FULLY CHARGED

For the last eight years EBA has been pumping out one issue after another chock-full of new bikes, year after year with lots of new bikes. Well, for this issue we decided to do something different—welcome to EBA’s first-ever all-inclusive “New Bike Buyer’s Guide.” It should come as no secret that, not unlike the automotive industry, the bike industry, too, has jumped on the electric-assist bandwagon in a big way, and it’s with this issue that we corralled as many bikes as possible to prove the point. 

For as long as I can remember, whether it was BMX bikes, R/C cars or cameras, whenever I had a newfound interest in life, I would always go and search out some kind of buyer’s guide to find out as much as I could to make a better buying decision. They were always densely packed with information and specs so that I could get a chance to see what’s out in the marketplace and make comparisons between them.  

I still love print media. Big pictures, informative articles, often-beautiful layouts and design. I still subscribe to them, still buy them on the newsstand. Of course, you do know we have a digital edition, so you could carry your entire subscription on your tablet or even your phone. The best part is that, as an enthusiast, reading more about it, seeing amazing photographs and videos just increases your motivation to get out and ride. 

And right about now, if you’re in one of the parts of the country that gets months of snow, it’s time to get your bike ready for the spring thaw. Make sure there’s air in the tires, the chain and drivetrain are ready to go, lube your chain, and wipe off any dust from it sitting around for the winter months!

EV TRACTOR

I’ve been around the EV, bicycle and automotive industry long enough to have made many, many connections. A friend of mine from the car world recently posted on social media about the launch of a new autonomous electric tractor from Monarch Tractors at a company called Motivo, which is the engineering firm that helped make the tractor possible.

I reached out right away, and he and colleagues were surprised that I wanted to see an e-tractor. As I explained to them, even though I was a bicycle guy, I wanted to learn all I could about all types of electric vehicles because it helps me understand the broader market and write more informed articles for you. And the fact that I’d get a tour of Motivo, who works on “everything from one to 18 wheels,” was a big draw for me. If “one wheel” sounds familiar, this is the cadre of engineers who worked with Kyle Doerksen to help take the unique OneWheel skateboard from idea to reality. 

They’ve worked on Tesla’s suspension components, electric airplanes and boats, exercise equipment designs, and much more. They have a lot of mentoring programs for aspiring engineers. My friend Dean has worked for two major car manufacturers as a PR guy and now helps Motivo with their PR. It was an amazing place that few had ever heard of, because they don’t put their name on anything. They help people bring ideas to market, and their work is incredible. I bring this up because I think there are a lot of e-bike companies that could use a company like this to improve their designs.

GOOD AND BAD

As proof that sometimes an outside entity that’s an expert at these things would help in the prototyping process so people who put a deposit on it don’t feel let down, I’m reminded of an e-bike manufacturer who recently came out with their own motorcycle. Actually, “came out” isn’t quite accurate. While they’ve taken pre-orders after showing off a pretty sexy prototype, after it went through the process of homologation (the process by which a vehicle, like a car or motorcycle, gets certified for sale in the U.S. by inspection and meeting exact standards for all the various parts, lights, mirrors, etc.), it looked like a terribly designed moped. Basically, a cartoon of its former self! 

I think similar things about the design of e-bikes. We’ve come a long way in the past few years, but there’s still some really cheap bikes that I’ve seen that looks like no one put any real thought into the design or ergonomics, meaning you can buy one, but you won’t be as safe or as comfortable on them as you would be on a bike with better design and engineering.

My hope is that by perusing through this buyer’s guide you’ll be able to better understand the market at large and make a more educated decision on which new e-bike you want to welcome into your life. Get ready to have some fun!