You may have heard about Electric bikes, you might have even seen one. We wanted to ride an electric bike to decide if we should buy or hire.
Jonny from FourB took us out on his new electric mountain bikes fresh off the boat. Below are the personal stories of Clement and Letitia, who are quite different riders, about their experience riding them on the same trail on the same day. Was their experience the same?
Clement’s experience riding an e-bike:
Having never ridden an eBike, yet been a cyclist for 20+ years, the idea of getting on a powered bike which wasn’t a motorbike didn’t really do much for me. Recently though, the opportunity arose to take a 500wh Bosch powered Scott E-Scale Electric Bike for a ride down the Huka Falls Trail, I couldn’t say no.
Putting all my reservations aside (or at least trying too), I hopped on my new noble steed for the short 12km ride and instantly had a grin on my face as big as the Huka Falls. As the electric pedal assist motor kicked into gear on my very first pedal strokes it gives you a punch of much greater acceleration, taking some getting used to but making the smile broader.
On this particular model of eBike the motor only powers additional ‘aid’ through the drive of the bicycle when the rider actually pedals, therefore without pedalling yourself there is no power output from the motor and you don’t go anywhere at all. You still need to exert energy and effectively pedal the bike so without some energy input or desire to want to ride you still won’t go anywhere. However, the faster you pedal the faster the motor helps you go.
Already I had learnt something: these bikes are just a dressed down motorbike but they are much more a bicycle than a powered vehicle. Time to hit the trails!
Image: Motor unit around the crank and the battery integrated in to the frame.
After riding down the road with the power turned up I was amazed at how easily and quickly you could ride down the street. I learnt that you cannot ride on single track trails with the power up on full – the extra burst that is delivered through the drive of the motor on top of the pedal stroke leads to unaccustomed higher speeds. While on the higher power settings swerving around trees wasn’t easy.
Image: Power controller on the handlebars
I settled into a more suitable pace with the battery assistance on the lowest setting but this alone had me going much faster than usual with a lot less effort required. In fact our guide for the day (Jonny, from FourB in Taupo) was, pedaling his heart out on a short travel cross country bike and even though he’s a fit man he was puffing when we came to a stop. However, on the eBike I arrived with hardly an elevated heart rate having ridden right alongside him at the same speed. I was impressed.
On the return I played with a few more settings and tried to figure a way to see if the motor would power you with less pedaling or not at all, but these things are smart. Yes if you turn up the power you get more drive with the same amount of pedaling, but you must watch your battery consumption and how far you have to get home as you don’t want to run out!
The appeal of these bikes is massive: the light motor aid might make the different getting someone outside, to ride a little further from home, a faster commute, or possibly take the edge off carrying a heavier load. The range, power and efficiency that these new eBikes bring is phenomenal.
Now with an actual test ride under my belt my point of view is quite different. Those stigmas and negative connotations of eBikes being dirty and noisy in the forest are gone and in its place is a regard for the awesomeness of this new technology and how this will enable more people to experience more of the outdoors, go faster, or get fitter.
Verdict: Go further and faster with an eBike. I’ll definitely ride one again.
Letitia’s experience riding an electric bike:
It wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t even know what an E-bike was and I certainly wouldn’t have ridden one as one of my friends said to me today “that would be cheating”.
I was lucky enough to be invited on a ride with FourB to have a look at the Huka Falls Loop Track riding one of his hard tail electric mountain bikes. I love biking but I’m not very experienced or fit so I was trying not to think too much about how I’d cope when I nervously took up the offer!
Two days after the ride I am still buzzing and excited about my experience that I had on this “e-bike”. I so wish it was “my bike”! It was fantastic, not only was I able to keep up with some very fit and experienced riders but I was actually able to enjoy myself without puffing and blowing up every single little rise!!
I may have embarrassed myself with my exclamations of pure joy experienced every time the battery kicked in to give me a little helping hand! What would once have been daunting hills, turned into enjoyable fun paths to ride up! Where once I would have missed seeing what was around me as I had my head down concentrating and puffing I was now able to look around and take in the sights!
While riding I was thinking “I have to get my mum and dad on one of these” as it means they can experience adventures in New Zealand that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to do!
If you have doubts or have never tried an e- bike, I recommend you rent one! Maybe if I wanted to get fitter I’d consider what I now think of as a “plain bike”, however, to really enjoy some of the rides that New Zealand has to offer I am definitely going to rent an e-bike, oh what fun I will have!!
Verdict: Going uphill is now enjoyable! There are so many NZ Cycle Trails I’m now keen to try.
Good to know:
- Ride the Huka Falls Bike track nearby Taupo. It’s a great track for families with older children, just a 12km loop. Find businesses to hire electric bikes from.
Image: Huka Falls