I was curious about electric bikes, so I emailed Boris Mordkovich, director of EVELO. He set me up with an EVELO Aurora, one of the company's electric bicycles.
An electric bike is like a conventional bicycle in that you can pedal and ride it normally, but you can also use the bike's silent motor to help reduce the burden on your legs (or remove it entirely with a twist on the throttle). Waiting to detect when you start manually pedaling, the bike "pedals" with you so that you can climb hills easily or go faster with less effort.
You charge the bike's battery up using a standard wall outlet. It took a little over four hours for me to charge a mostly-dead battery back to full capacity. At that point, you can ride for roughly 30 miles using the electric assist or about 10-12 miles going all-electric.
The experience of riding the bike is wonderfully straightforward. You activate the electric assist via the console on the left side of the handlebars. From here you can also set the level of assistance and turn on the integrated headlights. At that point there's nothing left to do but pedal away.
The bike actually shortened my commute. My daily ride is 10 miles each way, each leg taking me about 45 minutes depending on how lucky I get with traffic lights. And I usually arrive red-faced and sweaty. The electric-assisted Aurora made the same trip in just 35 minutes, and I arrived without breaking a sweat at all.
As for what I didn't like, you should know that this bike is heavy. You won't notice it while riding at all, but if you have to go up and down many stairs to get to work or home, I'd suggest looking elsewhere.
All things said and done, the Aurora is a great idea for someone looking to escape public transportation without getting a car. The bike was more than tough enough to shuttle me back and forth to work for a week in a variety of weather, so I have no problem recommending it for those looking to get more mobile.
The price on the Aurora starts at $1,895, which I think is a bit steep. $1,500 would be the sweet spot. But be sure to check out EVELO's other offerings here >
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