Last week I took the next step towards buying an e-bike, I went for a trial ride with Ponsonby News editor Martin Leach, photographer George and my wife Cait.
When I’d said to Emilio that it seemed very complicated - gears, peddle power, throttle power - he told us it was a bit like explaining to someone how to drive a car. It sounds very complicated but in reality it’s pretty easy.
This little story proved to be true. I had no problems. I kept the bike in the fourth gear, the power I set at two but was able to reduce to one or off, when I was slowing down or stopping.
The throttle impressed me greatly. If you are stationary, say at traffic lights, and the start off is a bit uphill, just twist the hand throttle slightly and off you go. Twist it too much and you will surge ahead.
I tried the 'Sprint', a good, but not luxury, bike made in China. They retail for about $4000. A customer in the shop while we were there had a good give away line. She said “e-bikes cost about as much as a very bad old car.” That price can vary a lot, but Maurice told us $3500 to $4000 will buy a very good e-bike.
They have a 10-year guarantee on the frame, and two years on everything else. Annual servicing usually costs about $100, while running costs are about another $100 a year. About 40 cents for 100km is the cost estimate to run them. Every potential purchaser is encouraged to trial several bikes to find the one that suits them best.
It’s okay to ride in teaming rain: the electrics won’t be affected, but it is recommended that bikes be kept undercover at night. It’s also wise to have them well locked - many are being stolen.
The range of accessories available is interesting. Pannier bags hung over the back can carry a lot of groceries. Maurice can get a weekly shop on his bike. There are a variety of baskets and children’s seats. They have mudguards and chain guards and a kick stand.
Tubeless tyres are popular, especially for mountain or trail riding. They can be kept a bit softer than fully inflated tubed tyres.
There is no doubt that e-bikes make our rather hilly city, flat, which is a boon for those of us who are a bit older or those who don’t want to arrive at their destination hot and sweaty. These bikes give the rider options - go hard and peddle, get as fit as you can - or crank up the power and get an easy ride.
Always have somewhere easy to park, dress appropriately, and more than anything else I have heard from e-bike converts, have fun.
I still felt uncomfortable on roads with no designated cycleway, and would be happy to see more dedicated cycleways built, but would remind the powers that be, including our Waitemata Local Board, that cars are still legal and local small businesses need to able to be accessed by customers easily, or punters will just head off to the malls, and our local communities will die.
My advice, go try one, you may just love it. I certainly did. We’ll now address the question of safe storage of the bikes at home. But my car is not for sale yet.
Thanks Maurice and Emilio, you run a good show and have a good way with customers. After all, Cait did eventually come back on her bike! (JOHN ELLIOTT)
ELECTRIC BIKE HUB, 29 East Street, T: 368 5899, www.ebh.co.nz