Martin Johnston: Electrifying run almost ruins cycling

By Martin Johnston

My only regret was there were no sweaty push-bikers on the hills for me to power past.
Herald journalist Martin Johnston road-tests an electric bike in Auckland city traffic. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Herald journalist Martin Johnston road-tests an electric bike in Auckland city traffic. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Borrowing an electric bike for just 24 hours nearly ruined me for push-biking.

A lifelong commuter cyclist, I found the ease of riding a $4000 e-bike highly addictive. Cruising uphill with the top-up help of an electric motor immediately leaked into the lazy part of me - making me feel like I could be an Olympic cyclist.

I'm used to dressing in Lycra and bike shoes, peeling it off for work clothes, and reversing the routine for the ride home. But when I rocked up to Flux, a Ponsonby shop that lent me an e-bike, in my office-day kit, the only sartorial cycling concession was a helmet.

For my evening ride home to Mt Albert from the CBD, I chose the scenic route through Coxs Bay, which entails a grind up College Hill. Usually huffing and puffing and arched over my front wheel, I can manage just 13km/h up this steep hill on my road bike. But with the e-bike's electric assistance set on high I maintain 19km/h and, sitting back comfortably, enjoy a wide view ahead.

Next morning I put the e-bike through its paces on the Northwestern Cycleway. My only regret was there were no sweaty push-bikers on the hills for me to power past in the way they increasingly power past me.

Assessment: Great up hills, you can wear work clothes, no sweat but you still get some exercise, heavy if you have to lift it, pricey.

- NZ Herald

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