Exploring Electric Bicycles

*You should know that I received no compensation from either the Pedego company or the area retailer for writing this article.  We paid for our rentals and tested the ride before I mentioned to the owner that I would be writing a blog article.

Hello and Happy June!

The goal of my blog has always been to direct people (especially those in the older sector) to new ways of seeing the world around them and hopefully bringing increased joy to their lives in the process.  Incorporated in this endeavor is refocusing our eyes on God.  I have found just in being the bearer of these ideas that my life has been enhanced and I think I’ve experienced a fresh appreciation for my life.  I hope my goal has been realized, at least in some part, for you too.

Sometimes my search for ideas to write about has led me to try new things.  This past week has had just that experience.  Over the winter, I heard about electric bicycles.  Actually, I believe my sister was the first one to tell me about them, but I had largely forgotten them until something prompted me to do a little research online.  Maybe it was the cold weather and my longing for springtime and the start up of bicycle season that initiated this search.  I ended up contacting the Pedego company and was sent a brochure.  The first thing that caught my eye were the vibrant colors.  The pages sported bicycles in bright greens, pinks, yellows, and oranges – to name a few.  There were quite a few style options, in fact, so many that I found myself getting confused.  I figured the best way to find out about them was to test ride one.  I was delighted when I found out that there was a dealership in Michigan that also rented out their bikes.

My husband and I drove about an hour to the nearest Pedego retailer.  There we met Greg, the owner, who selected a couple of bicycles for us to take for a ride.  I had a pink Comfort Cruiser and my husband had a blue Interceptor model.  Greg patiently explained how to use each feature of the bicycles and nicely supplied us with a couple of jackets to borrow for the ride.  I’m so glad he did because it was much chillier in that area than at our house and I’m pretty sure I would have been miserable.

Once we were out on the route Greg recommended, we got a chance to check out the differences in the two bikes.  The biggest difference between them were the kind of electric power they provided.  My Comfort Cruiser had a throttle.  This means that I had the choice between pedaling like normal or using the handle bar throttle.  With the throttle, I just needed to give it a twist of the wrist to supply either a burst or a sustained amount of energy.  I tended to use this feature when I went up a hill, crossed an intersection, or started up from a stop.  My husband’s Interceptor also had a throttle, but additionally it had pedal assist.  When he selected pedal assist, he could pedal normally, but the bicycle would add power to his pedal automatically.  With pedal assist, he could get some exercise and yet have the convenience of being able to go farther.

We had a lot of fun.  When the bicycle path was straight with no pedestrians, we tested out the speed of this new found power.  My husband’s bike was equipped with a digital display of the mph and he could get up to 20 mph with the pedal assist and 23 mph with the throttle.  I can’t imagine really needing to go that fast, unless I was being chased by a dog.

My husband commented that with both of his power features, he felt he could ride endlessly.  Of course, eventually a battery will discharge.  According to the Pedego brochure, there are many variables about how long the battery power will last.  The range is between 15-60 miles.  When I asked, Greg told me that the charge time for a completely discharged battery is between 4 and 6 hours, depending on the type of battery the bicycle uses.

So, why would anyone get an electric bicycle?  We love bicycling on the trails around our house, but we are quite limited by how far I can go.  We generally go 12-16 miles round trip.  The trouble is, I often misjudge my abilities.  I am notorious for thinking I can go a little further, and then a little more.  When I finally start to feel the effects of the distance, I still have to ride back to our starting point.  I well remember one bike trip when the beauty of the area enticed me further than my flimsy muscles were used to.  We ended up riding a total of 30 miles!  The last five were grueling, with my knees crying out with every turn of the pedal.  I really started to think I’d have to just wait on the side of the path until my husband could reach the car and then drive back for me.  Obviously this decision would have left both of us on our own for a period of time .  Not the safest situation.

Having an electric bike would save me some dignity.  There is a trail in a park near our house that I really enjoy.  It goes through the woods and we regularly see wildlife (deer and even snakes).  I should qualify the statement that I “enjoy” this trail because I do enjoy all but the last hill.  This hill seems never-ending.  Even worse, it is right along the main road that runs through the park.  I always wonder if someone will unroll their car window and yell some encouragement at me.  It is humiliating to have to get off and walk my bicycle, but I’ve had to do it.  This one hill makes me think twice about riding the trail.

Although I am still able-bodied (just weak on resolve to do regular exercise), there may come a day when I have arthritis or some other malady that keeps me from being able to pedal a bicycle.  I truly love bicycling because it allows me to see more of nature than I can see walking and yet be closer to it than I can driving in a car.  I believe I would feel a loss if the time came when I could no longer do this activity.  Having a throttle and/or pedal assist on my bicycle would enable me to continue to do an activity that has been so enjoyable.

If you’d like to get more information about Pedego bicycles, you could visit www.pedego.com.  You can also check out locations of the nearest retailers and see if you can rent one of these bikes.  I’m sure you’ll find the experience as fun as we did.

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