Bikes With a Boost

Augmented cycles to get your motor running.

Not everyone learns to ride a bicycle on a traditional two-wheeler with the guidance of a nearby mentor, and maybe a pair of training wheels. For those who didn’t pedal in their youth or whose aging adult bodies can’t tolerate a traditional bike—or who may need assistance after surgery or a long workday—there’s an ideal solution: electric bikes.

Some skeptical purists may still scoff at the idea. But bikes with electric-assist motors have helped more people become bicyclists, or prompted them to return to cycling after years away.

New-generation e-bikes, unlike their predecessors, have different levels of electric assistance, all engaged from pedaling. The system is monitored by cadence and speed, and in modes from eco to turbo. But if the electric charge is low or a rider wants to pedal without an assistant, they can. Range per charge varies from 20 to 100 miles.

Traditionally known brands from Giant to Specialized to Trek have offered e-bikes for several years. But the products were bulky, with oversized batteries. Much has changed quickly. E-bikes have streamlined, shedding as much as one-third of their former weight.

Naples Cyclery, one of many retail bicycle stores in the area selling and renting e-bikes, markets them as stress-free cycling.

“Electric bikes make formerly daunting commutes suddenly quite possible,” explains the company on its website. “Are you one of those who worries about showing up to work sweaty? E-bikes allow you to leave the car behind and get a workout without getting drenched.”

Bosch, the global company known for products ranging from home appliances to spark plugs, began to expand its e-bike presence in the United States in 2016. It offered its bikes at the Sea Otter Classic, the country’s largest cycling festival, and has remained part of the international event held on Monterey Peninsula in California since.

To help commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary, Orlando-based Catrike has a new lineup of recumbents with Bosch electric-assist motors.

Claudia Wasko, director of E-bikes, Bosch Ameri- ca, says the future of electric bikes is based on a simple task—a cyclist still has to pedal.

“It used to be 60-plus, then 50-plus and now there are many, many people 40-plus riding e-bikes,” Wasko says. “They are using them not only for commuting, but for recreational reasons.”

Previous generations of e-bikes were throttle-con- trolled and often not easy to handle when maneuvered up or down hills. The character of the new e-bike is to have its own pedaling system.

“Remember, most e-bikes are pedal-assist, which means you’re still required to do the work—the small motor simply boosts the work you’re already doing,” explains Naples Cyclery. “An e-bike might motivate you to cycle more often. Wanting to ride your bike to the café but dreading riding against that wind? An e-bike can make the difference between reaching for the bike versus the car keys.”

Pedego Electric Bikes, which has two locations in Naples, offers a large selection of e-bikes. A few years ago, the company recruited actor William Shatner, now age 89, as a model and spokesperson. The company’s motto is, “If you can’t pedal, or you just don’t feel like it, that’s OK, too. We’re not judging.”

 

MANY NAPLES-AREA CYCLING BUSINESSES SELL ELECTRIC BIKES, INCLUDING THESE LOCATIONS:

Big Momma’s Bicycles, 850 Seagate Drive, 239.263.0728 bigmommasbicycles.com

Naples Cyclery, 813 Vanderbilt Beach Road, 239.566.0600 naplescyclery.com

Pedego Electric Bikes, 10565 Tamiami Trail N., 239.370.8640 pedegoelectricbikes.com

The Bike Route, 655 Tamiami Trail N., 239.262.8373 bikeroutenaples.com

Trek Bicycle Store, 9051 Tamiami Trail N., #99, 239.591.8735 trekbikes.com

Western Bike, 2286 Tamiami Trail E., 239.775.9221 westernbikenaples.com