An Electric Bike Changed my Life.


You’ve all heard about electric cars, but did you know you can also get electric bikes too?

I first heard about the electric bike years ago from a project developed by the MIT Sensible City Lab. The project was the Copenhagen Wheel – a wheel which could be placed on any existing standard bicycle, that would amplify the users power by 10 via it’s integrated battery and brushless motor.

The thing that caught my attention was the fact that it would open up a whole world of possibilities for people who couldn’t or didn’t like using public transport or motor cars. People who wanted to get fit but found hills a struggle. People who wanted to travel using green means but lived at a distance from their destination.

And then in the years between 2009 and today something happened. Other bicycle manufacturers had been watching and had started to produce their own electric bikes. They’d linked larger batteries to the motor on the wheel by relocating it to the redundant space on the down tube. They’d added a user controlled computer on the handlebars that enabled variable speed and distance information. And suddenly it made sense. The electric bike was about to go mainstream.

Now the electric bike was available everywhere. The new fast food delivery app revolution had made the market expand so much via their worker utilisation of the machines, that now an electric bike could be purchased for as little as just £650.

I bought mine at Halfords. Having developed quite severe social anxiety I wanted a way of travelling that was free of perceived public scrutiny. A way to avoid spending so much money on taxies and the inevitable conversations they’d start. A way to open up my world by encouraging me to go out to places I could find peace. To extend the distance of travel I could find more of these places. And it would help me to open up to the world again through gradual exposure.

I live in Kirkdale, which if you don’t know borders onto Everton Valley – probably the hilliest place in Liverpool. But the hills didn’t matter any more. I’d opted to get the Carrera Crossfire-e having seen video reviews online. People were doing thousands of miles without a problem on these things, only having to do the odd bit of standard maintenance like changing the inner tube or tire due to wear or road debris. How far could it go? It has a 60-mile range and can travel at 16.5mph assisted on it’s sports mode. Other lower settings won’t assist you as much. If you go over the 16.5mph speed you’re doing all of the work yourself. You can also turn off the motor all together.

You didn’t need to learn any special new skills either, as some of the other new personal transportation devices needed – I’m talking Monowheel, Hoverboard, e-scooter and Electric skate shoes here. There’s a reason people use the expression “its like riding a bike”. Most people know how to ride one and they’re inherently more safe to use than the other new modes of transport.

And the other great thing? You can travel after public transport stops for the night if you don’t live in an area served by a night bus. Our trains do not run at night on Merseyside.

So for the spotting of a deal online whereby a normally £2,200 bike now cost £920 if you donated an old bike helmet to Halfords, I’d changed my world. Because I could go into the world in my own time and at my own pace I was experiencing my place in the world again. A place I felt I could be a part of. A place I could contribute to because I was outside and my imagination was sparking. And I was talking to people about my ideas. And they had ideas. The world I knew was now one of adventure and creation.

So, an electric bike is transformational. It’s not a case of people being lazy. It’s a doorway. It’s a way to elevate. A way to become a person again.

I have this one final thing to say: Great minds think an e-bike.

Video review: The bionic cyclist.

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Posted

11th February 2020 by Chris Gibson
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