For someone suffering from bodily injuries, electric bikes can make all the difference.
I’ve never been much for riding bicycles. Actually, I think the last bike I owned, which I purchased at Walmart, is still chained up to the bike rack at my freshman dorm at the University of Florida.
But when I was recently offered the opportunity to test out an electric bike, I couldn’t pass it up. When I walked into Rider Performance Group, located at 300 Palm Coast Parkway SW, I was blown away. And by golly, if I had a little bit of money left over that didn’t have to go to rent, utilities, cable, internet and food, I’d be all over this growing phenomenon.
For those of you who don’t know — like me before Friday — electric bikes are a slowly but surely growing fad in the United States. Electric bikes, also known as e-bikes, are different from conventional bikes in the sense that they’re equipped with a battery-powered motor. So, no peddling! Or assisted peddling, at the least.
The first model I tried out, you didn’t have to peddle at all. You just gripped the throttle and off you went. It was absolutely exhilarating — if not slightly terrifying. It was a shade difficult to get used to at first, especially if you haven’t ridden a bike in about five years. But it should take no more than a couple of minutes to get the hang of.
So, after one minor incident where I bumped into a curb in the store’s parking lot, I was off, zipping around the — empty — lot at nearly 28 miles per hour.
I tested out three e-bikes that day, and each time I scooted off the seat and back onto my feet, I had a smile on my face.
For someone who spends little to no time around bikes, that says everything. And I’m healthy and uninjured. Riding a conventional bike isn’t exactly a tall task for me.
But for someone recovering from a knee injury or suffering some other kind of bodily ailment? Electric bikes can make all the difference.
The owner of Rider Performance, Mark Goettsch, got started in e-bikes because his wife, T.J., had a torn meniscus. The Goettschs were avid motorcyclists and bicyclists. But that kind of injury made riding impossible for T.J.
“I realized e-bikes would be something that would be an answer for her,” Mark said.
The couple officially opened the store in January 2017.
Their target audience is people ages 45-and-up who were active cyclists but now need assistance. E-bikes are much more popular in Asian and European countries, where the use of the automobile is slightly less prevalent than in America, but they're starting to pop up around the U.S.
“Unfortunately, sometimes America can be behind the times,” Mark said. “But it is growing. People are starting to see them. They’re starting to see electric bike shops. They’re really starting to want to know what it is and how it could help them.”
Cheaper e-bikes run at around $800 and can range to well over $1,000. But if you have the means, I say do it. It won’t be something you regret.
“It’s all about getting people back on their bikes,” Mark said.