Richard Rooney is The Courier’s online editor and commutes to work by bike every day. Here’s how he got on trying switching to an e-bike.
I was not at all sure I wanted to take this e-bike test. To be clear, this is not because I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it. My fear was that I would enjoy it too much.
As a daily cycle commuter, my trip to and from work is my main (OK, only) source of exercise. Cycling the eight miles each way in all weathers is also a great way to work off any stresses and clear my mind.
However, I’m also terrified of giving into my inherently lazy nature and so I’d put off trying an e-bike for years, worried that one use would see me throwing away my normal bike and taking it easy by going electric.
And from the very first pedal stroke on my test machine, I felt sure those fears would prove to be well founded.
The bike had a very different setup to what I’m used to, but pushing off and feeling the battery kick in and drive me forward was truly exhilarating.
Electric Bikes Scotland describes e-bikes as putting the fun back into cycling and, although I have some issues with that view – since I think all cycling is fun – I could see what they mean.
Every effort I put in was multiplied by the motor below and I suddenly felt super-human. It’s definitely the most memorable new cycling experience I’ve had since learning to ride a bike as a child.
When I think of e-bikes I imagine sophisticated European types meandering along tree-lined avenues below brilliant blue skies and with a gentle breeze flowing through their hair. My experience was very different – and not just because I’m as bald as a well-used tyre.
As is my luck, I’d chosen the Beast from the East week for my trial. Since I try to cycle in all weather anyway, I was still keen to see how the e-bike would cope with the conditions and it turned out to be a real blessing to have some extra power on board.
Cycling in snow is actually a lot easier and safer than most people might think, but the real issue that week should have been the ferocious wind that accompanied the white stuff.
On my normal bike I’d have been pretty miserable trying to make any progress against the howling gales. But on an e-bike the wind suddenly stops being an issue.
All I needed to worry about was dressing up well enough to stay warm. With no more than a gentle effort on my part, the e-bike powered me on without any problems.
— Richard Rooney (@C_RRooney) February 27, 2018
I was, I must confess, falling in love with e-bikes. And it seems I’m not alone.
Since I was using one I was much more tuned into to noticing them elsewhere and it was great to see how many older people have already made the switch and are enjoying being back out in the fresh air and enjoying a spin of the pedals.
And if the number of questions and enquiries from friends and colleagues is anything to go by, more and more younger people are also becoming interested in e-bikes as a practical way of getting around our increasingly busy towns and cities.
For me, I’m going to try to resist the lure of electric for as long as I can. After handing back my test e-bike, getting back on my trusty hybrid felt like stepping back in time, and I was absolutely convinced the rear brake was stuck on the rim.
So although the temptation to go electric is huge, I need the exercise a normal bike gives me and I’ll keep battling away under my own steam for a few more years yet.
However, the e-bike was an absolute joy to ride and I’ll have no hesitation switching to one when my knees finally tell me it’s time.