If I am a really strong cyclist, do I need an electric bike?

by Guest on December 21, 2010

“If I am a really strong cyclist, do I need an electric bike?” I heard this question the other day, and it got me thinking.

Average Joe on his BionX bike

There are many times when I DON’T need my electric bike – such as when I’m cycling on pretty flat terrain with a very light weight. But when I’m cycling uphill to work, carrying my laptop and my clothes – that’s a whole different story ...

I first got into electric bikes because a health problem prevented me from riding a regular bike. Within a couple of years, riding my electric bike made me fit and completely healthy again. It also made me strong.

The other day I realized just how strong I have become. I needed to cycle on a route with some very steep hills, so I had chosen my electric bike. Suddenly my BionX motor simply died on me. (I later found out that I had accidentally loosened the cables on my BionX, but that’s another story.) So there I was, with two steep hills ahead of me, and a dead engine. I was worried, because an electric bike is much heavier than a regular bike.

As I approached the first hill, I remembered it well. I last rode up it a decade ago. Even on a regular bike, I had hardly been able to get up that hill. Now I’m ten years older, so I thought I had no hope of getting up on my heavier electric bike! But as my wife Maggie was with me, I wasn’t about to give up easily. I decided to go as far as I could. Imagine my surprise when I cycled all the way up on my electric bike, and could still talk when I got to the top! What made it even better was Maggie saying: “Oh my gosh, I had no idea you were so strong!”

So yes, I am a strong cyclist now – but I still need my electric bike. For one thing, my work commute involves a HUGE hill, and there is no way I am prepared to slog up that every day – my BionX PL350 makes it easy. For another thing, with my electric bike commute, although I am getting fit, I don’t arrive at work dripping with sweat.

Another reason to keep my electric bike was covered in my previous post – it enables me to haul a lot of luggage on a vacation trip, and still get up hills pretty easily. Strong as I am, I am not about to kill myself on vacation – I want it to be mildly challenging, and mostly fun!

But the most important reason for strong cyclists to have an electric bike is that it ensures you cycle a lot. I know this from the research I read before I bought the electric bike, and from my own personal experience. For example, thanks to my electric bike, I commute by bike all year round. Plus, if a buddy calls me for a coffee at the top of a steep hill, I don’t think twice about hopping on my electric bike to get there. If I only had a regular bike, I’d probably take a rain check on the coffee – and not get any exercise at all.

My electric bike has made it possible for me to live car-free, and for most people, that is just not possible on a regular bike. So despite the fact that I am a strong cyclist and often have a lot of fun on my regular bike, I do need my electric bike.

By guest blogger Average Joe Cyclist

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