Road Respect: Flying on e-bikes feels like the first time

Carl Sig shredding it out on Cove Wash on a Turbo Levo, Southern Utah, May 2016 | Photo by Mitch Curwen, St. George News

FEATURE — Remember the first time you rode your bike and really got it? That’s what riding an e-bike feels like: being 7 again, on your first Schwinn, and finally getting it, finally flying.

My first time riding a bike was a warm summer evening in August. I had just turned 7 and was out in the alley next to our small rental a few blocks from Newport Beach. My mom and stepdad took turns holding the seat of the sparkly blue Schwinn with white accents I’d just received for my birthday. They ran alongside me, trying to help me feel stable enough to go on my own.

And finally … I did.  And I felt like I was flying.

Specialized's Turbo Levo in its natural habitat, Cove Wash, Southern Utah | Photo by Mitch Curwen, St. George News
Specialized’s Turbo Levo in its natural habitat, Cove Wash, Southern Utah | Photo by Mitch Curwen, St. George News

Now, considering how fun e-bikes are, when I suggest e-bikes to customers at Red Rock Bicycle, I hear all kinds of excuses for not trying one, including:

  • I’m not old enough yet. (Because there is a magical age when you need that sort of “help.”)
  • It’s cheating, and I still want to pedal and get exercise. (Because you aren’t a wimp and want to make sure I know that.)
  • I’m a purist, and would never ride a mountain bike that uses electricity to help me. (Because I’m super tough and don’t need help pedaling up a hill, darn it!)
  • When I want an easy ride … (See first item above)

Yes, I’ve heard all of these excuses and more. But then the customer rides an e-bike, whether road or mountain, and things change.

With big smiles plastered on their face, we hear exclamations of joy:

  • Whoo HOO! This is fun!
  • Wow, I still have to work at this, but it’s giving me so much more power!
  • I could keep up with my roadie wife (or husband) on their regular bike! We could ride together again!
  • I can’t believe how great this is! I could maybe ride Black Rock Road to the Grand Canyon!

Suddenly they are 7 again, on that sparkly blue Schwinn. Flying.

The reality is that e-bikes are really fun, fast and fantastic. As many different people as there are, there are equally as many reasons an e-bike is a great choice for you.

One good example is of a customer I sold an e-bike to recently. She didn’t think she could ever ride a bike again because of health problems. But after a fun test-ride around downtown St. George, she bought the e-bike. She said she is so stoked to be back on a bike. Now she is able to ride with her husband and kids again, something she thought she’d lost forever.

Another typical e-bike customer is one who already rides 100-mile distances, but wants to do even longer 200-to-300-mile rides. They will often buy a travel charger to charge their bike at the hotel or campsite.

One couple that came in the store was thinking of getting back into riding after a long time off — like 30-plus years off. They weren’t sure they’d still love riding, but after a short cruise on e-bikes around downtown, they remembered how fun it is. Having the electric-assist helped them go farther, faster.

Megan Rasmussen commuting on her cargo e-bike with her two children. St. George, Utah, May 2016 | Photo by Craig Shanklin, St. George News
Megan Rasmussen commuting on her cargo e-bike with her two children, St. George, Utah, May 2016 | Photo by Craig Shanklin, St. George News

Another type of person who purchases e-bikes is the commuter. They use e-bikes so they can not only ride to work or the store without getting all sweaty and gross and needing a shower but also to cut down on costs and enjoy the health benefits of cycling.

Craig Shanklin, president of the Southern Utah Bicycling Alliance, said this about the monetary benefit of commuting by bike:

Americans spend 15 percent of their take-home pay on personal vehicles (example: car payments, gas, oil, maintenance, insurance) . . . (therefore) e-Bikes are a serious transportation option, and (could) allow a family to only have one car and several e-bikes. 

How great would it be get to work or the store with much lower cost than you expend using a car? Not to mention the added health benefits cycling brings. Yes, even with kids, as the attached photo of Megan Rasmussen shows.

A final e-bike option is the mountain bike. An electric-assist mountain bike, you ask? Yes, there is such a thing. You can take it on dirt roads, motorcycle trails, almost anywhere (except dedicated mountain-bike-only singletrack). You can go farther, faster, flying up those hills that used to give you some real agony.

So what are you waiting for? If you want to ride farther and faster and have more fun, there are many options when it comes to e-bikes, plus several places in town that sell and service them, including Red Rock Bicycle, Bicycles Unlimited and e-Spokes.

And whatever type of e-bike you are looking at, it is practically guaranteed to make you feel like the first time you really got it when riding a bike: like you’re flying.

Road Respect Utah logo, used with permission; St. George News
Road Respect Utah logo, used with permission; St. George News


St. George News Road Respect column is developed with the Southern Utah Bicycle Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy organization devoted to making cycling safe and convenient for everyone who rides a bike. Opinions stated are those of the columnist and may not be representative of St. George News.


Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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