Last Saturday, while attending Rochester’s Lilac Festival, we walked by Best Buys’ rather large booth.  In addition to the usual lineup of TV sets and video games, Best Buy also had some of their line of electric bicycles on display.  Pictured below are two views of the four models that they had on display.  In addition to these electric bicycles, Best Buy also sells electric scooters, some able to obtain 60 MPH, and the Segway.

So why buy an eBike anyway?  Admittedly, they are a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation then the automobile, but compared to a regular bicycle they have their drawbacks.  The bike’s electricity likely come from a coal plant, and the lithium for its batteries might be causing political instability somewhere else in the world.  Additionally, the “e” in eBiking comes with a pretty hefty price tag.  One example price point for an eBike is $2,000.  That same bicycle in non-eBike form would likely only cost about $500.

So what do you get for your money in an eBike?  Well, plainly said, you get power.  The power assist of an eBike is selectable by the rider, so-called on demand power.  An eBike’s power assist can range from fully powered transportation, to just a power assist, to no power at all, but what is the fun of that.  Best Buy’s eBikes offer stated speeds of 15 to 20 MPH.  The different model’s ranges vary from 15 up to 62 miles, a metric century.  I’m sure that your mileage will vary, with terrain, wind and the weight of the rider.  Best Buy even offers a “mountain eBike”.  Its electric motor offers extra power and more torque than their other models.  I could go on about it more, but I would probably start to sound like a truck commercial.

There is a certain geek factor involved with some of the higher end eBikes.  Like hybrid vehicles, these models offer features like brake recharging.  This is where the electric motor converts from a motor to an electric generator and uses electrical resistance to brake the bike.  With automatic brake recharging these eBikes can offer double the range over lower end models.

So who would buy an eBike?  Urban commuters seem to be the target market.  Today is National Bike to Work Day.  Weather permitting; I’ll bike to work today too.  My non-electric, human-powered vehicle will get me the eleven miles to work in just over an hour.  Unfortunately, I will be somewhat sweaty when I get there.  I think it is this sweat factor that is the eBike’s main selling point. 

I could ride plus MetroLink to work and thus eliminate most of those sweaty hills or I could simply take the plunge and join the company’s fitness club, if only to use the showers.  So far, I’ve relied upon the stinky approach, but then I don’t ride to work all that often.  I much prefer riding before work in the Park.  It is safer there, there are my Park acquaintances there and it also has better blog fodder too.  I much prefer to get up early and bike in the Park.  However, there is a certain cache with biking to work.  I have a very prominent bicycle parking spot.  Let’s check that weather forecast …

Anne and I signed up for the 2010 MS-150 charity bike ride on Thursday.  I have already posted here the link to my donation page.  As soon as Anne is ready, we’ll add her page too.  Donations are for a good cause, fighting Multiple Sclerosis.  Thank you if you have donated in the past, we would appreciate your continued support.

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