E-Bikes – a Cycling Tour Guide’s View

Let’s ride

It is a simple enough invitation to leave the house and explore local roads with friends, but for someone who is no longer cycling at the same fitness level as the group, those words may be intimidating. Medical conditions, changes in fitness, simple aging and more can leave once-active cyclists heading for the gym rather than enjoying a favorite pastime. If this scenario sounds familiar or if you are simply ready to extend your riding distance while making it home in time for dinner, E-Bikes are an experience enhancing option that may be perfect for you.

E-Bikes began working their way into the bike tour industry while I was a tour guide. I remember wondering if they would be safe, if they would weigh too much for the guides to handle, and which guests would benefit most from using them on tour. One common misconception among guests requesting them was the feeling that they were “giving up” their “true” riding days by deciding on an E-Bike. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the benefits of riding with electric assist are just as varied as the riders who choose E-Bikes for their daily commute, weekend ride or week-long bike tour.

Medical conditions affect most people at some point in their lives, and aging affects us all. Although there are men and women of all ages and ability who continue to ride at a high level well into their later years, many cannot. Stepping onto the pedals of an E-Bike for the first time and feeling the momentum as electric assist kicks in is a game changer. Whether regaining lost fitness after a medical issue or simply being able to do what you love is your motivation, the E-Bike will get you there. A friend was feeling discouraged, post-surgery and subsequent PT having been completed, because she was “stuck” riding the stationary bike in the gym. I witnessed the renewed hope and exhilaration as she realized she could continue road riding and rebuilding fitness, while having fun, by riding an E-Bike. That personal experience opened my eyes to the wide range of people who could, with a simple bike switch, return to a sport they love.

When considering bike options for a bicycle tour, consider the group you will be riding with and the strengths of each rider. Elevation gain, route choices for each day, and the type of tour experience desired should all go into the decision-making process. We recently hosted a group of three men, two choosing Hybrid Bikes and one choosing an E-Bike. The gentleman on the E-Bike, rather than feeling as if he had “given up,” rode hard each day, enjoyed the camaraderie of riding with his friends, and left feeling accomplished at the end of tour having been able to ride more miles than he anticipated.

There are some important things to keep in mind should you decide to begin riding one, too. There are varying levels of assist, and the battery life is reduced as you increase assist. Be sure you know the range and plan your ride accordingly. Charge the battery each night after your ride and, if you decide to purchase your own E-Bike, store the battery inside during colder periods to extend its life. As for the questions I initially asked:

– Bike safety rules apply to E-Bikes as well as standard bicycles and should be followed whenever one rides. Before using an E-Bike, proper instructions regarding use should be provided by your guide or bike shop.

– Removing the battery before placing an E-Bike onto a carrier reduces the weight by 5-7 pounds, making it much easier to handle.

– There is no “right” answer to which guests will benefit most from their use. The E-Bike provides another option for riders and, ultimately, opens the door to riding longevity for many.

Whatever your “why,” rediscover your smile and get back on the road with electric assist. Let’s Ride!

Learn more about Electric Bikes