A primer on e-bikes, the market & getting around in the future.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it” P. Drucker


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Matt’s E-Bike

The cost of gas is heading to $5.00 a gallon. The climate is changing, the oceans are rising, the weather is becoming increasingly severe, if we don’t reduce our carbon foot print as individuals and as a nation our future is in trouble, the economy has a long way to go before it recovers. This is just a small sample of the negative stuff I see, hear and read everyday.

Electrically powered bikes look and work much like a regular bicycles yet they provide powered assistance when the rider needs or wants it. They extend the range, increase the average speed, add to the fun, eliminate the anxiety experienced about getting back from a long ride out, it allows the rider to commute without getting all hot and sweaty. This too is a small sample of what I see, hear and read about the benefits of riding a P.A. (power assist) bicycle.

With this in mind why is it so difficult to find an electric bike or electric bike kit in the greater Harrisburg, PA area? I mean this is the capital of Pennsylvania. A fairly large metropolitan area with museums, theaters, collages, lots of retail stores, industry, etc. If you draw a 50 mile radius around Harrisburg you’ll have a pretty good idea of how big of an area I’m talking about. By the time I was done compiling my list of bike shops I had a total of 18 places to call. Now there are more than 18 bike shops in the greater Harrisburg area but not every bike shop met my search criteria. So what did I find? Well it wasn’t pretty. Out of those 18 bike shops only 4 shops actually stocked any type of electric bike. 3 more shops volunteered that they could order them. None of them stocked any type ebike conversion kits, 6 shops said they could order them. Out of 18 phone calls I left a total of 9 messages. Out of those 9 messages I had exactly 1 return my call & that was almost 2 weeks later. Out of my 18 conversations I spoke to 3 people at 2 stores that gave me anything close to good customer service. (I’ve been on the front line of customer service for 30 years) 6 of the 18 stores made me feel like an idiot for even asking about something as stupid as an electric bike.

Where am I headed with this? Well I’m not sure exactly sure but I’ll start with this. It was a real wake-up call for me. I am very much into bicycles, cycling and more recently P.A. (power assist) bicycles. In addition I’m a bit of a “techy” & I have a couple of Web-sites & Blogs and spend a huge amount of time on-line. So my reality has become this. Most people know about ebikes & there is currently a large segment of the population that is commuting by pedal bikes and P.A. bikes. Most of us know about the many forms of alternative transportation & we know where to buy what we need.  NOT TRUE..NOT EVEN CLOSE..NOT IN CENTRAL PA ANYWAY, TIME TO WAKE UP  & JOIN THE REAL WORLD MATT.

This is both good news and bad news. The good news is that I am in the process of building an ebike business with on-line sales and a brick & mortar bike shop for sales & service. An apparently I don’t have much in the way of LOCAL competition. The bad news is the local market for ebikes is not nearly as large as I thought it was. That means I will have to work very hard at helping to develop the market and educating the consumer.

Having said all that I’ll start with some e-bike basics.

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Electric bikes can & most often do look like regular bicycles or they can be an exercise in futuristic styling. They have most of the same parts like seats, handlebars wheels, tires, brakes, reflectors, etc. However, they also have an electric motor, batteries, an electronic controller, some wires and switches. All of which can be fairly well hidden ordisguised. They work much like a scooter but feel far more natural. (to me anyway) Electric bikes are also sold as electric bike kits. Meaning you can take your bicycle and add some magic juice to it. This gives you all the benefits of an electric bike and does so with your favorite ride. How can you go wrong with that?

Last but not least is the cost.

Ebike kits can go from $300 to $1,200 & complete ready to ride ebikes can go from $600 to $3,500. Yes that is a pretty broad price range but ebikes come in a pretty broad range with many sizes, flavors & lots of options.

Electric bikes are however gaining popularity for a number of reasons.

1. With the increasing awareness of sustainability, e-bikes get people where they need to go with an extremely low impact on the environment.

2. An e-bike gets you where you need to go faster than a pedal bike but without
losing any of the maneuverability.

3. Although e-bikes are motorized, you do not need a permit or license to operate one.

4. The running costs, fuel consumption and insurance for e-bikes is extremely low.

5. In some states, using an e-bike qualifies you for a tax incentive.

6. They are easy to use in hilly places, such as central Pennsylvania.

7. Parking your car & riding your bike not only helps the environment but it’s a great feeling knowing that you are actually one of the people doing something about it.

8. Riding a bike has always been fun. A little powered assistance makes it even more fun.

9. Most of us need more exercise. This is especially true the older we get.

10. The newer generations of consumers will begin to edge away from buying complex & expensive cars and move towards buying cheaper, easier to maintain & environmentally friendly e-bikes & other forms of alternative transportation.

E-bike hub motor, motor, Bicycle parts, electric bike kitI think we all know that keeping carbon out of the atmosphere is one of the keys to slowing down global warming. We know that the burning of fossil fuels in our vehicles is a large contributor to this carbon build up. One way we can help in reducing these carbon emissions is to leave the car at home & take the bicycle. Having an electric bicycle can be a great incentive for helping us to do this. How many times have you decided to start using your bike for work or for running errands only to discover that when the moment of truth came you didn’t go through with it. Maybe you rationalized that you really didn’t have the time or the energy to do it. If on the other hand you had an electric bicycle well then you wouldn’t have as many excuses. You’d be able to hop on and go without worrying about all the sweat and heavy exercise that goes with pedaling a bike. Electric bikes are extremely efficient users of energy. Yours and the planets. Riding your bike instead of driving your car can go a long way in helping to keep some of this carbon out of the atmosphere.

There is no doubt that e-bikes will gain in popularity and become a good investment. If 2011 doesn’t become the year the ebike took off I will be very surprised.

Start riding today. You’ll save money, improve your health, make new friends & help the planet.

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There is much more to be written about the basics of ebikes and their use as well as why is their such a lack of availability in certain markets. AND I plan to do this in future articles. I will also include links to other Web-Sites & re-post some of the exceptional articles that wind up in my in-box everyday. Please stay tuned to EZgo-Now.com or better yet subscribe to anyone of the RSS Readers located in the sidebar to your right & receive content updates automatically . In the meantime check out some of these excellent Web-Site & Blogs.

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