Bev Rudance thought her cycling days were over — until she tried a bike with electric assist, to make pedaling easier. She’s now the proud owner of a new Rad City Step-Thru. Barry Stewart/Hope Standard

Bev Rudance thought her cycling days were over — until she tried a bike with electric assist, to make pedaling easier. She’s now the proud owner of a new Rad City Step-Thru. Barry Stewart/Hope Standard

Battery gives Hope bicycle fans a boost

"It gives me a new sense of freedom, fun and exercise," says one rider who can no longer ride a regular bike due to injury

If you’ve seen Bev Rudance or a few other locals looking unnaturally quick on their bicycles, it just may be that you’ve witnessed the new wave in wheeled mobility: the e-bike.

Do an internet search for e-bikes and you’ll find a huge variety of styles and features, with prices ranging from under $1,000 to well over $2,000.

Rudance called the $2,100 she paid for her RadCity Step-Thru, “A big investment — but so worth it.”

She first learned of e-bikes when she was on a trip to San Francisco with friends a few years ago.

“They said ‘Let’s do a bike tour’ but I wasn’t into it. There’s no way I could do it on a regular bike. I’ve had a knee replacement and the other one is bad,” said Rudance. “Then they found out I could rent an e-bike from the tour company for $30 more for the day, so I went for it.

“I could do the hills and the Golden Gate Bridge — and I was passing my friends, going uphill.”

After returning to Hope, Rudance went a few years without any kind of bike “Then, this year, I saw my neighbours had e-bikes,” she said. “I saw the brand name and googled ‘Rad Power Bikes.’ “

She found if she ordered on-line, the Rad Cycle company would deliver the bike to her door for free. ‘Problem was: the first one she ordered, a Rad Rover, just wasn’t the bike for her.

It sat on her front porch for a few months until she called the company to wonder about a more suitable model. Since it hadn’t been used, they gave her a straight across trade on her next bike, with a step-through frame that makes it easier to mount and dismount.

For Rudance, the swap made all the difference.

On a regular bike, many riders would avoid a ride from town to Silver Creek, via Richmond Hill. Rudance rose to the challenge.

“I rode from Crystal River Trailer Court to the Flying J and it took me 15 minutes,” she recalled. “I was doing 35 kilometres an hour on the far side of Richmond Hill.”

Rudance then stopped in at Valley Helicopters, to show her new ride to her friend Daryn Berry, a helicopter engineer. She rode over the hill again on the way back home, for a round trip of 17 km.

There was still plenty of juice in the battery, with its rated range of 40 to 72 km. At this stage in development, the bike is not able to regenerate power to the battery. It needs to be plugged in.

Putting the power assist aside for a moment: the bike includes a seven-speed rear cog, adjustable front suspension, lights, cable-activated disc brakes and a speedometer/battery monitor. If the battery runs low, the e-bike can still be ridden as a regular bike though the battery, motor, wide tires and beefier frame make it almost twice as heavy as a normal bike.

The detachable battery sits under the seat and the drive motor is contained in the hub of the back wheel. Twist the throttle grip on the right side of the handlebars and you can adjust the amount of assist to your pedaling.

Last week, I met with Rudance to see the bike and take it for a spin. Riding on the old Kettle Valley Railway roadbed at Thacker Marsh, the power assist made it easy to get up to 30 km/h, pedaling on the flat. The comfortable seat, wide tires and front suspension gave a smooth ride — and the motor was whisper quiet. No whine.

When I got back to the grinning owner, I asked, “Bev, what’s this button for, under the throttle?”

“I don’t know,” she replied. “I haven’t read the whole manual yet.”

I had a theory, so I took it for another spin. On the way back, I was accelerating close to 30 km/h — except I wasn’t even pedaling. Button plus throttle gives more than just pedal assist: it fully powers the bike, up to 32 km/h top speed, according to Rad’s website.

Full power or pedal-assist, Rudance is happy to be back on two wheels again.

“It gives me a new sense of freedom, fun and exercise,” she enthused. “I didn’t think I’d ever get to ride a bike again. Now, I can go on bike rides with anyone.”

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