A step -by-step guide to Diving In Pedals First
By John Tribbia, Guest blogger, Spicy Curry rider and Boulder Bike Dad
One important responsibility as a current or future e-bike rider is to know and obey traffic laws where you are riding. In most places, bikes are required to follow all of the same laws as automobiles. Of those laws, it goes without saying that we all have familiarity with the rules of traffic signals.
You’re probably thinking to yourself: what do commonly known driving rules and regulations have to do with buying an e-bike? Well, in a way, everything. By now you are probably compiling a list of questions and are prepared to visit some bike shops to look at their e-bike offerings. As there are important signals to obey when on the road, there are equally important signals to obey when shopping for and inquiring about new bikes.
Is your bike buying experience fun and are you enjoying yourself? If the answer is no, for whatever reason, then you need to STOP. Seriously, the moment you feel like the process has become laborious and not fun, then pull the plug temporarily. It doesn’t matter if it is a pushy sales person, bad weather, or Mercury turning retrograde. Bike-buying needs to be fun and exciting, or at the minimum enjoyable, because with a negative experience you won’t enjoy the byproduct of your shopping as much.
So, as you inquire about a new bike, find a sales person you like talking to, find a time and day that works best for you, wear comfortable clothing, and turn off your phone so you can’t be bothered. And because this is your time, it is okay for you to ask to speak with a different sales person who you can relate to better or find a day where you personal schedule allows for you to just take your time soaking in all that you can at the bike shop.
Have you ever met someone who speaks as if they know everything? It can be difficult to hold a conversation with them, because they repeatedly finish your sentences and interject with their “knowledge”. When you encounter this type of bike sales person – and there’s a chance you will – PROCEED WITH CAUTION.
The Know-it-All sales person is very willing to help you, but he or she can be unwilling to let you have your say. They either give you an unsolicited download of every minor detail about your prospective bike or, much worse, tell you why a “different bike is far better for you” (usually the more expensive one) before you even ride them. While getting highly detailed information about a bike you want to buy can be useful and could potentially set you up for a successful purchase, it is common that this sales person will ignore the one critical detail about how, why, and where the bike is to be used – YOU! As with the Red Light, it is okay to stop and change course by requesting and opting for a new sales person.
When you know, you know! Imagine shopping for a bike and the sales person strikes up a conversation with you about your day, they ask what types of good things are going on in your life, they offer you a free bottle of water, and then begin asking you about your riding preferences like where you go or want to go and what types of things you will do with your bike. The theme of the scenario is that you are at the center of attention.
Moreover, you might ask some questions that the sales person does not know and, instead of making something up on the fly, they simply respond with “I don’t know but I’ll find out for you right now”. The conversation is effortless and you are learning more about your needs than before you arrived. I’ve only had this happen to me at one place where the levels of pretention are at an all time high and the levels of endearing friendliness are at an all time low. The conversations I have had at University Bikes with their sales people transcend the typical Employee to Customer and manifest as mentor to student such that both sales person and customer will assume either role depending on the topic of conversation. Their goal is to learn about as much as they can of your needs and your goal is to learn about as much as you can that will satisfy those needs. When you get into a similar situation while buying your bike, all signals say GO!
Step 3: Learn about Cargo Bikes (by asking the right Qs)
Now that you have a general sense of when to engage and when to disengage during your bike buying experience, here are some questions to be prepared to ask when you are inquiring about a new e-bike:
Q: How much range does the battery have?
This will tell you how far you can travel on one full charge of the battery and can give you insight into which bike will suit your cycling or commuting needs.
Q: Is it pedal assist only or does it have throttle assist?
This will tell you whether the bike requires any pedaling or if you can use a throttle to keep the bike in motion with no pedaling needed.
Q: What is the maximum speed?
Of course, you want to know how fast the electric assist will provide so that you can find the bike that meets your preferences. Note that most e-bikes max out at 20 mph
Q: What is payload?
If you’re replacing a car with your e-bike, you’ll want to know how much weight your e-bike can support. In some cases payload means total weight capacity including the rider. However, in some cases payload refers to just the cargo capacity, assuming additional capacity for a rider of up to 250 lbs.
Q: What kind of warranty does the e-bike come with?
Since this type of cycling is so new to many people, the comfort of knowing and comparing warranties can be an important piece of information when deciding between multiple bikes.
Q: Does the bike come with any post-purchase service support?
If you purchase your bike from an independent bike shop, this is yet another important piece of information when comparing between multiple bikes from different shops.