Or is it just spokes and mirrors?
Riding an e-bike can give you a leg up on traffic
Bikes are no longer only made up of two wheels, a frame, chains and gears. Like everything else, they now have an electronic component—making them a more popular way to exercise and a more efficient way to commute.
According to the Electric Bike Worldwide Report, 84 million electric bikes (e-bikes) were sold in 2016 alone, and by the year 2050, it’s estimated that 2 billion e-bikes will spin across the globe.
Real estate investor and mountain biker Peter Houghton purchased an e-bike when he moved farther from his office. “I ride 20 miles each way with 3,000 feet of climbing, so that’s 40 miles and 6,000 feet every day I commute to the office,” Houghton tells Moneyish. “The vertical on my commute is like climbing Mount Everest every three weeks,” he says.
In addition to the BMW i3 he uses to navigate much of Los Angeles, Houghton’s other whip is a $7,500 Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Expert 6Fattie, also known as a “Levo” for short.
What exactly makes an e-bike different from a regular bike? E-bikes have motors and batteries, making them heavier than your average two-wheeler, but they also offer pedal-assist, which aids a rider going uphill. Some models include apps that help manage energy and power—features that old-school bicycles aren’t capable of housing.
Professional mountain biker Marshall Mullen tells Moneyish, “I’m able to go twice as fast and twice as far in the same amount of time on an e-bike.” Though he was only introduced to the new technology a couple of months ago, Mullen, a freestyle and downhill rider, predicts that normal bikes will eventually be put out of business.
Without his Levo, Houghton wouldn’t have the option to ride to work. “My ride would be impossible,” he says. After his one hour ten minute pedal-assisted ride, Houghton charges his bike at the office for about 6 hours to ensure optimal battery life. “Like a Tesla driver, you suffer from range anxiety with an e-bike but you learn how to ride it to conserve battery,” he says.
On the road, Houghton warns that you have to be nicer to people than if you were riding a regular bike. Excess speed, even when you’re traveling uphill, can rub other riders the wrong way. “I blow right past people, so I try to be really nice. I have to smile and wave,” says Houghton.
But e-bikes aren’t for the faint of heart or those without disposable income. A decent one can range in price from about $3,000 to $8,000 depending on the brand and model.
Real estate equity broker Sandy Schmid commutes about 20 miles from Topanga, California to Century City, California twice a week on a non-electric bike but has to drive to Pacific Coast Highway before he begins his ride because the uphill climb from his house is too intense. To avoid the car component in his commute, Schmid is considering purchasing an e-bike. “I’ll avoid traffic, I’ll have a more predictable commute time and I’ll get exercise,” Schmid tells Moneyish.
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