Electric Bikes

Welcome to our coverage of e-bikes.

Portland is home to many electric-bike makers, tinkerers, riders, and enthusiasts. We do our best to cover it all. Have an e-bike story idea? Drop us an email via our contact page.

E-bikes and Oregon State Parks & Recreation Rules

A J Zelada by on May 1st, 2018 at 4:03 pm

ON Monday April 23rd, Oregon Parks and Recreation (OPRD) held their first open hearing regarding allowance of e-bikes on state park paths and several beaches.

What I found fascinating was that all the personal testimony of individuals and also 3 businesses which rent and sell e-bikes were completely positive. In March I was at the League of American Bicyclists in DC and attended a presentation regarding regulation of e-bikes. That meeting was very contentious and polarized. It appeared to me an old guard of “e-bikes are not real bikes” versus “e-bikes are here to stay” crowd were leading to a civil war. Not happening here.

I was happy to be in Oregon on Monday hearing real stories of how e-bikes make a difference. One Hood River resident, 79 years old man, who had ridden his bike to work for 40 years has found his strength difficult to bike as much during the past two years and had stopped bicycling. He – in the past month – tried an e-bike and he was embracing a new life as he spoke. Another testimony came from an athletic man whose wife did not have the love of road bicycling and he said that an e=bike had given them a togetherness again in bicycling together (twas sad we did not hear her voice this tale). And of course the vendors stated the smiles apparent on everyone trying out an e-bike. Another wonderful testimony was from a walker on the Hatfield tunnel/Mosier trail who commented that the strength-training-lycra-human-powered crowd were zooming by most of the e-bike users and pedestrians at 30+ mph. Given that the e-bikes have hair dryer equivalent 750/1000 watt electric motors, she was most elegant retiring the worry of ebikes going over 20 mph. (for you engineers: 746 watts equals 1 horsepower)
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Oregon begins process to legalize electric-assist bikes in state parks

by on April 10th, 2018 at 10:28 am

E-bikes are currently illegal on paths like the Banks-Vernonia. A new rule would change that.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department wants to update their rules regarding electric bicycles.

As we were first to report last summer, electric bikes are not currently legal to ride on paths in Oregon State Parks. That’s because park paths are governed by Oregon Administrative Rules (OAR), which currently classify electric bicycles as “motor vehicles” — thereby prohibiting their use. (Note that roads outside of state parks are governed by Oregon Revised Statutes which define e-bikes as bicycles). With the rising popularity of pedal-assisted e-bikes, State Parks officials recognize that the OAR is outdated.

Now they’ve begun the process to officially amend the rules to make it clear that electric-assisted bicycles (as defined in ORS 801.258) are allowed in State Parks. The OPRD website has posted a “notice for proposed rulemaking” and there’s a comment form to receive public feedback.
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Let’s help Samantha Taylor buy an e-bike

by on October 9th, 2017 at 11:36 am

(Photo courtesy Samantha Taylor)

We met Samantha Taylor during Steph Routh’s interview series. In it we learned why she isn’t commuting:

The most that I’ve ridden a bike was this summer when I had a GenZe bike. I have chronic pain, and I have arthritis. I know that there are other people out there with similar experiences. Having an e-bike allowed me to ride comfortably in a way that suited my body’s needs. It’s unfortunate that e-bikes are so expensive. Since I had to give mine back, I haven’t been riding.

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Organizers pull plug on Portland Electric Bike Expo due to “eclipse mania”

by on August 10th, 2017 at 9:28 am

Portland Electric Bike Expo-5.jpg

A scene from the 2016 event.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Hysteria around the total solar eclipse that will make its way through Oregon two weekends from now has caused a major bike event to cancel its plans.

Organizers of the Electric Bike Expo had planned to bring their event to Portland on August 18th through the 20th. But when they started calling around for essential services like tents, fencing, port-a-potties, and backup power generators, they quickly noticed something was wrong. With concerns over historic levels of traffic and camping due to the millions of people expected to flood Oregon for Monday’s celestial show, providers were unable to guarantee availability of the aforementioned services.

This realization sent Ray Verhelst and Bill Sell of the Electric Bike Assocation scrambling. They tried to reschedule the event for the following week — a move that also meant they had to find a different venue because the planned location at Portland Meadows Racetrack wouldn’t be available. They then considered moving the event to October but worries about bad weather tanked that idea.

But with such late notice and with many of their vendors and customers having already made travel plans, Sell and Verhelst announced this morning that they’ve cancelled the event.
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Not so fast e-bike riders: Motors aren’t allowed on bike paths in Oregon State Parks

by on July 6th, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Policymakers Ride - Gorge Edition-57

Riders on the Historic Columbia River State Trail.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Last week we posted a story about how electric bicycles have opened up new riding opportunities in the Columbia River Gorge. But it turns out it’s illegal to ride an e-bike on the Historic Columbia River State Trail — or on any other paved bike path within the Oregon State Parks system.

We’ve since updated that story with a note after learning about the issue from a commenter (Park Chambers, who happens to own Fat Tire Farm and Hood River Bikes) and then confirming the facts in a phone call with an Oregon State Parks spokesperson.

This prohibition of e-bikes on paved trails caught me off-guard. As pedal-assisted bikes gain in popularity, I think the issue merits a closer look.
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Why did you buy an e-bike? PSU (and the bike industry) wants to know

by on May 5th, 2017 at 10:27 am

Family Bicycle Transportation Day - Oregon Manifest-15

E-bikes help regular people do amazing things.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

E-bikes are everywhere in Portland. Dealers report strong sales, they scored great press in the Willamette Week’s latest bike issue, and I have a feeling that in a few years we won’t remember what our bikeways looked like without them.

Like many trends in the U.S. bike scene, Portland is leading the way. We have a cottage industry of sellers, makers, and tinkerers who are pushing e-bikes into the mainstream. We also have an academic brain trust at Portland State University that has become one of the nations leading places for e-bike research. Portland State University has been researching e-bikes since at least 2011.

Now they’ve inked a partnership with national nonprofits People for Bikes (an advocacy group funded by the bicycle industry) and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association to learn even more about the e-bike market and push it further along into the American mainstream.
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What I learned at the Portland Electric Bike Expo

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on May 23rd, 2016 at 10:22 am

Keola Munos with A2B’s heavy-duty lineup.
(Photos: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

As Jonathan wrote on Friday, this weekend’s Electric Bike Expo has been a milestone for Portland, a metro area that offers a rich bike-friendly culture but also has enough hills that many people are effectively shut out of it.

Enter e-bikes. And enter the expo, a free event outside the Lloyd Center movie theater that brought in vendors from around the country. As an e-bike newbie — I’ve written about them plenty but only ridden one before — I spent a few hours there on Saturday to see some of the products and talk to the customers and sellers. Here’s a quick tour of what I found.

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Dispatch from the Portland Electric Bike Expo (photos and video)

by on May 21st, 2016 at 11:11 am

Portland Electric Bike Expo-3.jpg

All the test rides and information you want, all in one place.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The electric bike revolution has landed in Portland.

All weekend long at the Electric Bike Expo the world’s top e-bike brands are offering free test rides of over 100 different models. I swung by on Friday afternoon to get a closer look.
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Free webinar Thursday will explore the potential of e-bikes

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on April 18th, 2016 at 2:53 pm

The Ohm electric-assist bicycle-6.jpg

Electron-powered.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

As electric-assist bikes take over more and more of the global bicycle market, they’re growing in the United States and Portland too.

Last year, Portland snagged its third and fourth e-bike specialty stores. Next month, we’ll host the Electric Bike Expo for the first time. And this week, Portland State University is sharing some of the only modern academic research on the domestic e-bike market.

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Electric Bike Expo coming to Portland in May

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.
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