Electric bicycles are perfect for RVers. Here’s why…

23

By Silvana Clark
Remember the freedom you felt as a child, riding your bike as fast as your little legs could pedal? For most of us, our legs aren’t so little anymore, and we don’t do much pedaling. Enter the e-bike (electric bicycle). Americans are learning what Europeans have known for years… e-bikes help the environment while providing much-needed exercise.

As full-timers, we used our e-bikes almost daily. People stop us often to ask questions about these silent bikes with batteries. Their main question is, “Aren’t you ‘cheating’ because you don’t have to pedal?” E-bikes are power-assisted bikes that let you regulate how much of a boost you want. You definitely still need to pedal! (My husband says it is like having an angel gently push you up a hill.)

Our Trek e-bikes have four power levels. If I need a small boost going up an incline, I hit ECCO. If the hill is steeper, I boost the power by hitting TOUR, SPORT or TURBO. I especially love hitting TURBO going up a steep hill and passing a college student. I know they are thinking, “How can that Grandma pass me on this hill?” The batteries give us power for 30-50 miles. Need some speed? I clocked 25 mph going down a long hill. (Not recommended!) On most rides, we pedal at a comfortable 11-14 mph. Afterwards, we simply plug the battery charger into a 110 outlet and get ready for our next ride.

Most RVers wouldn’t think of going on an afternoon 25-mile bike ride. The advantage of having an e-bike is how quickly the miles pass because you pedal with a minimum of effort. My husband recently had his knee replaced and can ride 30-35 miles without straining it. E-bikes improve fitness because you are likely to use them more often and ride further. Even an easy 5-mile ride around the campground gives much-needed exercise. We frequently used the bikes for a trip from the campground to a nearby grocery store. Instead of using fuel to drive the RV, we are environmentally friendly and improve our blood circulation at the same time. Using a backpack and bike rack lets us carry groceries back to the RV.

The cost of an e-bike might make you gasp. Yes, they are costly, although prices are dropping rapidly as their popularity increases. Sales jumped 91% from 2016-2017. Experts claim 130 million e-bikes will be sold between 2020 and 2023. Our bikes have taken us on amazing Rails to Trails paths, to local Farmer’s Markets and even on a bike path through downtown Chicago. We’ve increased our fitness and visited places not conducive to an RV.

E-bikes are a way to awaken your inner child. Plus they make you feel like a celebrity as people in the campground stop you to talk about the newfangled bike you are riding.

##RVT957

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

23 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Joe Call
16 days ago

We tow a fifth wheel, and there’s no room in the truck bed for ebikes. And no room in the back seat of the cab. Rear hitch is a problem as stated above. Only solution I can think of is to put a hitch receiver on the front of the truck and put an appropriate bike rack there. Anybody have any experience with such a setup? Thanks.

Andre B
9 days ago
Reply to  Joe Call

I have a front hitch on my Yukon XL. Rated up to 500 lbs. I carry 3 regular bikes on a folding tray type bike rack (put the bikes on it, not hanging them from it). It works well but some caveats: Larger bikes can block view a bit, but I take the seat off and that helps; Driving at night compromises headlight functionality; it does protrude out front so that takes getting used to for some people. I used a hanging type rack on the rear of my trailer previously, and I was able to monitor the bikes with my rear view cam on the trailer. Yes, they do bounce a lot back there, and one fell off once, but I saw it with the camera and fixed it immediately. I think if I was starting from scratch I would get folding bikes (electric or not) and just put them in the trailer.

Jim
16 days ago

We love our Gazelle E-bikes (made in Amsterdam). It is important to do research first. The options, styles and classes (1,2 or 3) can be very confusing.

After much research, including phone calls to two EBike shops, my wife and I made a list of what we wanted and what was unimportant to us. With that list we were able to quickly find the perfect bikes for us.

Vince
16 days ago

Can you tell me about the bike in the photo? Brand etc.? It’s just what I’ve been looking for.

Last edited 16 days ago by Vince
Vanessa Simmons
9 days ago
Reply to  Vince
Dalmom
16 days ago

We just got two Segway kickstart scooters that we are taking with us to Montana and Wyoming mostly for the park not for trails. They definitely are light weight and easy to store.

LugNet
16 days ago

My wife and I became e-bike converts about three years ago. Went from rides around the block to rides around the city! She is especially hooked on the “NuVinci Continuously Variable Planetary Transmission” on her e-bike. Adds weight, but she is ALWAYS in the right gear with never having to shift. If her e-bike dies, she has told me not to bother looking for any e-bike that doesn’t have the NuVinci. Seems easier than retraining her on how to shift gears 🙂

David Binkley
16 days ago

E bikes are great but be aware. As mentioned, they are heavy with an average weight of around 45lbs. No biggie when riding when charged up, a drag (both literally and figuratively) when the battery goes dead. And loading and unloading from the RV can be tough without the proper set up.

Also, buying at a local shop (if possible) is always a plus when it comes to service. There are a lot of these coming out of Asia that may be cheaper up front but are seriously lacking when even the most basic things need repair. There are so many brands now be careful about choosing one that can easily get spare parts and service.

Think ahead and save yourself a lot of headaches.

Alex
16 days ago

Caveats .. EBikes have “controllers” which are complex computers that manage electrical flow to the motor based on pedal motion or throttle position. In the event of a failure, be certain the brand you select will pay a reputable shop to replace it. Unless you enjoy puzzles and are a DIYer, try and buy your Ebike from a local dealer. Yup, it’ll cost more than an “on line” deal but peace of mind is worth it.

Jeff Treneff
16 days ago

We invested in two Swagtron EB-5 E-bikes last year, as we have a motorhome and prefer not to tow. They were reasonably priced ($499 each), weigh only 28 lbs., and fold up to store in our rear storage compartment. They are completely adjustable to fit any height person, will go 15 mph, and have a range of about 20 miles on a charge. Check them out on Amazon through the RVer Newsletter website. We just couldn’t imagine leaving home without these.

Steve F
16 days ago

Keep in mind, E Bikes are heavy.

Joyce Debarger
16 days ago

Before you plan to ride your bike on the National Parks trails be sure to check with a ranger. As a volunteer at Acadia NP in Maine last summer we learned that they are prohibited on the Carraige Roads. Hopefully that will change but as of 2019 it stood.

John R Crawford
15 days ago
Reply to  Joyce Debarger

Aug 30th 2019 the US Department of Interior signed a order that ebikes were acceptable on any trails that regular bicycles were permitted

Pat
16 days ago

I converted my Trek Verve 2 to an electric bike last year and I love it. After much research, I purchased my kit from Dillenger E-bikes in Australia and I’m very pleased with the quality and their customer service. The assist connection was faulty and they got another one off to me ASAP. You don’t have to spend thousands on a new bike if you already have a bike. The conversion kit was $700. Pay attention to the battery, that’s the most costly and in my opinion, the most important component.

Gary Swope
16 days ago

Is there a trike (three wheeler) model available?

LugNet
16 days ago
Reply to  Gary Swope

There are several. I don’t have any experience with them though. Google search for “folding electric trike bike” will give hits. The e-bike review site includes some that fold: https://electricbikereview.com/category/trike/

Penny
16 days ago

We are full-timers. We have had e=bikes for a year now and cannot imagine not having an e-bike, We love riding trails or just getting exercise with them at the RV parks we have stayed. We always get a lot of questions on them too.

Gregory Brott
16 days ago

Wife and I got his and her Lectric bikes which we love. They are the perfect size and also fold for easy carrying in the back of our Toad and don’t require the traditional rack on the back. https://lectricebikes.com/

Fred
16 days ago

The pandemic has caused an upsurge in the sale of e-bikes, making the most popular ones impossible to find in stock. Most of the e-bikes come from China or Asia & the pandemic has slowed production & the long shipping time from Asia. And Marty’s comment about carrying a bike on the back of a trailer is correct. I talked to an e-bike dealer in California who said he has had many dead e-bikes brought in that were being carried on the back of rvs. The dust, rain, & vibration kills the bikes. I speak from personal experience. I owned a Segway personal transporter that I carried on the back of our fifth wheel on a special hitch carrier designed for Segways. Coming back from Alaska in 2018, a weld at the hitch shaft point failed & we unknowingly dragged the Segway along the road for many miles before someone stopped us. There was little left of the $5,000 Segway. The area directly behind an rv is subject to increased forces of wind, dirt, rain & vibration.

Marty
17 days ago

Beware! After buying an ebike we’ve been told not to carry bikes on the back of our TT due to the sway causing metal fatigue. This leads to the rack failing and bikes and rack potentially falling off going down the road possibly causing a lethal accident. We’ve no room in the truck bed so for now the bike goes in the TT. This makes stopping and sleeping overnight a pain as our TT is small. We can’t put them in the front of our truck as it’s leased. If anyone has a solution we’d love to know.

Charles lakritz
16 days ago
Reply to  Marty

I am the the owner of bayfront scooters / Ebikes .
Ebikes are heavy apx 50+ lbs and require a hitch mounted rack we sell the rocky mount monorail great rack for a reasonable price you also
Must take your tt to your local welder to brace the bumper so it won’t twist from the weight !
I did this to my tt cost about 200 for welding support /brace
It can be done enjoy your e bikes

Last edited 16 days ago by Charles lakritz
LugNet
16 days ago
Reply to  Marty

Check if the TT bike carrier options from iSi would work for you. The TT carrier mounts in the front, not in a hitch. http://www.isi-carriers.com/index.html
I use their hitch mount on my SUV and 4×4 class C to carry two e-bikes. I carry the batteries and panniers inside and always check the electrical contacts on the bikes before reinstalling the batteries. No problems after two years of small trips.

Ran
17 days ago

Ebikes are the best investment we’ve made also. I had a total knee replacement and still ride my Ebike. We have the RadPower Bikes, and love them! We’ve done over 50 miles with pedal assist. They are one of the best bikes on the market and come in a variety of sizes and styles, including folding. You can see more of them on Radpowerbikes.com