My Journey to the 'Dark Side'

For a long time I looked down on electric bikes and their users . To me they were not 'real' bikes.

However, other well regarded members of our cycle club adopted electric and their credibility as long standing traditional cyclists gave strength to the electric movement.

At the same time I was finding my ability to climb hills and to keep up with the rest of the group was becoming a problem for me.

Rather than give up group cycling all together I opted to just do shorter and flatter rides as long as I was able to do so.

Eventually I resolved to join the e-bikers when I had reached a key age, leaving it as long as I could to enable the technology to develop.

By the time I reached 80, I'd had a heart operation and although I was riding at my own pace it was obvious that it was only pride and stubbornness holding me back from getting electric assistance

At this time one of our e-bikers got a new bike and loaned me his old one.

Although the battery was on the way out, it was enough for me to decide what I wanted and how to use it.

I did not want a bike with a motor that would just take over, but something to give me a little bit of help on the hard bits (the hills).

I chose one of the conversion systems where my existing bike was fitted with a new front wheel which has the motor in the hub, so the rest of the bike is exactlyhow I have always ridden it. The seat, handlebars and pedal position is either how I set it up years ago, or how I have got used to it. Anyway, its my old bike. On some e-bikes the battery is on the rear carrier, which alters the weight distribution and the balance, but on this conversion the battery is fixed to the frame between the handlebars and the pedals. This is nearly central so the balance is maintained.

The finished bike has five levels of assistance, and I have set it on level 1, the minimum, and the result is just what I needed. It is as though my legs were ten years younger. I still have to pedal to make it go, and on the hills I have to work a bit hard, and even get out of breath sometimes but I wanted to still claim I was riding and getting the exercise we all need.

So, that is my journey to the Dark Side, and 'May the Force be with me' for a long time.

Mike Skiffins - Portsmouth CTC
Posted on Wed, 01/07/2020 - 14:32