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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb Why Bionx Pedal-Assist is Not Cheating

    Hi everyone! Practically as soon as I added the Bionx to my hybrid, all my cyclist friends accused me of cheating. I penned a blog entry explaining how I deal with these curmudgeons. I'm posting it below. How do you handle accusations of cheating?

    --

    Why the Bionx Pedal-Assist is Not Cheating

    This weekend I installed a Bionx PL-350 system on my trusty Trek 7100. It was a hefty investment, but it's worth it because now I can ride anywhere in the city, sweating as much or as little as I want, hills be damned! Why, just yesterday I rode to the National Shrine, to a cafe, and back home - 16 miles of undulating hills that, unassisted, would have killed me and left me exhausted. But with the Bionx on a high level of assist, I rode to church in my Sunday best without getting sweaty, and afterward I turned the assist down and got a pretty solid workout coming home. I was exhilarated and dripping with perspiration by the time I got home, but I wasn't WIPED OUT, like I would have been normally. The Bionx gives me the freedom to ride where I otherwise wouldn't. Without assist, I would not have attempted Sunday's ride; I simply would have driven.

    When people find out I bought an electric pedal assist for my bike, there are two common responses.

    Average Joe: Cool! I've heard about those. Sounds fun.
    Cyclist: THAT'S CHEATING. You're such a cheater, Mister Cheater.

    My standard response to Average Joe is "Yeah, it is fun! Really helps with the hills." We both walk away smiling and I am left with the thought that there are lots of friendly people in this world.

    Then comes the Cyclist. He is usually very skinny, owns thousands of dollars in Lycra and Spandex, and has a 15-pound bike made of carbon fiber infused with Borg nanobots. And he is looking at me with derision I have previously only seen directed at people who stand to the left on the Metro escalators.

    To the Cyclist, biking and sweating are synonymous. He enjoys nothing more than the long haul, dripping, drenched, standing on the pedals and pumping harder. The downhill is your reward for making it uphill. Hills build character. Stop whining. Cheater.

    I have developed a few responses to this particular breed of judgmental creature. Each responses satisfies me, but is very unlikely to satisfy the Cyclist.

    Cyclist: That's cheating.
    Me: ...I wasn't aware there were rules?

    I thought this sort of rhetorical response would make them pause and think and realize that, of course, outside of a race, biking has no rules. Cheating is by definition impossible without rules to break. I expected smiles all around, the Cyclist perhaps asking if he could try my Bionx, and then maybe we would all go out for drinks and we would sing drinking songs about our glorious rides past.

    Yes, I live in a fantasy land.

    Cyclist: Of course there are rules. You have to pedal.
    Me: I do pedal! I just use assist on the hills so I can get up them.
    Cyclist: Just shift to a lower gear. Hills will get easier.
    Me: I have used the granny gears. I don't particularly like getting up a hill at 4 mph and still feeling totally burned out at the top. I don't see what the big deal is?
    Cyclist (look of disgust): YOU'RE CHEATING.

    So, given that the Cyclist abhors cheaters, and likes to do everything the old fashioned way, with sweat and tears and sore muscles, I change my approach.

    Cyclist: That's cheating.
    Me: How heavy is your bike?
    Cyclist: About 20 pounds.
    Me: That's cheating! Mine is 33!
    Cyclist: Whatever, I'm still pedaling.
    Me: I'm pedaling too. Do you have a road bike?
    Cyclist: Of course.
    Me: That's cheating! Your tires are so skinny! It's so much easier to go fast on your bike. I have a hybrid!
    Cyclist: I'm still pedaling.
    Me: So am I. Do you use wicking fabric?
    Cyclist: ...yes.
    Me: That's cheating! I ride around in a cotton shirt! You're giving yourself all these advantages!
    Cyclist: Whatever, I'm still pedaling. Cheater. You are the lowest of the low. Get off my path.

    Apparently, every advantage in the book - feather-light materials, skinny tires, racing geometry - why that's just part of the sport! But a pedal-assist on hills? Cheating!

    There is nothing one can say to calm the haters. So most times I don't even try. I just smile, bow to their "superior" stamina and character, and let them zoom away. And then I get on my bike and dial in the exact level of assistance that will let me achieve whatever goal I have at the moment. Do I want to get to work in a hurry yet not have to take a shower when I get there? Push the assist up to maximum and make heavy use of the Throttle button. Do I want to get a great workout on the way home? Keep assist on level 0 (nothing), or 1 (equivalent to a nice tailwind), and power up those hills.

    That's not cheating. That's smart.

  2. #2
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    People will have their own opinion. Why fight it? I ride an ebike because I enjoy it. Itís that simple. The biggest difference is that I can select the intensity of my ride at any time.

  3. #3
    Grizzled Curmudgeon keithm0's Avatar
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    If you're in a bike race with explicit rules that prohibit electric assist, then it's cheating.
    If you want to get somewhere, have fun while doing it, and not arrive at your destination covered in sweat, then it's definitely not cheating.

    BTW -- If a roadie on an eleventy-speed wonder bike tells you you're cheating, tell him that the fixie riders probably say the same thing about him.
    BTW2 -- You can also ask if he'd prefer if you were driving a car.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Just ask them how much they drive their car- now that IS cheating. Cheating all of our children of a better future.

  5. #5
    Senior Member rscamp's Avatar
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    Ask the person who says it is cheating a question in response:

    "If riding an electric bike is cheating, what is driving a car?" This is especially effective if they drive an SUV. Then you can replace "a car" with "an SUV" and make them feel even more guilty.
    Rob

  6. #6
    Senior Member profstack's Avatar
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    Great write-up by the OP. Worthy of an op-ed in a bike-friendly city newspaper.

  7. #7
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    I've gotten thumbs up from everyone I've passed. Even the kids look on with amazement when I pass them by. I think the only ones upset are the car drivers because I get to the traffic light as they're sitting at it and they realize I didn't use a drop of gasoline to do it. I also beat 95% of the car drivers off the line at the traffic light which is really funny. Then they pass me with their engines revving as fast as possible burning even more of their fuel.

    My only regret is that I didn't build my e-bike sooner.

  8. #8
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    I find Di2 and such more offensive than an e-Bike when it comes to "cheaing" while riding. Using a microprocessor, batteries, wiring and stepper motors to shift? Really?
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  9. #9
    Senior Member 15rms's Avatar
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    Why grovel for acceptence? Be yourself let them handle it.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hendricks97's Avatar
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    We just picked up a cargo bike with the pedal assist and havent gotten a single negative comment yet, other than one person jokingly asking if I was tired of pedaling. I got it for the express purpose of my wifes ability to use it for groceries and hauling the kids around. Im hoping that she gets so used to it, we can sell 2 of the cars and be down to the one minivan.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    cheating...it has nothing to do with the 'rules'. you're cheating yourself. if you can't ride 16 miles without being shagged out by the end, is removing exercise from your life the right answer? why do you want to be fatter and weaker? those carbon road bikes don't pedal themselves - you do the same amount of work, you just go faster. it actually hurts me a bit to have to explain that. is physics taught in high schools still?

    ebikes are ridiculous. to paraphse mr. krabbe, we have bodies that can run for days without food or water, and yet at every turn we've made our lives easier...now we've arrived at a point in time where we expect a pat on the back for running a 10k, or riding a bike to work a couple of times a week. but wait! even that's too hard! where's my electric motor!

  12. #12
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    O yes sweat more

  13. #13
    Lotus Monomaniac Snydermann's Avatar
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    Given that not everyone is in top physical condition, if a motor assist gets people out riding more, so much the better. I could see the advantage in giving people peace of mind that they will be able to get back home if they get tired. My wife has MS, I'm thinking that an e-bike might be a good choice for her. She's in great shape for almost 50 years old, only 115 pounds, but can fatigue suddenly due to the MS. I'm sure there are plenty of other people that are mostly capable, where the psychological and physical support of a bike with a motor would lead to more exercise.
    Always searching for Lotus literature and memorabilia for use at www.VintageLOTUSbicycles.com, can you help?

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Carbon frame bike?
    For those riding steel frames you are cheating!!!
    But seriously
    I only waited when such post appeare sooner or later
    BTW I exercise on my bike more in a month than I would on normal bike simply because I ride much more

  15. #15
    Senior Member profstack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Commodus View Post
    cheating...it has nothing to do with the 'rules'. you're cheating yourself. if you can't ride 16 miles without being shagged out by the end, is removing exercise from your life the right answer? why do you want to be fatter and weaker? those carbon road bikes don't pedal themselves - you do the same amount of work, you just go faster. it actually hurts me a bit to have to explain that. is physics taught in high schools still?

    ebikes are ridiculous. to paraphse mr. krabbe, we have bodies that can run for days without food or water, and yet at every turn we've made our lives easier...now we've arrived at a point in time where we expect a pat on the back for running a 10k, or riding a bike to work a couple of times a week. but wait! even that's too hard! where's my electric motor!
    What a ridiculous post. Troll-like, really. Oops, I took the bait.

    While I had an e-bike for 3 months last year, I rode more and got into better shape than I would have using my normal bicycle. One day, the computer conked out while I was going up a hill. I downshifted and easily pedaled the rest of the way, suddenly realizing that I had worked myself into good shape riding the e-bike. Staying longer in the aerobic zone, my body was all the better for it.

    My commute consists of coming off a 300 foot elevation plateau, riding along the water, and then going up a 250 foot elevation to work. At the end of the day my 60 year old body is pretty wiped out if I ride the normal bicycle. I usually have to give the body a rest the next day from riding. With the e-bike I could ride everyday, weather permitting.

    Sadly, the e-bike had to be returned for teething problems. I had the first one in the USA, and the shop doesn't carry the brand (Gepida) anymore.

    Finally, if I lived in a relatively flat city I wouldn't need an e-bike. Seattle is not flat.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Trikin''s Avatar
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    I've got a 500W Crystalyte hub in the wheel of my BOB trailer, makes a great pusher assist when I'm cycle touring. I've had only a few cheater comments....if they only knew
    Attached Images Attached Images

  17. #17
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    You've got my admiration. ztrawhcs! I grew up in the D.C. suburbs and would be petrified to ride in that traffic. I'd be taking the Metro and getting fat

  18. #18
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    P.S.

    So far, in riding halfway across the country (Oregon Coast to Pueblo, CO), we've had 2 people even notice that Don's FX+ is electric - one a bike shop mechanic and the other an e-bike owner. Come September, we'll see if the easterners are any more observant . . .

  19. #19
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    At 69 YO if it was not for my BionX I would be riding my Motorcycle more than my Bike. I use a snowblower with tracks just to do my driveway .I used to drive my truck to find a place to ride my bike. Now just get on and go. With peddle assist I have done over 40 miles without a charge If that is cheating,So be it. I still work for a living and pay my bills. I did not cheat anybody when I paid for my kit

  20. #20
    Member BobV13's Avatar
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    I've had my trek fx+ e-bike for a monh now and have lost 6 lbs. Being over 60 years old it does not come easy.

  21. #21
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    I actually tell people I cheat as a segue from biking to e-biking.

    Without it, I wouldn't bike half as much. Before getting my ebike it had been 4-5 years since I had last biked. It's a cost efficient, healthy mode of transport.

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