In a recent video, Calibike showed us a pretty impressive e-bike:
Not only does it only weigh 33 pounds (many e-bikes weigh in excess of 60 pounds), but it doesn’t sacrifice performance to save weight. It still has a 48 volt 15 amp 1500 watt battery, and that’s the kind of power you need to get an e-bike up to speeds over 30 MPH. They didn’t skimp on brakes, either, with disc brakes front and rear.
To show the bike’s capabilities, the video shows it “racing” against a couple of dump truck on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. Being on a bike, they point out that it’s kind of scary when one of them passes, and being able to keep up makes it far less intimidating. For most of the beginning of the ride, the bike wasn’t quite keeping up with traffic, but the cars also weren’t blowing by like you’d usually see in a bike video that doesn’t feature Lance Armstrong.
But, there were times when he did keep up with traffic, with a particularly good example at the two minute mark, when he’s even passing a red Honda. Eventually the Honda passes him again, but they quickly run into traffic and the car loses its advantage.
The shot with the dump trucks starts at 3:35, with the truck initially passing him (but not blasting by). In this “race” the dump truck loses the same way the Honda did, but with the cyclist able to pass all of the cars on the right when they hit traffic, and then passing the dump truck with trailer again on the right. Then, a second dump truck comes along, but he only passes it because it ends up parking by a construction site.
Just after the six minute mark, he blasts by even more traffic, taking the space between the curb and the traffic (but obviously not at 33 MPH). I don’t want to recap the entire video, but this is basically what you see over and over. When traffic is moving, the cars are faster than the bike, but when the traffic stops, the bike gets the upper hand enough to be the faster vehicle in most cases.
The video ends up describing a commute across the LA metro area. Instead of driving, he uses a mixture of transit and biking that ends up being both cheap and fast, while getting as much exercise as you want.
The Big Takeaway
While Los Angeles is the United States’ second biggest city, it’s very different from the larger New York City metro. While no city is perfect for cycling and other micromobility options, Los Angeles is well known for being built for cars. The freeways, the seemingly infinite parking options, and the “stroads” everywhere end up being not so great for anybody, because there are also seemingly endless traffic jams (or, they seem endless from an outsider who isn’t used to that when I visit).
This video shows, with great clarity, just how big of an advantage the e-bike has in this environment. Its small size, its fast speed, and its maneuverability makes for not only a viable transportation option, but a superior one in many cases.
The only downside I see here is that the ride looked a bit intimidating. The lack of consistent bike lanes, the need to weave around traffic, and many other things make for a ride that many people would feel like they might die on. So, the second important takeaway is that we need better infrastructure for e-bikes and other micromobility options like scooters. With that, many more people would be willing to go from four wheels to two.
Featured image: Screenshot from the embedded video by Calibike.
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