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  Last updated: 11/4/2020

E-Bikes (Electric Assist Bikes)

This article (Over the Alps on a Bike With a Boost) caught my eye as it suggested a way to let those who aren't quite as strong (significant other, physical limitations, slowing down but still yearning to get out on that bike) enjoy the camaraderie of cycling with a partner or group.

But for regular riders there are worries about the impact of ebikes. This article summarizes them as well as outlining the positives health and social impact of getting more people out on a bike.

A couple things to keep in mind if you are considering an ebikes:


This is a concern I hear regularly when e-bikes come up in a discussion.

If you are talking about cardiovascular fitness, my answer is an unqualified no. With the power off (or battery out) an e-bike is just a heavy cross bike. You work the same muscle groups and sit on the bike in a similar position.

Are you going to be able to push that extra mass of slightly less aerodynamic metal as fast as your lightweight road bike? No. Will your maximal power (wattage) output remain at the same level (although at a lower top speed)? Yes.

So that means you can continue your personal training program (using intervals, for example, with a power meter as your measuring tool) and end up at exactly the same level of fitness as if you had done the same wattage-directed training on your lightweight road bike.

E-bikes are pedal ASSIST and are not electric scooters. So if your ride with the same level of exertion, riding an e-bike should be no more detrimental to your fitness (assuming you continue on a regimented training program) than riding with the boost of a tail wind or from riding in a peloton. But if you start to enjoy the ride, and back off on your level of input, then, of course, de-conditioning is the inevitable result.

I understand the resistance to e-bikes. I enjoy keeping up with my weekend group, knowing that I am doing it all on my own (without electric assist). And I know I would miss that sense of accomplishment on an e-bike.

But as I get older, I face the inevitable slowing that we all get to experience. If I want to keep the enjoyment of a group ride, I have to stay with a peer group that ages right along with me...or get an e-bike.

If you want to continue to measure yourself against your peers on a weekend ride, then by all means take the road bike. But if this is just concern about training to the maximum possible (for your age), that training can be done just as effectively on an e-bike while commuting during the week, or riding with your spouse on weekends or vacation.

The big benefit of the e-bike revolution is that these bikes are putting more riders out on the road, and with more regularity, as time passes. Friends whose "significant others" never wanted to ride, now tell me that with an e-bike, they (the other) is now pushing them to find a time to ride together.

And an e-bike is just plain fun. You find yourself looking around as you spin at at an easy rate rather than focusing on how many more intervals you need to finish that day.

Finally, there is the aging factor. We all get older, and as we do, are abilities to churn out watts of power decrease - no matter how hard we try to fight it. If you are barely hanging on with your weekend riding group, an ebike may be the answer. You may get a few comments, but then just point out that no one escapes father time, and their time will come.

And I will say, as one who scoffed at e-bikes for many years, fighting the trend for longer than I might have, (I'm now 73) an e-bike is really fun to ride!!


Battery fires can be a definite hazard, especially if you buy cheap equipment or try to modify the battery/motor yourself.





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