I used to ride bikes a lot. Back in my bicycle racing days I rode more than 3,000 miles a year. When my bicycle team disbanded and my kids went off to college, no one was pushing me to get out and ride. Over the next few years, I gained 35 pounds, lost my riding legs along with my desire to ride.
Recently my son started encouraging me to start riding again. When he asked if I wanted to go for a ride I would say I wasn’t in good enough shape to make it fun for him or me. I didn’t like being the slow guy that everyone waits for at the top of a hill.
He encouraged me to get an electric bicycle so I could keep up with the other riders, and therefore didn’t need to avoid a ride because I wasn’t in shape. He told me there was currently one down at the bike shop that I could test ride. I began to ponder getting an e-bike.
I began researching electric bicycles on my computer. What I learned surprised me and greatly peaked my interest. I finally pulled the trigger and here are my findings, which may spark your interested as well.
When I first heard the idea, riding an e-bike seemed like cheating to me. If I was going for a ride to get exercise, how would a motor help? Would others feel like I was a cheater? There was nothing wrong with the expensive bike I had, so how could I justify buying a new one?
As I read more about the e-bike online, I started to see a pattern. There were a lot of aging bicyclists who used to ride with groups but could not keep up any longer. That sounded just like me. When I was 48, I had no problem riding with the group on the Tuesday ride from the local bike shop. Now at 60, I can’t keep up, so I don’t want to ride.
So I bit the bullet and took an e-bike for a test ride and loved it. The one I settled on was a Specialized Creo Comp Carbon which sells for about $7,000. The bike has a motor that only works when I am peddling and adds power to my own efforts. This bike makes me feel young again!
When I’m in shape and riding my old road bike I have an average speed of about 14 MPH. But with the same amount of effort adding the Specialized motor to the mix, I can go 18 MPH. That extra power is the difference between riding with the group and being dropped and having them all wait for me to catch up at the next turn. It made me feel like I was 48 again.
So, I bought the bike and started riding, having not ridden for a long time. After only a few rides, my son asked to put the bike to the test. As an out of shape and overweight rider, I was able to ride 18 miles at 21 MPH with him drafting me. We both achieved a personal best on that loop. I have never been able to ride that fast, even when I was in shape.
Now I am able to ride the Tuesday group rides and fit right into the group. I’m able to keep up with the group, and I come home having had a great workout and a lot of fun.
There are some interesting ways a motorized bike can be used. If you are a person who wants to ride your bike to work but don’t want to arrive all sweaty, you can ride to work with the motor turned to the maximum support level and arrive refreshed. After work you can turn the motor off and get a great workout riding home.
If you are leery of riding to work because of a big hill you must climb, the motor will take the hill away. Hills and head winds mean nothing with the motor’s help.
Those are two situations that discourage people from riding their bikes. With an e-bike, everyone can get out and exercise again.
For me, it was the thought of not being able to keep up. Now I don’t have that problem. As I get into better shape, I keep turning down the motor and my work level increases.
Using an e-bike I am also able to do longer workouts. For any given effort level, I can ride faster and farther.
Yesterday, on my way home from a ride, I was feeling very tired. I had been riding by myself and turned the motor down for a tougher workout. But I was beet and still had three miles and a hill to navigate before arriving home. I pushed a button to put the motor on max and was able to get home on much less effort when I felt I didn’t have any energy left. It was like having a relief button.
The Specialized ads state the bike is “you, only faster.” I found that to be true. I am able to ride the bike with my heart rate in my aerobic workout range for a longer distance than it would have been on my nonelectric bike. Muscle fatigue is less of a factor in getting back into shape, which has allowed me to get a better aerobic workout. Without this bike I would still be home wishing I could join the biking group if only I could keep up.
Another great thing for us older riders is the front fork shock absorber and the carbon frame. Those two factors make the bike vibrate less during a ride, especially on the chip seal roads where I live, which means a lot less fatigue on a long ride.
There is one feature I haven’t tried yet, which seems like a great way to get back into shape. The bike can be set to increase or decrease the motor assist based on my heart rate. If I want to work out at a heart rate of 145, then the motor will adjust the amount of help it gives to keep my heart at 145 beats per minute. If my heart rate begins to climb, the motor turns up to drop my heart rate back down. If my heart rate gets too low, the motor turns down making me do more of the work and my heart rate climbs back up.
This is a great feature that automatically turns down the motor as I get into better shape. This gives me the same workout intensity every day as I get stronger.
The e-bike has made riding fun again as I have aged. It just added 20 years to my riding era. If you are losing your edge due to aging, this is a great way to compensate and get back into the pack.
Go to the local bike shop and take a test ride. I think you will love it. It is not cheating, but rather giving you your edge back and enabling you to achieve much more than you could without it.
The electric road bike I purchased is just one e-bike option. There are lots of different styles of bikes including: road, comfort, mountain, and cruisers. You can even get e-bikes that will run without peddling, like a motorcycle. I prefer a regular bike that just gives me the boost I need to ride with friends again. Prices range from $1,000 to $15,000. I think it is best to buy a bike with the same quality level you would have purchased without a motor, but now you have a motor. The motor ads about $1,000 – $2,000 to the price of the same unmotorized bike.
This reminds me of something I read about fitness as you age. One advantage older people have is our larger bank accounts. We can buy better gear than the youngsters have and it can give us the edge we need to hang with them.
Bicycle riding is fun again and I have set my sites on a 2,000 mile year, which I haven’t done for a decade. Anything that gets me back out exercising is a good thing. My new bike has made it fun again. I owe that to my son for talking me into purchasing a bike that got me back on the road. Try it yourself and see what you think.