E-Bikes vs Road & Mountain Bikes: Which is Best for a Bicycle Tour?
In a recent blog post, we talked about the hottest bike trends for 2017—and touched briefly on the phenomenal growth in e-bike popularity. I think we underestimated their appeal.
A new report by Navigant Research suggests that e-bike sales will jump from $15.7 billion in 2016 to nearly $24 billion by 2025, more than doubling the number of units sold from 3.3 million to 6.8 million worldwide. That’s a lot of people riding e-bikes.
It’s no surprise, then, that the “stigma” associated with electric-assist bikes in the past has pretty much disappeared. E-bikes are everywhere, from delivery bikes to e-mountain bikes and even commuter bikes. A lot of bike commuters are embracing e-bikes as a way to maintain a greener lifestyle—while still arriving for work not totally exhausted, sweaty, and in a state of disarray.
When it comes to a bicycle tour vacation, however, people tend to hesitate a bit more—and that’s a shame. Because e-bikes make a great deal of sense for a lot of riders, new and experienced alike.
Ever wonder if an e-bike is a good choice for you? See if you recognize yourself in any of these riders—if you do, you might be a great candidate for an e-bike on your next bicycle tour.
Eager Eva — age 51
Eva isn’t an experienced cyclist; in fact, it’s been awhile since she actually climbed on a bike. She doesn’t even work out regularly, other than daily walks with her dog.
But she’s an adventurous sort and she loves new experiences. Her best friend Ginny, an avid cyclist, took a bicycle tour last summer and absolutely loved it. She’s planning a six-day tour of the San Juan Islands this fall—and invited Eva to join her.
This type of adventure is right up Eva’s alley and she’s extremely motivated to take her up on the offer, but she’s worried she won’t be able to complete the 25 to 35 mile a day rides. She knows Ginny will feel obligated to hang back with her and Eva’s afraid it will ruin her friend’s vacation. But she’s always wanted to see the area and the idea of a bike tour kindles her sense of adventure.
Why an e-bike works: An e-bike lets you go further and faster than you could manage on your own efforts, so Eva will be able to keep up with Ginny and handle her daily mileage, even if she doesn’t have the time or interest to do fitness training before their vacation.
Dislocated Dan — age 46
Dan has been a passionate cyclist for years and he spends several hours a week on his bike. He’s in great physical shape—except that four weeks ago, he strained the lateral meniscus in his left knee and has been in physical therapy for rehab ever since.
Dan’s booked for the eight-day Crater Lake bike tour that’s set to depart next week and he’s a bit worried that his knee won’t be up to strength for the tougher climbs and 60-mile-a-day rides. But he doesn’t want to miss the vacation he’s been planning for almost a year.
Why an e-bike works: Although the level rides and slight inclines won’t put much stress on his less-than-healthy knee, the steep hills are a different story, where riding hard can aggravate a strained meniscus. Dan can use electric assist to give him a boost of power that takes the stress off his damaged knee so he can complete his tour without pain or fear of relapse or additional injury.
Challenge Me Charles — age 55
Charles switched from running to biking about six months ago and recently joined a mountain biking club—he loves the challenge and exhilaration of off-road riding. Never one to turn away from a test of his will and endurance, he and a friend booked the 15-day Camino de Santiago bike tour of northern Spain’s Basque country.
Charles is expecting to push himself to the limits of his endurance—and he’s actually pretty excited to see how his skills stack up against his more experienced friend. But there’s a tiny, nagging fear that he may not be able to handle the brisk climb to the Cruz de Ferro or some of the more challenging terrain and he’s starting to second-guess his decision to go.
Why an e-bike works: When you ride an e-bike, you’re in complete control over when you need a boost—and the amount of boost you need. And sometimes, that’s all a rider needs to give him the confidence to tackle a new challenge. Charles may not even use the electric assist, but he knows it’s there in case he wants it. No more worries!
Adrenaline Abbie — age 41
We all know someone like Abbie—that person who is always after the next big adrenaline-fueled thrill. For some, it’s skydiving, for others it’s windsurfing, but for Abbie, it’s the straight-out excitement of pushing herself to the limit in pursuit of the most amazing scenery in the world.
Abbie’s a hard-core athlete who does triathlons; when it comes to riding her bike, the more extreme the challenge, the better. In fact, she’d ride her bike up the Alps if she could, but of course, that’s not humanly possible with a traditional bicycle.
Why an e-bike works: E-bikes open up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to extreme challenge, like our e-mountain bike tour through the Julian Alps in Slovenia. Thanks to e-assist technology, Adrenaline Abbie can go to previously unreachable places where not even cars can travel. For the adrenaline junkie, e-mountain bikes offer a bold new frontier of unexplored terrain.
Cardiac Ken — age 57
Ken had a heart attack a year ago and underwent some major cardiac procedures to treat his diseased vessels. As part of his cardiac recovery program over the past year, Ken’s been riding a stationary bike three times a week—but now he wants to try the real thing with a Joshua Tree bike tour.
Even though the tour is customizable for longer or shorter routes and appropriate for even beginners on a bike, Ken still has some reservations that he might get tired or push himself too hard and be unable to finish the tour. He’s in a bit of a quandary about whether he’s really up to the trip.
Why an e-bike works: Ken can monitor his heart rate and physical condition with a wearable device like a Fitbit—and if he’s exerting himself beyond his comfort zone, he can use electric assist to reduce his workload. E-bikes give you more control over the amount of effort you need to exert to do the tour, letting you keep your heart rate at a comfortable level while you ride.
Mike and Molly Mismatch — late 40s
Mike and Molly are a very physically fit married couple—both enjoy active vacations and spend a lot of time working out. Molly loves to ride her bike; she does some road bike racing and logs hundreds of miles a month. Her dream adventure is the Empire Builder Epic bike tour through the Rockies, the Cascades, and Glacier National Park with daily rides of 100 miles or more.
Mike is no slouch, but his jam is running—he’s been running marathons since his 20s—and he’s not sure how that translates to long days on a bike. And if it doesn’t, wouldn’t that kind of ruin the vacation? After all, the whole point of adventure vacations together is experiencing the views together, the oooh and aaaah moments together—captured with an occasional selfie with a stunning mountain background, of course. If he’s lagging behind Molly, those magic moments won’t happen.
Why an e-bike works: Mike’s in great shape, but there’s no denying that distance running and distance biking are two completely different things—and he’s right to be concerned he won’t be able to ride alongside his more experienced wife.
An e-bike gives Mike the option of a little extra boost so he can keep pace with Molly and know that they’ll be able to enjoy those special moments together—and she won’t have to hold herself back, either.
Joy-riding Jonah — age 39
Jonah is a fun-loving single whose favorite adventures are road trips of all kinds. He’s done all the iconic highways—Route 66, the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Pacific Coast Highway. He’s even done the Alaska Highway from Dawson’s Creek to Fairbanks.
But he’s beginning to feel as if he’s missing something seeing everything from behind the wheel of a car at 65+ mph. The scenery is just a blur and the solitude is getting a little old. He’s ready for something entirely new…a fresh perspective…an opportunity to go places he’d never go in his car—and a chance to meet some new friends along the way. So he booked a mountain bike tour through the Leavenworth area in Washington.
Why an e-bike works: Jonah just wants to have fun—and what could be more stress-free and enjoyable than cruising through Devil’s Gulch on an e-mountain bike? It looks like a blast (and guess what? It is!) Who says you need a health or fitness reason to cruise around on an e-bike? Just do it because it’s fun.
A Word from Miracle Matt…
Our own Director of Operations here at Bicycle Adventures loves e-bikes and here’s why:
“I like to ride e-bikes because sometimes I don’t want to work hard. It’s fun to sit back and relax and it makes conversations on the bike easier when you aren’t breathing hard. Imagine if you could ride the KATY trail across Missouri with your best friends on ebikes. Or McKenzie Pass in Oregon before the cars are allowed on the highway. You could ride 2 or 3 abreast and really engage with your travel companions.”
A few things to keep in mind…
E-bikes are heavier than other bikes and with cycling, every ounce can make a difference when it comes to performance. That also makes them more difficult to carry and load up on your car if you’re planning a DIY bike trip.
They also cost a bit more than traditional bikes, but the good news is that you can upgrade to an e-bike on a Bicycle Adventures tour and give it a try before you decide to invest in one for yourself at home.
And there’s also the issue of range. Depending on the model and how much you use the electric assist, you may run out of juice during your ride.
All that said, however, e-bikes are a great equalizer and a fun and stress-free way to get out and experience the world from the saddle of a bike, even if you’re not a regular rider.
E-Bikes are for everyone!
With e-bikes, there’s nothing holding you back from your dream cycling holiday. If you want to sit back and relax whilst catching up with friends, you can do this while sitting on an e-bike, gazing across amazing scenery. So why not start planning your bicycle adventure today – just get in touch and we’ll get the ball rolling.