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  Last updated: 11/4/2020

E-Bikes (Electric Assist Bikes)

This article (Over the Alps on a Bike With a Boost) caught my eye as it suggested a way to let those who aren't quite as strong (significant other, physical limitations, slowing down but still yearning to get out on that bike) enjoy the camaraderie of cycling with a partner or group.

But for regular riders there are worries about the impact of ebikes. This articlesummarizes them as well as outlining the positives health and social impact of getting more people out on a bike.

A couple things to keep in mind if you are considering an ebikes:


This is a concern I hear regularly when e-bikes come up in a discussion.

If you are talking about cardiovascular fitness, my answer is an unqualified no.With the power off (or battery out) an e-bike is just a heavy cross bike. You work thesame muscle groups and sit on the bike in a similar position.

Are you going to be able to push that extra mass of slightly less aerodynamic metalas fast as your lightweight road bike? No. Will your maximal power (wattage) outputremain at the same level (although at a lower top speed)? Yes.

So that means you can continue your personal training program (using intervals,for example, with a power meter as your measuring tool) and end up at exactlythe same level of fitness as if you had done the same wattage-directed trainingon your lightweight road bike.

E-bikes are pedal ASSIST and are not electric scooters. So if your ride with thesame level of exertion, riding an e-bike should be no more detrimental to yourfitness (assuming you continue on a regimented training program) than riding withthe boost of a tail wind or from riding in a peloton. But if you start to enjoythe ride, and back off on your level of input, then, of course, de-conditioningis the inevitable result.

I understand the resistance to e-bikes. I enjoy keeping up with my weekend group,knowing that I am doing it all on my own (without electric assist). And I know Iwould miss that sense of accomplishment on an e-bike.

But as I get older, I face the inevitable slowing that we all get to experience. If Iwant to keep the enjoyment of a group ride, I have to stay with a peer group that agesright along with me...or get an e-bike.

If you want to continue to measure yourself against your peers on a weekend ride, thenby all means take the road bike. But if this is just concern about training to themaximum possible (for your age), that training can be done just as effectively on ane-bike while commuting during the week, or riding with your spouse on weekends or vacation.

The big benefit of the e-bike revolution is that these bikes are putting more ridersout on the road, and with more regularity, as time passes. Friends whose "significant others"never wanted to ride, now tell me that with an e-bike, they (the other) is now pushing them tofind a time to ride together.

And an e-bike is just plain fun. You find yourself looking around as you spin at atan easy rate rather than focusing on how many more intervals you need to finish that day.

Finally, there is the aging factor. We all get older, and as we do, are abilities to churn outwatts of power decrease - no matter how hard we try to fight it. If you are barely hanging on withyour weekend riding group, an ebike may be the answer. You may get a few comments, butthen just point out that no one escapes father time, and their time will come.

And I will say, as one who scoffed at e-bikes for many years, fighting the trend forlonger than I might have, (I'm now 73) an e-bike is really fun to ride!!


Battery firescan be a definite hazard, especially if you buy cheap equipment or try to modify thebattery/motor yourself.





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