Electric Bikes Growing Choice for Americans Traveling This Summer
Looking for an adventure for this summer? Consider renting an e-Bike! They are a great way to explore Dana Point and the surrounding areas! From climbing hills effortlessly to carrying more weight, electric bikes offer affordable, carbon-neutral transportation. Our stylish and comfortable pedal-assisted electric bikes take the best parts of riding a bike and extend them.
Spring is here, and Americans are cautiously sticking their heads out of quarantine caves. The CDC says “fully vaccinated people can travel at low risk.” But for most this travel season will not include transatlantic journeys, world cruises or Asian adventures. Instead, it will be a summer of road trips to parks, lakes, beaches and mountains. And for increasing numbers of road-trippers local travel at their destinations will be via electric bike.
RV use continues to skyrocket with sales of over 500,000 units, a 19.5 % increase over 2020. Many RVers have discovered, as did Motorhome, “that having an e-bike is a great addition to our motorhome adventures.” E-bikes offer the ability “to climb hills effortlessly, to carry more weight, quicker trip times due to faster speeds and, for RVers who have many candles on their birthday cake, an e-bike helps remove some of those candles.”
Such reasons—plus, of course, the fun factor—drove sales of electric bikes during COVID. According to NPD, e-bikes grew 147% year-over-year from January 2020 to January 2021 to $606 million. Such growth is particularly impressive as NPD says the current median price of an e-bike sold in the U.S. is $1,965.
During the pandemic, a masked bike ride was my own escape, as COVID surged and California closed. So when Rad Power Bikes, which calls itself North America’s largest electric bike brand, asked if I’d like to try one, I jumped at the chance. Rad Power Bikes says it has over 250,000 riders, and that in March 2021 its sales grew 323% year-over-year.
In a couple of weeks, a red van arrived at my house, with a RadMini 4 folding e-bike set up and ready. A friendly mechanic made the final touches, and I was soon flying over speedhumps on my street.
The RadMini ($1499) has a 750W (equivalent to one horsepower) geared hub motor and a 275-pound payload capacity. Rad Power Bikes says its Lithium-Ion battery is capable of up to 45 miles per charge; I didn’t push it but I did go 40 miles before plugging in. The bike has wide “puncture-resistant” tires, front suspension for the inevitable bumps, a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain, a powerful light, and a comfortable, adjustable seat.
But for people with limited space at home or in their travel vehicles, perhaps its most intriguing feature is that the RadMini’s frame, seat post and handlebars fold. The bike will fit in a car trunk (I did it), in an RV or even in back of a private plane.
Electric bikes like the RadMini make an ideal form of transportation for journeys to a trailhead or fishing spot, for quick trips to a store or mailbox, or from an inland Airbnb to a beach, avoiding the packed parking lot. (Buy a good lock!)
Yes, one can do similar rides with a “regular” bike. But “E-bikes expand recreational opportunities for many people, particularly the elderly and disabled, enabling them to enjoy the outdoors and associated health benefits.” That’s what the US National Forest Service(NFS) noted in a rule change that E-bikes should be treated like non-motorized bicycles and allowed on NFS roads and trails. E-bikes are also now permitted in National Parks. Superintendents can allow e-bikes, “where appropriate, on roads and trails where traditional bicycles are also allowed.”
I rode the RadMini on streets and bike paths through the San Fernando Valley and along the Pacific Ocean. It lengthened my horizon and speeded up short trips. Even in my neighborhood, putting on a helmet and twisting the throttle provided an instant mental getaway from COVID gloom.
As a Class 2 electric bike, the RadMini has both “pedal assist” (applying electric power as you pedal, on a 0 to 5 scale) and a throttle on the right handlebar. You can operate it without pedaling, but a governor limits the speed to about 20mph. However, going downhill on hilly Reseda Boulevard, the speedometer hit 30 mph. Swallowing hard, I applied the brakes to return to a more reasonable speed.
You don’t need a driver’s license to operate an e-bike, (unlike a moped) and they can operate on most bike paths in California. Still, there are gray areas of where one can ride an e-bike; check the rules in your town or destination. It’s important to take care riding as well. Even at 20mph, sharing a road with cars going 40mph can be hairy.
In Los Angeles, bicycling on a sidewalk is permitted as long as you do not show “willful and wonton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” When I rode on sidewalks, I quickly learned to turn the power down or off. Phone-obsessed pedestrians and cars leaving driveways come up FAST.
The RadMini is sturdy and survived some minor scrapes. It is comfortable to ride, and I was even able to get in an 11-mile trip with a sprained ankle wearing street clothes.
I typically did a ten-mile loop, although a 17-mile ride was no sweat. One does get some exercise on an e-bike, but the electric motor is a great addition, especially on long uphills. If due to poor planning you run out of “gas” the Rad Mini pedals decently, although at 67 pounds it is not a lightweight racer. It is strongly built and can carry a hefty payload.
In February, Rad Power Bikes announced a minority investment of $150 million from Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley) and others. “E-bikes will play an important role in the future of mobility, extending far beyond the traditional bike market,” said Sam Chainani, Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Counterpoint Global.
Rad Power Bikes says it will use the new funding to “extend its market leadership, drive innovation, and scale retail and service offerings.” But as e-bike prices drop and the market grows, perhaps e-bike IPOs will follow.
From avid cyclists to curious travelers, we have the right bike for every journey and biker. Synaptic Cycles offers one of the best road bike rental fleets in Southern California. Let us bring a clean, well-maintained bicycle directly to you. Rent a bike now! Call us at 949-484-6409 or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/synapticcycles.