and working a solid 50km + ride.

    For anyone that doesn’t need or want this, an e-bike has a list of beneficial reasons to use.

    I guess it comes down to what you want to achieve with your morning commute, and if and when you want to do your push bike riding.

    • Wily_Quixote

      The author was working – just not as intensely as on his roadie. I imagine that it’s like doing base miles – doesn’t feel like work but still has important physiological benefit.

      It’s not for me either – i’d prefer to combine commuting with hard training but sometimes, as the author has found, this is not easy to fit in to your life.

      • Luke Farrugia

        Must have misread it a little. Thought there was a comment about a 10-20% effort to maintain the same speed as on a roadie.

        I guess my point is if you want all the benefits of the ebike – dressed in a suit, no shower at the end of it, then you’d likely miss out on that often hard 40-80min morning and evening work out.

        • Wily_Quixote

          Yep, I don’t think that an e-bike is an option for most readers on this site.

          I rode a friends e-bike and I thought that it is a brilliant concept. if i lived in the inner city or did lots of errands around town i could replace a small car with it.

          I’m not going to lycra up to go tho the movies or the butcher and even a commuting bike is no good for the saturday morning shopping (especially in 40 degree heat). There is a sizeable niche for this bike in replacing a car but i agree it won’t replace road riding anytime soon for the majority of us.

        • Steak

          If you read a few comments above this, it’s the exact opposite of what you say — it’s maybe 80% of the effort (of a moderate road ride) if you pedal briskly.

          • Rob Biddlecombe

            Steak. I have a relative that owns an E-bike shop in California. I work there part time and test ride all the models. %80 percent effort is wrong. It’s more like %35. I can pedal uphill on platform pedals in street clothes on a 350W 55 lbs Ebike at almost 20 MPH while sitting down and not sweating or breathing hard. On my roadbike I’m on my threshold at 15mph and sweating and breathing hard.
            For a road cyclist in good shape, an E bike is not much exercise while the motor is running. But you can pedal hard once the limiter kicks in at 20mph. But for an older person or someone who is in poor physical condition they are a gentle source of exercise. It certainly is better exercise to ride a E bike than to not ride at all. The quality bikes can be fun to ride.

  • Robert

    I have heard some road bike riders describe e-bikes as cheating, but that is a fairly narrow view of cycling imo. A friend of mine with a serious illness has an e-bike and he can now still get out and enjoy the feeling of freedom that riding a bike brings, where that would be impossible on an unassisted bike. While I am a strong fit cyclist I probably have no interest in an e-bike personally, but their almost certainly will come a time in my life where I will be glad to ride an e-bike if it means I can continue to enjoy something I love but don’t have the strength to do it in the traditional sense. Hopefully by the time that happens motor and battery technology will improve enough that I am riding a 7kg super bike!

    • Wily_Quixote

      TBH, as a MTB rider, an e-mtb would be great for those very long exploratory rides on the endless Australian fire trails. Not necessarily for ‘hill-assist’ but for the same effort I could see much more of the country.

      When I get older I can see this being attractive to me.

    • Geoff

      I am also in the position of being fit and being able to cope with a commute that entails a daily round trip of about 65km. The physical effort involved does however keep a lot of people away from commuting by bike, I also realise that there will come a time when my body can’t cope with 65km a day 4 days a week plus weekend road rides. An e-bike would make a difference at some point, but it would need to be able to do around 30 to 35km/h for me to be able to commute in in a reasonable time. That is where Australian laws relating to e-bikes are behind the times. Australia does now need to address regulations which cover e-bikes (or speed pedelecs as they are sometimes called) which can do over 25km/h – possibly in a similar way to how Germany and Switzerland have.

  • Luis Lopez

    Any exercise is good exercise, riding at your limits daily is not also good, alternating the intensity can be very beneficial as like riding at low intensity, E-bikes have the ability to provide new riders to cycling culture and even older riders who may not be able to keep up with their younger counter parts have a new means of doing so, but many refuse to choose to ride. I look forward to seeing a guy on his e-bike on the Federation trail as I get a chance to be paced instead of me pacing others.

    • Geoff

      I think a lot of people are daunted by the proposition of riding without any assistance. I have seen people try to commute a couple of times, and then give up. For some people, being able to start with an e-bike might lead them to then getting an ordinary bike as well. E-bikes would also allow some people who are less fit the privilege of being able to be outdoors for their commute (even enjoy the sunrise on the beach) rather than being stuck in the car every day.

      • Luis Lopez

        Agree totally, I have learned the greater inclusion of people adds to the experience, conversions and community compared to some alone and infront of the idiot box

  • adam paul

    I love my e-bike. 32 miles of nasty Richmond hills on my commute from Vallejo to Oakland. I get to my kitchen, put in an eight hour shift, then ride home. Replacing the car, and it’s parking, and it’s insurance(which I’m not convinced bicycles should be without). I will admit that I am a scofflaw about the power restrictions, my 100 volt battery can put 120 amps into my motor and propel me very very very fast, a nice 30mph up the hills gets me to work faster then any trip on the us80 parking lot.

    • Wily_Quixote

      A vote up for the use of the word ‘scofflaw’.

  • Yetiman

    This will be my recovery bike after the 3 Peaks Challenge :)

  • walkthenbike

    I never thought about myself as a Stromer Dad, but I guess I am. I have past 10,000 miles in 3 years commuting to work up some pretty big hills, and I know that I would just be driving instead. The flat tire problem always made me stress, because I need to pick up my son after work. I found these “snake” tubes:


    They allow you to change the tube without taking the tire off, then I change the tube out in my garage later. Kind of like a spare tire on a car. I did the change in 5 minutes last time.

  • I was riding in the mountains near Annecy, France a few weeks ago and from behind came a couple who blasted past us. The guys looked to be a gun roadie, while his partner/wife was keeping up with him on an e-bike. That’s when the penny dropped for me and I saw a use for e-bikes in my world.

    And yes, of course the genders could have just as easily been reversed!

    • Alex L

      I struggled (and still struggle TBH) to see the point of e-MTBs, but I was at Ol’ Dirty a month ago where there were e-MTBs for the lantern rouges. And an old couple walked by and asked about them – they thought it would be a great idea to be able to ride and keep up with their adult children.

      The whole point of the e-bikes is that they open up the cycling world to outsiders, and that is a wonderful thing.

  • James Roberts

    I alternate between my e-bike and my road bike on a 20k commute from home to work using the e-bike when I want to go food shopping (it’s easy
    to load the pannier bags on an e-bike and make good time). On days when the Vancouver rain is almost hail being blown by wind the e-bike is an
    effortless way to stay on two wheels. For me, in any event, it keeps me out of a car and commuting pollution-free every day of the week, all year

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