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The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that all states and territories create mandatory bike helmet laws that would require everyone, child or adult, to wear a bicycle helmet when riding.

Wearing a bicycle helmet could reduce head injuries by 48 percent and serious head injuries by 60 percent, according to Dr. Ivan Cheung, a transportation research analyst at the NTSB.

Leading bicycle advocacy group, The League of American Bicyclists, also encourages “bicyclists to wear helmets and strongly recommends the wearing of helmets that (a) are properly fitted to the rider and (b) meet the bicycle helmet standards of either the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Society of Testing and Materials, or the Snell Memorial Foundation.”

Furthermore, in a recent EVELO podcast, we heard that “head injuries are catastrophic and new helmet technology can really reduce the odds of that happening.”

A Controversial Recommendation

The NTSB’s bike helmet recommendation is nonetheless likely to be controversial for several reasons, including the efficacy of bicycle helmets; the difference between a recommendation and a mandate; and the fact that the real problem with bicycle safety may have to do with infrastructure and education, not protective gear.

Helmet Efficacy

Not everyone believes bicycle helmets reduce risk significantly. Take, for example, a recent post on the “Bicycle Dutch” blog.

In the post, Ralph Marrett discusses why Dutch bicyclists tend not to wear bicycle helmets and writes a response to a 2016 Reuters report that said wearing a bike helmet reduces the chance of brain injury by 52 percent (which is even better than the NTSB estimate mentioned above).

“What about the ‘huge reduction (eg. 52 percent) in brain injuries’ that occurs when helmets are worn? Why do we, why do the Dutch, ignore these things and continue to go about our business as if the reduction in brain injuries is not a big deal – after all we are going to be riding bikes for our whole lives,” wrote Marrett.

“Well, just maybe, the Dutch intuitively understand something that the rest of the world appears to be missing…It turns out that, assuming everything else stays the same, the reduction, for example, in the likelihood of traumatic brain injury expected if a helmet is worn over a whole lifetime of riding a bike is ‘rather less than 2 percentage points.’”

“And this is ‘assuming everything else stays the same’-in particular that wearing a helmet does not make an accident more likely, for example by impairing riders’ hearing, or limiting their awareness of their surroundings, or by adversely affecting the behaviour of bike riders or the surrounding traffic, even by what might seem to be a fairly small amount,” Marrett continued, quoting, in part, a 2014 study of traumatic brain injuries in The Netherlands.

According to Marrett and his hand-drawn charts, a Dutch bicyclist has about a 3.1 percent chance of experiencing a traumatic brain injury as the result of a bicycle accident in his or her lifetime. Wearing a bicycle helmet would lower the risk to about 1.5 percent, which is around a 52 percent reduction. But, according the Marrett regardless of whether a helmet is worn or not, the chance of experiencing a brain injury in a bicycle accident is low.

This hand-drawn chart shows that overall risk for a brain injury is relatively low for everyone.

Similarly, in 2010 a British neurosurgeon, Dr. Henry March, said that bicycle helmets are ineffective and may actually cause additional injury, according to a CNET article.

While many experts do recommend wearing a bicycle helmet when you ride, it is clear that Marrett, March, and, frankly, others don’t believe helmets will help. Thus, the potential for controversy.

Recommendation versus Mandate

Earlier, it was mentioned that The League of American Bicyclist recommends that you wear a properly fitting and well made bicycle helmet when you ride. But the organization is not in favor of mandating it.

“We are disappointed with NTSB's decision to endorse mandatory helmet laws for all people who bike,” wrote Laura Jenkins on the League’s website.

It is one thing to encourage a rider to consider a helmet, perhaps, review the research for oneself, and make a decision on your own, but it is entirely different for the government to mandate some piece of safety equipment.

This difference, which is by no means subtle, is also likely to cause a controversy if states begin to act on the NTSB’s recommendation.

The Real Bicycle Safety Concern

Finally, this November 2019 NTSB helmet law recommendation is likely to be controversial because it overshadows what might be the real causes of bicycle accidents.

“The League believes that the safety of people who bike will be best advanced through coordinated improvements to streets and cars,” wrote Jenkins,” rather than laws that may be enforced in discretionary and discriminatory ways.”

This may be especially poignant, because the NTSB itself found that infrastructure was a leading cause of bicycle injury.

“If we do not improve roadway infrastructure for bicyclists, more preventable crashes will happen and more cyclists will die in those preventable crashes, ” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt.

So Should You Wear a Helmet?

Our recommendation is still, yes. You should wear a bicycle helmet. But we would also encourage you not to just take our word for it. Rather, do a bit of research and make a good decision for yourself.

Enviolo sells one of the most advanced bicycle transmissions in the world. And its best trick is that it simply makes riding your electric bike better. That doesn’t mean learning about how a continuously variable transmission works isn’t interesting and engaging, because it is. In fact, that is why we invited David Hancock from Enviolo to join us for The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can listen to the podcast here and follow along with the transcript below.

Armando: Continuously variable or stepless transmissions are among the most popular features you can find on an electric bike or a conventional bicycle. They're popular because they have a significant impact on how the bike handles and performs, whether you're going up a hill or riding down a long incline.

Now, my name is Armando Roggio and in this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, we're going to speak with David Hancock, who is the managing director of Enviolo, the company that makes many of the continuously variable transmissions that you'll find on our bikes and other electric bicycles. David, hello, and welcome to the podcast.

David: Thank you. Thanks for the invitation.

From Fallbrook Technologies to Enviolo

Armando: So, I'd like to start off real quick by helping the listeners know who you are, in a sense. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got into the bicycle industry and what your background is?

David: Okay. That's not the most straightforward answer, but I'll be happy to share that. So Fallbrook is a company that was founded on a transmission architecture that was not specified or designed specifically for any one application, or any one use case, or one any one industry. The transmission architecture was meant to be industry agnostic, and I came to Fallbrook during the phase when it was not focusing on the bicycle industry. So that's why it's maybe a little bit more coincidental that I do work in the bike industry now.

So I'm an outsider from the bike industry. I have 20 years experience running small divisions or small businesses between 30 and 50 people, that make stuff. They make a product, fix it when it breaks, design it to be better than the competition, sell it, market it, put it in a box, ship it. I don't have experience with big companies, I don't have experience with service companies.

I'm a small company, small product company guy. And I came to be in the bike industry because I was working in a company that made a generator for large freight trucks, and Fallbrook happened to acquire that company. I was a partner in that company, and Fallbrook brought me in and spent about a year, figuring out what do we do with this guy? And about that time, Fallbrook wanted to make a decision about their bike business, so they decided that since David is outside of the bike business, he might have a fresh perspective. But since David is an insider to product businesses and small businesses, he might have a little bit of an advantage there, in that evaluation process.

So, in 2013, I led an evaluation team to decide what to do with Fallbrook's bike business, which is now called Enviolo. And during that evaluation process, we decided that the product was perfect for e-bikes and perfect for high use bikes, like bike sharing bikes, and we went and built a business plan to go and be a European based e-bike company that we executed in 2014.

Living in the Netherlands

Armando: And that's how you ended up in the Netherlands, right?

David: Yes. Originally, I was going to stay in the States and we thought we'd have about one half of our staff in the States and one half in Europe. And I was going to stay in the States and then my wife and I became with child — her a little more than me — and our one and only child was born in 2015.

So here I was, flying back and forth from Austin, Texas to Europe once every six weeks, once every eight weeks, and decided that I just didn't want to keep doing that. If they wanted me to be in a leadership position, that I should move over there or we should phase me out, and I guess you can tell what decision Fallbrook made now, because we've been living here four years. Four years and three months, and are happily integrated into Dutch life.

What is a CVT?

Armando: That's awesome. So let's turn our attention a little bit to Enviolo. Obviously, the product that we use on the bikes we make that a EVELO, is your continuously variable planetary, which we frankly call a continuously variable transmission. Is there a difference between those terms?

David: Yes. A CVP, continuously variable planetary is a specific type of a CVT, a continuously variable transmission. So there are other architecture styles that can achieve a CVT, other than a planetary style. So it just depends on how specific you want to be. All CVPs are CVTs, but not all CVTs are planetary.

Armando: Understood. It's kind of the square and the rectangle thing.

David: A little bit, yeah. Yeah. So there are belt CVTs and there are conical CVTs, and there are other architectural concepts out there.

Armando: So with that in mind, why don't you describe for us a little bit about how the CVPs that your company builds, work?

David: Sure. Our CVT uses balls that have a hole drilled through the middle, and, therefore, an axle can go through the ball. Then there are these arms out to the side that can tilt the ball one way or another. And when it tilts all the way in one direction, we call that underdrive, and that would be a ratio below 1:1.

Then they can also tilt into overdrive, which is a ratio above one-to-one. Our transmission has about 400% in theory, 400% theoretical ratio range. We sell it at about 380% to kind of get it out of the extremes.

So, that means that no matter where we want to set underdrive and overdrive, it needs to stay in about a four-to-one ratio. So if we set underdrive at 0.5, then overdrive is going to be 2.0, considering one-to-one would be, the wheels are spinning at the same speed of transmission spits.

Armando: If I'm thinking of underdrive for example, am I saying that the plate — if plate is the right term — on the side where the force is coming from, if you will, is going faster than the side where the output is. Is that a fair way of looking at it?

David: Yeah. Well, let's just say it really, really layman. Underdrive helps you climb a hill.

Armando: Perfect.

David: So underdrive is going to let your feet and legs go at a faster ratio than the wheel. And then overdrive is the opposite. It's going downhill, where you don't want your legs to be flailing at the same ratio as your wheel speed.

Shifting Under Load

Armando: What is the advantage of this kind of transmission, versus the old gears that I had on my bike, when I was growing up?

David: Yeah. So there are a lot of, let's say, detailed advantages, but macroscopically, there's one giant advantage that is our master unique selling proposition. And that advantage is that we can shift under load. So while power is going through our transmission, we can shift ratios or gears. We don't really have gears, but in that sense.

So, you don't need a clutch, to think of an analogy, on a car. You can move between different ratios, without interrupting the power. While that is nice on a non-electric bike, because your legs are the motor, that becomes incredibly important on an electric bike, because the human can't easily interrupt the power from the engine.

So, that unique selling proposition really creates all kinds of opportunities for it. It makes the product more robust, it makes the product more enjoyable, it makes it have smooth shifting. It makes it have a lot of different things. But, all of those different details that we sell on, that we use as attributes to talk about a product, they really all go back to that one central theme, we can shift under load, under power.

Armando: That makes sense. And that's again one of the reasons that your CVT is often paired with an electric bike.

Manual or Automatic

Armando: Now when it does come to shifting under power, or I guess anytime, you have a couple of options, a manual and an automatic. Talk a little bit about the differences between those two.

David: Sure. So our manual shifter is what you would expect. It has no electronics in it. It has cables that run from the handlebar through the frame of the bike, to the rear wheel, where the transmission is, and when you twist the cable one way or another, it changes the ratios. That is fundamentally the same as all of the competitive products, whether it's a derailleur or an internal gear hub that does have gears and does not have CVT. You turn something on the handle a wire and a cable pushes or pulls a device attached to the transmission, and therefore changes the ratio.

David Hancock with the Enviolo CVT.

 

So our manual shifter does what is sort of expected of bike transmission systems, and has been over the last several decades. We also have an automatic system and that relies on electronics. The difference there is that our electronic system puts a small servo at the rear wheel, which is a little bit like a window lift motor, as far as configuration and power. That servo waits for a signal from the user, and that signal can be a bunch of different ways. It can be from something on the handlebars, it can be from an app, it can be from a third party device. It waits for a signal, and that signal tells our transmission what ratio to go to.

And what does that mean? That means that we can do really cool things. Like, if you want the person's legs to always be at the same RPM, we can monitor wheel speed, we can monitor pedal speed, and then we can always adjust the ratio of the transmission to keep the person at the same cadence, or keep the person's legs at the same RPM.

It's almost like a reverse cruise control. In your car, you set the speed on your cruise control, but the engine varies the RPMs to keep that speed. This is just flipped around. This one, we keep the engine, which is your legs at the same RPM, but we can vary the speed. So if you want to speed up, you just try to peddle a little bit harder and therefore the transmission tries to slow you down, because it's trying to keep your cadence the same and therefore the bike goes faster. And then vice versa, if you slow down your legs, transmission makes it easier to pedal, which keeps your RPM the same, but then the bike where to slow down.

Bluetooth?

Armando: Makes sense. And you mentioned that it could be controlled by an app or third party device. Do you find that, by manufacturer, they're building, I don't know, their own individual way of managing or working with your transmission?

David: Well, that is our hope, and we have started to scratch the surface on that. Our original automatic shifting system didn't have Bluetooth. Our one that's coming out next year in 2020, does have Bluetooth, which creates a little bit more ease of use for controlling our devices by third party.

But to answer your question, some of the e-bike system makers that make the motor and the battery have integrated into their system, where you can control our transmission from the e-bike interface and some haven't. So we are hopeful to be a bit of a trendsetter here with our new product, where there's more third party devices that will choose to integrate because it's easier now.

The Electric Bike Industry

Armando: That makes sense. What about the industry, I guess, as a whole? The electric bike industry is growing, you have a kind of unique perspective on e-bikes and e-bikes growth. From your position, do you in fact believe the industry is growing, and if you do, where do you see some of those growth areas?

David: Well, it's definitely growing. We have lots of syndicated data and third party data to validate that. The e-bike market is growing in the areas of the world where it's most mature. Germany and Holland still has unbelievable growth. And it's growing in the areas of the world where it's a little bit more in its early childhood years, which is North America and France and Italy, and some of those other countries.

That's what's so exciting about about EVELO, is that they are actually part of the shaping of the North American market in that childhood years. But what's been amazing about the e-bike growth is that, usually you don't have a market moving from its early years into its more mature years. You usually don't have that market also have average selling price rising. Usually, when a market matures and more sophisticated competition comes, there also comes price pressure and more and more parts of that market become commoditized and are under price pressure.

Well, what's been amazing, let's just say over the last 10 years of the explosion of the e-bike industry, is that in the last three or four years, the growth has continued, as far as a percentage of year over year growth, with the denominator being so much higher, now that the market's maturing. And the average buy price has stayed the same or gone up.

That's, in my opinion, a result of what e-bikes can do for a family or a person that wants to use that as a transportation option, and the amount of technology that the component companies are putting into e-bikes, that people are willing to pay for.

Armando: Put that in another way. There's a lot of ways where an e-bike is like a bicycle, but in reality, this is really competing for many people as a form of alternative transportation and therefore has more value. They can spend more. Is that a fair summary of what you said?

David: Yeah. Let's actually impact that a little bit differently. I think my words were there's become more and more things that an e-bike can do for someone in their life, and as you said, it can become a different mode of transportation. Well, it actually can replace a bicycle, a scooter, maybe jumping in a taxi, it can replace a car trip. Now with cargo bikes, it actually could replace a commercial trip, which is maybe a delivery of a pizza or delivery of a parcel.

So as e-bikes have have matured, people get to use them in different ways, which has kept the price up, which has also kept the investment up from the component companies, to make them even more cooler and more able to do different stuff. So this wonderful circle going is that, as the bike industry grows, it actually has more use cases for transportation, which furthers more investment and more growth.

First and Last Mile Transportation

Armando: Does first and last mile transportation also play a role in that?

David: Definitely, definitely. That can be from a personal point of view, where I own a bike and it's my personal vehicle. It can be from a bikeshare point of view, where I want to slide that bike into some other aspect of my life. Maybe I dropped my car part of the way, and got a bike share bike for the last part of the way. I take a train a part of the way, take a bike share bike, the last part of the way. And it can also be in a B2B setting. You know, delivering that pizza, delivering that UPS parcel, delivering that Amazon parcel that last mile. So there are several ways that that the last part of the journey being accomplished by an e-bike makes more sense.

External Factors Impacting Electric Bikes

Armando: Do you have any opinions about outside of the industry factors? Maybe changes in the environment or environmentalism, changes in government policy. Do you believe those are also playing a role in electric bike growth?

David: Yeah. I do believe there are some external forces, environmental, social, governmental, that push and pull on the e-bike industry and its growth. The hardest part about that is, as soon as you want to talk about that, someone wants you to be in a prediction role. "Well, what do you think is going to happen?"

That's the most difficult part, is what to predict. Are the government's going to build more infrastructure? What's going to happen to the price of gasoline? Is it going to go down because of drilling technology, or is it going to go up because of taxation and regulation?

Some of that's difficult to see which one of those external forces will influence the future the most. But definitely looking backwards, it's been the price of gasoline, the difficulty of getting down the last mile in congested cities, in highly dense urban environments.

Transforming His Company

Armando: David, you've been very good about describing your product and the industry. Are there some things I didn't ask, that you'd like the listeners to know about your product or the industry more generally?

David: Well, I'll mention a couple of things about our company. Our company has always had a great product. It's been highly durable, it's been very technologically advanced. And it was easy for us to maybe get a little bit lazy there and say, "Well, our product is so good, it'll just sell itself". And two or three years ago, we decided to just throw that assumption out the window and say, "We need to be easy to do business with, and we need to be a great brand, that happens to have a great product".

And that's been something we've been working hard on in our morale, and our culture, and our service levels. What I've found is that, while we're definitely not perfect, is that that switch away from being attribute focused to being a great company, is actually not just a trend that's helping Enviolo to be successful, it's actually a core theme in the e-bike industry.

And we've seen, early on, the people that were winning in the e-bike industries were just the first ones to have a bike or the first ones to have a technology. But as the market starts to mature, the winners in the bike industry are more and more the companies that are easy to do business with, that have great brands, that fix problems if they happen, that take care of their customers.

So, it's been interesting watching what has been a good recipe for us, and a good North star and grounding principle for us, is also what is really separating the middle of the pack companies from the great e-bike companies.

Summing Up

Armando: Absolutely. David, it was a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. I very much appreciate it.

David: Well, thank you so much Armando.

Armando: I also want to thank you, the podcast listeners for joining us today. I hope that you learned something about continuously variable transmissions, and that you in fact liked the podcast so much that you'd share it with your friends and tell them how great the Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO is. I also hope you'll take a few minutes to visit our website at evelo.com E-V-E-L-O .com. I very much appreciate you listening. Have a great rest of your day.

Electric bikes will be given more access to U.S. public lands. That was the U.S. Department of Interior's August 2019 directive to the various land-managing agencies it oversees. But what exactly does that mean for e-bike riders?

As Noa Banayan, federal affairs manager at People for Bikes, explains, it could mean different things for each class of electric bicycle at each individual park, dam, or recreation area. So while this is good news for the electric bike community, it is nuanced. Noa took a few minutes to explain this new policy on The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can listen to that podcast and follow along with the transcript below.

People for Bikes

Armando Roggio: In August, 2019, the US Department of Interior laid out a framework that could allow folks riding electric bicycles, greater access to public land. Including lands managed by the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. This could be great news for those of us who ride electric bikes.

My name is Armando Roggio and in this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, we're going to speak with Noa Banayan, who is the federal affairs manager at People for Bikes. Noa, thank you so much for being with us.

Noa Banayan: Yes, thanks for having me.

Armando Roggio: Noa, would you tell us a little about yourself and then describe what you do for People for Bikes?

Noa Banayan: Sure. Well, my name's Noa. I am based in DC. I've been working in policy for three years now and about only the past six months have been with People for Bikes. I am our federal affairs manager, so I have the past six months been learning anything and everything that has to do with federal policies pertaining to bicycles. Bicycle funding, how States get funding from the federal government. And a lot of that has been on the recreation side too. So, figuring out where we're bikes are allowed on public lands and of course the distinction between conventional bikes and electric bikes.

Armando Roggio: What is your organization's purpose or what is People for Bikes, "reason to be", if you will?

Noa Banayan: Our goal is to make every bike ride better and to make it a better experience for all people who choose to ride their bikes. We are a trade association for the bicycle industry, so our membership on that side are, bike companies and bicycle product accessories, dealers, suppliers, retailers. But we also have a foundation that has ... we have a grassroots network of over a million supporters across the country and our foundation does a lot. We offer grants to small projects that relate to biking and more advocacy too.

Electric Bike Access

Armando Roggio: The work People for Bikes does, particularly advocating for bikes, is one of the reasons that I asked you to join us, Noa. As you well know, on August 30th the US Department of Interior released a memorandum related to electric bike usage. Would you please talk a little about that, describe what it is and then maybe start to speak about its impact?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. So yes, on August 30th, the Department of Interior put out a secretarial order. Basically this order, coming from the secretary of himself, Secretary Bernhardt, was a directive to the land management agencies within the Department of Interior. And I'll get into, the agencies and their separate missions in a minute. But the directive was, here's a framework for increasing access for e-bikes on our public lands.

Here are the ways that you can discern access on different types of infrastructure, whether that's a bike lane on a road, in a national park, or a national surface singled trail within BLM. Regardless of where it is, here are the tools that we are offering you and the framework that we're offering for each of these land management agencies to create their own policies for access and to decide where and what kinds of e-bikes are allowed on their biking opportunities. And because that was coming from the secretary of interior, that was a directive to the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Armando Roggio: Maybe define or describe those agencies. What are the different sorts of lands they manage?

Noa Banayan: Sure. So National Park Service, of course, national parks all around. They actually came out with their own policy, their interim policy, the same day on August 30th, wanting to lead the charge on this. So of course, major public lands in national parks, there aren't a lot of mountain biking experiences necessarily. Not a lot of natural surface single track. A lot more roads, gravel roads, fire roads, things like that where you might have a mountain biking experience but a lot more paved trails that you'll find in national parks.

Bureau of Land Management is the other really big one for mountain biking, and if you talk to any mountain biker, they'll have their favorite BLM spot. There's a lot of natural surface single track opportunities and experiences that you can find in BLM lands and those are mostly out West. The Fish and Wildlife Service has national wildlife refuges with some biking opportunities, and the Bureau of Reclamation is mostly known in the and the biking community for their reservoirs and sort of rim trails around the reservoirs. Again, mostly out west where their bike infrastructure has been built.

Individual Policies

Armando Roggio: Each of these agencies needs to create policies for electric bikes. Would you talk about those policies and what someone who wants to ride an electric bike on public lands can expect.

Noa Banayan: Within the secretarial orders from August 30th, there was a brief timeline that they originally put out. So by September 12th, these agency had to at least begin the process of figuring out their interim policy, what is the law of the land until we go through a broader process. What that process looks like is up to each agency. And it really comes down to the land managers and the superintendents of these pieces of land. So superintendents for national parks, land managers for other public land units, and they have a lot of authority over these policies because one national park is going to be very different from another, same with any parcel of land and their BLM or Fish and Wildlife. So giving the authority to each local manager to discern what process would take place in their unit.

It's something that we've seen a lot of. Maybe not a lot, but at least several public lands units, especially within the park service, recently put out there. Let's see, I have a list here of some of them, I think Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Bryce Canyon, Acadia, they've all sort of put out some of their own policies to manage e-bike access and discern, "Well, maybe we want class ones and maybe class two and three, they're not going to be okay on this national surface. But class one is allowed." So, we are expecting probably within the next few days to see what these finalized processes will look like, where there's going to be opportunity for public comment because part of the secretarial order was ensuring that these policies are subject to public notice and comment. And that's really important to us too. And in that we definitely spent a lot of these advocates and companies that wants to do right by their riders.

So making sure that the folks who actually are going to be writing in those areas, the local mountain biking community or e-biking community, I'm sure that will be a growing thing too in these days, has their opportunity to weigh in and say, "Well, we think class one would be awesome on this surface, but maybe not class two and three." But gravel road, it's a bit wide. We can put them all out there. There's more room and so that's the process we're in right now. We know that land managers and these agencies are busy collecting a lot of information from lots of their local communities, their riders, their local advocacy groups. Demoing e-bikes even. You have to ride an e-bike to know what it's all about. Right? So that's where we're at right now.

Electric Bike Class Recognized

Armando Roggio: Noa, it's interesting as you mentioned, the electric bike classes, -- class one, class two and class three -- that these definitions were recognized by the Department of Interior, is that correct?

Noa Banayan: Yep, they were.

Armando Roggio: You mentioned that some agencies are trying to decide when a class two electric bike will be allowed access to a given trail. Now, primarily the difference, as the listeners of our podcasts probably know, is that the class two electric bike has a throttle.

Now, many if not most, class two electric bikes are not some kind of commercial vehicle, but rather riders, many riders, especially new riders or riders with physical limitations or even older riders choose class two because it's easier to start from a dead stop and then pedal once the bike is moving. Or it can be a safety mechanism, if you get tired or if you get injured. In fact, limiting someone to class one when that's the only difference might be a form of age discrimination, right? So your organization, People for Bikes, are you trying to communicate with these agencies and explain some of the subtle differences that might not be perfectly clear from a technical definition of the classes?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. We've been engaged in what has really been a public process for almost five years now. Each of these land management agencies, they know about e-bikes, they know there are people that want to ride them and they know that they require a certain amount of nuance and understanding how they work, where they make sense and who is using them. We have been participating in these round tables with several of these agencies alongside a lot of our partners and advocacy mainly to offer technical assistance and understanding the three different class systems, because it can get a little complicated if you're new to the e-bike world. And making sure that land managers that want to demo these bikes, have the opportunity. So we've even put on some demo events over the past few years.

Not the Wild West

Armando Roggio: That letter you sent to agencies, I believe you shared a copy with me too. It had some recommendations. Do you want to mention those?

Noa Banayan: Sure. And I'll just clarify. The letter I had shared with you is something we sent early August before this policy was announced. This was just to make our position clear as we had heard that this policy was something that would be coming soon from the Department of Interior. So, right. So we sent a letter up to Secretary Bernhardt, as well as the Forest Service, which you'll note I haven't been talking about. Forest Service falls under the Department of Agriculture. So while there's fantastic recreation opportunities in Forest Service land, it doesn't apply to this policy. So while that's a separate issue, our position doesn't necessarily change between DOI and then the US Forest Service. So, right. So, that letter that we sent up is just clarifying our position at the federal level, clarifying what we had been advocating for at the state level for the past five years or so too. And so trying to keep that consistent as to where we believe e-bikes should go on federal public lands.

Armando Roggio: So this new policy or new framework for electric bike policies, it clearly doesn't allow complete access to public lands. You can't just go out and start riding across the wilderness, right?

Noa Banayan: Right. I guess I've been so focusing on what the policy does, say it is really important in this specific issue to talk about what it doesn't say and what it doesn't mean. Because you're right, there has been a lot of misinformation, and I think there was a big media frenzy right after the announcement. Basically just saying that, "E-bikes are going to be allowed on all public lands everywhere right now." Which couldn't be farther from the truth. I stand by how I explained it before, that secretarial order was a directive. It provided a framework. It didn't say, "Okay, now the Grand Canyon is fully open to e-bikes, all classes, right now."

And so a part of what we've been doing in the past 30 days or so is making sure that distinction is very clear because it is pretty nuanced. Makes it harder to describe, but I think makes it really important so that all the sensitivities that come with mountain biking access and e-mountain bikes, and e-bikes are heard and considered. And part of the conversation.

Environmental Impacts

Armando Roggio: Noa, you mentioned the media coverage around this directive. One aspect of that coverage is centered around environmental impact. Some have argued that allowing electric mountain bikes, for example, on some trails will harm the environment. Did you want to speak to that a bit?

Noa Banayan: I can talk a little bit to that, sure. So we have ... and I can share them with you, but on our e-bikes information page in our website, we have links to some studies that have been done that have addressed that that concern, at least for class one e-bikes and e-mountain bikes. And basically the findings were that that class one e-mountain bikes don't have impacts to the natural surface, to the trails themselves, environmental impacts that are different from a conventional bike. I recently heard it referred to as an acoustic bike instead of an electric bike. And I also really like that distinction. So I keep thinking of that, but that's what those studies have found.

I think we can all agree that more studies wouldn't hurt, especially as it comes to class two and three and even more than the environmental impact, but the social impacts. And what is it like to have a trail where there are lot of e-bikes and e-mountain bikes even where conventional bikes have only been allowed for the past so many years. So we're definitely supportive of more information there. But for now our concerns are more on the social impacts than the environmental impacts, at least as it relates to class one.

Social Impacts

Armando Roggio: So what are some of the social impacts? Are these concerns about congestion? Or are there concerns about speed? What are the social impacts?

Noa Banayan: Yeah, I think that's what most people would say. Especially, your hardcore public lands bikers and mountain bikers. The idea that something might be passing you that has more power than maybe your legs alone does. I guess, it's a change. It's a shifting paradigm of how we ride on our public lands. I mean, I'll tell you from someone who has ridden an e-bike in these places and conventional bikes, it's not that different. It's really not. And congestion I understand is a concern. But I ride the C&O canal trail starting in Washington DC almost every weekend. And I don't see a lot of e-bikes on there to be honest. But it is a national park. It is very congested already, but that's pedestrians and cyclist alone.

So class one doesn't go above 20 miles an hour, and class two we know also maxes out at 20 miles an hour. With the throttle of course might be a little shocking to see someone move on a bike that isn't peddling.

But I don't think that's going to knock anyone off their bike. Class three maxes out at 28 miles an hour. And these are all speeds that anyone who regularly rides a bike can reach. Maybe 28's a little on the high end, but at least 20 miles an hour. You're on a flat roadway or going down a hill, you can reach that on your own. So I don't think that there will be a huge social impact when it comes to putting e-bikes where they make sense in our public lands.

Electric Bike Benefits

Armando Roggio: Noa, you mentioned that a strong or maybe just a good cyclist can reach 20 miles per hour or more without a motor. One of the great benefits I think of an electric bike is that it can be a leveler. You can find a balance between riders. I had been on rides or with riders where I might be the strongest one in the group, and I was able to turn down or turn off the pedal assistance, and we all rode together enjoying each other's company. And I have been the weakest rider, so that I had to turn up the pedal assistance to keep up. What do you think about that idea? What are some of the other benefits of an electric bike and do we include different social groups with electric bikes with this sort of policy we've been discussing?

Noa Banayan: Absolutely. And I think that's one of the things we're most excited about, is opening up access to these incredible public lands, basic riding experiences and landscapes that so many people wouldn't have access to without a little boost in their pedal.

E-bikes, they're the fastest growing sector of the bike industry and the main purchaser of an e-bike, the demographics, are baby boomers. So knowing that our baby boomers are either ditching a car or deciding to go further into a national park or a public land near them, they're getting more exercise. That's awesome. They're staying active. They're helping actually reduce congestion in parts where traffic may have been really heavy near a trail head or a visitor center by being able to go a little bit further without having to worry about having the energy or the ability to make it back. So being able to expand these opportunities so grandma can come for the ride, or a person who might not be able to push a bike in normal way.

Like you were saying, class two, the throttle makes it great for folks who might not be able to just get it started for whatever reason. We think that it is expanding those opportunities and creating more access for great rides is so important. And that's what e-bikes are really for. I mean if you just want to go fast, that's great too. We don't have any problem with that, but knowing that more people are going to get out in our public lands, experience why they're so special because of an e-bike. I think that's the best story out there.

Armando Roggio: This may sound funny, but I think an industry can make you feel good about what you do. And I think the electric bike industry is one of those. We are helping folks reduce car trips, enjoy the outdoors and stay relatively more healthy. It's just a good feeling to be involved with electric bikes. I hope you agree with that.

Noa Banayan: I sure do. I wouldn't still be here if I didn't, but I fully agree. Yeah. I think so many people are seeing our public lands through their nose pressed against the window of their car. And e-bikes are going to be the thing that changes that so you can actually smell the air around you and feel what's so special about them.

An Ongoing Effort

Armando Roggio: You've really given us a good overview of this framework and some of the resulting policies. Are there any things that I haven't asked about that are important for the listeners to know about this directive?

Noa Banayan: Sure, yeah. So like I said, this is an ongoing process. E-bike access opened up on August 30th on all public lands. And it's still going to take some time for your local BLM unit or your favorite national park to figure out exactly where and how bikes are going to have access in their lands. If you want to stay updated on how that process moves and be able to offer your input. I highly recommend checking out our website at PeopleforBikes.org, all one word. And signing up to stay alert on e-bikes. We have a specific e-bike news list that we've been updating with these announcements and as we hear from more parks units and other lands units, we'll be making sure that our lists are aware of opportunities they have to use their voice to talk about e-bikes.

And I just want to again highlight, it's awesome that the government's coming around to something that is being used and being integrated into so many of our lives with e-bikes. The fact that we are finally getting the federal definition as it relates to access right now, all of we've got before this policy was the consumer safety product commissions definition of an e-bike, which has nothing to do with where can anybody go. So this first step in making access more available to more people on bikes, it's not something we should take lightly and it's certainly something we're excited about and excited to see how it goes.

Armando Roggio: Noa, thank you so much for being on the podcast with me.

Noa Banayan: Thanks so much for having me.

Armando Roggio: I also want to thank you for listening to this, The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. I hope you learned something about this new US Department of Interior directive, and I hope you'll continue to pay attention to the policies impacting electric bikes. I would also like you to check out The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide on the EVELO website. While you are there you can also get a free bike, fit consultation. Thank you again. Take care.

Electric bikes could enable a seven percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030. For this to happen, Americans will need to replace many short car trips and commutes with e-bike trips.

“Most urban trips are less than 5 kilometers ; a short enough distance that it can be traveled by e-bikes and e-scooters in roughly the same amount of time as personal vehicles,” according to the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP), a New York-based cycling and alternative transportation advocacy group.

“Thanks to the boost in speed from electricity, these devices can cover more ground faster than traditional, non-electric bikes and scooters. Replacing cars presents significant climate benefits: if the mode share for e-bikes rises to 11 percent, we could see a 7-percent decrease in CO2 emissions from the urban transport sector by 2030, which is equivalent to taking 134 million cars off the road. Up to 50 percent of short-distance car trips in US cities, and up to 70 percent in UK cities, could be replaced by electric micromobility modes,” again according to the ITDP.

 

What Cities Can Do

The ITDP comments accompanied the release of a new informational graphic that outlines five steps city leaders can take to help encourage electric bike and e-scooter use. Here are the ITDP recommendations.
  1. Legalize electric bikes and scooters. Before there can be a significant increase in the number of electric bike and scooter trips, these modes of transportation must be legal. City administrators should regulate e-bikes like bicycles so that no license or insurance is required.
  2. Set speed limits and clearly mark lanes. The ITDP believes there should be standard speed limits and clearly marked bicycle and scooter paths.
  3. Design for micromobility. “Ensure cycle lanes are protected and form a complete network, safely accommodating low-speed e-bike and e-scooter riders in addition to pedal cyclists.”
  4. Manage bike and scooter sharing. E-bike ownership is important, but there should be ride sharing too. City leaders should work with electric bike and e-scooter sharing companies to ensure scooters and bikes are parked safely.
  5. Monitor to measure and improve. City leaders should monitor how many electric bike trips, e-scooter trips, and even automobile trips are being taken. As new programs and policies are tested or implemented the results should be measured to further improve transportation and reduce carbon emissions.
The ITDP infographic

Related Resources

 

The Île-de-France Mobilités transport authority responsible for the greater Paris region will pay Parisians as much as 500 Euros or about $550 to purchase an electric bike in 2020.

The offer will begin on February 20, 2020, and covers up to half of the cost of an electric bike with a maximum payment of 500 Euros excluding tax.

Although there has not been an official statement regarding other e-bike programs, this new electric bike subsidy, which is paid by the regional government, could, perhaps, be combined with other government programs.

Some, for example, have wondered if this new 500 Euro offer may be added to an existing city of Paris subsidy of upto 400 Euros. If that was the case, some city residents could have 900 Euros or about $985 to buy a new electric bicycle.

It is clear that Paris is serious about reducing carbon emissions and relieve urban congestion and that it believes electric bikes are one of the best ways to accomplish those goals.

Paris is Committed to Electric Bikes

In fact, this most recent electric bike subsidy offer comes on the heels of a massive electric bike share program.

Since 2018, the Île-de-France Mobilités has begun to make some 10,000 e-bikes available in Paris and the surrounding area as part of its “Veligo” bike share system. This program is one of the largest electric bike sharing systems anywhere. And, the region plans to double the number of electric bikes in just the next couple of years.

A woman rides an electric bike in Paris. Source https://www.facebook.com/pg/iledefrancemobilites/photos/

 

The main benefit for Paris, and really any city, is that electric bicycles can be a viable alternative to automobile trips. E-bikes are much better for the environment, much better for safety, much better for congestion, and much better for local businesses.

Some electric bicycle enthusiasts hope that e-bike subsidies catch on in the United States. Here are some resources for more information.

The automobile has driven (pun intended) progress in America at least since the first Model A Ford rolled off of the production line on October 20, 1927. There is also little doubt that cars and trucks will continue to be the most popular form of transportation in the United States for the foreseeable future. But that hasn’t stopped some folks from trying to reduce the number of car trips they take.

In fact, many shoppers purchase an electric bike or an electric trike because they want an inexpensive, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to replace short car trips.

The movement toward reducing automobile trips has also created a new sort of vehicle that is not exactly an electric trike, not quite a velomobile, but still and intriguing car alternative.

If you want to learn more, listen to this episode of The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. You can also follow along with the transcript below.

Armando: If an electric bike had a crazy, nerdy cousin, it might be a pedal-assisted velomobile or minicar. These unusual vehicles combine electric bike components with a car's protective body, windshield and other systems. A great example a velomobile or minicar is the PEBL from Better Bike, a Massachusetts-based company that's trying to popularize these environmentally-friendly, fun-to-use alternatives to the car.

Well, this is The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO, and my name is Armando Roggio. In this episode we're going to meet Nevin Murray, who is the co-founder and chief operating officer at Better Bike, and Erin Cotter Cartwright, who is the marketing director at Better Bike. Nevin and Erin, welcome to the podcast. Erin: Thank you.

Nevin: Thank you.

Just Heading To High School

Armando: Let's start by talking about Better Bike. What was the impetus for the company? Why make a velomobile, minicar like the PEBL?

Nevin: So, Better Bike originally started as a side project. I was a freshman in high school, and I was looking at the seniors in high school, I was watching them drive cars. On one hand, I was super jealous. I really wanted to have that level of freedom but, on the other hand, I was conscious of the environmental impact that that was having and this contradiction between... I was learning, in school, about climate change and about the climate crisis, while on the other hand passively going about life as normal.

Ideally, I wanted an electric car, that was out of the price range at the time, and I was looking at all these other alternatives online. There were a bunch of cool velomobiles but, being a self-conscious high schooler, I really wanted something that I thought looked cool and wasn't super low to the ground, as well. Would fit all my school stuff, my stuff for track practice. I started playing around with taking these concepts and doing some drawings. Eventually, I went to my dad. Both of us, we like doing projects together, we were very mechanically inclined, I was working as a bike mechanic at the time, and we said, "Well, why don't we try to make one?" This was just as a one-off, basically, for me to be able to ride to school.

We spent about a year researching and prototyping. I think it was maybe a year and a half until we finished our first one. It was super cool, it worked mostly how we wanted it to. Obviously, there were a bunch of tweaks that we would make later on. But then, at that point, my dad, Kevin, he decided that he liked this so much that he wanted one, so we built a second one. At that point, we were completely sold on the idea of the PEBL, we started to realize the potential possibility that it had, and we decided to go into business. We ended up making three more prototypes after that, and then we launched a Kickstarter campaign, which brought us into our production facility. Six years on from the beginning, but three years after the Kickstarter, this is where we are today.

A Cool Startup

Armando: Erin, how did they draw you in?

Erin: I actually got the job because one of my good friends was working for the company before she started graduate school this semester. She called me and told me that she'd just gotten a job at this cool startup that was local to us, and that they also needed a second person. It was exactly the kind of job that I was looking for. I interviewed with Nevin the next week, and I've been with the company ever since.

Armando: So, Erin, did the job come with a PEBL? Do you ride one to work?

Erin: I don't, sadly, but we do have a PEBL in our warehouse that is available to the staff to use. I have definitely driven it, and gone around and done some of my marketing with it. It's really fun to drive, and that has definitely been one of the perks of the job, having a PEBL available to me.

What is the PEBL?

Armando: Maybe you can both address this, but a moment ago I referred to riding a PEBL. Erin, I think you said, and maybe it was a way to correct me, driving a PEBL. Do we think of it as a bike, as a microcar, a velomobile? What is the proper terminology for a PEBL?

Nevin: Right. It's a good question. We actually switch back between the two, riding and driving. What we're looking for right now is the term that everyone will know a microcar, e-trike by in the future. Currently, we call it a microcar-e-rike because it combines what it is: it's an e-trike, but it is also a microcar. So, right now, we switch back and forth between ride or drive, and we're perfectly fine using either one.

Armando: So, this is not a perfect answer, but I suppose that one distinction could be whether or not you have to pedal. Again, this is not perfect because, for example, the EVELO Compass is an electric trike. It looks like a trike. It rides like a trike, but has a throttle, you don't always have to pedal. I believe that is true of the PEBL too. It has a throttle. Correct?

Nevin: Yeah, that's right. You don't have to pedal. It has its own throttle, it has cruise control, exterior lighting. It has its own little trunk, windshield wiper, heater. That's what puts in a different category from a velomobile or, I guess, any e-trike, is that it has its own throttle and it has all the other similar basic features to a car that make it usable on roads 99 percent of the time.

Legal Status

Armando: How does the government classify the PEBL? We just spoke about it not being quite an electric trike, it's not quite a velomobile, it is sort of a minicar. If it was an electric trike, having a throttle would make it a class 2 electric bike, but how does the government classify it?

Nevin: You want to take that, Erin?

Erin: Yeah. I actually have been doing quite a bit of research on that lately because I'm getting a lot of inquiries from out clients. Right now, it really does vary state to state because velomobiles and e-bikes like ours are pretty recent on the market. It's something that states are gaining out on their own, but we do typically fall into a class 2. I know that in Washington state, we're a class 2, in a lot of New England states, we are, but right now there isn't really one uniform federal law classifying velomobiles or e-bikes like the PEBL. It really is state to state, but is something that we're obviously researching for our clients before they purchase to make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

Armando: Sure, that makes sense. So, on a one-by-one, customer-by-customer basis, you're helping them to know how the PEBL is classified where they ride. You're probably guiding them regarding what they need to do to meet local requirements.

Erin: Exactly.

Nevin: Correct.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: In almost every state, it's considered an e-bike. In those states where they have started to split it up into the three-tier classification, it's, "What tier does it fit into?" and it's usually the second tier. It's rare that there's a state that this doesn't fit into some type of e-bike classification.

Erin: Exactly.

Armando: So, in most places it would not need a special license, it wouldn't need tags, and I could still drive or ride the PEBL on the roads. Is that correct?

Erin: Yes. There are some states that require people to at least have a learner's permit to operate it, but we have not encountered a single state that's required it to be licensed like a car.

PEBL Safety

Armando: What about safety? Are there safety concerns when you're riding or driving a PEBL in traffic, and what do drivers think of it?

Nevin: That's a good question.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: It's a main feature. We actually consider the PEBL to be safer than a traditional bike, from our experience over these past six years riding it on public roads. We find that cars typically treat the PEBL with more respect than they would a typical bike.

For instance, say you have a situation where cars are coming from both directions and you're on the side of the road. The car behind you, we find, will, much more of the time, wait to pass you before the other car from the other side passes. That combined with the fact that you're fully enclosed so you have a protective shell, and you have all of the same lighting that a car would have, from our experience we've found it's much safer.

Erin: I would say that I agree. I've heard from a lot of our clients, when I ask for feedback, that the fact that the PEBL has headlights the way a car does, as Nevin said, does make drivers look at the PEBL differently than they would a traditional bicycle, and they do give it a bit of a wider berth than they would otherwise. We have heard from many people that they feel perfectly confident and secure driving it on the road.

Nevin: Right, and then there's the visibility aspect, as well. It's presence is much different and much more substantial than a bike, so you'll be in less of situation where cars won't see you when they're taking a left-hand turn; similar situation that motorcycles have. The PEBL has a presence, so they're able to spot you much easier.

Better for the Environment

Armando: Earlier, Nevin, you mentioned that when you were building the prototype with your dad, or maybe it was even when you became interested in building a velomobile to begin with, protecting the environment was part of your motivation. Would you both speak a little bit about how car alternatives like the PEBL, like the electric bikes we build at EVELO, protect the environment? Maybe even talk about why that's important.

Nevin: Sure.

Erin: Yeah.

Nevin: It comes down to the amount of cars on the road and what you're doing rather than driving. Compared to a car, the PEBL gets around 1,000 mpg, equivalent. I don't know what a bike gets. It definitely gets even more than that, but the PEBL is extremely efficient and that goes for all e-bikes in general. So, you're just simply not using as much energy going place to place, when you're using this alternative transportation as you are in a car; you're towing around 3,000 lbs of extra weight with you. The PEBL weighs 300 lbs, so it's a tenth of the weight, basically. The PEBL is meant for more urban environments, shorter commutes, so you're not accelerating to the same types of speeds. There's more efficiency built in there. You're not wasting as much energy accelerating and decelerating. That's really the main thing. Erin, do you want to add to that?

Ride Sharing a PEBL

Erin: Yeah. In terms of our long-term goals, as well, for our environmental impact, right now, myself and our sales director are working on potential ride share programs with the PEBL. We do have one thing that's going on right now with a local town where we're in talks with the government municipality about selling them a fleet of PEBLs that they would then rent out to their citizens, the way Citi Bike is doing in New York City and elsewhere, to allow people in their town to use their cars less but to still have a reliable mode of transport that they can get their groceries or their prescriptions in. That's also something that we want to expand to college campuses or campgrounds so that, in multiple places where we congregate and usually bring our cars to get to, we can now cut out some of that by having the PEBL available instead.

So, if you are going to a college somewhere and you bring a car with you, and you're driving through campus in the town that your college is in, emitting all of these toxins into the atmosphere, we're hoping to have alternative options on college campuses, eventually, where a student doesn't have to bring their car and can just rely on a solar-charged PEBL instead.

Armando: Oh wow, and solar charged. Is that the case for the current PEBLs?

Erin: It is an option on the PEBL to have the solar roof, and we do have quite a few customers who are going with it. It seems to be something where the last, I'd say, half dozen of our clients already have solar panels on their roof, so they're looking to add the PEBL and they already have all of the materials and the charging dock necessary for it. So the solar roof is one of our most popular features, yes.

Armando: So, learning that you're trying to make the PEBL the Uber, if you will, of alternative transportation ride sharing, I'm wondering about how many are in service. It's been a few years since the Kickstarter project, I hope you don't mind that I ask, but are you selling hundreds of PEBLs or dozens?

Erin: At this point, we're in the dozens but, with our new ride share programs that we're looking to do, we're hoping to expand and have that number raised quite substantially. That's really, I would say, Nev, a goal of ours.

Nevin: Yeah, that, and we have a couple of other potential initiatives, as well, for multi-user use cases. Right now, we're still early stages, in the dozens, but looking to be in the hundreds by this time next year and expanding even more after that.

Can I Have One?

Armando: So, maybe this is a positive sign: as I was preparing for the podcast, I asked some of our product development and customer service folks if they had any questions they wanted me to ask you about the PEBL, and there are really two questions. One, I've asked already, which was about safety. The other question was this: “can I have one?”

Nevin: We'll work on it. Soon they can rent it.

Erin: Yeah.

Armando: I suppose, if I try to translate a question like, "can I have one?" into something we can ask on this podcast, it is really a question about why the product, why the PEBL, might be desirable. I know, at EVELO, we ask every person who makes a purchase why they bought, and we want to understand what helped them make that choice. Was it quality, great customer service, a great warranty? What is that for the PEBL? Give us the elevator pitch for the PEBL.

Erin: When somebody calls me and says, "I'm looking for an alternative transport, why should it be the PEBL?" I often say that, first of all, it's really fun to drive. It's cute, but also, on top of that, it's just a good product: the back hatch opens up into a trunk where you can fit six to eight bags of groceries; it has a back seat; it has the potential for 100 miles of range on a charge, and; it's efficient while not being too over-the-top. For me, alternative transport isn't meant to be like a car, where we want the newest, flashiest, fastest model. We want the thing that accomplishes what we need it to, but without all of the negative side effect of a car or a gas-emitting vehicle.

That's what I really like about the PEBL, is that it's not a thing where you're like, "Okay. Well, I guess I'll settle for a PEBL because I want to be greener." It's something that you're happy to switch to, and something that excites you about doing your part to try to limit your emissions. That's what I really find to be the best thing about the PEBL, is that nobody ever really finds that they're settling for that by going green. They're actually excited to make the switch to the PEBL.

Armando: That makes sense. We hear that a lot at EVELO. It is not a compromise, you ride it and love it, it's a lot of fun, and the PEBL looks like a lot of fun too. I watched a little video you had on YouTube where someone was driving a PEBL past a Road Closed sign, and it just looks like they were heading for a fun little adventure.

Erin: That was me! Oh yeah, that was me. That was really fun. That was earlier this year. I think the reason why we did that was because I went from a paved road onto a dirt road to really show the versatility of the PEBL. We do also have to off-road switch, which boosts the PEBL up to 1,500 watts. A lot of people get that if they're going to be driving around their property or off-road, things like that. It's a pretty popular thing. That video was fun because we got to show how the PEBL can do more than just paved roads.

Year Around Transportation

Armando: I'm enjoying learning about the PEBL and your company. Are there some things that I have not asked about or mentioned that you want to share with our audience?

Erin: I know that I wanted to quell some fears of any potential customers out there. I get a lot of inquiries from people towards the end of the year saying, "I really want a PEBL, but I think I'll wait till the spring because it's about to be cold out," but the PEBL is actually able to be driven in all weathers. We're in New England, and both Nevin and his dad drive their PEBL all through the year. You can get the heater installed, the doors fully close, so there's never a bad time to buy a PEBL.

Armando: Makes a lot of sense. I very much appreciate having you on the podcast. Thank you for joining me.

Erin: Thank you for having us.

Nevin: Yeah, thank you so much for having us.

Armando: I also want to thank you, the person listening to this, The Electric Bike Podcast from EVELO. I hope that you enjoyed learning about the PEBL, and learning, perhaps, a bit more about alternative transportation generally.

This podcast is really for you. We want you to find it interesting, entertaining and useful, so I want to know what you want to know. I want you to tell me what topics I should cover on the podcast. To do that, send an email to contact@evelo.com. Let me know what you want to hear about.

I also want you to go to evelo.com. Take a look at our Free Fit Consultation, it'll help you decide which bike's the right fit. Look at The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide. You can buy that on Amazon or you can get it for free on our site. Nice, right?

I hope you enjoyed this episode. Take care until next time

Electric bikes are booming. People of all ages from a 20-something commuter in Seattle to an 85-year-old grandma in Massachusetts are enjoying the benefits of owning and riding an e-bike. In fact, you should probably own one already too.

“A certain subset of masochistic cycling purists believe that you should suffer any time you set out on a bike,” wrote Ashley Mateo in a June 2019 The Wall Street Journal article.

“And while there’s a time and a place for that — with punishingly vivid Spandex and clicking shoes to complete the picture,” Mateo continued, “most people just want to get from point A to point B in the fastest, easiest manner possible.”

“Perhaps that’s why sales of electric-assist bicycles, which use motors and lithium batteries to boost your power and speed as you pedal, jumped 91 percent from 2016 to 2017,” Mateo wrote.

Easy Transportation

“Increasingly, people around the world are turning to electric bikes as an effective solution for their day-to-day transportation needs, which might include such trips as commuting to and from work or school, grocery shopping, short errands, or going out for social events,” wrote Boris Mordkovich and Yevgeniy Mordkovich in chapter three of The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

EVELO customers have experienced this first hand. There are more than a few octogenarians, as an example, who use their Compass trikes as a car alternative. The electric trike is stable, plenty fast, and has the carrying capacity for regular trips to the store.

The Compass electric trike is a great example of easy transportation.
 

Save Money

In the United States, the typical car trip is six miles or less. If that is true for you, many if not all of those automobile trips could be managed with an electric bike.

“On average, an electric bike allows you to go much further for much less money than any other form of transportation. In fact, one study found that an electric bike can travel as far as 500 miles on just $1—roughly 100 times further than a car or public transportation, and 35 times further than a hybrid car,” according to The Complete Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide.

In contrast a car or truck will take you less than two miles for a dollar.

Enjoyment

Riding an electric bike is fun. You’ll experience the joy of being outside, getting some exercise, and spending time with friends and loved ones.

An electric bike, for example, can be a great equalizer. It allows a grandmother to keep up with scurrying grandchildren. And it let’s a father make a century ride with his much-more-fit daughter.

Convenience

Electric bikes can also be a convenient form of transportation for RV and boat owners.

Perhaps, you have just driven a thousand miles in your RV. You now have the perfect spot overlooking a lake in south Georgia. You want to get out and explore, but you don't want to have to drive your motorhome everywhere you go.

An electric bike, is a great option. The bike will fit easily on your RV, and once you’re parked, it will help you explore.

Health and Fitness

“Along with using an electric bike for day-to-day transportation, many cyclists use electric bikes specifically as a means of working out and becoming more fit. Electric bikes offer riders a high degree of control over the level of physical exertion required to ride, making them particularly helpful for anybody who would like to become more fit, but who may need to gradually and carefully ease into increased physical activity,” wrote the Mordkovich brothers.

There is also a significant amount of science showing that electric bikes contribute to health and fitness. Among the benefits of riding an electric bike are:

  • Improved heart health,
  • Strengthened cardiovascular system,
  • Improved immune responses,
  • Less risk of type-2 diabetes,
  • Weight loss,
  • Reduced stress.
With all of these reasons if you don’t yet own and electric bike, you probably should.