I got a new electric bike this week. I haven't had a bike in many years and have never had an electric one. Having poured over the available electric bike information for 30 years, I was somewhat prepared for the experience, but reality is always different. And on that note I thought I would share ten things about my new electric bike, many of which surprised me.
Yes, I realize that is more nuanced than my title (Ten surprising things about my electric bike), but if I explain everything in my title then there's nothing to write about here.
Although, fair point, if my title is insufficiently clear I have to waste valuable time explaining its nuances. This is what's happening now.
Good thing we have so much free time!
But before our list I will give a brief overview of the bike for the ebike neophytes among you.
Its brand name is Lectric XP. It cost $899 which puts it in the category of the cream of the bargain ebikes. It folds in half fairly easily, and also the handlebars fold down. It is heavy (62 lbs.) because ebikes have more stuff (motor, battery, etc.) and also have to be sturdier for the extra stresses of being more powerful. It has seven gears and can be ridden completely like a regular bike with no motor turned on or engaged or anything. It has a throttle you can twist and it powers the bike irrespective of pedaling. And then the main thing is that it has five different levels of pedal assist where, when it sees (feels? records?) your pedaling it provides a steady boost to your biking momentum.
Now for the list:
Ten Surprising Things About My Electric Bike
(see above text for nuanced explanations of title)
1. Even though I know it's coming, it's always a tiny surprise whenever the bike's electric power kicks in.
2. It's not amazingly fun. Maybe because it's Winter? But mostly it's just fun similar to riding any bike, with "riding the bike" simply being easier to do. So it's a little more fun than riding a regular bike.
3. It's exercise! There has been some good humored debate on this point in my house, and I wasn't really sure, but using the ebike normally, with a modest assist level, is an awful lot like biking on flat ground, only faster. Effortwise it's like going for a nice walk. Wait! I have the analogy: It's like being on a moving walkway at an airport. You can just stand there, get no exercise, and get to your terminal. But probably you'll walk while on it. It's exactly like regular walking, but you'll go faster than normal, or farther quicker.
4. It's not intense exercise though. The electric assist takes the edge off everything. Everything. On the flat I'm not normally going to ride a bike to where it's making me out of breath, but uphill I don't normally have that choice. On my ebike uphill is exactly like being on a flat with only the same leisurely effort required.
5. Uphill and downhill are reversed. In my lifetime of biking, going uphill has always been a bit of a dread, and going downhill has always been a relief and a joy. Now, after two rides, I find downhill is a bit of a drag because I have to slow down and manage the brakes, whereas uphill is exciting because it seems like magic.
6. It's all a little more complicated than I expected. Oh, anyone could learn to use this bike pretty quickly, but in regular biking one is simply managing the gears, but now I am also adjusting the power assist levels and even a throttle if I want, so getting everything at the level and speed I prefer, as conditions (traffic, hills, obstructions) change on the path, is almost endlessly fidgety. I do suppose my natural sense for what I want would simplify over time.
7. It's so normal! This is at once sad and delightful. Sad because there isn't like this constant "Oh my god I'm on a magical bicycle" feeling. And delightful because it's so much like biking, but faster, and easier. On the two lower assist levels it is possible to feel like I'm just biking at a reasonable pace and there is no assist at all, something easily disproved when one cuts out the assist, at which point one feels at first like one is pedaling through mud, in slow motion.
8. It attracts attention. I heard it did, but it's slightly more disconcerting than I anticipated. People smile at me. They turn their heads to look at me all the time. At first I'm like "What?" until I realize "Oh, the bike."
9. I use the throttle less than I imagined I would. I have three theories for this. One, it somehow feels like cheating and so it quickly gets to me. Two, my feet are just sitting there on the pedals with nothing to do so I might as well use them. Three, the throttle is only one speed (full) and so is kind of too fast for where I'm biking (mostly on combined paths with lower speed limits).
10. I like it. This maybe shouldn't seem surprising, but I guess I expected I would love it and it would be the most exciting amazing thing ever, or I would be disappointed and feel like it didn't work out or live up to my expectations. But the truth is, I simply like it. I think it's fun and possibly very useful, and I'm happy I bought it.