There seems to be a movement taking place on the roads and that is for electric powered bicycles, or 'E-bikes' for short. It makes climbing steep hills a breeze and opens up a whole new world to cyclists and non-cyclists alike. In short, the world of hilly or even mountainous terrain.
My first encounter with an E-bike was on a trip to Italy. It was a 3 week site-seeing holiday where I would spend the last week in the Dolomites to ride the 'Maratona' Granfondo. Keen not to gain weight on 'aperitivo' leading up to it, I was rising early and riding before the day's eating and drinking adventures.
We were staying in Sorrento and one morning I rode to Positano along the beautiful Amalfi
Coast. Below me was my light-weight 7.5kg carbon road bike which I had been lugging
around the country, in anticipation of the big climbs of the Dolomites.
I was in peak condition and not expecting anyone to come up behind me. The road had been devoid of any cars and cyclists anyway. But on the last pass on the return back to the Gulf of Naples, I could hear a cyclist. There was the sound of the pedals turning over and the tyres on the road getting closer and closer, but strangely no sound of the heavy breathing that I was experiencing. My first thought was that it must be someone extremely fit, decked out in lycra and riding a light weight road bike similar to my own.
An Italian pro cyclist perhaps? Maybe in training for the up coming Tour de France?
As the cyclist came up to within view of my peripheral, I turned to look. It wasn't what I was expecting. About to overtake me was a lady not in what you would call peak condition, dressed in jeans and sweater, with half a cigarette hanging out her mouth. Below her was an E-bike that obviously made the incline of the road a breeze.
I was left in the bitter wake of her cigarette smoke. E-bike or not, my ego had taken a hammering.
A week later I was in the Dolomites contemplating what to do on the rest day before the event.
I had rented a mountain bike the previous year and spent a few hours riding the gravel roads
of the alpine meadows. Some of the short and sharp hills had left me a little cooked and in hindsight,
probably wasn't the best way to spend the day. I didn't want to make the same mistake.
I remembered that there were E-bike rentals at the top of mountain and decided that would be a better way to rest the legs on the hills. It was a revelation. A completely salubrious way to enjoy the spectacular scenery, without any thought or concern of tiring. Depending on the gradient of the slope, I could increase the power for more assistance. Afterwards, I was still feeling refreshed and ready for the big climbs of the Dolomites the following day.
In short, I was a convert.
Next month we will be adding 4 Trek Verve+ bikes to our rental fleet. Japan is a hilly country and if you think you would enjoy climbing with some assistance, these are highly recommended. Take a look at the bikes below.