Riding with Power

Posted on 15 August 2017

We all know cycling is good for us. And we know bicycles are better for the planet and our climate. And then there’s the case for fewer traffic jams and congestion-free streets. ‘Just look at the Netherlands’, as my friend so enthusiastically pointed out recently after a trip in tulip-land.

But killer hills in Bondi and the East (that give those to-die-for views) tend to throw those theories to ‘la-la land’, unless you are a super fit cyclist and happy to get sweaty and puffed out.

Unless of course you own an electric bike!

You won’t be alone in choosing plug-in pedal power. With a total of 35 million sold in 2016, electric bikes are the highest selling vehicle on the global market. They are transforming the world of transport, one tyre at a time.

So what is an electric bike?

Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, look and pedal just like any other bicycle. The difference is they have a battery, a motor and a controller incorporated into their design. Just think bike with your own power booster. The battery increases your pedalling power but does not totally replace it. You still need to do some pedalling to get to the end of your trip, but it’s totally within your control.

Why get one?

Cheaper than a car, e-bikes are the perfect solution if you aren’t fit, keen to get to work or that party, without a bead on your brow and traffic frustrations. The electric assisted motor can take you long distances over steep hills and through pesky headwinds. Who can say ‘no’ to affordable, quick transport with low long-term running costs (no petrol!) which could also make you fitter?!  Plus you can reducing your carbon footprint which is an added bonus. 

So join the pack making cycling second nature.

Five things to look for when buying an electric bike

1. Motor: Unless you have special needs, front motors are preferable to rear ones. They are easier to maintain and remove if you get a puncture.

2. Throttle: Throttles are really useful if you need a hand to take off or want to take a break from pedalling. Just remember they will chew through your battery faster than just pedal-assist. Some of the better quality pedal-assisted bikes won’t require a throttle as they are more sensitive to your pedal push.

3. Tyres: If possible, get a bike with puncture-resistant tyres. They’ll save you from the headache of having to change too many flats.

4. Weight: E-bikes can weigh up to 27kg, making them heavy to push up a hill with a flat tyre.

5. Check before you buy: Watch out for shonky bikes on the market. There are really only two legal options: 1) Pedal-assist-only up to 250W and 2) others up to 200W power.

Want to know more about electric bikes and cycling?

Join Waverley Council’s Bike Week events for a bike-powered smoothie and plenty of info:

  • Sunday 17 September, 10am to 1pm - Warners Avenue, near Bondi Markets. 
  • Thursday 21 September, 5.30-7.30pm - Oxford St Mall Bondi Junction. 

As published in The Beast magazine Sept 2017

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