E-Bikes, Pedal Assist Bikes
We are so used to seeing innovative products in the bike industry: things that help people go farther, faster, more reliably, carry more, stay drier (or warmer)...
Electronic bikes or e-bikes have been on the horizon here in Harrisonburg for a few years now. Specialized first came out with the Turbo series of bikes in 2013. In 2018, using a totally new crank-based motor, improving range, ergonomics, and overall design, the new Turbo Vado and Como arrived. I was impressed. I had said when electric bikes get under $3,000 (a reliable, serviceable model of course) that would be the moment they start to catch on in our town. Starting at $2,600 they have hit that mark.
The implications have been huge. Removing more barriers that keep many off the bike, E bikes have opened up the cycling world to everyone. For commuters, these bikes allow them to arrive at work not drenched in sweat on a hot day; friends and partners that may have never ridden together before can now enjoy a ride with each other; adventures someone may have once thought impossible are now possible; these bikes have even replaced cars!
At the shop, we have seen the E bikes help partners or spouses that would like to ride together but have vastly different abilities on the bike - one half rides 5 days a week while the other is a weekend rider. These folks can now ride together and no one is feeling left behind while the other feels like they are going too slowly. Going over hills and mountains that wouldn't have been attempted previously.
These e bikes are pedal assist, meaning the user still has to exert force on the bike, but the motor will match a given output for that rider. This can also be adjusted for range or preference. We have seen a 35 mile range for an average sized rider on our valley terrain in full turbo mode (125% of the rider's output) and far more range in normal and eco modes.
I love hopping on the Vado to do errands around town. Riding to JMU, or one of our local restaurants, is so fun and zippy (saves time on lunch break too). I was really excited when I heard about the Como as it was modeled after our most popular comfort cruiser, the Roll. The things that make the Roll fun - upright seating position, big saddle, lightweight but large tires for a smooth ride, and stability - are all there in the Como but there is also that turbo boost.