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Riding Into A World Of Adventure

E-bikes make Hawai’i Island adventures accessible to everyone

The morning sun was climbing over Mauna Kea’s summit as my husband, Patrick, and I unloaded two bikes from our car where Mana Road’s blacktop faded into gravel. Although I gave up bike riding years ago because of an injury, an electric mountain bike I rented from Bike Works Kona was about to open the door to a world of Hawai’i Island adventures I’d assumed were only for the fittest athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. 

“This is a pedal-assist mountain bike, so you pedal to engage the motor,” said Grant Miller, owner of Bike Works and a Kona resident since 1989. After a lesson in changing gears, braking and switching modes, he assured me I was adventure-ready. 

“When e-bikes first came on the scene,  I thought they were great for commuting. Bike Works sold our first e-bike in 2012, and we got the first off-road e-bikes in 2015. They’re perfect for mountain biking in Hawai’i, with our rough terrain,” Grant said before we all took off down the gravel road.

The e-bike has three levels of assistance (or assist), key to riding comfortably and confidently on varying terrain and in groups with varying skill levels. By customizing the assist, everyone can ride at the same speed. 

While the "e" in e-bike stands for "electric" it could easily stand for "equalizer.” With the e-bike in Turbo mode, I easily kept up with Grant and Patrick, two avid cyclists who would otherwise be miles ahead of me. 

As we climbed through a grove of wind-worn eucalyptus trees, Grant explained that the e-bike’s battery should last 4 to 5 hours. “But if you keep it in Turbo the whole time, the battery will drain faster.” 

As the road leveled out, I opted for Eco mode. Unlike the max assist that Turbo offers, Eco provides minimal assist, which is perfect for downhills or a cardio session.  Switching again to Trail mode, which is in between Turbo and Eco, I rode toward cows grazing under a sky streaked with ao manu (wispy clouds) and further away from my excuses, including lack of time to exercise and physical limitations. 

“In my experience, e-bikes are popular with the older demographic, wanting to cycle for fun. And for anyone with lingering injuries or those who simply believe they’ve aged out of adventures, e-bikes can be a game changer,” said Grant as we rode effortlessly over a cattle guard. “Also, new mountain bikers, including younger riders, find it more fun and practical to ride an e-bike.”

Whether renting an e-mountain bike or buying an e-bike for the road, an electric bike can expand the adventure options. Kona’s Walua Road, Waimea’s Mana Road, the Puu Waawaa Forest Reserve, Hilo Bayfront Trail and Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park are just a few diverse places to ride on the Big Island. 

“Wherever you ride, always check your brakes and the air in your tires before you go,” said Grant. “Wear a good helmet and gloves, and carry tools, a tube, pump and water.”

It’s also important to take time to read any signs and markers explaining the history, native plants and animals, and the names of the places where we ride. In ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi, the place name evokes a deeper understanding of the area’s water, rain, wind, land and other geographical features. In turn, this connection to place fosters a sense of appreciation and responsibility to ‘āina and the community. 

Thanks to an electric mountain bike, I’m experiencing our island’s nature and culture in a more meaningful way. And being able to share that with my husband by riding together? That’s what has me smiling for miles. 

To learn more about e-bikes, visit

E-bikes are popular with the older demographic, wanting to cycle for fun.

E-bikes can be a game changer.