In the last three years I’ve really fallen in love with electric bikes. It’s crazy that I hadn’t even heard of them until three years ago. While they’ve been on the scene in other states and cities, we here in Decatur tend to live sheltered lives. We’re always a little behind the times. We still don’t even have a Chick-fil-a and we just got Chipotle earlier this year. That’s Decatur.
So when I take my electric bike(s) out a lot of people aren’t sure what they’re seeing but they like it! Most have seen bikes with gas motors but not electric. So what’s so great about electric bikes? I’m so glad you asked!
They are a godsend to anyone with certain health issues or just those getting older. I had to give up bike riding in my early 20s due to a heart condition. Now as I’m in my late 40s you can throw in a bad knee and neurological issues that affect my ability to withstand extreme physical exertion and heat. A regular bike just isn’t an option for me.
That’s always bugged me because I live near Decatur’s bike path and while I’ve walked on it many times I wanted to explore more than I was able to walk.
Then I saw a suggested product on Amazon. Of course. Amazon. It was an electric bike and it immediately got my attention.
Well, three years later I’ve had four electric bikes and two more on the way. I began with an inexpensive folding ebike and I enjoyed it but it was a little too tall for me and the ride was a bit stiff.
That eventually brought me to my current ebike and that’s the Liv Amiti E+4 that I purchased through Spin City Cycles in Decatur. Liv is a part of Giant and specializes in bikes designed specifically for women. Spin City also has other ebikes so check them out if you’re interested. They’re not cheap but prices have come down over the years. For more affordable options check out Rad Power Bikes or Ride1Up.
I recently sold my RadRunner from RadPowerBikes. It was a fun bike and it only took three hours to sell on Ebay. The buyer drove four states to pick it up the next day. That’s how popular ebikes are! I also review electric bikes on The Journier. You can check out other bikes there as well.
There are three different classes of ebikes recognized in Illinois. Class 1 ebikes are pedal assist only and go up to 20 mph. Class 2 ebikes include a throttle that can go up to 20 mph. Class 3 ebikes can go up to 28 mph with pedal assist. The Amiti is a Class 1 bike but I do have Class 2 and Class 3 bikes (or soon will).
Electric bikes have an electric motor and a battery. Pedal assist works exactly how the name implies. When you pedal the motor assists you depending upon what level of assist you’re using. You can have minimal help or a lot.
Ebikes with a throttle are similar to a moped. You don’t have to pedal at all and this can be very helpful when climbing tough hills or if you get too tired or overheated or if you just want to cruise and enjoy the scenery.
In many cities people use ebikes to commute to work. People living in large cities rarely own a car because they’re impractical and expensive in densely populated areas. So many larger cities have well marked and extensive bike lanes.
Here in Decatur it’s very difficult to commute by bike. I only live two miles from my employer but there’s no safe way to get there by bike. Either I’d have to take my chances under a narrow underpass with fast traffic or I’d have to ride through a sketchy neighborhood at night, also along a narrow road.
So yes, I’d love the see the inclusion of bike lanes in the city’s plans for the future.
I’m thankful Decatur has such a nice bike path in the Steven Creek Bikeway. It’s very popular and scenic especially along the Rock Spring Conservation Area section of the path with its restored prairies but the path has other natural areas worth visiting too. Unless you’re up for a really long walk by bike is the best way to reach them.
It’s great to have the peace of mind that if I’m not physically able to pedal on my own I have some help. That’s the best thing about electric bikes and why they have become so popular.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, yes you still get a very good workout on an electric bike, especially a Class 1 ebike. For one, I’m still doing a lot of the work myself and secondly, I ride much farther than I would on a regular bike. That’s true of everyone that rides ebikes. You ride more often and farther because they’re fun but also practical.
I remember meeting a guy along the path who was huffing and puffing near the Sangamon River bridge. He looked like he was about to pass out after climbing a long gradual hill on his non-electric bike. Chances are that was the last time he rode the bike path.
Me, on the other hand, had my heart rate up and pumping for a nice cardio workout but I wasn’t near death. I was still enjoying myself and I’m eager to get back on the trail again. That’s the ebike difference.
Anyway, I say all this because I wish I had known about electric bikes so much sooner. If you have health issues or just want to have a great workout and enjoy the outdoors look into getting an ebike.
It’s so wonderful to get out and enjoy the sunshine, hear the birds singing, and see so many other happy people enjoying life along the way. It sure beats sitting at home on social media wondering if there’s any hope left for humanity.
Oh, and another thing, electric bikes are no more a safety issue on the trail than any other bike. I get passed regularly by road bikers in their tight shorts all the time. I could blow them away but I’m nice, as most ebikers are.
I hope I see you on the trail someday whether you have a regular bike or an electric one. Electric bikes have opened up so much of the world to me that I never would have experienced without them.