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Thread: Electric Bikes?

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    People Before Profit Mehow's Avatar
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    Electric Bikes?

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    What is the consensus on electric bikes for commuting? I'm asking because a friend of mine is trying to incorporate bikes as another option for her commuting. She inquired about electric bikes (a subject I know nothing about) . . . because she figures that it'll make the transition from car to bike easier. Her commute would be roughly 20 miles round trip, but take into consideration that she isn't exactly an athlete.

    I'm trying to get her on a NON-electric "urban/hybrid" style bike, thinking that she will be able to build up to the distance, while having her car as an alternative while her condition improves.



    Help me make another velo-commuter out of her.

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    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    Crud, lost my response due to busy server. So you get a short synopsis of what I typed originally.

    IMHO, if someone is very out of shape or very overweight, the electric makes sense. They level out hills. If someone is going to need many months to a year or two to get to the point where they can make the commute without a lot of suffering, then it's probably electric or back in the car.

    Ideally she could make the commute once or twice on a nice comfy hybrid that fit her pretty well. Most people are surprised at how far they can go on a bike, they've never tried it before. But she will probably be sore for a day or two; that's where having some support, and maybe a ride partner, will help. If she is really suffering, then maybe the electric is a good option. But if she's going to get into shape and be able to make the commute unassisted in a month or two anyway, and can stick with it that long, it's a shame to spend hundreds extra on the electric assist to use it for just a few weeks, then having it do nothing but add weight to the bike.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

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    Administrator Allen's Avatar
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    Electrics make sense to those who are not Macy's Day floats as well. It takes the excuse "I'm just not up for a ride today" pretty much out of the equation. They not only flatten out the hills, they take some of the heat out of the summer, sometimes it's nice to show up at work not dripping wet. If she wants to do some shopping on it, heavily laden, that motor sure is nice. There are a lot of nice electric assist bicycles on the market, and with the advent of Lithium Ion batteries, their weight is comparable to a full suspension downhill bike.
    If it gets her spinning, why not an electric? Nothing wrong with having a bicycle equivalent of an SUV that gets 700MPG.
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    bicyclist LandLuger's Avatar
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    I was firmly against electrics until the undervalued gas prices adjusted upwards a couple of years ago which prompted my father to get out of the car and into an electric assisted bike from NYcewheels. I was skeptical, but the test rides during the week after I assembled the thing sold me over. The assists really do "flatten" the hills to an incredible extent. If you haven't had the chance to ride one it's a blast. However, she should expect to spend at least $750+ to get a decent machine; a kit might be more reasonable if she's willing to tinker.

    Whatever gets one out of the car, right?

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    People Before Profit Mehow's Avatar
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    Thanks for the input, people : )

    The significant extra cost of an electric with the factor of her likely "out-growing" the need of an electric assit . . . is why i think i'll likely pursuade her to get a traditonal urban/hybrid bike.

    I think that if I support her, find a safe route, and prepare her mentally . . . then she should be able to catch on. Plus she'll always have the luxury of using a car even if she is too cramped up after her first try.

    Anyone, with any other thoughts?

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    Maybe another option while getting into shape would be to drive with the bike halfway, like to a parknride for instance, and then bike the other half. Maybe after a month or so the 10 miles each way shouldn't be too tough, especially with the right bike.

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    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    I think anytime someone wants to leave thier car behind; they should be encouraged. Health studies show that electric bikes are better for exercise than non electric bikes as the heart doesn't have to jump above max HR to go up hills. Even so I wouldn't want one for myself (maybe after I turn 70) as I enjoy the exertion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Simmons Lane
    Maybe another option while getting into shape would be to drive with the bike halfway, like to a parknride for instance, and then bike the other half. Maybe after a month or so the 10 miles each way shouldn't be too tough, especially with the right bike.

    That's a good point. Since I'm car-free I totally forgot about that possibility. Thanks, I'll be sure to mention that to her.

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    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/power-assist/
    All you want to know about ebikes and hub kits

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    I looked into a few different electric bikes and kits when I moved a couple years ago and my commute got a bit longer. Electric bikes can be a cool thing for the right people and the right uses. The range is still a bit limiting but in your friend's case, should be well within limits, maybe even ideal. Depending on her commute (hills, etc.) and weight, she may need to charge the bike up at work for a full power return trip. For a cyclist that is already comfortable with 20+ mile rides electric bikes are not worth much, in my opinion.

    Ten miles is a huge distance to a non-cyclist. Depending on your friend and her fitness level and goals, an electric bike could be the perfect first step to help prove that a cycle is a very real and valid option for getting around. The prices, however, can be a bit intimidating for someone not familiar with the cost of quality bikes.

    There are a couple different types of electric bikes; throttle and booster motor. (I doubt these are the correct terms, but you get the idea anyway.) The throttle bikes are more like a motorcycle or scooter and can be ridden on electric motor alone. The booster type only supply boost when being pedaled. I think the booster type are much better. The rider gets excercise and increases their fitness level whether they are trying or not.

    Batteries, of course, wear out. In a year or three (depending on care and use) of use, the range will shrink to the point that the batteries will need replacement. By the time this happens, she should have the bike experience and the higher fitness level to think more seriously about getting a regular bicycle instead of replacing expensive batteries.
    Last edited by Psychic Pimp; 06-16-06 at 02:57 PM.
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    The best and lightest ebike on the market is the (pedal assisted) Giant Lite. This is the last year of production.
    I bought one used for a little over 1/2 price of new; $800. It got me off my 60 year old butt and into a FUN commute. My knees don't hurt anymore and I can fight any headwind or hill and load it down too.
    If I want a better workout, I just gear up or turn off the assist. If I'm smart with the use I can get 30 miles from a charge and that is as far as I care to ride. My commute is 12 RT. I can average 12-15mph with out the traffic lights. I enjoy it so much now (biking) that I'm selling my little used Cannondale.
    I find most who knock it, haven't tried it! But then, "I'm here cuz I'm not all there"

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