The Island Bay cycleway inspired guest blogger Chris to sell the family's second car and buy an eBike instead!
Electric bike riding - best thing since the wheel was invented.
Recently I bought an Ebike to commute to work and it has been even better than expected. I love it and have spent most of my small talk time talking it up to the mostly skeptical. It is a surprisingly hard sell for something so awesome.
Non cyclists are often fearful of the Wellington weather, cycling conditions on the roads and the hard, sweaty work involved in cycling in Wellington and don’t understand that this can change.
Cyclists often argue that electric bikes seem a bit like cheating. They are generally a pretty hard core crowd who have worked hard to overcome the aforementioned barriers to live a wholesome cycling lifestyle (and it does seem to be a lifestyle) and having a motor to help is anathema to this.
For many years I’ve tried to convert to cycle commuting but there have always been some of the above barriers holding me back. I have wanted to do it for many reasons. Firstly, it was for environmental reasons - to reduce petrol consumption and live greener. After becoming a dad it became important to consider environmental sustainability in my life and reducing petrol consumption by cycle commuting seemed a great area to attack.
Then there was the health aspect. I had years of deconditioning as I developed my career from my mid 20s until my late 30s. I then realised that I couldn’t take my body for granted. I started running and realised how unfit I had become and that ongoing work would be required. Running to work seemed too slow, sweaty and bad for both my laptop and my lunch as they shook around. Cycling had the potential to be smoother, quicker and less sweaty. The ability to get daily sunlight (when the sun shines) and fresh air were additive health benefits of active commuting over other options.
It also seemed that cycling would be cheaper and more convenient than both driving or catching the bus. No car parks or relying on bus timetables required.
When the Island Bay cycleway opened, I decided that this was another opportunity to reconsider cycle commuting. There was such a fierce backlash against this important positive development that it strengthened my resolve to regularly use it.
When the Island Bay cycleway opened, I decided that this was another opportunity to reconsider cycle commuting. I felt that I should just get over my barriers. One of my excuses was feeling unsafe on the roads and I thought that would only improve by supporting cycling infrastructure. There was such a fierce backlash against this important positive development that it strengthened my resolve to regularly use it.
However, when I tried cycling to work, it really was a hassle turning up sweaty each morning and needing a shower and a change of clothes before starting work. The positive aspects outweighed this in general but it was certainly an annoyance and on my more time pressured, or weaker days, I took the easy way out and drove to work - feeling like I had let myself (and the kids and the planet) down.
Then along came electric bikes. I thought about the barriers - the hills, headwinds and sweat and decided that this could be my solution. I tried several out, bought a fabulous Moustache Friday 27 from Bicycle Junction and have not looked back.
Riding it is way better than I expected.
It still rides like a bike, but with a motor which adds power at 5 adjustable levels up to 275% assistance. As a result, headwinds and hills are totally taken out of play and the interface is so smooth that it feels like I’m cycling around on steroids. Due to NZ regulations, the motor cuts out at about 25kph and is power limited to 250 Watts to ensure relatively safe speeds. An unexpected benefit is that I feel safer now because the bike has me at a more consistent speed (usually between 20-30kph). This is closer to the speed of traffic so cars don’t whizz past so quickly on the up hills. The battery requires charging after about 45km of maximum power cycling. This takes 3.5hrs and apparently it still holds 60% residual capacity after 30,000km of riding.
I love riding my Moustache Friday 27 so much that I have sold our second car, bought waterproof panniers, trousers and a good raincoat, and am riding it around rain or shine.
This is a paradigm shifting technology and if you haven’t tried one, I strongly suggest you go out and give one a go. I love riding my Moustache Friday 27 so much that I have sold our second car, bought waterproof panniers, trousers and a good raincoat, and am riding it around rain or shine. I look forward to excuses to get out on it including looking forward to my daily commute now.
To those that question whether it is cheating, I now point out that electric bikes are only cheating compared to cycling if you think that cycling is cheating compared to walking, or any other technological advantages utilised are cheating. Electric biking is just on the continuum of options between crawling and using jet packs to get around.
The way I see it, electric bikes open up cycling to a much larger target audience and that can only be good for cyclists, motorists and the environment. Give one a go - you won’t regret it.