I recently had the opportunity to go on an electric bike tour with Joel Davis, whose company JD’s Joyrides offers bike tours on RAD ebikes in Boulder. I took the Wall To Wall Boulder Mural Tour, which took us to murals painted during the Streetwise Boulder Mural Festival. He’s also happy to customize a tour for you. There is a Joyrides tour available through the Community Cycles online auction. My tour was around 16 miles long, a breeze on an ebike.
I have never ridden an ebike more than a few feet and was always put off by the jump they have from the start. After riding it for 5 minutes or so, I got used to that. These bikes are pedal assist with a throttle. The throttle gives you an extra boost when you are starting from a dead stop or climbing a hill. I mostly left mine in assist level 1 or 2. Frankly, I really did not need to pedal much. Everytime it slowed down, I’d pedal a few strokes and it would go pretty far on just a few strokes. The bike felt pretty heavy (and I am used to very heavy bikes), more like I would imagine if you had a moped or Vespa underneath you than a bike, but since you have electric assist, the weight of the bike really doesn’t matter. I found the seat uncomfortable, but that’s an easy fix.
The tour started in downtown Boulder and made its way up to Lee Hill and back. With a group, we were able to cover a lot of ground that would have been slower or impossible without the ebikes. That made the tour more interesting. Just being on an ebike also added to the excitement. Even though I feel I know every bike cut-through in Boulder, Joel took us on one I did not know. He stayed off busy streets and gave us an expansive tour of not just the murals, but Boulder neighborhoods as well. Joel also covered a variety of terrain – hills, flat, dirt, bike paths. As someone mostly interested in exploring the capabilities of an ebike, that was the part I enjoyed most about the tour.
Would I buy an ebike?
I don’t think I am ready for one yet. For one thing, I don’t have a garage and it would be too heavy to lug in and out of my condo. You definitely want easy, safe storage and I don’t have that for an ebike. But if I had to haul kids, it would be a game changer. I certainly understand why many parents get these. Instead of the chore of driving kids all over, you’d have the fun of easily riding them on your bike – what could be better! If I had a long commute, especially one with a lot of hills, I think an ebike would really encourage me to do it more by bike and be a lot more fun than driving to work. For older people, I can totally see how an ebike would help you be able to use a bike a lot more frequently (that probably goes for everyone, not just older people). I do think they can change transportation for the better. More people with ebikes will mean more people riding bikes for more trips. And that’s basically what it’s all about.
So if you are curious about ebikes, go on a tour with JD’s Joyrides! It’s a fun way to explore Boulder and will give you a real feel for what ebikes are all about (and the murals are worth a look). Currently, a 25% “Early Rider” discount to Community Cycles Members is available.