Ellie's ebike adventures #1
I’m not a techno-geek by any stretch of the imagination – it’s taken me a year to learn how to use our Amazon Firestick, much to my husband’s merriment. I’m not fit either – busted knees for the past five years have rendered exercise – even swimming - uncomfortable at best and shockingly painful at worst. Imagine my family’s surprise therefore, when I announce I’m getting an ebike. Well, borrowing one anyway, to start with.
It was going to happen sooner or later. Working at SPARK+VOLT headquarters is to be dunked daily in a vat of ragingly infectious enthusiasm for electric transport – from electric cars and vehicles to electric bikes and unicycles!
Natalie and Rob, SPARK+VOLT co-founders – are in the business of designing and making T-shirts, clothes and accessories to kick-start the electric transport EVolution after all, so their love for all things electric is boundless, and it’s impossible not to be inspired by it.
The environmental pros of choosing electric transport powered by renewable energy have always appealed to me, but when I came across ebikes, I also found myself wondering – could an ebike be the answer to the frustrating rut I’d got into exercise-wise owing to my knees? While it seemed like it could be a solution, the ebikes I had looked at started at around £900 – which seemed an awful lot of money to risk on knees that even struggled with swimming.
I was researching sustainable, environmentally friendly organisations in Dorset for a SPARK+VOLT project when I came across Fizz Bikes – and like the clouds parting, I had discovered an easy, affordable way of finding out whether an ebike could be for me after all.
Felicity – or ‘Fizz’ as her friends call her, is on a mission to get as many people as possible in Poole and Bournemouth to travel around by ebike rather than car. She believes it’s the ‘best urban means of transport for the environment, the community and the user.’
Fizz’s scheme is refreshingly simple: You can go to her for a trial ride on an ebike. If you like it, you can hire an e-bike from her for a month for £35 (it takes about a week to get all the parts ready for you to have your own bike and take it home.)
You need a £100 deposit, but you get that back if all is well and you decide not to keep the bike at the end of the month. If you've found you don’t use the bike or it doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to keep it and that’s all you pay.
Alternatively, if you like it, you can either rent the bike again, or move on to a rent-to-buy scheme where you keep paying your £35 a month for approx. 23 months, after which you own the bike. You don’t get your deposit back in this case as it goes towards the cost, but by then you’ve got a fantastic e-bike for a few hundred quid, and that’s been paid off without any interest charges etc.
Fizz is able to offer such a good rate for the scheme because she’s had sponsorship from organizations like the Naturesave Trust – so it’s well worth checking it out.
Fizz’s scheme also meant I could try incorporating my ebike into my own lifestyle, at home, relatively inexpensively for a month, to see how I would get on. More importantly, it gave me a chance to see how it would affect my knees if I went riding on a regular basis, so I eagerly booked in for a trial ride.
When people describe riding an electric bike they often say how it feels like you’re pedaling downhill even though you’re going uphill. . . what they don’t tell you is how much of a boost it gives you in the first instance! It’s like having your bike jumpstarted and feels a bit strange at first – but it’s SO MUCH FUN! And it’s true – it really does feel like you’re pedaling downhill when you’re pedaling uphill. I was hooked – but needed to make sure my knees could withstand regular use.
So now I’m the proud host of an ebike here at home for a month-long trial. I’ve only done short rides out - I’m finding getting back on a bike hasn’t quite come back to me like, er, riding a bike… I’m still building up my confidence around traffic as I haven’t cycled properly for about 20 years.
But so far so good - my knees have been a little stiff, but not painful, and I’m enjoying all the whizzing about thoroughly! I can even zip up a hill ahead of my husband, whereas before we couldn’t go out riding together because I was afraid I’d get stuck somewhere unable to carry on.
I’m also finding the technology easy to use – and it’s all rather clever – probably the subject of another blog post. For now, I can definitely say I’m so happy I’m trying it and I’m very grateful there’s a scheme like Fizz Bikes in my area so I’ve been able to try it. Thanks Fizz!
Go to Fizz Bikes