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When ebikes were weird
In 2007 I owned a Giant Revive Spirit
In this post, I want to compare my experiences of owning and riding ebikes in 2007 and 2023, focusing on three aspects: battery life, popularity, and attitudes.
One of the biggest differences between ebikes in 2007 and 2023 is the battery life. Back in 2007, I had a clunky lead-acid battery that weighed a ton and barely lasted for 20 miles on a single charge. It took hours to recharge and often left me stranded in manual mode. I had to plan my trips carefully and keep a charger at the office if I was using it to commute.
Fast forward to 2023, and I have a sleek lithium-ion battery that weighs a fraction of the old one and lasts for up to 45 miles on a single charge. It recharges in a few hours hour and has a smart display that shows me the remaining power and range. I can ride anywhere I want without worrying about running out of juice or finding an outlet.
Another difference between ebikes in 2007 and 2023 is the popularity. In 2007, ebikes were a rare sight on the streets. Most people didn't know what they were or how they worked. I often got strange looks or questions from curious bystanders. Portlander would heckle me for cheating or being lazy for using an electric motor.
In 2023, ebikes are everywhere. They are the world's best-selling electric vehicle, with millions of units sold worldwide every year. They have become popular with commuters, leisure cyclists, and even roadies and mountain bikers. People are more aware of the benefits of ebikes, such as saving money, time, energy, and the environment. I often get compliments or inquiries from fellow riders.
The third difference between ebikes in 2007 and 2023 is the attitides. In 2007, I lived in Portland, OR, which was one of the few cities in the US that had some infrastructure and support for ebikes. There were bike lanes, trails, shops, and events that catered to ebike enthusiasts. I enjoyed riding around the city and exploring its natural beauty.
That same year I tried bringing my bike to Burning Man ad you would have thought I was trying to assassinate Larry Harvey. It was classified as an “unauthorized motor vehicle” and confiscated. Pay no attention to the gas-powered scooters sounding like chainsaws. My silent assisted bike was the devil. I was able to retrieve my expensive and fragile bike from the impound lot, but it was exposed to a dust storm and covered in fine dust that oxidized all the exposed metal. It was never the same. I knew better that to take anything to the event that I couldn’t afford to lose, but I prefer to be the one making my poor decisions, not having them made for me.
The next year I lived in Norfolk, VA, which is not as bike-friendly at all. There were no bike lanes, trails, and few shops. I was stopped at the gate at work and told that I needed a motorcycle helmet (again with the motor confusion) and ended up being an hour late to work that day after a detour to wal-mart to purchase whatever would pass for a motorcycle helmet.
Ebikes are having a moment along with e-scooters, e-wheels, e-unicycles. They have broken into the mainstream and I’m glad for it. They have made me healthier, happier, and more adventurous. They have also evolved significantly over the years, becoming more efficient, affordable, and accessible. Whether you are new to ebikes or an experienced rider, I hope you find this comparison helpful and interesting. Thanks for reading and happy riding!