Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If you can ride a bike, you can ride an ebike

Retwitting good news from Niagara! :-)


If you can ride a bike,
you can ride an ebike!

By Penny Coles

   Billy Lake is not only getting around town a little easier, he is having a blast while he's at it. The Shaw Festival actor has never driven a car or had a driver's licence, so he is accustomed to relying on a bicycle for transportation. But he recently discovered ebikes, and now can not only get around town but to Niagara Falls or St. Catharines without arriving exhausted and sweaty, he says. "All my friends want to borrow it," he says, "but that's not happening." He's having too much fun with it himself. "There's no gas to worry about, no parking problems, no registration and no hassle. And I can go to work in style."
   An ebike is powered by a battery, can go up to 32 kilometres an hour, is more eco-friendly than a car, and no licence or insurance is required. If you can ride a bicycle, you can ride an ebike, assures ESkoot owner Colin Telfer—rent one to tour around town in style, or if you want an alternative way to get to work, you can purchase one. You've likely seen a few locals scooting to an afternoon Shaw performance or on errands around town, he says. "I expected rentals would be the majority of our business, but so far it's been sales to residents. Some are seniors who are using it instead of a second car, and some people just like the convenience of not having to look for a parking space." There are no gears to worry about and no clutch—it's almost like driving a golf cart, except that it requires the same balance as riding a bike. It takes just seconds to get used to it, says Lake.
   "I was a little nervous at first, but it is really very easy to ride—easier than a bicycle, because you don't have to pedal. I think it took all of five seconds to figure it out."
The smallest of the models, which sell for less than $900, look like a bike with a battery, while the larger models, all EMMO brands, go for up to $1,595 and look more like a scooter.
They can be pedalled for a short distance in an emergency, but they're heavy - you wouldn't want to go too far, says Telfer. A gauge on the bike gives lots of warning if the charge is running out, he explains, so there won't be any unwelcome surprises.
   You can go 40 to 70 kilometres on one charge, depending on your weight and the terrain, he says. And if you compare the cost of recharging to the price of fuel, it would be the equivalent of getting about 600 miles per gallon at today's fuel prices. It costs about 35 cents to recharge and takes six to seven hours, says Telfer. And you can enjoy our local bike paths—Ontario laws treat ebikes as they would a traditional bike, although pedestrians like to be warned when one is passing—they are just as quiet as a bicycle. "They allow you to travel a lot faster than on a bike, but you can still relax and enjoy the scenery, and even carry on a conversation if there are two of you," Telfer says.
   If you're renting one, a security deposit is required, and you're asked to remain within about a 12-kilometre radius of downtown, which will take you to Queenston, Virgil, and most area wineries for visitors on a wine tour. Riders must be 16 or older to rent one, and a helmet will be supplied.
For more information call 289-271-0663 or drop in to 376 Mary Street.