E-bike sale at Western Bikeworks

E-bike rental in Mosier opens up new riding options in the Gorge

Posted by on June 26th, 2017 at 10:30 am

My e-bike on loan from Route 30 Classics in Mosier.
(Photo: Laura O. Foster)

E-bike Rentals in the Gorge

From Route 30 Classics in Mosier

  • 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April to October (later if the weather’s good)
  • $15/hour
  • 18 years or older
  • 8 bikes available
  • No reservations taken
  • Racks have bungees for tying down small items; if you bring lunch, carry it in a backpack.

Story by Laura O. Foster, author of Columbia Gorge Getaways.

(Please see note about legality of e-bikes on Gorge paths at end of this story. – Jonathan)

“Everybody comes back loving it,” says Stephen Demosthenes, about his new e-bike rental business in Mosier.

Stephen’s the longtime owner of Route 30 Classics on the Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH). In the multi-preneurial way of Northwesterners, he sells vintage Porsches and tee shirts, serves ice cream, espresso and Mosier-made sandwiches (in season), and now rents e-bikes.

Stephen’s e-bikes are meant for pavement, not gravel or single-track. They give riders four levels of electric assist, shown by red bars on a handlebar gauge. “You can easily ride on one battery charge to The Dalles and back, if you [generally] keep the bike at two bars, riding in third or fourth gear,” he says. The Dalles is a 35-mile roundtrip ride, out and back on the HCRH.

Two excellent bike routes from his shop are: Historic Columbia River Highway east to Rowena Crest (13 miles roundtrip) or Mayer State Park (20 miles roundtrip).

Looking west on the Hood River-Mosier section of the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail.
(Photo: Laura O. Foster)

This is my favorite stretch of the HCRH to bike or drive: far fewer people visit it than the highway’s waterfall section between Crown Point and Ainsworth State Park, and the scenery is unendingly spectacular, with the land transitioning into desert plateaus and canyons.

Bring food and drinks for a picnic at Mayer State Park.

East of downtown Mosier, pass seasonal fruit stands and the vineyards of Mayerdale, an estate developed in the 1910s by Markie Mayer, a wealthy Portlander. He built the colonial revival mansion you’ll pass (not open to the public). The beautifully maintained land is now part of Garnier Vineyards.

Map from from Columbia Gorge Getaways: 12 Weekend Adventures, from Towns to Trails by Laura O. Foster.

From there, keep east on the highway to Memaloose Overlook, and check out its namesake island in the Columbia. Memaloose means “place of the dead” in Chinook jargon. Native Americans in the gorge placed their deceased on river islands. As dams raised river levels and inundated much of the landmass of this and other islands, remains were re-interred in cemeteries around the gorge. But on this island, the remains of one white man weren’t moved. You can see his monument from the overlook.

From the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail west of Rowena Crest.
(Photo: Laura Foster)

Keep east to Rowena Crest, the arid, clifftop counterpoint to Crown Point on the west side of the Cascades. During the Missoula Floods 15,000 years ago, you’d have been underwater here.

From Rowena Crest, swoop downhill on the Rowena Loops, fantastic horseshoe curves, to the little community of Rowena.

Gorge Roubaix - Sunday-12

The Rowena Curves.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

From here, leave the HCRH, and turn left to bike under I-84 and onto Rowena River Road, to the quiet, waterfront Mayer State Park, land Markie Mayer donated to the state.

Watch windsurfers at the park’s east end, and if you’re hot, swim in the kolk pond at the park’s west end, near the old Rowena-to-Lyle ferry landing. A kolk depression is a landform created by the Missoula Floods: as floodwaters roared west along the Columbia River, they carved its valley here into vertical cliffs. The floodwaters’ ice, boulders, sand, and gravel swirled in underwater vortices that drilled circular depressions in the bedrock. This particular depression, at river level, is a great swimming pond. Other depressions, now bone dry, are atop Rowena Crest.

From the park, return via the HCRH to Mosier.

The other, more traveled route, probably most of it is carfree: Historic Columbia River Highway (HCRH) west to Hood River downtown: 14 miles roundtrip, an out-and-back ride.

A few blocks west of the shop, the paved HCRH State Trail leaves Mosier, traveling west atop Columbia River cliffs. At trail’s end is the Mark O. Hatfield West Trailhead visitor center: restrooms, snacks, tee shirts, and history.

Most people turn around and bike back from here, but you’re on an e-bike, so leave the visitor center and keep west, dropping downhill on the Highway’s swooping, smooth Hood River loops (and you’re now sharing the road with cars).

Cross the Hood River, and bike into town for some take out; eat at tables in Georgiana Smith Park (on Oak between 5th and 6th streets). Then cruise beautiful, shady old neighborhoods above downtown, or drop down via 2nd Street to the Columbia to bike riverfront trails. Stop at the Event Site to watch kiteboarders or at Hood River Waterfront Park where you can keep your eye on the bike while you wade or take a quick dip. If the west wind is blowing, no problem: you’ve got an electric assist.

On the return, as you glide uphill on the Hood River loops with three or four bars on your gauge, you may start thinking of buying your own e-bike when you get home.

— Laura O. Foster is the author of Columbia Gorge Getaways. Follow her on Medium @lauraofoster.

NOTE: After posting this story we’ve learned that Oregon State Parks does not currently allow electric bicycles on State Trails. Oregon State Parks East Columbia River Gorge Park Manager David Spangler confirmed with us that e-bikes are still considered motor vehicles in Oregon law and therefore cannot be used on paved (or unpaved) trails designated for non-motorized use. We will post a separate story on this issue and we apologize for the misinformation and any confusion it might caused.

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. Thank you — Jonathan

44 Comments
  • mran1984 June 26, 2017 at 10:43 am

    Quit fooling yourselves…it’s a moped. Enjoy all you want, but it has a motor. It is not a bike because of a change in terminology.

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    • Matheas Michaels June 26, 2017 at 12:54 pm

      I read an interesting article about how exclusionary language towards e-bikers for their use of motors is ableist and discriminatory. It’s an interesting thought, if you’re open to it. Also, keep in mind how much the culture of heavily discouraging an e-bike because you’re not using your legs and blablabla can prevent further bike/e-bike use. I’d rather have someone with an electric assist than driving a car, which they might otherwise do if people weren’t a little more encouraging about and with the language they use for electric bikes. The article I read further explained how cycling being a male-dominated sport is often being subjected to a lot of machismo, and really places a lot of value on how strong you are, how much of a ‘man’ you are, and the notion of using a motor within the confines of this mental framework can be very emasculating. This makes using an e-bike seem ‘weak’, and like ‘cheating’, which really discourages use, in turn discouraging more bike use. What do you think?

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      • Jason H June 26, 2017 at 1:43 pm

        The dictionary definition of a moped is “a low-power, lightweight motorized bicycle.” I conversely ask why the need for the new term “E-bike”? To legitimize something that already feels like it has negative connotations? If it’s electric I’d say it’s already stepped away from the stigma of taking a smelly 2-stroke engine on paved or dirt trails. But it is motorized, let’s not shrink from that fact. I think access to certain non-technical trails and of course all street bike lanes should be allowed, but that some off-road areas just need to stay non-motorized period. Especially for the breed of “e-bikes” that do not require pedaling to provide an assist.

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        • Jason H June 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm

          Ok, going to self-correct a bit here as there are actually legal and registration/insurance differences between “mopeds” which are referred to no more as scooters or motocycles, even if electric and the new e-bikes, which even with an electric motor are made to conform to legal definitions of a bicycle. Found on the optibike.com site:

          -Electric bicycles have pedals and provide a form of exercise. Most mopeds do not have pedals and do not provide exercise.

          -Mopeds in the USA often require a driver’s license and insurance and some form of registration. Electric bikes do not require a license or registration or insurance.

          -While Mopeds can often travel on street bike lanes, they cannot travel on sidewalks and park in bicycle areas. An electric bicycle can travel on bike lanes and paths and park in bicycle areas.

          -An electric bicycle is considered a bicycle.

          -An electric bike, when configured as a mountain e-bike can travel off road on trails. A moped cannot, as it is designed for city streets.

          -A moped is generally allowed to have a top speed of 30MPH, while an electric bicycle is generally limited to 20MPH with motor only power (can go faster if the rider is actively pedaling)

          I’m still begrudging on motor-only power. I think that cycling is a technical, skilled activity, and having strength (power) or not is only one component. Letting someone physically unable to pedal still have to steer, stop, lean, swerve, put a foot down etc., sometimes quickly in an emergency avoidance situation, could be a risk to themselves and others.

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          • Paul June 26, 2017 at 10:05 pm

            A small correction, at least in all the e-bikes I’ve seen.

            “an electric bicycle is generally limited to 20MPH with motor only power (can go faster if the rider is actively pedaling)”

            That implies that you can go faster than 20MPH with peddling + assist. That is not true. The motor cuts out completely at 20MPH, so if you are going over 20MPH, it has to be by pedaling (or hill) only.

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          • Al Dimond June 27, 2017 at 10:30 am

            Although laws often do influence behavior (and product offerings!), it’s probably more interesting to think of bike-moped-scooter ontologies independent of the law. Laws are different everywhere, practices are different everywhere… and maybe laws and practices can change, hopefully in ways that make people’s lives better!

            I was just (briefly) in Amsterdam, and I’m not sure whether it’s legal or not, but mopeds and motor scooters use bike lanes and paths all the time there. I think most were gas-powered, even, but I could be wrong about that (I was dealing with some painful digestive problems and not paying a lot of attention to the scooters), maybe they’re all low-speed electric scooters designed to meet path requirements. I almost never saw ’em riding with cars. Amsterdam, of course, has a bike network that can withstand this kind of use: comprehensive, wide lanes and paths with pretty decent sight-lines most places. On the other side of things, in Barcelona, where the bike network is neither comprehensive nor high-quality, scooters rule the roads: riders filter to the front and plant themselves in front of cars at every signal. But then they also push their way through mostly-pedestrianized areas all the time.

            It seems a little weird to call e-bikes mopeds today when today’s “mopeds” mostly look more like little motorcycles or scooters than bikes, but the whole idea of the “moped” originated with mechanically-inclined teens bolting motors onto their bikes. With human power taken out of the equation motorcycle- or scooter-like proportions made more sense, and they evolved this way as mass-production took over. One might expect similar of e-bikes, but at this point the idea of the e-bike also seems tied in with the idea of belonging in some idea of “bike culture”… so maybe for that reason we’ll continue to see bike-like forms. Because today’s bike culture (in the US in particular) is often defined in opposition to mainstream “car-culture”, inviting in e-bike producers that aim at the mainstream, and their consumers, is culturally scarier than inviting in a subculture of modders, even if the modders would of course invite more physical danger.

            Maybe this, as much as the physical quality of Amsterdam’s bike facilities, explains how easily bikes and motor-scooters seem to get along. Bike culture in Amsterdam isn’t so much in opposition to this big bad mainstream. Small vehicles on paths are just how you get around, whether you push the pedals or not. I believe in building a mass cycling culture, a mainstream cycling culture… and even with this belief I have an instinctive tendency to look at mass-focused e-bikes as something different. It’s easy for me to imagine mass e-biking as much better for cities than mass car-driving, but harder for me to concede the center of my idea of transportation cycling to something motorized.

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            • Al Dimond June 27, 2017 at 4:59 pm

              Ultimately e-bike builders and consumers of today seem pretty intent to be part of the world of cycling. As for people that are into the pedaling/exercising thing but want some help with distance or hills, they’re pretty clearly “us”.

              For people totally uninterested in pedaling the alternative might be to build and buy real motorcycles and scooters, which are more capable and barely more expensive than e-bikes. Apparently some people would rather wear street clothes and putter on bike paths than wear heavy jackets and face helmets and filter cars, even if that limits their speed a bit. If they want to make that tradeoff, I think that makes them “us”, too. Even if their vehicles end up looking totally different. I might need to ask someone that’s spend more than a day in Amsterdam, though.

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              • Pete June 27, 2017 at 11:32 pm

                Well written views, thanks for sharing. The way I look at it, I know people (of different ages) that would have no qualms about jumping on an e-bike, or even consider buying one. These same people may be OK with renting a scooter on, say, a Martha’s Vineyard vacation, but wouldn’t otherwise consider it, and certainly have no interest in owning one. I also know hardcore bicyclists who have tried e-bikes and walked away saying, “huh, I thought that was cheating, but it was pretty cool.”

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      • Tiffany June 26, 2017 at 2:05 pm

        The article Matheas is referring to can be found by searching “To Dismantle the Master’s Streets”, and is well worth a read.

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        • gl. June 27, 2017 at 1:24 pm

          Tiffany, this was an excellent article. Thank you for sharing it!

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      • Matthew in Portsmouth June 26, 2017 at 2:12 pm

        I suspect that we’ll see an uptick in people using eBikes as an alternative to car commuting once they realize that they can get to and from work faster on an eBike than in a car, which is particularly true if you have a commute that is well served by bike paths. My commute between North Portland and Clackamas is one such route, although I do not plan to buy an eBike at any point in the foreseeable future. At the moment, when the weather is great, I am taking Trimet to work and cycling home.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy June 27, 2017 at 8:38 am

        I think it is still not a bike, regardless of the tilt towards “let’s find something to be offended about”.

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      • KTaylor June 27, 2017 at 8:56 am

        I don’t know – I don’t think it has to be a macho thing to be concerned about increasing introduction of e-bikes into all bike venues. I’m conflicted, personally. For one thing, you can move fast with relatively little physical ‘cost’ on an e-bike. This is the same problem you have with motorized vehicles – effortless speed changes the vibe. It’s like a form of unearned power, and people tend to abuse unearned power (look at how people drive). Also, the people riding e-bikes (anecdotal evidence) are more likely to be inexperienced riders. Effortless speed + inexperience is concerning. I’d way rather see road share currently taken up by cars given over to e-bikes and segways. You’d get nothing but cheering from me if that happened. 🙂

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      • mpeasee July 6, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        Indeed!

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    • Chris I June 26, 2017 at 1:37 pm

      Purists gonna be pure.

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      • Middle of the Road Guy June 27, 2017 at 8:40 am

        Nothing wrong with that!

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      • Jack G. June 27, 2017 at 10:02 am

        Bikeportland comments through the ages:

        1830s: “Real enthusiasts don’t need treadles to move! They just use running machines!”

        1860s: “Real riders don’t need pedals!”

        1870s: “People who are truly committed to the hobby won’t need a Penny-farthing, we have boneshakers!”

        1880s: “Why would anyone want a safety bicycle? The risk proves you’re a real cyclist!”

        1890s: “It’s not proper for women to ride bicycles! Only real men can ride!”

        1900s: “Toe clips are for people too lazy to ride the proper way!”

        1930s: “Why would someone want a derailleur? Real enthusiasts are happy to get off the bike to change the gearing!”

        1970s: “BMX are just toys, they shouldn’t be considered *real* bicycles!”

        1980s: “Bikes were made for the road! Why would you want one to ride on dirt?”

        1990s: “Clipless pedals and Carbon Fiber? Those aren’t ‘true’ bikes!”

        2000s: “Cyclocomputers? What use could that be?”

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        • Middle of the Road Guy June 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm

          Well, at least with all of the things you mentioned the bicycle still remained completely human powered. You can’t say that is the case with an e-assist bike.

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    • Aaron Brown July 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      imagine reading this lovely article about a new way to enjoy Oregon’s beautiful outdoors and make biking more accessible and engaging for a wider audience and having your immediate thought be “THIS ISN’T A BICYCLE” and showing up here to sh*tpost about it.

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      • Laura O. Foster July 5, 2017 at 4:54 pm

        Thank you, Aaron! I don’t understand why anyone would not want to share the road with an e-biker. I bike both ways and both are great.

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  • Noisette June 26, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    As an aging lifelong bicyclist (and 30+ years wrenching on bikes) with a chronic disease that tries to ruin my life, I look forward to getting an electric bike sometime in the future, so I will still be able to commute in the fresh air and get some exercise, even when I feel like crap. The only *pure* form of transportation was walking, till those dang horses made us lazy.

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  • Charles Ross June 26, 2017 at 7:26 pm

    You gotta pedal. When you have to work to get to the twin tunnels or up to the Rowena Crest you will understand this. That said, I am a bit of a masochist so you have to consider that too!

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  • gl. June 26, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    I just barely managed to do this ride on a single chain ring during the Gorge Ride. But it is an incredible ride, and I am so glad more people get to enjoy it — especially those with limited mobility or less strength. Ebike or not, Rowena is still a tough hill!

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  • Mike Quigley June 27, 2017 at 5:16 am

    Not a mention about the car traffic, especially on weekends?

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    • hotrodder June 27, 2017 at 6:06 am

      Car traffic was mentioned at least twice.

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    • Pete June 27, 2017 at 11:38 pm

      The car traffic here is really bad… you should stay in Portland to avoid it. 😉

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  • bendite June 27, 2017 at 7:23 am

    *low powered moped.

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  • Lester Burnham June 27, 2017 at 7:23 am

    Bike etiquette is pretty poor in Portland as it is. Now with high speed e-bikes buzzing you in bike lanes it’s really gotten dangerous.

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  • Laura O Foster June 27, 2017 at 9:05 am

    E bikes aren’t mopeds. You have to pedal and exert effort unless you’re going downhill. After 50 years on bikes it was my first time on an E bike, and I was surprised how much like a regular bike it was except for the assist on the uphills. We are in our 50s and 60s, and we love to bike but more challenging rides that we once did are now more than we want to do on our bikes, since we aren’t daily riders in supreme bike condition.This re-opens terrain and routes to us.

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    • gl. June 27, 2017 at 1:23 pm

      “We are in our 50s and 60s, and we love to bike but more challenging rides that we once did are now more than we want to do… This re-opens terrain and routes to us.” THIS THIS THIS

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  • park chambers June 27, 2017 at 9:17 am

    Just spoke with Oregon Parks and it’s illegal to ride E-Bikes on the twin tunnels. It is wrong to post this misinformation on E-Bikes and where to ride them. It would be better served when it comes to anything E-Bike to check the laws in the area. State Parks, National parks and many local ares don’t allow E-Bikes on their roads and trails.
    Ignorance of the law isn’t a defense and posts like this only cause user conflict on the roads and trails.

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    • Chris I June 27, 2017 at 11:16 am

      I understand that we can’t ride on the twin tunnels, but can we ride in them?

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    • gl. June 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm

      That’s helpful to know, as that law should change. Thanks for the heads up!

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      • gl. June 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm

        What number did you use to contact, park chambers?

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        • park chambers June 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

          Just google Mark O Hatfield West Trail Head. Number is listed. Rather not post the number here.

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          • gl. June 29, 2017 at 11:10 pm

            The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Office in Hood River?

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    • Pete June 27, 2017 at 11:42 pm

      Hey Park, good on you to check into this.

      It’s been a while; I’ll stop by the shop to see if you’re around and say hi – hope things are going well with you.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      Hi Park,

      Sorry for the delayed response.. I was out on vacation for the past 10 days. I’m glad you brought this up. You are correct. I’ve got an official statement from OR State Parks (via post author Laura Foster) and will post an update to this story and I will do a separate post about it.

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  • Shawn Stratton June 27, 2017 at 8:29 pm

    I haven’t yet read through the comments because I didn’t want my response to the article to be skewed.

    I live out in the Gorge and put several thousand miles a year riding the routes that this article discusses. I hadn’t known about the e-bike rental business until one day I was riding the twin tunnels trail and could see numerous people “enjoying” their ride over this marginally hilly ride. I knew quickly that these people were on e-bikes and I thought it was (and is) great ! More people out enjoying themselves on lightweight two-wheeled bicycles is a great thing for all of us. This also means that people who might be less athletically capable, can also get out and enjoy areas that they may not normally go to. And as with most riding, the more you do, the more capable you become, perhaps evolving onto fully human powered bicycles as well. Kudos to Stephen for starting this business. I’ll have to make sure I stop by his Porsche-Haas sometime soon and enjoy some ice cream.

    Cheers !

    Shawn

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  • Annag June 28, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I think E-bikes are a great idea especially in this sort of setting, which may attract as many (out of shape) tourists as well as the regular (lycra set) riders. They are way more preferable to the noisy, smelly gas powered bicycles I sometimes run across, the last time was this past week-end on the Marine Drive path. The only time I find E-bikes annoying is when they are used by young folks who seem able bodied, on short, flat routes, unless they are hauling kids or cargo.

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  • SAM jonas June 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

    Thanks for the great article, Laura. I see there we still lots of education about the new world of possibilities an e-bike opens up and how its crucial to societies transportation strategy. With one in four bikes in Europe now e-bikes, its apparent it is the future of cycling. Sorry to all folks ignorant about e-bikes, I’m sure you will simply be left behind….literally.

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  • mpeasee July 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Before all the accoutrements go on and come off…what you have is a bike.

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  • Pete July 9, 2017 at 9:09 pm

    Another gorge e-bike rental shop:
    https://www.oregon-ebikes.com/

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  • Katie July 19, 2017 at 8:16 pm

    I love my e-bike. However, I use it near my home for errands and such. I would need to really trust the range to take it touring. Once the battery poops out, the bike is amazingly heavy.
    I got the e-bike because I knew I would ride more, and use my car less, if I got an e-bike. So I bought it for logical, environmental reasons, but it turns out electric bikes are just so much fun! Having been a bike rider for many years, the e-bike just IS a bike. I suspect the resistance to calling them bikes is from people who have not tried them. When you ride them you know they are a bike — they feel like a bike not a moped. Some people dislike them because they are cheating and I say viva la cheating. It gets me out of the house, around town, without my car. I think more people would bike if the ebikes were cheaper.

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