This post is brought to you by the amazing humans at Switched On Bikes in Wellington, New Zealand, who lent me this trusty steed for my entire stay in NZ’s capital city! If you’re ever in need of an electric bike rental during your NZ travels, make sure to reach out to them via their website, SwitchedOnBikes.co.nz.
Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you…Korra the Corratec!
I’d never ridden an electric bike before this one, so I was hyped to say the least.
2 months and many great memories later, I’m excited to share with you all: 18 things I learned from riding an electric bike 200 miles through New Zealand!
1. The speed difference is JARRING, in the best way
I knew there’d be a bit of a boost, but holy cow you can FLY on this thing! The Corratec had 5 different modes, each getting increasingly boosty:
All E-bikes are different obviously, but using my bike as an example, here’s a rough comparison:
Casual riding speed on a normal bike: 13.5 MPH (or 22 KPH)
Casual riding speed on E-bike turbo mode: 20 MPH (or 32 KPH)
That’s a nearly 50% difference…but it feels like a LOT more while riding!
Again, that’s casual cruising — as in not breaking a sweat, checking-the-Bitcoin-price-on-my-phone speed.
2. You can GO places.
Thanks to the big boost in speed, it blew my mind how much distance I could cover on this thing.
Using the speeds above as a baseline, let’s assume you’re planning an 8-hour full-day adventure with a friend. The rough distance you could cover on each bike during that 8 hour ride, assuming my approximate speed numbers would be:
Normal bike: 108 miles (174 KPH), or Seattle to Bellingham
Electric bike: 160 miles (258 KPH), or Seattle to downtown Vancouver, Canada
Obviously that’s a pretty hardcore example, but if you’re using it for daily work/shopping commutes, the time savings you’ll gain from these speedy trips will add up quick.
3. Long trips are much less stressful
Not only can you cover more ground, but you’ll feel far less stressed about going on the longer-distance trips.
Why? Let’s say you’re planning an ambitious day trip, but you end up leaving later than expected.
On a normal bike, you’ll be sweating bullets as the sun goes down at the end of the day, knowing that the combination of lower light and exhausted legs will lead to anxiety on the return trip (especially if you’re riding on public roads with cars).
On an E-bike, you don’t have to sweat it. Turbo Mode is your get out of jail free card, giving you a much-needed speed boost on your return trip.
In my own experience, I’ve always pushed myself to make it to my destination without using the electric motor (or maybe just Eco mode). That way, you can put in as hard of a workout as you like, without needing to worry about saving half your energy for the return trip. Life is good when you have Turbo mode to carry you home!
4. It breathes new life into any city
When you live in one place for a long time, it’s easy to get complacent about the amount of adventures at your disposal.
Trust me: even if you feel like you’ve seen everything there is to see in your hometown, humor me on this one, and take a trip on your favorite road on an electric bike. Once you feel the freedom of the wind flowing through your hair and the sun beaming on your face, you’ll know what I mean — the feeling of rejuvenation for the once stale is unmistakable!
5. Extra cargo? No problem.
When you’re on a regular bike, it’s kind of a pain in the ass to carry stuff with you. Whether you’re using a backpack or a saddlebag, you can feel the added weight very easily, especially when climbing hills.
My rental bike came with a saddlebag, which turned out to be extremely useful. I put it to the test by filling it to the brim with stuff (food, water, camera, rain jacket, lock, etc.) during my adventures, and as expected, the added weight was easily counteracted by the electric motor.
For many people, this could be the decision-maker for opting for an E-bike instead of a car. you may not have enough space for a massive Costco haul, but thanks to the motor assist cancelling out the additional cargo weight, an E-bike should have you covered for 90% of your daily trips!
6. You get a much better workout while carrying an electric bike!
OK, that might be a slightly rosey way to put it…
There’s no doubt these things are heavier than normal bikes. If your routine requires you to carry your bike up a large flight of stairs every day, I’d recommend renting one out yourself to make sure it’s doable for you before making the purchase.
I learned this the hard way after getting hopelessly lost in Belmont Regional Park in Hutt Valley, NZ. Carrying this beast up multiple 100+ staircases is not the most relaxing experience, but it was a hell of a bonus workout!
7. It’s far more accessible to the average human
No doubt, a small percentage of the hardcore biker crowd will gawk at electric bikes, since they’re “easier.”
Forget that. Electric bikes are so much more practical for the average human being, since you don’t need to have tree trunk legs to commute from A to B before your coffee gets cold.
This will lead to:
- More people being introduced to an active lifestyle
- More people deciding to buy a bike instead of a car
8. It’s PERFECT for group rides with wide-ranging skill levels
Going off the previous point, E-bikes will make group rides far more practical.
With standard bikes, it’s tough. Some riders in your friend group may be brand new, while others are veterans. So regardless of the speed the group moves, someone will be outside of their normal comfort level.
This is where having multiple speed modes is a beautiful thing. By balancing lower-skill riders with higher-speed settings, you can easily level the playing field for all riders in the group!
Remember that the Corratec I rode had 5 different speed modes:
Now, let’s make up an example family of 3:
- 9 year old Tommy, who’s brand new to biking
- Mom, who rides every once in a while, but struggles on the bigger hills
- Dad, a biking veteran who’s been riding his whole life
To flatten the skill difference, all you have to do is utilize the speed modes as a simple handicap system:
Simple as that!
This will make large group rides among family or friends much more fun, since the experienced riders won’t have to constantly slow down, and the slower riders won’t have to kill themselves to keep up. Just a few speed setting tweaks and the skill gap will be leveled off for the full ride!
9. It’s far safer on roads
Fact: The majority of bike accidents happen in low-speed environments, where it’s difficult for riders to accelerate from a stop in the same way that cars do.
Riding a normal bike on a public road is spooky, since cars are all zooming past you at 2-4x your speed.
When riding this electric bike around Wellington, I felt significantly safer. Instead of needing to heave my bodyweight onto the pedal after forgetting to downshift coming into the stoplight, the E-bike popped off the line with gusto after every stop. Being able to zip and zoom around corners and intersections at a similar speed to a car isn’t just fun–it’s much safer.
10. You’ll want to wear extra layers in cold weather
These things FLY, so there’s more of a windchill factor than normal bikes. Since it’s currently winter in New Zealand, my hands about froze off each time my ride went into the nighttime.
If you’re looking into buying an E-bike, I highly recommend investing in some gloves and a windbreaker!
11. Charging is a piece of cake.
One of the most common concerns of folks new to the EV space is charging.
Have you ever plugged your cell phone into a wall charger? Great, you can charge an E-bike too. ✔
It’s helpful if you have an outlet where you plan on storing it, or else you’ll need to use an extension cord.
12. For many people, charging can be free
One of my first thoughts while contemplating buying an electric bike upon my return home to Seattle was: “won’t this cost me a bunch of extra money on my electricity bill?”
Well, not if you’re a clever planner.
If you work in a fairly large office, you’ll have power outlets all over the place. And your boss would have to be a pretty huge dick to not let their employees plug their bike in to charge while they need to bring it inside anyway.
In addition to this, many small businesses are starting to add FREE EV charging to their parking lots, to bring in additional business (not to mention an increasing number of gas stations will soon be providing charging stations for cheap or no cost as well).
If/when I get my own E-bike, I’ll definitely be scoping out free charging opportunities wherever I can find them.
13. “Range anxiety” is a non-factor
EV skeptics love to cite “range anxiety” (the fear of running out of battery).
These concerns can be entirely put to bed for E-bikes. Why? Because when the battery dies completely, guess what happens:
You got yourself a regular ol’ bike!
Slightly heavier with the battery, perhaps, but a bike nonetheless. So as my dad always says, “Quit your belly-achin’!”
14. Battery management is actually fun!
During my daily adventures on the Corratec, I didn’t just not worry about running out of range, I found managing the battery life to be sort of a fun game in itself!
When switching between different speed modes, the digital screen tells you how far you’ll be able to run the electric motor for each mode. As I rode between different types of terrain, from big hills, to offroad trails, to highways, I would switch between these modes frequently until I found the right setting for each situation.
Since you don’t have to stress about your bike losing its function after the battery dies (see #14), you can have some fun playing with different modes throughout the day, and finding the proper balance between speedy fun and range economics.
15. You won’t want to go back to normal bikes
This can be either a pro or a con depending on your perspective.
After zooming around at superspeed for 2 weeks, I’ll admit it’ll be tough to go back to a regular bike.
If you’re a hardcore bicyclist and you get the majority of your exercise from it, be warned! You may need to re-activate that gym membership to counteract the drop in burnt calories!
18. The future’s gonna be freakin’ awesome
I know I’ve mentioned this before, but what a fantastic extra reminder.
Electric bikes at present are far more accessible athletically, AND safer to use for everyone.
Thanks to the rapid growth ahead for this tech, both of these factors will continue to improve, while the prices will simultaneously get cheaper as battery technology improves.
Get hyped folks! I know I am 😀