The Electric Bike
We’ve had the electric bike for about a week now, and I am already loving it.
The Frugasaurus household has always been a no-car household, and there are no plans to change that anytime soon, unless we move someplace far from public transit.
But there are also times when I just don’t want to spend a lot of time taking the bus, walking to or from work, or am simply feeling tired after a long day and just want to get home as quickly as possible!
The funny thing is, I was resolved to walk or bike to and from work to get the added health benefits. But we were also losing so much time, and I would always come home spent and tired.
Pros and cons
So we started looking into alternatives. It began with a cheap and well-cared for used electric car, but that was quickly tossed aside because of the added cost to maintenance and daily parking. Plus, I just don’t want to deal with that hassle in the morning, or adding another large metal frame to the roads when, most of the time, it would just be me driving it.
No, a car was never an option to get to or from work. That would be if we moved reasonably far from public transit and needed a car to get around once in a while. We re not there yet.
But once the can had been opened, the natural alternative was to get an electric bike. These have come en-mass to Norway the last few years. In the beginning they were frowned upon by bike elitists, looking down on people who were not willing to put in the “real work”, whatever that means. (In my opinion, isn’t it better if people are pedalling out and about, as opposed to sitting stagnant in a car?)
But certain bikers snobbery aside, there were a few other cons to consider. How about battery maintenance and replacement when that became relevant? How about sustainability and recycling? And then there was the cost of acquiring a bike. Even a reasonably cheap, safe electric bike on sale would set me back as much as I contribute to rent every month. That is no pocket change.
Plus I would be more nervous about it than I am about my 15+ years old regular bike. What if there is a leak? What if it got stolen? And what about my daily exercise?
The pros, as it would have it, are larger than most researchers expected. Despite the motor to help you, we still see health benefits from people using electric bikes. Mostly because it allows people who would not normally bike do so, and they commute farther as well.
For me, the extra freedom allowed by this new bike has been the most staggering and fantastic about it. Instead of looking at something being given away online in terms of “how many bus swaps?” or “too far to walk/heavy to bike”, I can now just jump on my little electric miracle and sweep it up. With the little bike trailer, I can even pick up small pieces of furniture!
The bike also makes it significantly faster to get to and from work. Swooping by on a weekend to check that samples are running as they should? A half-hour to an hour at most, not almost two hours as would be the old norm. Pedalling feels for the most part like I am sitting on a play bike on a low setting in an exercise studio, except for the very steepest of hills in my area.
It is just easier to get out and about. The bar to doing just about anything is significantly lower. And with the size of our city, the 40-60 km range of the battery (again, we went for a cheaper model as we’d never had an electric bike, and didn’t know how it would fit into our household) has not been a problem so far. I suppose I could have gotten a scooter instead, but honestly? I’m a nervous critter, and in Norway I am allowed to bike on the sidewalks (provided I don’t go crazy fast), instead of fighting with the cars in the road.
Of course, come winter, things will be different and I will probably revert to walking in the coldest, darkest months to conserve the battery. But this little piece of lifestyle inflation is still such a significant improvement to our life that I cannot regret it. I will accept that this investment will make us spend a little longer to reach our goals.
Last but not least, I am better able to be helpful on my little electric monster!
Previously, whenever something free needed picking up, or indeed, when we furnished our entire flat virtually for free, it was with the help of my best friend M and their large, practical car. Similarly, if we saw something we wanted, especially if it was a big piece of furniture, like a standing freezer, we would just get nowhere without M and her car.
Now though, I am able to pay a tiny bit of that back! Instead of M driving around everywhere to pick things up, I can now take “responsibility” of my small corner of the city and pick up small things she finds and wants online. We then just keep a deposit of things at home and give them to her when she visits, or I visit her.
This is a much better use of both her and my time, and saves many trips that would otherwise drink a lot of gas.
Now, if we only get some solar panels installed and fuel it off-grid…
For a long time, I was certain that I was not going to get an electric bike. I didn’t want the added complications of maintenance or waterproofing, but the simplicity it has added to our lives has been more than I expected. It has become our tiny car-but-not-car, and makes many errands a whole lot easier.
The only problem? We only have one, so can’t run errands together. But maybe we’ll expand next year, after testing this one our for a more substantial amount of time.
Have you ever considered an electric bike, even as a replacement or an addition to a car? A lot of our transport is small, 5-15 minute trips that could often have been taken by other means than a car, but convenience and infrastructure makes it difficult to do.
Suffice to say, I am really enjoying the new bike. You don’t even get stuck in traffick with it, nor do you have to pay for parking! We also do expect us to save money on it in the long run, as it allows us to zoom down for errands where we might otherwise have taken the bus.