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December 15, 2017
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  • On the same path. Got one last week.

  • Cruz er

    Hope this is an indicator of more ebikes as the knowledge of how and what they are really great at becomes more mainstream.

  • Bakers Dozen

    What second family vehicle?

  • marc

    Hmm interesting. My wife said to me the other day about whether we could get by with only one car (we have two currently, but I commute by bike to work 3 times a week). My initial reaction was no, due to her working on Saturdays, and me needing to get kids to weekend sport etc. But with a bit of juggling (and more public transport/bike use/planning on weekends) we could probably do it. Would an ebike help us though? In our case I don’t think so.

    • Iain Treloar

      Where I reckon ebikes have the greatest potential is for utility cycling – shopping trips, school pickups, etc. The sport-oriented ones leave me a little cold – I’m happy enough just riding a conventional bike for most of my journeys, including the daily commute. But something like a Yuba Spicy Curry or some of the options from Riese & Muller, I can see integrating into life and replacing a car pretty easily.

      • Agreed. The short trips are perfect for the ebike (and to be honest, any utility bike that you can ride with regular clothes quite easily), and for my 25km commute to work it’s also brilliant. The fact that I can ride an hour, miss all the traffic, not need to change or shower is amazing. Indeed I could ride a regular bike for running errands or getting to work, but in that case I’m not doing it for exercise – this is where the ebike shines.

      • 300%.

      • winkybiker

        Absolutely. E-bikes for utility cycling are great. For recreation? Not so much, in my view.

      • Ssanchez

        Is “utility cycling” an existing genre or did Ian just invent it?

        • CharlieW35

          The aim is for “utility cycling” to become plain old “cycling”! :-) Ebikes might just do it. Commuting to work in ordinary clothes is very important (visit or watch a video of cyclists in Amsterdam or Copenhagen), plus a 12-mile London commute might be a test for anybody who doesn’t cycle regularly. Dismissing ebikes for recreation is only something a recreational cyclist would do. Every campsite is renting out ebikes these days, and they are enormously popular extending as they do the range of occasional (holiday-only) cyclists. These people might just come home and look at their second car in a different light.

          • winkybiker

            100% agree. My comment was that I personally probably wouldn’t choose an e-bike to just “go for a ride”. But to get something done, or to get somewhere in particular, I just might. And it might replace a car trip. At the moment, I rarely use my bikes for transport, other than my daily commute (which I am fanatical about). Just about everything else is in the car, and weekend bike riding is purely recreational. I need to change that up.

        • Iain Treloar

          Wish I could take credit for that, but as CharlieW35 says above, it’s plain old cycling – just for transport and practicality instead of recreation or sport.

    • For all the times that you did need a car (that wouldn’t fit into the other times), could you then use a share car (assuming one is available). Between my Wife and I, we contemplated a second car when I had to work 35km from where we live. Turns out it was 10 to 30mins longer to either ride or catch public transport (depending on what time of day you went) to get there (each way, but only because that was against traffic, would’ve been quicker to ride if same direction as traffic), then on weekends, we worked out most of the time we could either ride one of the kids there or take public transport to the kids sport when the other needed the car.

      Having had an ebike for the work trips would have meant I probably could have done it more regularly (it was tiring riding both ways, but was lucky I could catch the train home part way), and probably would have been quicker – those things can go.

      In all that time we have only used a share car once, and that was because I wanted to go to a bike race, and even then I probably could’ve bummed a ride with someone else.

      So it is possible, but clearly not everyone’s circumstances are the same.

      • CharlieW35

        It just struck me that we ditched our second car before either of us had practical, urban bikes. I said earlier that we live in a London suburb an are walking distance from the local shops. At the time we also lived a short distance from the local school. I took the decision because we rarely used our second car, so infrequently used as to need jump leads for every start, it made economic sense to get rid of it. Our area has excellent bus and train links, and if you habitually use them then your car is only really necessary for load-carrying, and escaping the city. We still have friends who drive everywhere in town. Madness!

  • Doubtful Guest

    Not sure why you’d be stuck in traffic riding a scooter; it’s OK to filter in California.

    But to the point, an e-bike as a second car replacement is a great idea, though prices could be lower. One way to do that is make them with just a few gears, and with a throttle, not pedal assist. If I was going to ride one in work clothes for 15-20 miles each way, I wouldn’t want to pedal. At. All.

    • Splitting lanes is legal here too, but our roads probably aren’t as wide as in California. It’s sometimes okay, but many other times it’s way too narrow. I often sit in traffic meanwhile there’s a wide open bike lane right beside me!

    • Bmstar77

      If it’s not pedal-assist, it’s an electric motorcycle.

      • Steel

        Different rules in the US. 750 Watt (1 freedom unit) unassisted is OK in most us states.

      • Doubtful Guest

        You can call it what you want, but what matters is whether a passing cop will ticket you. If they see pedals on it, they won’t care if your legs aren’t moving.

  • btivers

    Another perspective of the E-bike is to get people that are unable to exercise due to health reasons get back on a bike and enjoy the sensations of riding again. For example with the head injury I cant exercise above an easy heart rate level which has stopped me from riding a bike.

    • I can think of a few people who’s circumstances are what you describe. It’s a fantastic option to have an ebike to still get to enjoy cycling.

  • Steel

    Don’t mean to inflate my own tyres, but I pushed the changes through to allow the euro style pedalec in Australia, with a bunch of other people of course. Transport for NSW did a heap of great policy research.

    Back in 2011 most E bikes in Australia were pretty awful contraptions. Now we’ve got really good ones with BB motors. It’s come along way and the public are catching on too.

    Next step for me is to enable salary sacrifice packages like you have for cars. My friend has researched the tax rules and it is allowable. She got one through her work and now commutes from Mentone to the CBD each day.

    Great success.

    • Love your work Steel!

    • Robert Merkel

      Do you reckon there’s any chance of getting the regs relaxed a little further to allow maybe 32kph maximum assisted speeds?

      Open slather is a bad idea, but in Australian on-road conditions over Australian distances 25kph is pretty annoyingly slow. Justifiable for bike paths, though!

      • Steel

        I think further reform is inevitable, but that is a personal view. The challenge is ensuring what we have is enforceable. Police agencies can’t test for power, so we need ways of identifying bikes. So if you were to allow a 32kmh road only ebike we need better solutions for distinguishing at the roadside which bikes are road only and those that are shared path.

        This is a problem right now, as we still operate dual standards for ebikes (getting a bit complex now, so I won’t elaborate). There are some really high powered bikes out there and it is very difficult for police to prosecute. I don’t work in this area at the moment so not sure what the current thinking is.

  • Bmstar77

    Are any of the major manufacturers making e-bikes with hub gears and belt drive? The exposed cassette, enormous derailleur and oily chain, and occasional need for derailleur indexing, seems a bit backward for a ‘general duties’ type of bike.

    • Rob Biddlecombe

      Check out Shimano steps models with internal hub and belt drive. They are among the best Ebike systems in the world. Fantastic shifting and no maintenance. They downshift on their own when coming to a stop. Some can be programmed to be an automatic transmission.

  • Larry Theobald

    As a substitute for a car (any car) I think e-bikes are a great idea. $9K a year on average in the USA to own/operate a car for 15K miles makes even the most expensive e-bike (assuming it doesn’t get stolen, but unlike cars or scooters at least they can be taken inside?) a smart buy that will pay for itself very quickly. Standing in the way in the USA are the various state laws and regulations. Just like with motor vehicles, these laws need to be federalized and standardized.

  • Jon

    Yes, as long as they stay on roads and paths that allow motorized vehicles. But, on a path with runners, walkers, cyclists, and dog-walkers, etc.? Nope. Sorry.

    • Crash Bandicoot

      The assist cuts out at 25kph which is slower than when I’m riding recovery watts and typically is the speed limit of most MUPs.

      • Mine is 60km.

    • Concerned Cyclist

      Studies have shown that on paths with runners, walkers and other cyclists, cyclists riding e-bikes ride slower than cyclists riding standard bikes. Here is the title to one such study. There are more. It’s more beneficial to everyone to focus on improving user behavior instead of limiting types of trail use.

      “Risky riding: Naturalistic methods comparing safety behavior from conventional bicycle riders and electric bike riders”

    • Spider

      At the moment on my bike path (gardiners creek trail/city trail in Melbourne) we have unlawful electric bikes – they are passing at 40kph….and they are giving the whole thing a bad rep. Whilst when you see someone ride at 25kph (and it looked a lot faster in that video) it is quite a sedate/relaxed rate.

      I was shattered this morning and rode at 25kmp on my commute….so not a lot of difference.

      I think commuter heros trying to get Personal Bests on bike paths are much more of a safety issue. A nice sedate, speed limited e-bike…no problem here!

  • winkybiker

    We get by with just one family vehicle and no e-bike. So the answer for us is…. I don’t know what the answer is. I guess it is a second question instead? Why do you need a second family vehicle?

    • David9482

      Exactly. I’m lucky enough to live in a big city, so my wife commutes by subway. On the weekend we have a vehicle (we just purchased a minivan) and I commute via bike.

      • winkybiker

        I commute by bike, and my wife has 100% access to our only motorised vehicle (minivan). She doesn’t do paid work, as we have enough “stuff”. We value our time more preciously than we do the ongoing accumulation of more stuff.

    • Crash Bandicoot

      We need one. I’m an outside sales rep and although my wife works from home there is no way for you to get around our area via bike during the middle of the day simply most of the roads are not safe enough to be used for transportation during the middle of the day and our bike path network is limited. Trust me i’d Love to not need the second car.

    • Everyone has different circumstances and I definitely don’t think that an ebike will work for all others. And ‘need’ is a strong word. But ‘wonderful to have’ and ‘very convenient’ for my circumstances is where I’ll leave it.

      • winkybiker

        Indeed. An e-bike is the answer to questions that many (but not me) have.

      • Simon Wile

        So did you end buying one to keep and replace the scooter properly?

        • I’ll buy the ebike and probably sell the scooter. The only problem is that the scooter is still worth something to me, but only worth $2k to sell. I’ll figure that one out later…

  • David9482

    NNOOOoooo….. say it ain’t so wade.

    You sold us out… I thought I knew you.

    If you’re going to get another vehicle with an engine, get something you can get insured. Otherwise put on a backpack along with a towel, soap, change of clothes and snacks to use when you get to work. For utility bike rides, the sore muscles at the end of it are exactly why didn’t use the minivan for the trip.

    • Crash Bandicoot

      For some of us we don’t have a constant shower available or the ability to change at work thus an e-Bike works.

    • I still ride to work 3-4 days a week on a regular bike. But often the ebike is more convenient and mostly replaces the scooter or need for a second car.

      • David9482

        I figured you did, I was just kidding and trying to mess with you.

        The purist in me says this is awful, but obviously once life moves beyond racing, you have to be practical…

        Thanks for bringing yet another interesting piece to our attention. Now, to tie this article with Cyclingtips’ piece on local bike stores and the challenges they face – I wonder if the sale of e-bikes can bring normal consumers into bike stores to fill a hole in their customer base.

        • Even Andy White of FYXO has an ebike now. If there was ever a purist who’s been converted!

          • Bikes are cool. I don’t discriminate.

        • It’s called a ‘tapering tool’.

        • From what I understand, ebike stores are killing it.

          And FWIW, I still race! ;-)

          • Dave B

            “race” or race ? just kidding wade :)

          • David9482

            FWIW I’m super jealous that you still race!!! Don’t you have kids? How do you manage to get out the door on your bike on a Saturday or Sunday without kids and family in tow?!?!?

  • Crash Bandicoot

    Not if the infrastructure is not in place; most places I drive because they’re nearly physically impossible to ride to without getting run over. Things might be different in AU but even as an avid Bike racer I still feel like it’s too risky to be on many roads that lead to shopping/utility clearly in my state (Texas) there is no to minimal effort whatsoever in building the infrastructure or designing areas to incorporate safe cycling. If there was i’d be interested in an E-Cargo Bike.

  • Nitro

    You need to change the headline on this article?

    The question isn’t “Can an e-bike replace the second family vehicle?”

    The question really is “Do we agree with the statement at 2:03 in the video” ?!? :)

    • Of course the speed limiter shouldn’t apply to me!

  • Ian

    Yes it can and very happy with our decision. Normally my standard bike combined with an occasional bus or uber when raining. Occasionally i bring the e-bike from work home just for fun or an easy ride up the hill. Saving heaps of money by having only 1 car.

    • winkybiker

      If I left my bike at home because of rain, I’d hardly ride it for 6 months of the year here!

      • Ian

        May you have a drought:)
        Some good wet weather gear including booties to slip over my work shoes was a good investment when at my last job.

  • simon saunders

    Frankly, I’m just really envious of the Bike path. Better than the glass-littered, pot-hole ridden, traffic-laden shitfest my 20 mile commute entails.

  • Abdu

    Had the exact convo tonight with a mate, he’s on board and I reckon I am too. E Bikes definitely have their place, and I’m a big fan of the benefits for all of us in getting anyone and everyone riding. I see people riding (who aren’t in the 65kg male 25-35 age bracket…) and think ‘awesome’, there’s another healthy happy person and they’ve made the road just a bit safer for me now too simply by being on it. E Bikes make riding more accessible for everyone, what’s not to like?

    Our convo was about the safety of speeds for ‘less experienced’, not us ‘good riders’… He had sat behind a guy sitting bolt upright on one today, reckons it was around 40 kph but had serious concerns about the guy’s safety in the bike lane on road amongst traffic. Not many times it’s safe to be up at that speed in peak hour traffic close to the CBD these days. Not sure about how to solve that.

    Totally sold on everything with the E Bike though, except the (minor) inconvenience of where you leave/store it if you’re using for meetings, because you can’t often bring it into client’s offices, and you can’t lock it on the street, so… Would totally get one BTW

    JJ

    • If you can figure out how to hack the speed on the Vado, can you let me know? I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time trying…

      ;-)

  • rafe

    sold my car use my ebike for daily commuting. Here is video of ebike 11 mile ride across orange county . 33 mph peaks avg over 11 mi 22mph. beats cars.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS0JenyUf-M&lc=

  • TomValasek
  • walkthenbike

    I sold our 2nd family vehicle 5 years ago, and have 15,000 miles on e-bikes. When it comes to picking up milk, fruit, and veg from the store I will take an ebike over a manual bike any day. Some days I use the battery a lot, almost like a motor vehicle. Other days I turn the motor off and get a work out.

  • Simon Wile

    I’ll admit to being a little jealous of the ebikes that pass me from time to time on my commute home. So effortless and easy looking. The turn off is what Wade and others have mentioned, security and insurance. Do you carry a heavy 5kg kryponite lock everywhere? I’m fortunate to have indoor bike storage at work but when I’m out and about I’m super paranoid about where I park up and if I have to lock it up carrying my heavy chain lock is awful. Maybe a fitted wheel lock like the Obikes have in conjunction with a solid D lock would be OK. Being restricted to 25kph would be fine as the time spent showering and changing easily outweighs the time going 5-7kph slower.

    And I’ll be honest, until the big names (like Specialized) have properly entered the ebike market they’ve just looked like average hybrid bikes with clunky bolt on bits. Finally seeing some “stylish” integrated models coming out which might further tempt the vain such as myself.

    • Jonathan.

      If you’re riding an e-bike, the weight of the lock won’t even be noticed. I’ve got an e-cargo bike coming, I’ll be carrying the most secure lock I can find with me everywhere.

  • Feathers McGraw

    I’d like to see the Ebike laws updated. The top speed of 25kmh makes sense for the bike path but for those people with longer commutes and wish to ride on the road It would be good to have the speed limiter relaxed to say 40kmh for road use only. Ebike was life changing for me and having an 80km daily commute was really only possible by mixing up ebike one day, regular roadie the next. Also great for dropping a child at daycare and then turning up the speed to get to work all accomplished in work attire.

  • Feathers McGraw

    On a related topic Ive noticed many electric skateboard riders doing well over 25kmh on the beach road bike path in melbourne, does anyone know if there is a loop hole that permits certain types of electric vehicles different top speeds?

    • Steel

      Nup. Illegal.

  • Helen Balcony

    As an older woman who bike commutes, please, please, PLEASE keep to a reasonable speed, ebike riders. It’s bad enough with the Freds muscling past me at speed with little or no warning (often near a blind corner or an oncoming rider), I’m not really looking forward to ebike riders buzzing me on the paths, including new riders (which is a good thing but they may be lacking in riding skills)

  • GT

    E-bikes are a game changer for cargo bikes, I’ve been riding my 3 kids everywhere in our e-assist bakfiets for over 4 years now. We hardly touch the one car we have – my wife commutes to work, often using an e-assist xtracycle when she has to make child drop-offs or pickups. If there were decent ride-share/rental options for minivans we could go car free.

  • Angel Jaffe

    Promoting e-bikes while riding on a separated no-car bike lane next to a beach is easy. Try selling that idea to 99% of the world that don’t live next to an ocean.

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