Power ASSisted… Cheating?

By | January 24, 2013
The 1948 Wizzer otorized bicycle is
a classic sought after by collectors.  It also
has an amusing name 🙂 

There is an extensive network of trails, bike lanes and low traffic roads surrounding my home in Washington.  From my front door, I can be on the nearest trail (The Green/Duwamish River Trail) in less than 5 minutes.  There I have the scenery, weather and lack of car noise to keep me company.  It is a great way to clear your head.  From time to time this tranquil scene is interrupted by a power assisted bike.  Nothing like an exhaust note and the smell of two stroke exhaust to break the peace.  I hate those things!  Furthermore I hate the smug look of satisfaction on the rider’s fat face as he passes me doing 30-35 mph.  These inventions are not new.  The motorcycle was born when someone put a motor on a bicycle.  Some of the old motorized bicycles can be quite beautiful.  Beyond the fact that they are two wheeled vehicles motorcycles and bicycles still share a lot of DNA.  I also own a motorcycle, but even so I have always felt a certain kinship with motorcycle riders.  We both operate relatively small two wheeled vehicles which rely on the skill of the operator.  On the road, we are constantly on the lookout for inattentive, texting drivers.  However, don’t get me started on loud pipes and Harleys 🙂 

Seattle to Portland Bicycle
Classic.  The local Goldwing club
provides support.  Here one of their
members lights the way.  

In recent years there has been new twist added to the powered bicycle phenomenon.  This is the electrically powered bike.  They are silent, simple and even lightweight.  However, I still always thought of this as cheating.  Common range is 20-40 miles with a maximum speed of around 20 mph.  I have a maximum speed of 49.9 mph going downhill and 30 mph on the flat and I have a range of 200 miles plus in one day.  My opinion changed one day on an organized ride.  I met a gentleman who was riding an electrically assisted bike.  He was riding this type of bike because he had a chronic disease which sapped his muscles of their strength.  Thanks to his bike, he can still take part in long organized rides.  Well that is enough to make me reevaluate!  Such machines also allow those who would otherwise have no interest in cycling or are intimidated to take part.  Also there are some awesome engineering in some of these bikes.  Here is an example.  American made electric bike. 

So, while there may be some friction between hardcore cyclists and their electrically assisted counterparts.  I think that it is a good thing to see more bikes of any kind on the road.  However, be warned…  If you pass me on your electrically assisted bike.  I will turn myself inside out to pass you and drop you like a hot potato!  You better be able to sustain a top speed faster than 20 mph 🙂 

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