After asking me where I rode and what type of riding I did the associate gave me all sorts of stats and specs about the electric bikes, most of which went in one ear and out of the other. However, I did learn that:
- There are electric bikes designed for commuters, trail riders and dirt bike riders.
- The bikes in the store were regular bicycles that included pedal-assist, which meant that when you need assistance a small motor engages and gives you a boost.
- Most bikes offer three levels of assistance. Their battery range is 20-60 miles, depending on the power mode and terrain. Not surprisingly, the more you pedal the farther you can go (because pedaling conserves the battery).
- Recharging the bike is easy and takes three to five hours. You just take the battery off the bike and plug it into a standard wall outlet.
Once I was outside I turned on the battery and started peddling. The battery and motor made the bike significantly heavier than the one I already have, but it was still easy to maneuver. In my short ride the bike was very comfortable, with a nice wide seat and upright handlebars that had me sitting up straight. I stayed in Eco, the lowest level of assistance. The electric motor made a light humming sound as I rode. I could feel the motor helping me along, and could go much faster than I usually do. When I looked down at the speedometer it told me I was going 16 miles per hour!
I went to the end of the strip mall, then turned around and came back the same way. The whole thing took less than five minutes and I was a little disappointed I couldn't ride for a longer time. After I turned in my helmet I got to pick my prize from a stack of cards in a small box box. I scratched off the center section and learned that I have $20 credit to spend in the store, which will be good for a small accessory.
As you might expect, electric bikes cost substantially more than conventional ones. I would have to save my pennies for a long time to be able to afford one. It sure was fun, though.