In praise of electric bikes…
So, over two weeks since I got my electric bike and having clocked more than 200km it is perhaps a good time to record my observations. Before this, however, and based on questions asked by most people I have met on my travels, it might be a good idea to explain just what an e-bike is if you’re not already aware. It is obvious that confusion abounds as to the precise difference between an ordinary bike and an e-bike, technically known as a pedelec, or a pedal assisted bike. This is understandable given the range of two wheeled transport devices currently on offer. The e-bike however is clearly defined as being a regular bike with a battery powered pedal assist system. In order to make the bike move you must pedal. The motor multiplies your effort to make it easier to ride the bike, though for legal reasons this assist is limited to 25km/hr.
So, to the experience of cycling one of these increasingly popular modes of transport. Imagine you are cycling along a flat road on a regular bike and you come to an incline, you obviously have to work harder to go up the hill. On an e-bike you simply push a switch with your thumb and magically you feel the bike moving as if someone is giving you a gentle push from behind. Push the assist switch a second time and you receive more assistance, right up to pressing it 5 times to select the highest level where even the steepest hill becomes a breeze. You can still of course get a very decent workout by only using the assist facility to give minimum advantage. On most of my spins over the last two weeks I only used the assist level at the first or second level and just went to the third level on the steeper hills. I found there was no real need to use level 4 or 5 other than for the sheer fun of sailing up the last long hill into Coolbawn from the Nenagh side. Coming as it does for me at the end of a lot of my spins, this hill and I have never really got on very well over the years. That relationship is now changing! While I have always loved living where I do in Coolbawn, I have also felt a bit cheated that all my cycles finished with some pretty challenging hills, regardless of which route I take. This will obviously still be the case when I am on my road (racing) bike but I will now see that as training rather than leisure cycling.
Photo taken while cycling to Puckane recently. Had I been driving I know I probably wouldn't have stopped to take this. Had I been on my racing bike I definately wouldn't!
The addition of panniers to the e-bike is one of my favourite aspects of this type of cycling. I have always wanted to be able to easily carry camera equipment on my bike without it becoming a major undertaking. This is now possible and I am really looking forward to getting out and about with bike and camera as the weather improves and the days get longer. I have also wanted to be able to use a bike for some of the day-to-day shopping trips. The additional weight on the e-bike is not in any way noticeable and so in the last two weeks I have been able to bring some shopping from Puckane, Borrisokane and Nenagh without any difficulty. It won’t be used for the regular weekly shopping obviously but fantastic for picking up the few bits in between. Maybe the novelty will wear off but I have to say it felt strangely liberating last week to take a break from editing photos to cycle to Borrisokane to pick up something for the dinner. The trip took less than an hour but I also got fresh air, exercise and stopped for a brief chat with a neighbour along the way.
There’s a lot to be said for embracing all the advantages of a bike, without the hardship endured by previous generations.
The addition of panniers to the bike has opened up many possibilities, from shopping to photography!