Mission Village Voice
Valerie J. Egland
R.E.A.C.H. San Benito Parks Foundation on assignment:
What’s With the E-Bike? Where does it fit in, and what for?
More than a year ago I started a dialogue with Brian Lucas about a speech I heard on Public Broadcasting about important new technologies that will affect the future. One of the main technological innovations was the battery powered bicycle, one that responds electronically to the need for power assistance according to the settings the rider programs into a little computer in the center of the handlebars. Well, being a long time bicycling enthusiast, but getting a bit less capable, this innovation interested me a lot! Brian, having owned Off The Chain Bikes in Hollister for a long time, knew about the current types of e-bikes, but had his reservations.
With the intention of eventually buying one of these bikes, I kept encouraging Brian to look into them. As a trusted bicyclist, I felt Brian, if anyone, could steer me in the right direction.
Nearly a year later, in June, Brian let me know that he had done his homework and purchased two models he felt would be good for the city and country, easy riding. Zoom, I was there, to test them out. These bikes were substantial; capable of carrying groceries, picnic or packages, but trendy looking. Brian ran through the general operations, and off I went for a ride-about. Thrilled by the feeling of the Bosch motor taking up the slack as I rode made me feel like an angel was giving me a little push along. Loving it, I still needed to think about the investment and where it would fit into my life, if practical at all.
As I thought through the advantages of purchasing a power assist e-bike, it seemed like I could use it as that 2ndvehicle in the garage that would let me pick up my car from the garage instead of asking someone else. I could bike into San Juan, 4 miles away, for meetings, Post Office or small groceries, and get exercise at the same time. Then on the other practical side is the fact that it has a 50 mile range! I can go for longer rides like from here to Moss Landing on the back roads or take it to Castroville and bike into Monterey on the path and back. Those are both things I haven’t been able to do anymore since I’ve become a wimp.
Soooo, Brian suggested another model, a bit more traditional looking than the Townie’s he had and I was sold. There’s a power assist walking mode that pulls the bike alongside you that I haven’t tried yet, but I know I’ll need for walking the bike up hills that I just can’t make; really steep inclines need options since this isn’t a motorcycle and the power decreases a bit as the battery is drained.
Electric Bicycles have been around at least 10 years as their developers have been getting the bugs out, improving batteries (lithium ion), honing the ‘in-hub’ rear gears, improving the disc brakes and synchronizing the motor power with peddles. It’s all a fabulous new adventure in local travel and exercise that I intend to explore all I can. The wind in my face, zooming along the roads on a nice day just can’t be beat. Go give it a try! Health advocates claim bicycling is one of the most beneficial exercise modalities, as well as research showing a decrease in the aging process and Parkinson’s.
R.E.A.C.H. San Benito Parks Foundation encourages getting out in the fresh air to refresh body and soul, no matter how you do it!