WHAT ABOUT DROP-BAR E-BIKES?
I’ve been an EBA subscriber for a year and a long-time mountain biker, but now I’m mostly a road rider. While I can still pump up 7–9-percent grades on my drop-bar Trek 1.5 road bike, I do struggle, as I have a leaky heart valve, and in a few years I won’t be able to pedal those grinds. So, I’ll be looking for some electric-power help. I don’t want to turn the bike into a moped; I just need a bit of help on the hills but still be able to pedal it without a lot of help from the motor. I find my road bike comfortable, as my hands/wrists like the hoods better than the flat handlebar of a hybrid.
At some point I’d like to see about adding a power-assist kit onto it. I’m an electronic designer, so it should be something I can handle, and I’m comfortable around mechanical things. Having said that, I’d love to see the big manufacturers put out a line of drop-bar electric road bikes. At some point a lot of riders will get too old to grind the hills and like riding an e-bike. But, many love their road bikes, so they won’t go for a hybrid-style bike.
As far as electric mountain bikes go, I’m a former motocross rider who would love to power up my 2011 Specialized Stumpjumper, and I’d do it tomorrow! But, they have no future here in most of New England. It’s been a nightmare trying to get trails for the pedal versions, and even worse, the pedal guys in my state are going to drive out any e-bike riders, so I don’t think they will grow here, except for guys on private land. Right now they are banned everywhere except on fire roads in my state of Connecticut.
Great mag; thanks! Jim
Jim, you’re in luck, because in our December issue you’ll find a feature story on a variety of drop-bar e-bikes that just might be calling your name. As for those trying to keep e-bikes at bay, remember when snowboards were initially banned on ski slopes? The old guard thought they were a fad brought in by a bunch of hooligans. Eventually, one resort let them in, and others followed, and a massive number of new enthusiasts came in and supported the resorts and the entire industry.
Something similar is now happening in the bicycle world. The old guard here may be relatively young, but they’re set in their ways and fear change. In the past year we’ve seen absolute animosity on trails turn into curiosity as more and more e-bikes come out and more people ride them. It’s the fastest-growing part of the bicycle world, and electric bikes are here to stay. Give it time. If this country is anything like Europe (everyone compares us to where Europe was five years ago), within a few years it will all change.
We have been getting EBA for over a year, and your last editorial resonated with us. Our company, Suru Cycles, is manufacturing our first production e-bikes up here in Canada, and the whole fragmentation of U.S. state e-bike law has really been frustrating for us.
Obviously, we want to sell our bikes in America and pride ourselves on being a locally made, high-quality item that is fully con- formal to federal laws. I don’t know what it is like in your state, but in Canada’s large cities, most no-name or discount e-bikes are clearly in violation of the speed regulations and give all e-bikes a bad reputation. Speaking with Canadian police, they are frustrated by the murky waters surrounding what is legally a “bicycle” when many clearly can exceed 20 mph and weigh more than five times that of a loaded commuter bicycle.
Suru and I personally agree with you that the Class 2 designation seems to have more to do with a traditional definition of “motor- bike” than it does to any practical regulation. Our bike is throttle only, because our company background was high-performance electric superbikes. Should that matter if it is compli- ant? We don’t think so, but can already see the law-enforcement challenge we face given that it looks quite moped-ish and operates using a throttle. We spent a lot of time in the design stage trying to strike a visual balance between a motorcycle and a bicycle to make it friendly and unintimidating but still cool and robust. I am sure many other brands (like Vintage Electric) find themselves in the same pickle.
Thanks for the great magazine and for raising difficult issues. The community is richer for it.
President & Co-founder
There is a place for every type of vehicle, even if some are made for private land use only. Just like some vehicles are only good for OHV areas or track days at racing tracks, there are enthusiasts and enthusiast vehi- cles of all stripes.
It seems yours is a cool-looking bike and compliant with the current laws. I think laws will have to evolve as the bikes evolve to what the people ultimately want to do with them. Part of that is outreach to legislators and law enforcement, and working with them to bring us all into a place where we can all live together in harmony.
WHEN NOT TO RETROFIT
I am interested in an e-bike kit. My bike is a Yeti SB6C. Please recommend the best kits you can install on the Yeti, and please provide information about the e-bike kit.
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