For those who need some help to get back to cycling, the innovative pedal-assist electric bicycles (eBikes) and tricycles provide a boost to people who otherwise would have problems pedaling a conventional bicycle because of injury, diminished fitness level, disability or age. With eBikes and eTrikes, nearly everybody may once again know the joys of riding in the fresh air, sunshine and beautiful scenery.
The eBikes provide varying amounts of assistance to overcome the most difficult parts of a ride, such as starting from stoplights, riding over bridges or riding into headwinds. This innovative class of bicycles can be an option for people who have maladies that would otherwise prevent them from bicycling at all. You do still have to pedal — just switching on the electric motor and sitting back isn’t an option on most models — but the bike senses when you are starting to struggle and kicks in with a little boost that serves as an equalizer to make it feel as if you are riding on level ground and without facing into the wind. With the electric motor, eBikes can run at speeds of up to 17 to 28 miles per hour and can travel 30 to 120 miles per charge, depending upon the model. They can also be ridden as a regular bicycle with the motor turned off. Some offer cutaway, low-step over frames for people who would otherwise have trouble hoisting their leg over a bike.
“An eBike — or electric bicycle as I like to call it in full name — it is really still a bicycle by law and looks and feeling,” said Philipp Pfaeffli, the owner of PedelecSQB Electric Bicycle Shop in Punta Gorda, who takes potential customers out personally for eBike test rides. “I have a lot of people who get back to fitness because they don’t have to go from the couch directly to a hard-pedaling regular bike. So, they can have a little support and an easy start to get back into fitness. It would be great to get back that quality of life from riding a bicycle, and it’s not ‘cheating’ because you have levels and you choose yourself, like on a treadmill, how hard you want to pedal.”
The eBikes can also serve to “level” the ride so that family members of all ages can enjoy the social aspects of biking without someone being left behind or left out.
“Sometimes we’ll see a husband or wife who is a very active cyclist, and now, with eBikes, their spouse can ride and keep up with them because it’s like the great equalizer,” said Greg Pelican, the Naples-based marketing manager for Trek Bicycle Stores of Florida.
For people who want to try out an eBike for a whole day or a weekend trip to be sure they like eBikes before buying one, multiple franchises around Florida of the Pedego Electric Bikes brand rent eBikes as well as sell them.
“Anybody can do it,” said Marshall Montalto, co-owner of the Pedego shop in Juno Beach. “A lot of people who are 75 or 80 years old, they’re out there on eBikes, and they wouldn’t have been able to ride otherwise.” ¦
In the KNOW
PedelecSQB Electric Bicycle Shop www.pedelec-sqb.com
Trek Bicycle Stores of Florida www.trekbikesflorida.com
Pedego Electric Bikes www.pedegoelectricbikes.com