Hi Madison Bikes Community, I’m Steph! I am a new member of the Madison Bikes Board, an avid cyclist and coffee drinker. I will be contributing to the Madison Bikes blog on a weekly basis to provide a voice of bike-related encouragement, insight, and amusement. While I am not a bike expert by any means, I am obsessed with all things bike-related and look forward to sharing my thoughts on a new topic with you each week!
Like many cyclists (or should I say “people on bicycles“), I have mixed opinions on e-bikes. I’m not going to delve into these opinions here. Instead, I’d like to talk about e-bikes from the perspective of a non-cyclist- my mother. Last summer, my mother drove from Racine to Madison to visit me and take in the city. Naturally, I recommended that we do something bike-related while she was visiting. We visited the Trek store on Madison’s west side as they were hosting a women’s bike event and were allowing everyone to test ride their electric bikes (e-bikes).
May I just say, it was an absolute delight for everyone. My mother is very active and outdoorsy but does she not care to hop on a bike for fun. After test riding an e-bike for the first time, the possibility of biking for fun became more enticing. Being that e-bikes are something of an investment, she decided to not purchase the bike but would mull it over. Last week, I texted her that the Bike Expo Sale Wisconsin would be held in Milwaukee over the weekend and that she could test ride the e-bikes again! It wasn’t hard to convince her to meet me there.
What is an electric bike? Electric bikes amplify your own pedal power. Most e-bikes are pedal-assist bikes, which means there’s a motor that helps the pedals turn when you’re riding, but no throttle like a motorcycle or dirt bike. When you’re pedaling, the e-bike gives you a boost. When you stop pedaling, the bike stops assisting. At the Expo, I saw a lot of people trying out e-bikes for the first time and the staff did a great job educating the riders on how to adjust the pedal-assistance.
After a quick tutorial from the staff, she was tearing up the course! The expo had an indoor riding course including a small bridge and cute, painted backdrops. You can see that my mother was having an absolute blast.
- You don’t need to be a tech-wiz to use the bike.
- You won’t necessarily break a sweat and mess up your hair after going for a ride.
- The batteries are now integrated into the frame, so it looks “sleek”.
- It is great fun to ride.
- The bike lights are already attached and are turned on when you ride.
- E-bikes provide an opportunity to stay current and to grow as a person.
- Removing the integrated battery from the bike frame is a multi-step process and can be a bit cumbersome.
- The bikes are pricey.
- The pedals “look cheap”.
- Riding an e-bike take some mental adaptation.
- The concern of public stigmatization that riding an e-bike means that she isn’t in good shape.
- Safety concerns if she hits a pothole and gets thrown off the speedy bike.
After much deliberation, she decided to not buy the bike at the expo. However, after doing a bit more research and maybe one more sweet test ride, I bet she’ll make the leap and buy the bike. Perhaps, then, we can ride together and make some new memories.
Happy riding and tailwinds (or well-charged e-bike)!
P.S.: Have extra time on your hands? Check out this video. It is not at all related to e-bikes but does make me very happy. I dare you to keep a straight face.