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Do I really need an ebike?

Jonno Leonard - Thursday, March 30, 2017

This might seem a strange title for a piece on an ebike website, but we do get a constant stream of people in the shop who are in the process of deciding whether or not an ebike is for them (it always is, by the way, they just might not have worked it out for themselves yet!).

So, what are you looking to achieve? Do you want to get fit? An ebike is a bike like any other, where you put energy in, you get motion out. Having electric assistance just means you have greater control over how much energy you expend and when. Many people will start out riding with quite a high level of assistance (doing not much work) and dial down the assistance as their own fitness improves.

Do you want to go fast? Remember, all bikes are fast downhill! That's just how they work. the trick is to go fast uphill, and that's where the 'e' part comes in. To quantify this, I took a SmartMotion Pacer (a properly quick ebike) on my regular training route up the East Coast Bays from Devonport to Long Bay. It's a route that usually take an hour and a half for the return trip, expending a lot of energy, and when I am done I am properly knackered! The Pacer knocked 15 minutes of the trip, and I hardly broke a sweat. So if you have distance to cover, an ebike is right for you.

Are you a serious about your off-road riding? Here's where you have a decision to make. If you enjoy rocketing downhill, you first have to get uphill. Uphill, remember, is what ebikes do best. But there is a weight factor, and you may find the heavier bike feels cumbersome after a lightweight traditional bike. It's a little harder to stop, and not as 'flickable' or jumpable. It can still do those things, but there is a weight penalty. Maybe there's a strong argument for owning both!

Do you want an alternative to the car? With panniers and/or basket, you could have your own little shopping trolley or work commuter. Will it replace the car? With a bit of planning, I say yes. Short trips are a no brainer. Cruising up right outside the bank or sandwich bar and nipping off again without parking or manouvering a car is a joyful feeling, and one you will get used to quickly. Longer trips can take a bit more planning, but are very achievable and satisfying. What you term 'long' will likely extend as you develop your riding, and I believe you will find yourself venturing much further a field than you would have considered without the 'get you home' ease of an ebike.

I can give you plenty of reasons why you need an ebike, and very few why you don't. Perhaps it's time to see for yourself?

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