I ummed and ahhed about a bike upgrade for years – love my cycling – commuting, rail trails, stationery bike when the kids were little and even enjoy classes in the dark or virtually riding the Dolomites. They all do it for me, whether its cardio, leg strength, calories or getting somewhere, cycling does it for me.
Plus you mostly get to sit down, so it suits a flexion biased person and cycling can be a great balance to activities like running or swimming.
The e-bike is more of a car replacement. Yes, you have to turn the peddles for the ‘e’ to kick in and the speed is limited by law in Australia, meaning it won’t kick in if you are travelling over 16 km per hour. So once you go under, or the bike senses your speed dropping, the ‘e’ kicks in and you feel like you are being pushed up the hill (because you are!). I tell people it feels like when you are a kid and a sibling gives you a push from behind. Pure joy.
Studies show that as time goes on, riders ride more and wind down the assistance (Personally I’m a fan of the turbo option). They get stronger and fitter. If you can charge at home using your solar set up that must feel good. Of course riding your bike without the ‘e’ has a smaller carbon footprint and works your body harder. For me, the ride home (50-55 minutes) with a steady climb for the last 20 minutes was a real bummer and I felt like I was straining and overdoing it after a hard day at a physical job. With the ‘e’ I can pack the pannier bags and not worry so much about the load that I am carrying and ride both ways.
For shorter distances on turbo you won’t perspire, so you can ride in your work clothes.
For a lock I have one that takes 20 minutes to cut through with an angle grinder, making my bike less attractive for theft.
For safety I wear high vis, and always watch for potential risks like car doors, pedestrians changing direction without notice and wearing earbuds, cranky/late drivers who don’t appreciate an ‘obstacle’ on the road, loose fittings or poorly secured load on the bike and other cyclists who fail to signal or ring or expect other trail users to change their speed or route for them.
There is a certain amount of adrenalin involved (maybe fuelled a bit by caffeine!) with riding. The great outdoors is fresh and is a great transition to home or work. The cold winter air is not always appreciated and my balaclava has at times frightened the odd dog walker when I cycle up to them! I now wear protective wrap eyewear to protect my eyes and layer clothing for wind chill reduction.
Stretch wise I have to take care of my thoracic, hip flexors and hamstrings. My palms are padded with gloves and I stretch my wrists and forearms.
Word is that battery sizes are going to reduce over the next few years, so good quality larger battery bikes will become more affordable. Most bike shops will service e-bikes.
Get to know your city cycleways and live toward the future where active transport plays a vital role in reducing our city’s pollutants, congestion and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Chris Minto, Senior Physiotherapist at Performance Medicine Melbourne