So many of my articles over the past two years start out as “these are interesting times in the auto industry” The combination of no demand for cars, followed by a spike in demand and supply chain shortages have really shaped how people think about and buy cars since the start of the pandemic. Dealers have very little inventory in stock, causing buyers to order new vehicles and wait.
Buyers are understandably confused and frustrated by this shift in vehicle acquisition. I’m right there with them–my craving for something new and different has been stifled by today’s market conditions. I have been putting off my “fun vehicle” purchase until demand dies down enough for prices to stabilize. Unless you truly need a new car, it is best to wait.
Like many people, my transportation needs have changed. I no longer have a daily commute and when I do venture out, I don’t travel very far. In fact, most of my travels are within a five mile radius of my house. Between the local hardware store, various coffee joints and select restaurants and pubs in our downtown area, I determined that I am the ideal candidate for an electric vehicle.
You read that correctly. My short, daily trips barely touch the range of today’s electric vehicles. It makes total sense. I’ll save the family truckster for longer travels and use an electric vehicle to serve my daily needs. Those needs are simple: provide enough charge for up to ten miles per day and offer open-air fun.
I found the perfect vehicle. Correction, I found the perfect vehicles–one for me and one for my wife…
A New Direction
Yes, friends, I just bought two electric bikes! Mine is the orange cargo bike and my wife has the green one shown in the picture above.
I did not start out looking for e-bikes. In fact, I was exploring some convertibles for summer fun. I looked at late 2000s BMW Z4, Pontiac Solstice (and Saturn SKY twin) and even a 1980s Pontiac Fiero. Like other used cars, these have gotten pricey over the past two years.
Patience is not my virtue, so waiting for the market to stabilize was not going to work for me. Of course, paying a premium for a car doesn’t work either. In May, I took a motorcycle course with my son and considered buying a vintage bike. Thinking that through, I am not a motorcycle person. It was a great skill to learn, but I don’t find them relaxing to ride on busy roads.
Related article: Learn To Ride A Motorcycle
One thing I do enjoy, however, is riding my bicycle. I enjoy the tranquility of an early morning ride. It clears my mind and offers a sense of adventure. In reality, I wanted a vehicle in between my bicycle and a motorcycle.
After some deep thinking, whiteboard brainstorming and a well placed ad on streaming video, I decided to explore e-bikes. What I found was a huge selection of manufacturers offering bikes of all sizes and designs.
I landed on these two e-bikes from Rad Power Bikes (check out their site HERE). This company is based in Seattle, WA and has a good reputation for well-built bikes with great customer support. Easy decision.
I chose the orange RadWagon 4. It is large enough to accommodate my 6’4” frame and will allow me to haul my bounty from the hardware store.
Mary chose the green RadRunner 2, as she liked the rugged good looks (which explains why she married me!). Both bikes can be heavily customized with racks, bags and other fun accessories.
Once I get more time on my RadWagon, I think I’m going to want something to haul the treasures from all of the places I visit. This likely means I will build a cargo box to attach to the rack on the back of my bike. Of course, I’ll share all of the details once I land on a design and start production.
If comparing these electric bikes to electric cars, e-bikes function very closely to a plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV). E-bikes can operate like a normal bicycle (human pedal power), combination of human pedal power with electric assist or pure electric.
You can select different levels of assist, with the highest making pedaling a bike a breeze. In pure electric, a throttle on the right hand grip controls the motor–just like a motorcycle.
The electric motor is housed within the rear wheel hub, and the big lithium battery pack is mounted on the bike frame. A full charge will take you anywhere from 25-45 miles, depending on how much assist you take from the electric motor.
Top speed is governed at 20 mph, which may not seem like a lot. In fact, 20 mph on a bicycle is plenty fast! I understand there is a hack available to increase top speed to 25 mph. Maybe next week!
Too Early To Review
The bikes just arrived on Sunday. I only had enough time to assemble them and do a quick trip through my neighborhood before leaving for a trip to Northern Michigan on Monday. During that time, I have been coming up with ideas for a DIY cargo rack.
A full review will come once I live with my bike for a while. Certainly, a couple of trips to the hardware store and brewing company will put it to the test. I’ll be sure to share Mary’s experiences as well.
Most of the car companies are promising an all-electric future by 2035. My electric future looks different, but might be the safer bet for now.