The joys of cycle touring are now within easier reach for people of varying fitness and experience levels thanks to the growing availability of electric bicycles, or e-bikes. Electric bikes give cyclists a helping hand — or push — to get them up and over hills or to help them keep up with faster friends. The small, almost hidden engines also make longer distances feel achievable.
Seeing increased demand from travelers, many of BikeTours.com’s local operator partners around the globe are offering e-bikes to make trips more leisurely or difficult terrain more manageable.
So, if you don’t have the fitness level (or confidence) to take on a cycling tour’s daily rides, renting an electric bike can help make this kind of active vacation a reality.
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What are electric bikes?
Electric bikes aren’t motorbikes or even mopeds. Instead, they provide power-on-demand while you’re pedaling, responding to and complementing your pedaling speed and power. The supply of energy comes from a removable battery, which can last up to 50 miles (80km).
If you pedal hard, little battery power will be used. As you slow your pace, though, the electrical assistance kicks in and provides a welcome boost! Most e-bikes provide up to 150% of your own power with each pedal stroke. You can turn the motor on/off, and also increase the amount of assistance you would like depending on the terrain.
The weight of the e-bike is approximately 50 pounds (23 kgs). It has an illuminated LCD display, cycle computer, and wattage display. In Europe, the maximum speed is regulated, and the battery will provide assistance up to speeds of 15 miles (25km) per hour.
While e-bikes provide a significant level of support, you should still prepare for your time in the saddle.
E-bikes are great for:
Couples often want to travel together but are hindered by differing ability levels. In these situations, one spouse might follow the tour’s daily biking itinerary while the other rides in a support van or takes public transportation to meet at the day’s destination. Sometimes the less-fit (or less-interested) spouse will try to cycle alongside the enthusiast but ultimately slows down or rides behind the party — not much fun for anybody.
- Multi-generation families
Multi-generation family vacations face the same challenges — some family members may not go at the same speed or distance as others. E-bikes offer a solution for everyone to participate and maintain an enjoyable level of exertion. (Note: our tour operator partners do not recommend e-bikes for children.)
- Travelers with infirmities
Travelers with infirmities or recovering from injuries can still enjoy an active vacation with an electric bike rental. Since they compensate proportionately to your effort, riders in less-than-perfect health receive assistance when necessary or appropriate.
- First-time bike tour travelers
Some would-be cycling tourists have anxiety over their ability to keep up with their party. But the reassurance of an e-bike helps many people step out of their comfort zone because they know no one will be waiting for them. It means they don’t have to worry about being too slow and they’ll be able to better enjoy the views and sights along the bike tour route.
Even avid cyclists or seasoned bike tourists can enjoy the benefits of an e-bike. The boost of power when taking on hills is always appreciated – especially toward the end of a long day’s ride!
Electric bike tours
BikeTours.com currently offers hundreds of tours in more than 62 countries, and the list continues to grow.
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Read some first-hand experiences on e-bikes!
A travel writer and bicycle “purist” gives e-biking a go in Albania and loves it
A staff account of riding an e-bike (hint: she LOVED it, too!)