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Crossing to the dark side

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

Recently, Adam (T) and I committed the cardinal sin of the biking world, we bought ebikes! Long has it been known in the biking world that those without ebikes are known to cast the occasional sideways glance at those with, all whilst vowing never to cross to the dark side and give up riding a regular bike. You know the scene – you're huffing and puffing your way up a monstrous hill, sweat pouring, and then, out of nowhere, an e-biker zooms by, grinning like they're on a leisurely stroll. Meanwhile, you're left questioning your stubbornness and sanity. But as a recent convert and as a previous skeptic, I'm going to debunk a few of the long-standing bike myths: "I'm not old enough for an e-bike," "If I get an e-bike, I won't get as much exercise," and "E-bikes are too heavy." I think the perception that e-bikes are exclusively for older individuals is gradually fading and more people come to recognize that ebikes are chosen for the enriching experience they offer, rather than solely as a mobility aid. In our case, it was a deliberate choice to extend our explorations, conquer more challenging terrain, and bring our retired trail dog back out on the trails with us, who at 30kg's was too much of a lug to tow behind a regular bike! Although, due to a mishap on his first ride we are back at square one with getting him in the trailer. Having an e-bike as one of my go-to rides has allowed me to shake off the constant burden of anxiety that used to haunt me before and during my cycling adventures. Dealing with multiple spine injuries, the fear of enduring pain and discomfort on the bike, especially when facing uphill challenges or relentless headwinds that slowed me down to a crawl, was always in the back of my mind. But now, I can simply choose the perfect bike for the day. Thanks to this, my pre-ride anxieties have lightened because I know that when the going gets tough, I have a bike that's got my back, reducing the risk of being stuck in discomfort for extended periods. As for Adam, it was a similar story – the opportunity to relish his rides even with the arthritis that has been a constant companion since his wild skateboarding youth. What's intriguing is that both of us often catch ourselves saying that we should've hopped on this bandwagon a lot earlier.

Ironically, every ride we have done on the ebikes so far has been 2-4 times longer than what we would have done on our regular bikes, they often have 3-4 times the amount of climbing, and we have also ridden twice as often, so we are actually getting more exercise than previously! There are plenty of times when I have opted for a power setting lower to grind up a hill and feel the burn, knowing if I burn myself out the bike is my backup! The biggest hurdle we went back and forth on was the weight factor, we knew the budget wasn't going to extend to the $26k ultralight options and instead we would be looking at the the more humble but markedly 25kg offerings. Surprisingly, there have been few instances where the added weight has been a noticeable drawback, particularly when cruising on gravel or pavement. Admittedly, they may not match the nimbleness of traditional mountain bikes, but they make up for it in various other ways, a compromise we've come to appreciate. I will still also reserve the right to strongly disagree with the internal cable routing that is running through the headset at such acute angles that installing a dropper post has the cable running at constant right angles! But for now, for me at least, it's a newfound sense of freedom, no longer fearing daunting uphill climbs or trailing behind as the smallest and weakest rider in the group. Now, I can keep pace with a grin on my face, eagerly looking forward to the next ride, without hesitation.

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