E-bikes are becoming all the rage in the South Cariboo.
The bikes, with their quiet electric motors and pedal assist, are becoming a common sight around the region, particularly around 108 Mile Ranch, as more people see them as a good way to stay fit and mobile.
“Ever since I moved here I wanted to get a bike but the problem has always been the hills,” said Roxanne Ziefflie, 68, who has lived in 108 Mile Ranch for 13 years. “I said there’s no way I can pedal up some of these hills, so we just didn’t do it.
“It took me a few tries to figure out the gears and the assist at going up hills. Eventually, I got it and now I can whip up those hills no problem.”
Ziefflie and her husband Terry, 66, are recent converts to the e-bike group, having bought their rides this spring. Keith Jackson, who is the only source locally for people to purchase E-bikes in town, said he’s seen a big demand since he started selling them this year, noting he started with 20 bikes and has sold out. It usually takes people more than a year to get a bike these days.
“The e-bike thing, it’s getting a lot of people back onto bikes and getting them back outside again,” Jackson said. “You can cover a lot of different terrain and you don’t have to wear spandex.”
E-bikes also have other benefits: a study conducted by a team from the University of Reading and Oxford Brookes University published on PLOS One found that e-biking has led to improved mental health, better reaction time and an increase in happiness. The study involved 100 participants from the age of 50 to 83.
Most e-bikes are like regular bikes with their gears on the back hub that you can control from the handles. They also come with hydraulic disc brakes, making them easier to stop. The tires are a thick street/dirt combination, which is good for use on both the highway and biking trails.
The e-bike’s electric motor is usually mounted below the bike’s seat and with a flick of a switch, riders can activate the various levels of pedal assist. Jackson said as soon as the motor kicks in the rider will notice a difference. A battery typically lasts three to four hours fully charged in his experience, depending on how much it’s used and will be good for 500 charges.
READ MORE: Electric bikes OK on B.C. mountain trails
“One day in Penticton I went all around Skaha Lake to Okanagan Falls and back and it took me like three hours,” Jackson said. “When I was in Penticton, there were e-bikes everywhere. I think it’s a trend around the world. Without knocking the Cariboo, we’re always just a little behind the curve.”
Although the e-bikes aren’t cheap – they range from $1,200 to $4,000 – local riders say they’re worth every penny. Terry Ziefflie said he and Roxanne both have back problems, and the extra boost is a godsend in keeping them active. As the bikes are currently classified as a Type-2 Bike, they’re allowed on most trails including the ones around the 108 Mile Lake. However, Terry said they prefer sticking to the roads.
“You have to very very careful. If you’re coming too fast and going around some of those blind corners, you got a problem,” he said.
Jesse Mahoney, 66, who also rides an e-bike in 108 Ranch, said the bikes also allow riders to challenge themselves. With the power turned off, his bike weighs 65 pounds so he can get a good workout that way. While initially, he and his wife Lynda, 65, would take breaks between rides, they now ride almost every day and have begun to lose some weight.
“It gives us the versatility to go where we want to go and meet a lot of people. It’s social, it’s healthy and something to do,” Jesse said.
The Mahoneys, who previously owned Homestead Services and just retired, said they were initially looking to get into mountain biking but when they heard about e-bikes, decided to jump on board. Lynda said she didn’t really like the look of the bike but “now though, it’s grown on me totally.”
“It’s a nice bike and easy to handle,” Lynda said. “The first ride was a good wipeout, but you live and learn.”
Mahoney said the e-bikes have been a good investment, allowing him to bike every day.
“You’ve got a choice to make when you retire. You can choose not to be active and probably not (enjoy) a great quality of life then if you’d stayed active,” Mahoney said.”Doesn’t really matter if it’s e-biking, running, walking, sports clubs or hiking just stay active, stay healthy and enjoy yourself.”