An electric can be just what the doctor ordered

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Man with e-mountain bike in Brussels

©fBarry Sandland/TIMB – There can be many reasons for an e-bike ride

“I have a problem with my hip so  I bought an electric bike. My doctor tells me riding a bike is good for me, but after an hour, the hip really hurts. So the electric bike helps me get home.”

Photographer’s notes: When electric bikes first appeared, I was one of the pedalling masses who scoffed at their presence. I would joke that I would never get an electric bike, save when I turn 80 – and even then I would resent its presence.

But over the past few years, I have seen more and more e-models and spoken to more and more of the owners. People who live over 20 kilometres from work and use the assistance to cover the distance in a timely manner. Or the retired who do not have the legs from the past to help them with their future. Cargo bikes portaging children and food and packages and more every day. The weight alone needs the occasional boost. And, of course, the people who have a slight physical condition that prevents riding on your own power alone.  The electric bikes are far more helpful than I would have given credit five years ago.

I still giggle at the range of e-bikes. At a recent bike show, fat tire bikes, mountain bikes and the like, all so people can enjoy the forest trails and ride something more in fashion with the situation.

In the coming years, given the success to date, we will see a wider range of e-versions of just about every bike on the road. Batteries will be lighter and more efficient.

If I were to beggar one limitation, it would have to be speed. If you power yourself, then please feel free to exert yourself as you wish. If you need assistance, then I cannot see why your e-bike should ever exceed 40kmph. Frankly, as a cyclist who has some appreciation of the effort that goes into speed, being able to hit and maintain 40km per hour is a treat. I see little reason why e-advantaged cyclists should be riding faster. The e-bikes that want to go faster are mopeds and motorbikes and should be classed as such.

And anyway, when I am busting my gut, striking out for two or three kilometres at 40 kmph, I do not want some retiree with a damaged hip on a fully loaded cargo bike shoot past me.

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