Tag Archives: electric bike

E-bikes for E-asier Bike Tours

Electric vehicles are hot these days and e-bikes may be the hottest.

By FaceMePLS from The Hague, The Netherlands (Sondors eBike) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: FaceMePLS from The Hague, The Netherlands
At last week’s huge Interbike convention in Las Vegas, there was an entire section devoted to e-bikes along with a test track.  Improvements in battery technology and aging demographics are leading the increased popularity of these bikes which easily reach 20 MPH with little effort.

They certainly make sense for bike tours.  Our directory of bike tours currently lists over 400 tours, with about 5% using e-bikes.  There are quite a few advantages:

  • Less pedaling and effort for those who may not feel comfortable riding for two or three hours (although, most bike tours ride at modest paces)
  • Faster bikes means covering more ground
  • Some of our cities are pretty hilly, an e-bike flattens those hills (think Athens which has three different e-bike companies)
  • More accessible for those who might never even consider riding a regular bike
  • Riding an e-bike is FUN

One downside, an e-bike is generally more expensive for tour operators to buy and maintain.  You might notice that e-bike tours cost a bit more.

Feeling lazy?  Wanna go uphill fast?  Give an e-bike tour a try!

**UPDATE** Check out this article from an e-bike tourer defeating hills, heat, and hours in Rome.

Self-Guided Tours?

We noticed this article about a new electric bike store in Franklin, TN. Electric bikes are great and really seem to finally be coming into their own. They have the potential to be a huge contributor to solving transit and gridlock issues, especially in cities like Austin.

It looks like tours of downtown Franklin will be offered soon. But, here’s what really caught our eye, “For those who want to take their time, she said, she’s aiming to develop a self-guided tour app.” We’ve been thinking about this idea recently and haven’t yet seen a real city bike tour app. Sure, there’s all manner of MapMyRide, Strava, and some distance touring support apps. But so far, we’re not aware of an app for a city tour. (Well, maybe, this one is close: http://www.bikecityguide.org/app/ )  But, it certainly makes sense for an on-demand, labor/cost saving move for local bike rental shops (or even bike share). More tour options should be possible. And flexibility would prevail, riders could make side trips or even break a tour up across multiple days. For that matter, the tour app itself could be flexible and configurable: “What would you like to do next, see the Eiffel Tower or stop for a coffee?”.

But, is there a downside? One or two riders using an app would miss out on the group camaraderie and the charm of the tour guide. Smaller groups using a device could be less safe, focusing on a device and losing the visual impact to drivers of a larger group of cyclists. And what of the apres-ride chat about that great restaurant or club?

What do you think?  We see a place, maybe in smaller towns, for tour apps.  But we don’t want to lose the traditional city bike tour.