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Everything You Need to Know About E-Bikes

Curt Skeie from Gear West Ski & Bike answers every question you have about e-bikes

E-bikes have been around for a while, but if you’ve never been on one, for many, they can at first seem a little intimidating. So, we sat down with Curt Skeie from Gear West Ski & Bike to explore the world of e-bikes and answer all your questions, demystify misconceptions, and learn why people love them.

Curt, to start, what is an e-bike (electric bike), and how do they differ from traditional bikes?

An e-bike is a pedal-assist bike that enhances the power you put to the pedal. You pedal to move, but what an e-bike allows you to do is go further and faster with less power. Just like standard bikes, e-bikes come in all styles—path bike, trail bike, mountain bike, and gravel bike. The path bike style is the most popular and is the one you’d ride on the road or, in my case, ride around the Luce Line or Dakota Trail!

The other main difference is that they’re heavy. They typically can weigh 40 to 50 pounds. If you plan to load up your e-bike and take it on the road, you’ll need a special rack that is e-bike rated for your vehicle.

What are the benefits of getting an e-bike?

The biggest benefit people see after getting an e-bike is the boost to their mental and physical health. E-bikes allow you to ride longer into life. As you age and may have hip or knee problems, or if you have an injury, an e-bike takes the stress off of pedaling. You don’t have to stop riding, and you can keep up with your kids. E-bikes even the field so people at different levels can ride together.

Compared to a traditional bike, where you might get five miles out and back, an e-bike allows you to go 20 miles out and 20 miles back on the same amount of energy. They’re a lot of fun. They encourage you to get outside and explore more, and many who come in and purchase an e-bike at Gear West use it for weekend transportation. They’ll ride into Wayzata and go to dinner without sweating up a storm. An e-bike is what you make of it. You can use it for down-and-dirty fitness or dress up and ride to dinner without breaking a sweat.

What kind of maintenance is required for an e-bike?

An e-bike is, first and foremost, a bike. Like a standard bike, bring your e-bike in once a year for a tune-up. Check the tire pressure, clean and lubricate the chain on a regular basis, and check the brakes. As for the e-portion, that includes the battery, motor, and the display on the handlebar. There’s not a whole lot of maintenance to it. When you bring it in, we’ll check for any firmware updates for the display.

With the e-bike battery, I always tell people to treat it like their cell phone. Don’t leave it in cold or hot places, and your battery will last longer. In the winter, you can wheel the bike inside or remove the battery and bring it in. Typically, your battery will last you around 60,000 miles. 

What advice would you give to a first-time rider?

Come in and do a test ride! The biggest misconception and one of the main concerns is that you stomp on the pedal, and the bike will lurch out and take off. In reality, e-bikes are designed so when you step on that pedal, it’s smooth and feels natural. When you take off, you won’t feel that lurch forward. 

The other element is learning the control panel. E-bikes have standard bike gears and an extra display piece. You work the gears like normal, and as you come to a hill, you can up that pedal assist level. Don’t worry, your body will let you know when you should use the control panel to add power to your legs!

Is an e-bike worth the investment?

E-bikes run around $2400 and are absolutely worth the investment. A lot of studies have shown that people who purchase an e-bike over a standard bike actually get out more and go further. It gets you moving, you get more vitamin D, and it allows you to ride with anybody at any ability level. I have some e-bikes in the garage myself. My wife has never been a bicycle enthusiast until I brought home an e-bike. The first time out, we went 30 miles, and now we go out regularly. It’s been a big positive in our household.

Ready to ride? Head into Gear West to test out an e-bike and learn more on their website: