Anyone on a bike who doesn’t have lungs like bellows and legs like the Hulk’s would be more than a little daunted looking up Symonds Hill from Aggie Hall.
But I pedaled up to Sixth the other day, and was barely puffed. In fact, you could have stacked another Symonds Hill on top of the first, and I’m pretty sure I would have made the grade, no problem.
Nothing to it… at least you might say so, if you’re on a power assisted Scott eSub Tour bike, manufactured by Bosch.
With the boost of power it provided I got to the summit on my first try, with Kelly Demoline of Citrus Cycles following up on his Surface 604 Boar Fat eBike, which looks something like a bike with life rings for tires.
Never mind the looks. It’ll get you where you need to go, through off-road terrain where its latté sucking counterparts wouldn’t dare lay down any Gucci tread.
eBikes, or electric assisted bikes, bring together the best of a lot of worlds. If you like the freedom and fun of pedaling, they’re perfect. If you want some exercise, but want a power surge going up hills or when your bio-battery runs out of juice, they’re just the thing. If you want to commute from, say, Chemainus to Ladysmith in under half an hour, they’re ideal. Or if you like scooting effortlessly along any trails that are bicycle legal. Or if you are ecologically minded…
The list goes on.
But the big ones for residents of Ladysmith, the town that Dunsmuir built on some of the steepest grades permissible or even possible, then an eBike might be just the thing you’re looking for. Or if you live in a semi-rural area, where getting from A-B might be considered a major commute for urban types, then the 30 kilometer per hour clip eBikes can sustain, makes them practical.
“When you’ve got a situation where you’d feel daunted by the distance or the hills, or it’s just too discouraging, with the eBike helping you, it just becomes a lot more accessible,” Demoline said.
Another factor anyone who has cycled to work has to consider, not only on hot summer days, but even on days when it’s cool or overcast, and you have to put on your wind and rain gear, is sweat.
“What’s really helpful for a lot of people who are commuting, is you get to work and you’re not sweaty,” Demoline said.
And it’s true. On an eBike you can clip along at a governed speed of 30 kph, and if you set it at turbo, the bike will double the effort you’re putting into pedaling. It’s like zooming along with someone giving you a push.
That helping hand can get you a long way, too. “It really depends on the terrain and the level of assist you have,” Demoline said. “If you use the easiest level of assist you have you could do 100 or 125 kilometres easily; I prefer to have it on a little bit more of an assist, so I can go a bit quicker, and with that I’m usually doing 50 or 60 kilometres.”
Some people who commute close to the maximum range will have a charger at work and one at home, so they’ll always have some juice waiting for them when they get to the office.
Demoline and his wife first encountered eBikes in a visit to Germany, and after that first time, they’ve become enthusiasts. So when they moved to Ladysmith… from Manitoba… a business selling eBikes seemed a natural.
“They were renting the eBikes, we thought, this sounds like fun,” he said. “We weren’t cyclists ourselves, but on that first day we did 50 or 60 kilometres, which astounded us.
“When we moved to Ladysmith, we really felt like this is the ideal town to have an electric bike,” he added. “You hardly see anybody biking and you can see why, it’s just too discouraging.”
So electrics make it possible to cycle anywhere in Ladysmith, but they’re not cheap. You’re looking at $4,000 plus for the Scott eSub Tour bike, $2,900 for the Boar Electric Fat Bike.
Demoline says you’ll make that up in gas savings pretty quick, and have fun doing it. Find out more at citruscycles.ca.