Jenny Boylan: “Riding grew harder as I grew older. Then I got an electric bicycle.”

Longtime cyclist Jenny Boylan rode less as she got older. She tells a riveting story of the ways an e-bike changed her riding and that of many others in her NY Times opinion piece. Read it here. Boylan’s story humanizes several trends that are propelling e-bike growth in the US and worldwide. Perhaps most important, she conveys the emotion and great feelings we experience from e-bike riding.

Five years ago I demo’d an e-bike from one of my client’s bike partners at the Oregon Handmade Bike Show. Everyone trying that Klaxon Hartmann 29er returned with a smile or said something really nice. Here’re a few examples from that time:

  1. The late Larry Baggett, a builder and owner of Competitive Instincts (Bend OR).
  2. Father of special needs child interested in e-bike to take his kid around.
  3. Interest peaks in e-bike after a test ride.
  4. Better Bicycle Company founder talks about serving the needs of people who “want to get around” but “not buy into the culture.”

These clips anticipate the points Boylan eloquently makes, but she brings them out from under the enthusiast’s tent into the cycling sunshine for the broader public. My hunch is that many of her readers will start musing about e-bikes, a wonderful thing.

Focusing on E-bikes From Now On

After a long hiatus from posting on this blog, formerly at http://useyourbike.wordpress.com, I’m restarting with a focus on e-bikes. My theme remains the same: enjoy the many pleasures of cycling. I ride for health, fitness, peace of mind, advocacy, and fun, and it’s from this perspective that I write. My admiration runs deep for racers, their training, competitive drive, and performances, but I’ve never raced or desired to do so. Except for the occasional comment, I’ll leave the racing, intense training, or things related to the specialist publications.

I got into e-bikes about 7 years ago when a client, an Asian manufacturer of e-bike motors sold to European and Asian manufacturers , thought about entering the US market. They assigned me to analyze the market, establish the size of the opportunity, and to recommend companies and people who would run the business end: importing, reselling, distributing, marketing, and technical support.

Doing that was tons of fun. I went to NAHBS and Interbike, where I met many companies and, most importantly, the bike-building legends whose personalities, craftsmanship, innovative ideas, and vision shape the industry and our joy and expand our ideas of what bikes are capable of. Craig Calfee, Steve Bilenky, David Levy are just three of this group.

Eventually, the company decided against North American expansion, not because the market wasn’t taking shape, but for internal reasons. I was hooked and wanted to get more deeply involved with e-bikes. Little did I know then that future events would shift my cycling from road biking to e-biking for good.