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eBikes: How to get started 

eBikes: How to get started 

By Lynn Owens

You’re convinced that an electric bicycle can make life better in hilly Scripps Ranch, but how do you start?

Ride one. Borrow from a neighbor, friend or vendor. Try both throttle mode (like rotating a motorcycle throttle) and pedal-assist mode where you get more help as you pedal harder. Lift it, push it around, get on and off. Start and stop repeatedly. The bike can “jump” forward unless you start slowly and smoothly, so try it many times.

Figure out what you want. YouTube has many good introductory videos. Also search for “ebike reviews” online. Check Walmart, Costco and Amazon online. Some “best ebikes” sites are really just biased ads, so be careful. Prices range from under $400 to over $1,4000. Bikes below about $700 can be fun to get you started, or for hauling to the beach, but are often unsatisfying for frequent riders unless you’re in very good shape. However, if you’ll mostly be on paved-road trips under 15 miles, many good options cost less than $1,500. Size and weight matter, especially if you need to lift the ebike for storing or for travel via car or bus. Safety is critical – good brakes and good tires. You’ll probably want both throttle mode and pedal assist. Comfort and ease of use are critical – think about tire width, suspension, seat, riding angle and also whether the bike needs assembly and whether it’s easy to maintain. Battery life and charging speed are fundamental but are typically not a problem with brand-name lithium-ion batteries. Power determines whether you can make it up a steep hill, especially with heavy loads, and whether you’ll be able to make it home. However, unless you’re very heavy, any mid-priced ebike probably supplies enough power.

Try before you buy. Our neighbor bought a $700 bargain ebike with no throttle mode. She wan-
ted some exercise but even the lowest pedal-assist level made her ride too easy. One test ride would have saved her $700. Find a way to try your target bike if at all possible. At a minimum, read multiple real-people reviews of “your” bike and learn from others’ experiences, or buy a pre-assembled ebike from a vendor with free returns.

Start slowly. Stay on quiet streets until you’re comfortable. Our next article will give more tips for enjoying Scripps Ranch by eBike.

Here are our talks at our library for this month:

Scripps Miramar Ranch Library Community Room

Friday, Sept. 30, 10 a.m. Tree San Diego: Planting for the Future

Friday, Oct. 7, 10 a.m. San Diego Environmental Services: How to Recycle Right

Saturday, Oct. 15, 1:30 p.m. Farmer Roy: Successful Fall Vegetable Planting

Saturday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. San Diego Astronomy Association: Amateur Telescopes 101

Visit scrippsranch.org/ssr.