One of the fun things about working for an e-bike magazine these past few years has been witnessing and being part of the massive change and evolution that’s been happening in the sport and industry lately. Just look at all the major bike manufacturers who’ve jumped on board and are driving the innovation with improved products. These days, e-bikes are all getting lighter and going further on a single charge. I mean, less weight and more range; who can argue with that?
In the early days, there were quite a few bolt-on e-bike conversion solutions, like the first one I rode—a Mongoose hardtail mountain bike with a BionX 500-watt direct-drive rear hub. Its back end was heavy, but it provided a serious amount of power for climbing. And, because it was a direct drive, it provided helpful regeneration, which was really cool on long descents, because I’d rarely ever have to use my brakes. It was a good system, but not enough people bought into it, and eventually, the company went bankrupt.
FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS
Superpedestrian made this cool, simple, bolt-on solution called the Copenhagen Wheel that was really elegant. It was a bright-red rear hub laced into whatever size rim you ordered. You bolted it on like a normal rear wheel, and as you pedaled, it added power. It was a really good system, though not cheap; however, the company has moved on to making fleets of e-scooters for scooter-share companies. I was very happy to see on their website that they’re still providing customer service to customers who still own a Copenhagen Wheel.
Another company, called GeoOrbital, made this goofy-yet-space-age-looking front-wheel solution that had the battery and motor that stayed stationary while the rim and solid rubber tire rotated around it. You could feel every gum wrapper you rode over. I have a neighbor who bought one and loved it, but I never said a disparaging word about it directly to him.
I’ve ridden so many different electric bicycles, motorcycles and scooters in the last two decades that I have more than enough opinions that could easily pass on. However, I usually keep those opinions to myself in conversation, because if someone buys an e-bike that they love, I would never want them to feel anything but those true, pure feelings of attraction. Because, remember, the best e-bike out there is the one you truly enjoy riding.
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