By Tony Donaldson [email protected]
I had the unusual pleasure of meeting William Shatner recently. I grew up watching “Star Trek,” then seeing him in other shows, from “T.J. Hooker” to “Boston Legal,” not to mention the long-time spokesperson for Priceline.com.
He was the surprise guest at the annual Pedego dealer meeting. I was invited, and I knew about it in advance and was on pins and needles. He has recently been working as a spokesperson for them, and he’s been very open about the fact that he did it in exchange for providing e-bikes to his family.
Sitting down to talk to him before lunch, I found myself amazed that I was hearing his voice in person. Despite his tremendous fame and celebrity, he’s a very warm, welcoming and affable man. He’s definitely the life of the party wherever he goes, but not in an obnoxious way. He’s very passionate about a few things in his life. He’s a famous horseman, receiving the National Reining Horse Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award last year.
As we ate lunch, he waxed poetic about his horses, but also about his love of e-bikes. He lives in North Hollywood and walked into a bike shop there and tried an e-bike and immediately fell in love. It occurred to him that he could get his entire family onto electric bikes, and they could all ride together. The adults, the kids and the grandkids, all with separate energy levels, could spend time together on bikes. He says it has brought a tightly knit family together even more.
They ride together every weekend, and that speaks volumes about what e-bikes can do for families. Sarah Bott, an e-bike tour guide in Portland, told me how many couples have had their relationships improved because they got e-bikes and started riding together. It truly doesn’t matter if there are differences in age, strength, ability or anything else, electric bikes are the great equalizer.
I recently reinjured an old injury and wasn’t able to ride for a few weeks. In fact, I was on crutches for over a week, and this was just from tweaking my leg when I started falling on a ride and caught myself. I went from crutches to a cane, then finally to a limp for a couple of weeks. My leg was weak, to say the least.
I couldn’t ride a regular bike during any of this, but I gained a new appreciation for just how good e-bikes can be to get us back up and riding again. The extra power—and I was using more power and higher modes than I normally would—made it possible. It’s my job, so that also made a difference in being able to get my work done. It also sped up my recovery, as well as improving my spirits, because who doesn’t love to ride?
Riding can lead to new friendships. I met one of our contributors to this issue, Ravi Kempaiah, a couple of years ago at one of the Electric Bike Expo events. He’s smart, really friendly and his knowledge of batteries is incredible. We ran a story about him in a previous issue. He holds the Guinness World Record for the longest e-bike journey, traveling from Wisconsin across the upper United States, all the way to San Diego, California. That trip was over 5000 miles long.
He’s earning his PhD in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on battery technology. I’m really excited about the article he’s written for this issue, and I think it will change the way you charge your batteries.
In the last issue we ran coverage of the annual Interbike trade show, which has been the main bicycle convention for North America for a few decades. In 2018 they moved the show from its home for many years in Las Vegas to Reno. Then, at the end of 2018, they announced that there wouldn’t be a 2019 show. I don’t know if anyone was surprised, because the entropy of the show was palpable. However, there were more e-bikes than ever but less bikes in general.
It looks like the industry is making a shift away from the large national show to smaller, less-expensive regional shows. Many in the industry are now switching emphasis to the Sea Otter Classic in the spring, and also a new West Coast show being put on by CABDA (the Chicago Area Bicycle Dealers’ Association). The exhibitor list at the CABDA show is long, with many e-bike brands in attendance. Look for our full report in the next issue. The bike shows are important as a way to connect with many people at once, to learn about what’s coming and talk about trends.
Speaking of talking to people, I’d love to hear some great reader stories about how e-bikes have changed your life. E-mail me stories and pictures, or send them in snail mail or via passenger pigeon. Until then, get out and ride!