As seen from the sidewalk of BVP East:
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This is how outbound Market Street appeared in San Francisco this morning as Best Buy sent a parade of expensive $2500 A2B electric scooters (the Worst Consumer Products of 2009) and also inexpensive E-Zip bikes up the street. E-Zips went for $350 last year at some Wal-Marts (not that I could tell, having never set foot in one) and now $500 (and up) at Best Buy.
E-Zip in the background, A2B in the foreground. Were there a dozen or so riders in this mini, corporate Critical Mass? Something like that:
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What do you get for you $350? Well, you don’t get high tech batteries, that’s for sure. But that’s part of the reason why it’s cheaper than the obscenely overpriced A2B and the Trek Ride+, which is being tested out these days by some of San Francisco’s elected officials. Costco also has a few dogs in the e-bike hunt, upon occasion.
Will you say “Engine*, yes. Gas No”?
Only Time Will Tell.
*Not an actual “engine” – the marketing cookies of Best Buy mean motor, but oh well.
Well, here they are - they’re the new (to America, anyway) Ride+ electric bikes from Trek.
First off, check out the SF Streetsblog to see yesterday’s scene of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Eric Mar test driving these rigs at City Hall in the presence of Marin County biking legend Gary “Bury My Heart At Pine Mountain” Fisher.
See? It looks exactly like an electric bike, right?
So let’s talk about what this Trek E-Bike is not. It’s not a ridiculous, overweight, overpriced electric bike from Ultra Motor. Witness that yellow full-suspension rig on the left in this photo from Golden Gate Park? That’s an A2B:
The A2B is, basically, an electric moped. That means the whole concept is kind of an insurance/regulation scam where the pedals are mostly there to show regulators how this thing is not an electric motorbike. So, the A2B is limited to 20 MPH under Da Law.
“Electric Bicycles are defined by the California Vehicle Code. In summary, electric bicycles are to be operated like conventional bicycles in California. There are several exceptions to this. A person must be at least 16 years old, and anyone riding an electric bicycle must wear a bicycle helmet. The e-bikes must have an electric motor that has a power output less than 1,000 watts, is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground, is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour, operates in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operates in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function. Driver’s licenses, registration, insurance and license plate requirements do not apply. A motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle. A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older. Drinking and driving laws apply. Additional laws or ordinances may apply to the use of electric bicycles by each city or county.”
So, most people using an A2B would never really pedal. Personally, I’ve never seen an A2B in the wild, being used by somebody for something more than a test drive or a day rental. Oh well.
But the new Trek bike is different in that it requires you to pedal – it will kick in power based upon how much work you yourself are doing. So, select the switch on your handlebar-mounted dashboard to have it add 50%, 100%, 150%, or 200% more power – just like the $899 electric bikes they sell at the Costco. And yes, the Ride+ has regenerative braking.
But here’s the thing – the bike itself, a 7.3 FX, costs $600-something and the electric bits from Bionx or someplace similar go for $1200 retail, so why doesn’t this ebike cost $1700 instead of $2200?
The World Wonders.
Is this bike 140% better than a Costco eBike? We’ll see.
In other notes, the 32 x 700c Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires will probably keep you relatively free from flats on the mean glass-strewn Streets of San Francisco but you might want to get rid of those quick-release skewers. And no front (see comments) fender and no disk brakes, Trek? For $2200, really? (And what would a new battery go for, pray tell? Well, I s’pose we’ll get all the deets soon enough.)
Let’s leave the last word for Gary Fisher:
Perhaps you could “luge” it downstairs, but certainly not up. As far as lugging is concerned, GF is correct. Unlike the heavy A2B, the new Trek is luggable.
All’s that left to do is to see how many supes buy these things when the test drives are over.