I Tried an Electric Bicycle for the First Time

May 10, 2021

I Tried an Electric Bicycle for the First Time

I took my first test ride on an elec­tric bike as Spring first start­ed to peek its head out from winter’s blan­ket. It was March and the days were sun­ny but brisk, rang­ing between 35 and 65 degrees. I was able to bor­row an e‑bike from Pro­Cy­cling West near Old Col­orado City in Col­orado Springs for a full two weeks. When I picked up the bike, the sales rep told me to “keep it as long as I like,” which sound­ed amaz­ing but I knew I’d have to give it back even­tu­al­ly, so I lim­it­ed myself to two weeks. These two weeks spanned warm spring days and snow, so I got a chance to ride the bike across dif­fer­ent weath­er pat­terns. Of course, I was more reluc­tant to ride it on the cold, snowy days, but I did try to get out there at least once (it wasn’t so bad)!

Recent­ly, I’ve been won­der­ing if I could trade my car in for alter­na­tive modes of trans­porta­tion and an elec­tric bike was at the top of my list to try out. I loved this e‑bike – I rode a Spe­cial­ized Tur­bo Vado which costs around $4,600, has 80 miles of range, and charges in about 4 hours. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Col­orado Springs is a desert for car­share and I do need access to a car occa­sion­al­ly, so while I don’t think it’s fea­si­ble for me to com­plete­ly switch over to an e‑bike, I did find that I could accom­plish most of my errands and recre­ation­al activ­i­ties on the e‑bike. The bike does not come with a car­go bas­ket but it does come with a rack in the back, which I was able to use with my sad­dle bags. I don’t think I would do my gro­cery shop­ping with the bike, but every­thing else was fea­si­ble includ­ing pick­ing up house­hold sup­plies from my local refill shop and quick stops to the liquor store, library, or pharmacy.

The Spe­cial­ized Tur­bo Vado tops out at about 28 miles per hour, though if you are cruis­ing down­hill, you can exceed this speed. Col­orado Springs offi­cial­ly allows e‑bikes on urban trails, though the “speed lim­it” is des­ig­nat­ed at 15 miles per hour. This is eas­i­ly reached when using the top ped­al-assist on the bike and you do need to stay alert so you don’t exceed the speed lim­it. The e‑bike has three “ped­al-assist” lev­els, mak­ing four avail­able lev­els for your ride. It starts with no assist and increas­es the feel of the elec­tric boost as you go up. You can turn on the elec­tric assist by pow­er­ing on the bike and using but­tons on the left-hand side of the handlebar.

When I first got on the bike, I was sur­prised by the punch behind the ped­al-assist, but quick­ly got used to it. I did notice that the bike felt heav­ier (or stur­dier) under me – I’m not sure of the exact weight of the frame but it must be at least 30 pounds and can be dif­fi­cult to maneu­ver for this rea­son. I also quick­ly real­ized that I need­ed to be more aware of when I need­ed to brake—because of the weight and the speed of the bike, it takes slight­ly more time to come to a com­plete stop com­pared to my tra­di­tion­al bicy­cle. Charg­ing the bike was a breeze; you sim­ple click the charg­er into the bike’s out­let on the frame and plug it into a stan­dard out­let. Blink­ing lights indi­cate the bike is charging.

I thor­ough­ly enjoyed tak­ing this e‑bike out for recre­ation­al rides and errand-stops alike—and tru­ly enjoyed rid­ing cir­cles around my part­ner, who usu­al­ly zooms ahead of me when we are both on man­u­al bicy­cles! The ease of the ride does not take away any enjoy­ment I get from rid­ing and it allowed me to feel more con­fi­dent on trails and roads that I might oth­er­wise avoid because of steep climbs. The Col­orado Springs area (and the Front Range in gen­er­al) are hilly loca­tions, so it does take some chutz­pah to bike along some of the more reward­ing roads, like the path­way through Gar­den of the Gods.

With the Spe­cial­ized Tur­bo Vado, I was able to glide through Gar­den of the Gods with­out break­ing much of a sweat and enjoyed the beau­ti­ful nat­ur­al land­scapes that I was bik­ing along­side; I even saw a few old­er adults glid­ing past on their e‑bikes. That is one of the coolest things about elec­tric bicycles—they enable many rid­ers who would oth­er­wise strug­gle with bik­ing to enjoy get­ting out into nature and get­ting some exer­cise. As I biked through the park, I found myself wish­ing that (at least) one day a week was allot­ted for bicy­clists and pedes­tri­ans to enjoy the area. Just imag­ine bik­ing through such a gor­geous land­scape with­out chok­ing on the exhaust of gas and diesel vehi­cles snaking in front of you!

Over­all, my first expe­ri­ence on an elec­tric bike was extreme­ly pos­i­tive. I am seri­ous­ly con­sid­er­ing buy­ing one, as I pre­fer to get around town out­side of my car, espe­cial­ly in warmer weath­er! I would encour­age any­one who is able to go out and rent an e‑bike for a day or try a tour through Gar­den of the Gods (many out­fits offer such tours).

Have you rid­den an elec­tric bike or are you con­sid­er­ing try­ing one? Let us know what you think on our social media (@driveelectriccolorado).

Check out this video of Sonja (Drive Electric Colorado Coach) riding an electric bike through Garden of the Gods!

Blog writ­ten by: Son­ja Meintsma

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