ebikes still have pedals.
So it is possible to pedal and ride using good old-fashioned leg muscle power.
However, a supplemental electric motor offers an extra boost for getting up to cruising speed after stopping at red lights, or providing horse power for getting up steep hills. (Seattle is a famously “steep” city.)
Watching our neighbor Henry’s business literally explode, over the past couple of years has been exciting. In addition to converting standard bikes to electrical assistance, Henry also sells a line of top quality factory built ebikes.
When we’re in Seattle, I sometimes stop by his shop to chat and to check out the latest ebike technology. The equipment is evolving fast in this new/old eco-friendly form of transportation.
Too Young For Ebike?
So far, I have been reluctant to consider an electric bike myself.
I still see myself as a relatively “young” 56 year old. At some level, I guess we are all reluctant to admit that we’re getting old. (Luckily I have children who aren’t reluctant to say, “Dad, admit it, you’re old”.)
Aside from the fact that I love to ride my human powered street bike, I worry that if I start to accept electrical assistance on my bicycle, would I soon find myself requiring assistance to do everything?
I already have an electric toothbrush. Would riding an ebike be a slippery slope to riding around everywhere. Would an electric powered wheelchair then be in my near future? Would it be a short cut to that final ebike commute?
Recently, however, I have begun to reconsider using an electric bike.
There are plenty of errands that I don’t do on my regular bike, because I am in too much of a hurry, or I have to carry too much, or I have already gotten a lot of exercise that day. Or more often, I just don’t want to get all sweaty. (See appendix for a complete list of my excuses.)
Maybe an electrically assisted bike would reduce the number of car trips that I take. Perhaps owning an electric bike would reduce the number of our car trips, and thus our environmental impact.
Maybe we would end up riding our “regular” bikes more, rather than less, and stay in better shape. Perhaps we would keep the bike riding “habit” alive, by having a way to ride, even when we don’t really feel like bike riding.
Another advantage of biking more (ebike or regular), is that when I do bike I feel more connected with the community. Definitely more than when I am hidden behind the tinted windows of my car.
Biking in Rainy vs. Dry Season
In Puerto Armuelles, I notice that I ride my bike much more in the rainy season than I do in the dry season.
The 10 degree cooler temperature, plus the overcast skies makes the rainy season perfect for cycling.
I find I am more reluctant to hop on my bike in the hot dry season. I definitely don’t do it as much.
For instance, our family always seems to forget to buy some critical item at the grocery store. Which then requires someone shlep back downtown to Romero’s. And it is usually I who does that trip.
In the hot season, I usually make that 2nd trip to Romero by car.
There are other trip I could take by ebike too. As a home builder, I find myself taking frequent runs to the hardware store for small miscellaneous fasteners, adhesives, wire, blades, etc… for the construction crew.
Sometimes I take these trips by bike. If I really crank, I can probably get from our house in Las Palmas, to Casa Cheong (about 3/4 a mile, slightly downhill) in under 2 minutes. However, by the time I arrive back home, I am usually pretty sweaty.
I love to ride fast, and I love to exercise. But, sometimes I just don’t feel like getting all “pitted out”.
Expat Bike Riders In Puerto
Observing some of the other expat in Puerto Armuelles, I notice that not too many are bike riders. There are a few, but not many.
I imagine, like me they also don’t want to get over-tired or too sweaty.
Puerto – Good Topography For Electric Bike
Puerto Armuelles is laid out along the ocean, so generally, it is flat as a pancake. Our house in Las Palmas is up a slight hill, perhaps 10 or 12 feet above downtown.
This is an ideal topography for even a very modestly powered ebike.
Is An Ebike For You?
Perhaps expats in Puerto Armuelles (and the tropics in general) is the ideal market for electric bikes.
The electric bike just might bring a whole new level of fun and convenience to retirement life in Puerto.
In my own case, as I get older, I anticipate that I will still enjoy feeling the breeze in my (thinning) hair. I will still enjoy the freedom and the exercise of riding a bike.
However, I can foresee a time, not too distant, when I will happily opt for the ease of an electric bike. I think that I will ride more often, if I know that I don’t have to pedal the whole time.
With an electric bike, I’ll be able to exercise, without overdoing it.
I am going to be giving electric bikes a test ride in the near future. I will report my findings.
Find Out More
However, in the meantime, there is lots of information available about ebikes online. You can convert a bike you already own, or buy a new or used electric bike. (Maybe we should add it to our post about “Packing for your move to Panama”.)
If you would like to check out our friend Henry’s shop, visit BikeSwift.com.
If you have any information to share with our readers about electric bikes, or other alternative transportation methods, please let us know.
If you are interested in living green, I wrote about using taxis in Panama – a green and affordable alternative.
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