I have to admit that I’m very much liking the e-bike I have a loan of at the moment. Being of ‘wiser’ years now, accompanied by a distinct unwillingness to thrash myself into fitness anymore, this e-bike is proving to be rather a joy. Any day is a good day for biking, because I know that regardless of whether I strike a brutal head wind, or not, I will still get home with a smile on my face. No more arriving home knackered and weak-legged from a long, hard pedal against wind and hills – and vowing not to bloody do that again. Nope, those days are gone. An e-bike is on my list of must-haves, when I eventually relinquish my loaner.
Christchurch is a good city to bike around, being mostly flat. A number of years ago, the city council began a project of making cycleways and cycle lanes, and now there is a really decent network, which continues to be an ongoing project. The afore-mentioned hills are here and there, and are worthy of the title, but unless one specifically seeks them out for the challenge, they’re easily avoided. However, should I venture onto a hill at any stage, an e-bike will laugh at it – and I will laugh along with it.
I can tell you from the occasional necessity to hoist it around a little, that an e-bike is considerably heavier than the average road bike, due to its battery and general extra robustness. Lifting it in and out of my car, like I used to do with my old bike, is not going to happen, so a bike carrier attached to my car will be another must-have. See how the dollars have an insidious way of mounting up? But all in a good cause – which is me getting out, getting exercise, and enjoying it.
Wait! Exercise? Just when you thought an e-bike was all about cruising along. Ah-ha – not always. The power on my loaner bike isn’t an automatic function, and has to be manually turned on and off as required, or desired. My modus operandi is to start off with only pedal power until I feel the need for some extra oomph, and only then do I turn the power on. So far, I haven’t had to resort to anything more than the lowest level. Of course, I haven’t actually done anything yet that requires the serious power setting.
My inaugural excursion consisted of about a 15km round trip, with niece and nephew stops along the way – i.e. there were breaks, on the pretext of paying short visits. Don’t laugh – I did good! My bum especially did good! There’s not only the lack of fitness factor to consider, but the bum factor too. Bums have to harden up in order to do bigger trips, and even with padded pants on it takes a bit of time to condition them. That 15kms would have nearly killed me and my unconditioned bum on an ordinary bike, as the head wind that day was reasonably strong (and feckin cold) and I would have been in the saddle for quite a bit longer. On the e-bike, I powered up each time I headed into the wind, and powered off when I turned a corner out of it. It was great!
I’m getting a few ideas about wants and don’t wants, for when I get my own e-bike. First, I think I’ll make sure that my feet can touch the ground while my bum is still on the seat – even tippy-toes would be good. With the loaner, I have to jump off the seat when I stop if I want to touch the ground with my feet, or lean the bike over on one side until that foot makes ground contact. Both are manageable, but I’d still prefer them to be unnecessary. Next, I want a bike that’s robust enough to go off-road. Not mountainous off-road, just nice bike trail off-road. NZ Cycle Trail could be a bit of a bold dream for someone who’s still got the ‘training wheels’ on, but luckily there are tamer trails around Canterbury that I like the look of, too.
A good e-bike isn’t cheap, but this study shows that the cognitive and well-being benefits of getting out on it are the same as for a pedal bike. And if the ease of going out for a ride makes us get out more, then we’re making a good return on the investment. I’m not planning the honeymoon just yet, but this could almost be the beginnings of a love affair, and – dare I say it – fun!
Header pic by Reipen.