e-Biking for the (not so) Oldies

Folks, a few years ago I bought an e-Bike, and my Inner Scotsman, aka: Internal Jock, has only just started talking to me again; without lots of loud swearing.

Back in 2017, I shocked Internal Jock speechless when I forked out nearly $2000 for a brand spanking new pedal assist, battery powered, chariot.  This was considerably much more than I paid for my first two motorbikes, combined.

I wanted a new pushbike to replace my faithful old cruiser ‘Pubtruck 3’, but I’d been putting it off because my 50-year-old knees were emailing lengthy messages to my brain outlining all the reasons why they should take early retirement from pedalling.

Then one night, I staggered out of the pub, waddled across the road to the bike shop, pressed my face against the clean glass window and drooled at the latest treadlies on display.

One of them was an e-Bike, and the next day I test rode it.  My knees were delighted, so I parted with a wad of notes, rode it home and christened it, ‘e-Pubtruck’.

Since then, e-Pubtruck and I have been contentedly puttering around Gladstone.

By the way, if you’ve never been to Gladstone, let me tell you the bits that aren’t mudflats, reclaimed mudflats or bike paths, are quite hilly.  It is possible to avoid the worst of them, but you have to ride quite a lot more kilometres to do so.

Happily, hills are where e-Pubtruck shines!  Select the speed you want, either 12, 16 or 18 kph, then select a gear you feel comfortable with, and effortlessly pedal up the incline. 

The motor cuts out when you go past the selected speed, so on flat roads I can cruise comfortably at 21 kph, but when I hit a hill, the motor kicks in to keep us sailing along at a steady 18 kph.  All I have to do is keep spinning the pedals.

Now, e-Pubtruck is a pedal assist bike, which means the motor won’t turn on unless the pedals are moving forward.  I generally do my best (knees willing) to help shoulder the load, which in turn saves the battery from going flat faster, but occasionally, I’ll ‘phone it in’ and just move the pedals enough to keep the motor whirring away while I breathlessly glide onward and upward. 

Doing this severely reduces the battery’s charge though.  Still, even if you do the barest minimum while lazing in the saddle, and you don’t hit too many hills, you’ll have approximately a 25-to-35-kilometre range.  Which, let’s face it, is probably a lot further than most of us will ride (or even drive) in a day.

I generally average about 100 to 150 km between charges, and Internal Jock was delighted to work out that even the longest recharge (up to 6 hours) only costs 6 cents.  Multiply that by 25 (roughly re-charging once a fortnight, and Jock only has to cough up a miserly $1.50 a year.

When I was commuting to and from work five days a week, averaging 26klm’s a day, I’d top up e-Pubtruck’s battery once a week at work.  This always brightened Jock’s day…

Best of all, even in Gladstone’s long, hot, humid summer months, when you step out of the morning shower, dry off and are soaked with sweat before you put your shirt on, e-Pubtruck allowed me to arrive at work without looking like I pedalled through a car wash on the way.

Ok, what are the downsides? 

  1. The price.  That’s all I’ll say about it before Internal Jock fires up again.
  • It’s a Chinese built bike, but I’ve been delighted to find very little has gone wrong with it in the past four years (two things which did go wrong were my fault and I don’t want to talk about either of them!)
  • The weight.  At 22kg, it’s about 10kg heavier than a non-battery powered bike.  Still, all e-bikes are heavy, that’s the cross we bear, for now.  BUT, on the few occasions the battery has run out of charge (my fault for pushing the ‘range envelope’), it hasn’t been a big deal to ride it like a normal bike.  Occasionally, when I want to make up for overindulging in beer and fried foods the night before, I’ll take the battery off and ride e-Pubtruck around a path famed locally for its’ lack of hills and cars.    

Finally, the upsides:

  1. Hills are no longer viewed with dread.
  • e-Pubtruck has extended the riding life of my knees.
  • It’s fun and easy to ride, I’m keeping fit (well, fit-ish) and, as I mentioned before, e-Pubtruck is a very low sweat commuter, so as a result, it gets used more often.
  • Extremely low maintenance.  If you’ve ever had to repair/maintain a two or four-stroke engine, you’ll be delighted to hear I haven’t touched the electric motor in the past four years.  In fact, all I’ve done so far is wash it, adjusted the brakes, applied lube to the chain and put air in the tyres.  This is a maintenance schedule I have grown very, very fond of.
1979: no battery required, and knees in excellent condition
  • Gobsmackingly economical.  Internal Jock’s left eyelid may still be twitching at the cost of the bike, but he’s absolutely thrilled it costs less than $2 a year to keep it charged.  And, if my rental home had a solar system, it would cost approximately $0 p.a. to recharge, just like a normal bike.

So, if I can continue my lucky run of avoiding being flattened by speeding cars and trucks, e-Pubtruck and I should have many more years of effortless cruising together. 

And please consider joining us.  The more people riding bikes means more of us getting healthier, fewer vehicles on our roads using less fuel and emitting far less exhaust fumes, and that’s got to be a good thing.

This article first appeared in the Regrow Queensland e-zine. Check it out!

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