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I used to hate E-bikes (and now I love them)

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

True story. When e-bikes first dropped on the local scene, a well known multi-outlet LBS owner confided in me (censored to remove foul words): "I will NEVER sell those things - I won't be the one to get all the trails closed". A few years later that same person seems to rarely ride a bicycle that isn't powered. On those same trails.

Powered by a motor. Like a motor...cycle?

Look. I used to be very against e-bikes. I think it was my own ego mostly, reflecting back on all the years I had spend developing my own endurance and strength - and along came a situation where anyone with a big enough wallet could just "jump on" and do the same things I do. It felt wrong, frankly. It bothered me.

Honestly, I had missed the point completely.

E-bikes are an amazing gift that technology has given us. Don't believe me? Read on.


1) The Earl of Maryland Heights.

A few years back my neighbour Earl, a spritely lad of some late 60's years old - had his OTHER knee replaced. Tough deal. He is a snow angel in our 'hood, and takes good care of all of us with his massive backpack snow blower. A truly good guy and my GOOD friend (also occasionally my drinkin' buddy) and a lifetime lover of cycling. The pic below was taken by his lovely partner Eva shortly after the surgery.

"Does not look happy"

Post surgery Earl's knee looked like this internally (more titanium than a #rollingdalecycles bicycle):

Not exactly the kind of thing that heals quickly.

A trip to #bowcycle here in Calgary found this slightly used Cube Stereo full suspension e-bike. A mighty sweet rig was subsequently purchased at a good price.

And Earl now rides 200+ days a year on his e-bike. I rode with him once, on my road bike - what a hoot we had. E-bikes kind of "saved Earl" a little bit - saved him from boredom, sedentary lifestyle and obesity, and - heck - just made his life better. He owns two motorcycles, they are pretty dusty these days.

Ride on Earl. Cold weather is nothing to you.

2) Cargo? Forget the car - lets just go.

I joined #vanlife in March 2020. Something about a pandemic etc etc. I sold my truck to buy the van, which left me with my only vehicle being a big white 4 wheel drive spaceship. Yeah - you can sleep in it but it is not ideal for grocery getting or picking up parcels.

My initial idea was buy a small beater car, and I set myself a budget of some $4000 CAD. But as I browsed online ads I realized that 4K really didn't buy much. Meanwhile my buddy John Fransky, an owner of Bow Cycle here in Calgary - let me know about an electric e-bike he had on sale. A Kona electric cargo bike - able to carry 80kg of weight in the back. And for less than 4K all in, including a swap to some very good european winter tires. After some thought, I jumped on it.

In retrospection it has probably been the best bike buy of my life (and I've bought a few bikes!). With the winter tires, I rarely drive my vehicle in the city now. In the picture above, I am carrying:

1) One weeks worth of groceries

2) A full bicycle build worth of components and wheels.

3) 24 "king cans" of craft beer

...and there was room for much more.

I will likely put on as many kilometres on this bike in 2021 as I will on my other bikes combined - while my vehicle sits and waits for out of town driving. Good for my health, both mental and physical, and it makes environmental sense too. Win win!

3) Frankly - e-bikes are a lot of fun.

The crux is really this: E-bikes are just plain fun. Take the freedom and intrinsic good time feelings that are wrapped up in bicycling, and pile on a whole bunch of capacity. How could that be a bad thing at all?

Further. Faster. More cargo capacity. More people on bikes. Less cars on the road. All very positive things. My buddy Sarah, pictured below, is sitting on a 35lb electric gravel bike. She is recovering from surgery right now - and an electrified ride to get her back into the saddle this Spring is looking pretty appealing.

Gravel is calling!

Heck, my dear Mother even bought one. She uses the bike to pedal up and down the steep hills in Nelson BC. It's been a game changer for her too. She is riding a bicycle at 74, in a town with extremely steep streets.

A final word

My personal feeling is that electrified bicycles don't belong in protected spaces. Provincial parks, natural areas, etc. But this is just my opinion.

As above (Moab), some locales are pretty strictly against e-bikes on nature trails and MTB single-track. I'm in this camp too - my thoughts are that they belong pretty much everywhere - just not the trails. But I softened once, ask me again in five years what I think.


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