April showers did indeed bring May flowers and bicyclists have taken to the roads like bees to the blossoms. After nine years of seeding Ashland with quality electric bikes, it’s a pleasure to see so many plying the streets of town. Folks of all ages and capabilities are enjoying the fun, comfort, and convenience of traveling by bike for their local errands. Each bike on the road represents one less automobile adding to the traffic, the noise, and the stench of our fossil-fueled obsession. It’s the simple things that bring the most delight.
This month I’d like to discuss how an electric bike delivers its power. There are two methods; each has its merits. The simple way is via a manual throttle control at the handlebar. It operates like a scooter or motorcycle; twist the throttle and the bike moves forward. More of a twist (or push of a thumb lever) delivers greater power and speed. This option affords total, instant control over the available power whether you’re pedaling or not. It does allow for the occasional (or frequent) option of doing very little or no pedaling at all. The downside is that your mileage range per battery charge can be greatly diminished. Also, the opportunity for exercise is reduced as well. However, if you’re dealing with an injury or disability this may be your saving grace and the only way to continue riding at all.
The second method of power is via pedal assist. As the name implies the power is delivered as a response and an addition to your pedaling. Multiple levels of assistance result in a varied amount of power provided. Level one delivers a small amount of the total power that the motor is capable of generating. The highest level delivers 100% – again, so long as you keep pedaling. This could be described as the more ‘honest ride’ since the power is only delivered in response to your efforts. This mode delivers the greatest range from a charge as well as the opportunity for the most exercise.
Most quality bikes offer a combination of the two choices, so you can opt for whichever method suits your needs in any given situation. If I want a good workout on a ride, pedal assist set at the lowest level is my choice. If I overextend myself on said ride or I’m making my way home after a long workday or a late night of dancing, etc, etc., then a bit of manual throttle while my legs rest is a godsend. Having both options really is a wonderful amenity.
That’s the beauty of electric bikes; they offer what you want or need to make every ride enjoyable, productive, and beneficial. They can be alternative transportation, exercise equipment, and just plain fun all rolled up into one. What’s not to love about that?