Always wondered how an e-bike would work? Have friends who sing its praises, but gulped at the prices? Now is your chance to find out how to operate one of those bikes at your leisure by hiring one at Foxton's Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom for an hour or two, or three.
Levin e-bike entrepreneur Nicola Mischefski has at least four bikes available daily for hire Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm and weekends from 10 am to 4pm (When TANS is open to the public).
An hour's hire is only $20 and provides you with a fully charged bike, a helmet, a lock and complete instructions on how to operate the bike and what the various buttons are for. Before you set out you must also watch a safety video and sign a hiring agreement.
Because e-bikes can reach speeds of up to 30km/h you must be at least 18 to hire one and at least 14 before you can ride one. Anyone between 14 and 18 needs a riding adult to accompany them.
Nicola is a qualified personal trainer and obtained a certificate in exercise via UCOL in 2018.
"That also included recreational activities," she said. As a person who likes to think outside the box she is picking a recreational activities path for herself, rather than be tied to a gym for a career.
A chance visit to Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom in Foxton in early 2019 sparked the idea for an e-bike hire business.
"I hadn't been here before and was impressed by what is available here and blown away by the blending of histories and cultures."
Looking at one of the drawings on the wall she spotted a bike and that sparked the idea about bike hire and that eventually became e-bike hire.
She did plenty of negotiating as well as market research last year.
"While I had some help I did much of that work myself. Wrote all my own documents, including a business plan myself and talked to other operators in the country."
An existing operator was upgrading their fleet so she managed to create her own e-bike fleet for an affordable price.
"My idea was warmly welcomed at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom and the whole thing can together seamlessly, though it took about seven months to come to fruition."
She opened up only a few weeks ago.
"I had been looking for a business idea because I did not want to be tied to a 9-5 or so job." She takes whatever opportunity she gets to show off her bikes, such as Foxton's Spring Fling and drum up business.
"Safety is paramount," she said. "This business is about people. We do safety training, and issue people with a lock and a helmet. Their hire agreements include instructions on where (not) to ride. Riding on footpaths is a no-no as pedestrians won't be safe given the speed e-bikes can reach. We encourage hirers to be courteous to other path and road users."
If you want to hire a bike you can just turn up at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom and the library desk staff can help you. Each hire requires you leave them with details of a credit or debit card, in case of an accident, damage done to a bike or if cleaning of the bike is required, for which you will be charged.
"These bikes are for town streets and paths only, strictly no off-roading," said Nicola. Everyone hiring one of her e-bikes in the next few weeks goes into the draw for two free one-hour rides. The winning name will be drawn on Feb 13 at 5pm.
Short free rides will be available on Waitangi Day.
The Horowhenua Chronicle took one of those e-bikes out for a spin. E-bikes pick up speed quickly and it is a bit of a puzzle to balance speed with pedalling. As soon as you stop pedalling the bike slows down. You cannot stop pedalling, but the bike's range is about 60kms before it needs recharging so you can get quite far.
The best have a few gears and torque settings you need to come to grips with.
The motor sits on top of the back wheel, below a luggage rack that comes with straps for luggage.
The bike has various settings, from gears and also has a throttle. Nicola's bikes have a low instep so no need to swing your leg over the back wheel.
The saddle is wide and the handle bars face the rider, which allows you to sit up straight rather than bend over like on most bikes.