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December 2020 Issue
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Pedal or e-power?

Are e-bikes the go or no? Two Heretaunga Tramping Club members share their two cents.

Though not all cycle trails are suitable for e-bikes, the technology is working wonders for cycling accessibility.

“I tramped mightily for decades, but now I’ve got bad joints like a lot of us have and my energy capacity isn’t the same,” says e-bike user Christine Hardie.

The Hawke’s Bay resident cycles regularly with a group of ‘converts’ from the club – most aged between 50 and 80. She recently switched to riding e-bikes and is a big fan of the pedal assist technology, which gets her more kilometres for fewer calories.

“They’re fantastic – probably the best bit of tech that’s come my way just about ever,” she says.

Keeping an eye on the battery life is important, she says, as you can get caught out if you’re not vigilant. “You can use them without the battery, but they’re heavier to push along and their weight is quite considerable,” she says.

The extra weight can also cause issues when lifting the bikes onto carriers or with handling.

“They don’t respond as quickly as a conventional bike – I’ve had friends who have canned off and get out of control unfortunately,” she says.

Graeme Hare, 80, is another keen cyclist from the club – though he prefers riding under his own steam while he has the stamina.

“I haven’t tried an e-bike, because if I try one and I like it, I’ll be wanting to buy one and I’m not giving myself the temptation at this stage,” he says.
Hare also warns that e-bikes can be harder to control due to their weight, and it can surprise users who haven’t ridden regular bikes for decades.

“All of a sudden they find themselves in control of a bike that can give them a bit of a hiding if they fall off,” he says.