Electric Bike Expo coming to Portland in May

Posted by on April 6th, 2016 at 4:18 pm

Test riding bikes is the big attraction.
(Photo: Electric Bike Expo)

Despite big advances in battery technology and ever-increasing availability, electric bike sales still lag in the United States compared to other countries. Organizers of the Electric Bike Expo — which is coming to Portland for the first time ever in May — think the reason many Americans aren’t enthused about e-bikes is simply because they haven’t spent enough quality time with them.

The focus of the two-day show is an e-bike test track. Attendees will be able to try bikes from many different brands and talk to e-bike experts. “The best way for people to truly understand what an electric bike is all about is to provide them with the ride experience. That is why we are taking electric bikes to the people,” is how Ray Verhelst, President of the Electric Bike Expo, puts it.

The Electric Bike Expo is a strategic partner with Interbike, the producer of the nation’s largest annual bicycle industry trade show held every year in Las Vegas. The Expo is being held in six cities this year and organizers say they chose the locations, “based on the weather during the first half of the year, the level of friendliness towards electric bikes, and the economic demographics of both the residences and the visitors during specific events.” The Portland edition happens May 20th-22nd in the parking lot of Regal Cinemas in the Lloyd District (NE Multnomah and 13th).

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To get a taste of what to expect at this event, check out this promo video:

It’s no surprise Portland has been chosen as a stop on the Expo’s tour. We have a growing number of bike shops that specialize in electric bikes and local businesses that make electric bike accessories. I’ve personally noted a steady uptick in the number of e-bikes in local bikeways, but it hasn’t quite reached a critical mass. Not yet at least. Events like this Expo could be key in tipping the scales.

For more about Portland’s e-bike scene, check out our archives. And stay tuned for a report from the Expo in May.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

66 Comments
  • Avatar
    IanC April 6, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I’d love an electric assist cargo bike for my 20 mile commute (no big deal ; ), but I’m waiting for the price to get down to around $2000 (which is still a CHUNK of change).

    My dream is to be able to install solar panels on the barn to charge my electric bike so I can commute a bit faster and in more types of weather.

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      suicidarida April 8, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Me Too Ian! You can build one for that.
      Ive been building and designing assist e bikes for 15 years.
      The race boys in spandex are the only ones that hate being passed. LOL.
      I can now keep up with the big boys. Cant wait to show off my best new design. I design batteries that charge in 30 minutes. 45 to 100 mile range. 750 watts. 10 speed mono cog transmission. Yup.
      Cant say top speed. But faster than most if needed.

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    Matt S. April 6, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    To the individuals about to make a narrow minded comment on ebikes, please don’t!

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      9watts April 6, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      thought police?

      I bet e-bikes and their denizens can handle a few less than flattering comments, should anyone feel so inclined. Personally I have mixed feelings (about e-bikes), but your remonstrance awakened my allergy to group think.

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        soren April 6, 2016 at 9:22 pm

        i have no need for an e-bike but i love e-bikes! what is not to like about a bike that encourages more people to use active transport? imo, hating on e-bikes is the equivalent of hating on dutch bikes, folders, or vintage 10 speeds — pure snobbery.

        PS: and i say this as someone who just converted my free carbon trek frame bike to a shopping bike.

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          9watts April 6, 2016 at 9:32 pm

          There is hating (on) – none in these comments that I’ve seen
          there is adulation – plenty
          and then there is everything in between. I was more interested in the in-between myself. It always seems more interesting.

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            soren April 6, 2016 at 10:22 pm

            i’d edit my comment if i could, 9 watts. i’m genuinely curious about your reservations when it comes to e-bikes (and esp. pedal assist e-bikes).

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              Champs April 7, 2016 at 12:22 pm

              I know what I’ve done on dirt bikes, jet skis, and the like. You’d best believe I have trepidations about sharing space with inexperienced operators of unlicensed and uninsured vehicles with far more power than experienced cyclists.

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                soren April 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm

                in my experience, e-bikers tend to be among the most polite riders.

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. April 6, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    Could be fun to give a few e-bikes a test ride.

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    Allan April 6, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    e-bikes make my commute more enjoyable and faster. I’m seeing more and more on the streets.

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    J.E. April 6, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    I think my biggest concern with e-bikes is theft. Is this an actual problem? How easy is it for someone to abscond with the electric components if I left an e-bike parked at a staple?

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      Alex Reedin April 6, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Mine (a bionx hub system) has three components: Motor, battery, and controller. Motor is in the wheel, so I lock the wheel (which I should be doing anyway). Battery is locked to the bike except when I need to charge it in a location other than my garage, in which case I unlock it and bring it in. Not sure how easy the locks are to pick but haven’t heard about batteries being stolen. The controller is a little computer on the handlebars. It would be easy to steal, but it’s not expensive, and I can’t imagine there’s much of a market for it. I leave a kid helmet on it when I go in to stores (who steals kid helmets?)

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      suicidarida April 8, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Ive had 3 different people try to steal my 7000$ ebike.
      While riding it. Ive out run street kids who lunge out at the waterfront too.

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    B. Carfree April 6, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    I’d love to see more people on e-bikes. They could do wonders to normalize both riding and riding at what I have always considered normal speeds. I feel like the second most common excuse for not riding that I hear is that it’s too hard physically, and these take that one off the table. They also put a big dent in the time excuse (number 3) and, since fewer motorists overtake you at 20 mph than at 10 mph, they increase safety (excuse number one).

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      wsbob April 7, 2016 at 9:36 am

      About a month ago, at a dealer demo held at Pio Sq in Portland, I tried out an e-bike and an e-scooter. Not much of a true test ride, but both worked great, near as could be told by riding a little 50′ diameter circle. Much nicer to ride than the noise, heat and smell of small motorcycles I’ve ridden. I think once they try them out, people will love riding them.

      Also about a month ago, east bound on the neighborhood street south of highway 26 near Sylvan, I was chugging up the hill on my road bike…passed briskly by a guy on an upright style bike…he passed me, but I realized quickly, the reason he was able to do so, so quickly, is because his bike was e-equipped. Going over the hill, basically wearing street clothes, not bike clothes. He was pedaling, but I could tell he was using far less muscle exertion than I was on the road bike. Not having to pedal quite so hard is exactly what some people will find attractive about e-bikes.

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      Rain Waters April 7, 2016 at 9:41 am

      The threshold of motorists respect for cyclists is around12-13 mph, not 20. If a cyclist is moving at 11 mph they’re consentually known as in the way.
      It feels like I’m out of sync at under 12. This took about 40 years to grasp so please try before deny.

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    bendite April 6, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    *electric moped expo

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      Chris I April 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      So we’ll see you there?

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        bendite April 7, 2016 at 7:19 am

        I’ll be getting there on my gas bike.

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          Chris I April 7, 2016 at 8:03 am

          Those pollute more than the average car.

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            Spiffy April 7, 2016 at 8:27 am

            mine meets the new tougher 2010 emission standards so it’s more in line with a light truck…

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            suicidarida April 8, 2016 at 9:09 pm

            How so?

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      dan April 7, 2016 at 1:18 am

      Riding an e-bike is like riding a moped…it’s fun until your friends see you. Wait, is that how that saying goes?

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    dan April 7, 2016 at 1:19 am

    When are the products the pros use to cheat in races going to filter down to the LBS? That’s a lot more appealing than the awkward dimensions of typical e-bikes.

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    Spencer Boomhower April 7, 2016 at 1:37 am

    The most bikeable places are among the flattest, a quality that makes cycling a more inviting, no-sweat form of transportation for more people. I see e-bikes as a means of flattening hills in places that aren’t quite so pancake-like in their geography.

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    Gary B April 7, 2016 at 8:52 am

    This is very exciting. I’m in the market for an electric-assist cargo bike. I have no experience with e-bikes, so my biggest reservation is wanting to compare and try many to make sure I get the right one. Can’t wait.

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      Alex Reedin April 7, 2016 at 9:00 am

      In a quick look, the expo has Xtracycle and Yuba, so it’s a good place to try out longtails. If you might want a boxbike, you should probably go straight to Clever Cycles and Splendid Cycles.

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    Matt S. April 7, 2016 at 9:07 am

    I envision ebikes as an integral part of the transportation grid. With affordable homes being located east of 82nd, I’d like to buy out there and ebike into town. Sure, I could ride my road bike, but a daily 20 mile round trip wears you out regardless of who you are. I consider myself very active, I like to have energy for other activities: trail running, hiking, mountain biking, weekend road riding, weight lifting, swimming, rowing.

    If you don’t consider ebiking exercise, well then don’t. Consider it a more efficient way to commute than driving a car. Save your energy for all our other exciting activities!

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      Matt S. April 7, 2016 at 9:09 am

      *your

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      Alex Reedin April 7, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Yup, just bought a house in Lents and ebiking the Springwater is the only way my commute downtown is gonna be by bike every day. It’s quite nice actually, although I wish I could take more time to toodle along the nice parts of the trail. Speeding past Precision Castparts’ ugly roadside factory breathing as little as possible is just fine with me 🙂

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        Eric Leifsdad April 7, 2016 at 11:07 am

        Did you get the ram-air electric respirator add-on?

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    cam April 7, 2016 at 9:26 am

    To save hunting through too many tabs, here is the URL that I found to actually register for the Portland event:
    http://www.electricbike-expo.com/locations/portland-oregon/

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    Rain Waters April 7, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I just hope one road sign manages to survive this clever trojan;

    NO MOTORIZED VEHICLES

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    Eric Leifsdad April 7, 2016 at 9:41 am

    Is there a big hill in that parking lot? Testing an e-bike on flat ground is much different than a 6-14% grade where you need 1000W to get to 20 or 12mph. Riding an e-bike on springwater is a great way to demonstrate how ill-suited that corridor is for biking given our mode-share goals.

    Hopefully some PBOT staff, PPB, and elected officials will attend this. Would be better if they would take an e-bike tour of southwest or far east bike infrastructure. I keep having to remind PBOT that electric bikes travel 20mph uphill and sidewalks are not legally usable by e-bikes (or safe for pushbikes even.)

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    Tom April 7, 2016 at 10:27 am

    e bikes enable close fast passing in bike lanes, thus undoing all the work that has been done to get proper sized, buffered, and protected bike lanes….created to prevent close fast passing.

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      Matt S. April 7, 2016 at 10:35 am

      One could say that about automobile infrastructure and biking. “If it weren’t for all those darn bicyclists, we wouldn’t have to rework roads and neighborhoods, and thus undoing all the work that has been designed for cars…”

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      Alex Reedin April 7, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Um… I get passed on my ebike routinely by people on road bikes. Bike-to-bike speed differentials are a thing regardless of electric assist. As long as people don’t bypass the 20mph max regulator on most ebikes, I think ebikes only increase the differentials a little bit (e.g. e-assist on my cargo bike takes me from slower than average to faster than average so I’m something of a wash. Someone going from average to much faster than average would be an increase).

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    Jon April 7, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I have been passed by a 3 wheel electric moped in the bike lane. I was going 15-18 mph on a slight uphill and this motorized vehicle came by me at nearly 30 mph. If you can easily exceed 25 mph going uphill by twisting an accelerator you should not be in the bicycle lane. Currently I have been very lucky and have not encountered more than 2 situations where somebody passed me on a moped that fast in a bike lane during my commute. I have a car. If it gets too dangerous to commute on my bike because I encounter more of these 1000W mopeds flying along at the speed of the rest of the motorized traffic I guess I’ll just jump in the car for my commute.

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. April 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

      Mopeds are totally different from electric-assist bicycles.

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      Chris I April 7, 2016 at 11:43 am

      You will not find the vehicle you described at this expo. That vehicle should not be in the bike lane, by law.

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      Keegan April 8, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      What’s the speed of motorized traffic at 6pm where you bike? It’s about 5mph for a couple parts of my ride. Enjoy!

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    Andy K April 7, 2016 at 11:04 am

    The ebike/motorcycle movement could eventually increase the number of current westside-to-downtown commuters by double or triple, because their strengths are long, uninterrupted flats and climbs.

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      Eric Leifsdad April 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

      I think triple is off by a factor of ten. Show me a continuous bike lane network on the west side where joe bmw is comfortable riding a recumbent trike and I’ll show you a thousand electric velomobiles year-round.

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        Andy K April 7, 2016 at 12:30 pm

        Eric you’ll have to clarify your comment for me – i don’t get the reference to recumbents and velomobiles, which are like little cars.

        I find the three primary westside-to-downtown commute routes to be pretty comfortable with regards to interactions with motor vehicles, actually. (Terwilliger/Barbur, Montgomery/Hewett, or Kingston/Fairview)

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          Eric Leifsdad April 8, 2016 at 9:29 am

          Would you feel comfortable on a recumbent trike on those routes? You really need at least 4ft of lane, probably no fun hitting those drain grates at 25mph with your right front wheel on terwilliger. Taking the lane on barbur’s bridges sitting low to the ground is not something many people are willing to try. An electric velomobile is far more bike than car — just a shell over a tadpole trike and it is legally an electric bicycle. This 1000W, 100lb, 30in wide vehicle can do 30mph on a slight downhill unassisted and keeps you mostly protected from the weather — it’s the bike for people who don’t bike “because excuses”. We need nicer fast bike lanes/routes free of pedestrians and puppies, plenty of passing space, parking, etc. Some law changes might give us better space/priority to NEV’s (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles i.e. golf carts), which would be closer in speed and size to electric velomobiles. Heavy auto traffic can use the freeway.

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            Andy K April 11, 2016 at 1:05 pm

            I have zero experience on a recumbent trike, nor have I seen one on my route(s) but I agree with you 100%, they seem to be at a serious disadvantage because of their low profile and width. If you need recumbent trike-friendly route to be comfortable on your two wheeler, there’s not much I can do for you. The west side has hundreds of miles of streets where the 85th percentile is 40mph or greater, which is usually fatal for the VRU.

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              Eric Leifsdad April 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm

              Not for me on a 2-wheeler, it’s everyone in a car who could be in a velomobile.

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    Tom April 7, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I got in shape so as to keep a good pace so others would not feel the need to pass me in the bike lane, only now to get passed by even faster ebikes who can climb steep hills at 20 plus. If you complain you get attacked by these new motorists the same way as those ‘other’ motorists. Same dribble, different kind of motorist. Horsepower corrupts, leading to feelings of superiority, then leading to the dehumanization of those slower, then leading to harrassment. The cycle is constant. Cyclists created the first motorcycles who then sided with cars in their view of cyclists. I’m just waiting for ebikes to start complaining that the regular bikes are hogging the road and getting in the way.

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    • Anne Hawley
      Anne Hawley April 7, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      ebikes can’t complain. They’re just bikes.

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      seRider April 7, 2016 at 9:33 pm

      Why is getting passed so horrible/shameful? You’re just going about your day, not training for the tour de france. Eventually we will emerge from the shadow of sport/athletic biking attitudes where how “good” a cyclist you are is determined by how fast you go and relax like Danish or Dutch bike commuters.

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        Alex Reedin April 8, 2016 at 5:59 am

        Seriously. I get passed by most people when I’m on my nice, calm, upright, low-maintenance city bike. I pass most people when I’m on my electric cargo bike. I also pass most people when I’m on my husband’s road bike. In no case does passing or being passed make me feel better or worse.

        Getting where I need to go in a reasonable amount of time does make me feel good. But other people’s speeds are immaterial in that.

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        Matt S. April 8, 2016 at 7:19 am

        Because, all the sweat, long hours, isolation, shaven legs—means nothing when you’re getting passed by a mom w/ two kids hangin’ on the back. Those Danskos aren’t clip-ins…

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          Alex Reedin April 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm

          Live and let live, please, and maybe develop a more internal motivation for your sports training rather than basing it as much on competition with passersby? This dad in non-clipless dress shoes with two kids stashed in the front needs to get them to daycare on time.

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            Matt S. April 8, 2016 at 2:31 pm

            I hope you know I was being sarcastic with my comment above 🙂

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              Alex Reedin April 8, 2016 at 2:55 pm

              Oh good… I’m a little bit gullible, OK? 🙂

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              seRider April 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm

              I got it and enjoyed it. Humor helps keep the comment section civil
              Cheers!

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      El Biciclero April 9, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Unless the pass is unsafe, why would anyone complain? This happens to me once in a while as I’m chugging up a hill—some guy or gal on what has to be at least a 50-lb. bike, wearing khakis and crocs with a fat jacket on, sitting perfectly upright like Elmira Gulch breezes past me. Once I recover from my astonishment, I spot the battery and think to myself, “cheater”. But in a wry, good-natured way. Then I convince myself that if we were on similar equipment, there’s no way they’d be passing me right now—and keep on chugging. Machismo intact.

      I do worry somewhat about enabling inexperienced riders to feel entitled to pass, without first having to “earn” the ability, and without spending a good deal of time being passed by others (Alex’s experience notwithstanding), to understand what makes for a safe and comfortable overtake.

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  • Anne Hawley
    Anne Hawley April 7, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    This event could have been designed for me, and I’ll definitely attend. My next bike purchase will almost certainly be an e-assist bike. If I can find the right one, it will allow me to extend my biking life by quite a few years, and my range by a couple of miles and some slopes that are getting harder for me.

    I’m very interested in being able to pedal under my own muscle power for as long as possible, while having motor-assist as and when I really need it.

    I guess if I squint I can kind of see where being overtaken by a gray-haired lady would irk some bike-riders, but honestly, how often is that gonna happen?

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      wsbob April 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm

      “…I guess if I squint I can kind of see where being overtaken by a gray-haired lady would irk some bike-riders, but honestly, how often is that gonna happen?” hawley

      People need to put their means of propulsion in perspective. So what, someone passes you on their e-bike while you’re pedaling away…exclusively on your own muscle power, gravity and wind. Being able to do the latter, is quite the accomplishment, and not something to feel bad about simply because someone with an electric motored bike can be faster.

      I expect you’ll be able to find an e-bike that’ll work for you. They’re good now, and seems like they stand to get much better yet in terms of design, style and functionality.

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    Dave April 7, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    I disagree. My experience is a driver that has a problem with a bike going 11 mph has a problem with a bike going 20 mph or 25 mph or any speed.

    They have a problem with bikes, not the speed of the bikes

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      El Biciclero April 8, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      I can definitely attest to this. I’ve told my stories before of drivers honking, passing, and yelling at me when I’m going over the speed limit. Many, many drivers believe they have a “right” to pass a bicycle no matter what.

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        suicidarida April 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        Better get A bike cam.
        All the a-holes go away when using one.
        I have the one e-bike with A windshield.
        Id like to race you sometime. What you got?

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          El Biciclero April 10, 2016 at 5:06 pm

          I’ve got a camera on the front, but speeders from behind can’t see it. When I exceed the speed limit, it’s usually something like 26-29 in a 25, on a slight decline, with loaded panniers on my steel frame commuter; I’m not a racer.

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      Keegan April 8, 2016 at 9:59 pm

      An ebike may not help with the spitting-mad bike haters, but I certainly get less aggression and fewer scowls from the average driver when I can accelerate to 20mph from a red light in four or five seconds like they can.

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    suicidarida April 9, 2016 at 5:45 am

    On the street. I find I get the same respect from most drivers. On my assist bike. As long as I act like A motorcycle. Look like A motorcycle. And go 5 miles over the speed limit. As most cars.
    But the corridor should be slower pass as it scares people. E bike or no e bike. Car or truck. Most don’t like to be passed. Get real with yourselves.
    Or traumatic, ego damage may occur to both parties.
    I am passed all the time.
    And admitting. I enjoy eventually passing the spandex Nazis.

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