Why You Should Absolutely Try Renting an Electric Bike
I have been an e-bike enthusiast for over a decade. My love affair with e-bikes began when I discovered their usefulness as car replacements (and led to me living essentially car-free since high school). But I learned how their usefulness only grew as I delved into the fitness and recreational aspects of e-bikes. Now, after a recent trip to Iceland, I’ve gained a whole new appreciation for e-bikes as tourist wheels. And here’s why you should definitely consider renting an e-bike on your next vacation.
A bit of context
When my wife and I travel, we usually like to delve a bit more into the city or country that hosts us.
That means checking out local restaurants, artisans, parks, or anything else that might give us a deeper insight into the local culture.
Hop-on hop-off tours, hop-on hop-off tours, and walking tours all have their benefits, but they also tend to take you away from the city you’re exploring.
We recently tried to hire e-bikes to get around Reykjavik and now I never want to go back to see a city through glass or spend half an hour walking to a cool local site that could have been 7 minutes by bike.
For this trip we stopped with the folks at Reykjavik Bike Tour (who apparently also offer Segway tours but we wanted to do some good pedaling, electric or otherwise).
Rent an electric bike
The team there were super helpful and offered guided and open e-bike tours. We like to feel quite independent so we opted for the first option so we could explore on our own. But they kindly left us a giant map and pointed out all the coolest spots along with suggestions on where we would find the best bike trails and interesting sights to see.
In terms of hardware, I hopped on an Ikea e-bike which didn’t offer any special bells or whistles, but worked great and allowed each of my own pedal strokes to be amplified using an electric assist motor. When you rent an electric bike, you are limited to the options available. But luckily, most e-bikes will give you a similar experience, bells and whistles aside.
My wife, who is quite short, couldn’t fit on the same model of e-bike I used, but they helpfully rolled out a nice little Xiaomi e-bike that looked like it was made specifically for her, and so she had a blast on this model.
Both were folding models, which would have been nice if we wanted to throw them in a car and head further out of town. But with so much to see in Reykjavik, there was no reason to involve a car in any of this.
Neither e-bike had a throttle, which we’re both used to using, but European e-bike regulations generally mean that all of their e-bikes have the fun switch removed. Even without the throttle, a little light assist is all you need as long as you don’t mind doing a bit of honest pedaling yourself. This turns out to be part of the fun and also ensures that you don’t go too fast to miss the fun sights around you. It’s also a good compromise, because on pedal bikes we would probably have spent more energy throwing pedal strokes around town and had less time/energy enjoying the sights and sounds around us . And yet, we were still getting decent exercise, as my Fitbit kindly informed me.
With our easy-to-ride e-bikes, we were able to pedal along the Icelandic coast, stopping whenever we wanted to walk the beach and take a closer look at anything that caught our eye.
We could never have done this with a tourist shuttle, especially since the roads didn’t even run that close to the nicer parts of the beach. We would stop at little little harbors along the way and watch the seals play in the water, then get back on the bikes whenever we were ready.
Getting back into the city found us back on the streets, but it was easy to navigate the paths less traveled and away from traffic. A nice little park on top of a hill called our name so we stopped there for a picnic. Pro tip: Remember to bring a small backpack for food and water on an e-bike tour, because you’ll always be hungry and thirsty!
Whenever we wanted to check out another attraction or a cool little spot, it was a short bike ride away. We had walked much of the city the day before, and now realized how much easier it was to get around to see some of the things we had previously called “too far”.
Frankly, I don’t know how I’ve been able to ride an e-bike for so long, but I haven’t taken advantage of these great tools on vacation yet. Renting an electric bike is like a cheat code to unlock a new city and explore it faster, longer and with a bigger smile on your face.
Maybe I hadn’t realized it yet because I often think of going to a new city or country as a time to do something different, like out of the norm.
But if e-bikes are my everyday norm because of their ability to navigate my own city, it makes sense that they’d be great for navigating most other cities as well.
And having had that experience in Reykjavik, I’m really looking forward to finding some electrified wheels on my next trip.
A great way to test drive an e-bike?
E-bikes are becoming an increasingly popular form of alternative transportation and a growing option for fitness and recreation. But these are generally expensive machines, which makes buying a machine just to try it out a risky business.
If you have a local e-bike shop that offers trials, this is a great option. But since many people don’t have a local option for e-bike trials, perhaps renting an e-bike on your next vacation or a trip to another city would be a great way to get your hands wet. feet, so to speak.
Until you try an e-bike for the first time, it’s hard to imagine what an odd combination of childish fun and adult utility these things offer. But the first time you throw your leg over one and spin it, you get it.
We often talk about an “e-grin” in the e-bike industry – that smile all new riders have when they turn around after their first loop on an e-bike. It’s something that transcends just about everything that separates us and makes us unique. Ultimately, it’s hard to find a person who doesn’t like to take a ride on an e-bike.
And the more they fit into my own life, whether it’s my daily run to the supermarket or my occasional vacation excursion, the more I love that these awesome rides exist.
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