Everyone's talking about the new electric cars coming to Oregon. And while they are pretty cool, I am more excited about the electric vehicles that are available in Oregon right now.
|pdxebiker cruises through downtown|
We've blogged about electric bikes a couple of times, but they are evolving very rapidly and I believe they will play a big role in how we get around Portland. There are several new retailers in the area that specialize in electric bikes (e-bike store and Kalkhoff) and new bikes coming on-line from established bicycle manufacturers like Giant, Schwinn, and Trek. Even MIT has developed an electric bike project. These mark sea-changes in the manufacturing and marketing of cycling.
But for me, dedicated Commuter Central reader "pdxebiker" (aka Sam's) story really opened my eyes to electric bikes.
Sam works downtown, lives in Northeast Portland, and used to be a fair-weather bike commuter. When the weather turned cold and wet he didn't like to bike to work and ended up driving. The commute was costing him $160 in parking fees alone each month. Plus, he was fighting traffic and not getting outside as much as he wanted.
So Sam decided to fix up an old Schwinn cruiser he bought used and convert it to an electric bike. While that may sound difficult, there are easy-to-install conversion kits complete with batteries and motors built directly into wheels. They can be installed in a matter of minutes or hours, not weeks and months.
Sam's commute is now faster, funner (yes, it's a word - in the blogosphere), cheaper, cleaner, and more empowering than when he was driving. He get's home from work now in about 15 minutes. Try driving from downtown to Northeast in 15 minutes at 5pm on a wet, dark winter night.
Sam's story really has me thinking about the advantages of an electric bike. A free parking, no sweating, and fast transporting vehicle that's cheap, clean, and fun. Electric cars might have some advantage over gasoline cars, but in my opinion they've got nothing on electric bikes.
If you have questions, leave a comment and Sam or I will try to answer them. If you've got an electric bike, tell us your commute story!
You can see the motor in the front wheel. Most
conversion kits come with the motor pre-installed.
The battery pack is mounted on the rear rack.
Sam upgraded his battery soon after he
started riding regularly.