Tuesday, June 19, 2012

E As In Easy Bike

After a grueling ride on the second day of the MS Bike Tour, I was happy to open one of our national papers that had two articles on cycling in the Travel section.  It's always nice to see more validation of cycling as a means of transportation.

One article

On last week's MS Bike Tour, I saw only one electric assist bike and I assumed it was being ridden by someone with MS since there are quite a number of riders who have been diagnosed with the disease.

While my first reaction is to scoff at the very idea of power assistance on a bike, Margaret Wente, the author of the travel article describes her experience "As the weaker cyclists struggled gamely up the hills, we sailed effortlessly by.  By the second day, they were casting envious looks at our e-bikes."

The second article

In the second article, Wallace Immen leads off by describing the bike:" My ride was a rather ordinary - looking black bicycle, notable mostly for an electric motor barely bigger than a hamster cage in a box behind the seat.  He goes on: "While riding, I could choose either "pedal assistance" for a little help as I pumped, or I could twist the throttle for fully powered riding.  I eventually gave up any pretense of pedaling to enjoy the ease and speed of a bike that seemed to have plenty of stored power for a day of sightseeing."

My thoughts about the idea of a power- assisted bike are mixed.  Wanting to be a cycling purist, I'm against the idea of help to pedal.  On the other hand, when I'm 90 and still riding, the idea might have some merit.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit to you that the notion of power - assist struck me as a rather good idea when, on the second day of the MS Bike Tour, we had to ride all day into the energy sapping wind.


  1. Although I'm a pedalin' purist I think e-bikes have their place. As you mention, they are a boon to people less than fully able-bodied. I think they would also be useful for people with a commute longer than they could normally cycle.

    My instructor in a solar energy course calculated that his e-bike cost him 12 cents per day to commute on v.s. several dollars per day in his little pick-up truck. I think that's a worthwhile tradeoff if it gets a few more people out of their cars. Especially the ones who would balk at pedaling under their own steam.

    Finally, I think an electric assist would be a fantastic addition to cargo bike.