Despite how the name may sound, e-biking is not a hot new fad where you pedal through Colorado’s mountains and valleys with your smartphone, tablet or laptop in tow.
But it is catching on in the U.S. and modern technology is somewhat involved.
In short, an e-bike is simply an electric bicycle. Sometimes called a power bike or booster bike, they’re equipped with small motors that help you pedal with ease.
How easy depends on the type of e-bike you choose. Smaller motors on pedelecs automatically assist with pedaling, while more souped-up versions featuring a power-on-demand throttle can approach moped-style functionality — and speeds of 25 mph or more.
But these are not motorcycles, mind you. All e-bikes still provide riders the opportunity to pedal on their own so they’re still legally classified as bicycles. Which is the exact response you’ll give if teased about coasting through your latest ride.
Widely used in China, India and parts of Europe, e-bikes have enjoyed a recent surge in popularity among U.S. riders as well. So you can tell any naysayers that all the cool kids are doing it, too.
Fans swear an electric bike is just like a regular bike only better, because you can cover more ground in less time. Hills and headwinds also aren’t problems, meaning you don’t even have to break a sweat — unless you want to.
Longtime Colorado e-bike enthusiast Susanne Brüsch puts it this way.
“Imagine you step on a bike that gives you extra power,” said Brüsch, a diehard e-biker who has ridden all over the world and was recently thrilled to cross e-biking across Colorado’s Rocky Mountains off her bucket list.
“You put power into the pedals and you get twice as much power. You ride a bicycle and feel twice as well trained as you usually feel — and that is great. On a bicycle, you have certain limits. Once you ride an e-bike, you can rediscover your limits: You’ll find that you can see more in a day, go longer distances, go up steeper hills, go up longer hills and can carry more luggage.”
Another bonus: “On most e-bikes,” she added, “you can take the battery off to take into your apartment or hotel room to charge in the power outlet.”
They can even give you enough power to pedal through a hefty Colorado snow, which of course Brüsch had to try. You can watch that seemingly crazy feat here.
Where are the best places to e-bike in Colorado?
You have to ask? Full of breathtaking vistas, long stretches of roads and an incomprehensible amount of trails, Colorado has long been a sought-after destination for leisurely and serious bikers alike. That landscape also makes it a no-brainer for great e-biking.
You can pedal through picturesque Colorado wine country around Grand Junction and Palisade, zip through cities like Denver and Boulder, tool through small mountain towns like Aspen and Vail, and more. So much more.
More often than not, the friendly folks renting you e-bikes will be more than happy to tell you where to go. In a good way!
But please note there are state and local laws regulating e-bike use, so be sure to ask at local rental shops before you ride.
Where can I rent an e-bike and get a few tips?
The availability of e-bike rentals — and tours — is expanding statewide, but here are a few places you might want to start. All offer rentals, recommended routes and helpful tips to get you out on a ride quickly and safely.
Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade can hook you up with one-day rentals through Colorado wine country, where they recommend the 5- and 7-mile Fruit & Wine Trail paths. You’ll leisurely cruise through orchards, vineyards and wineries on a bike equipped with a basket, a handy feature for packing snacks and goodies for the journey. Colorado Electric Bikes in Grand Junction also gets you out to surrounding wineries to sip, savor and ride.
In Colorado’s popular resort towns, Rocky Mountain Adventure Rentals in Vail offers views of Gore Range peaks on the skyline and Colorado wildflowers bursting into bloom. Pedego Electric Bikes now offers rentals and rides on extensive paths through Vail, Beaver Creek and Avon. What’s more, they’ll even deliver e-bikes to guests staying in those areas, along with all of Eagle County, Aspen and the entire Western Slope.
A new Podego Denver mega-store has opened next to the Broncos’ Mile High Stadium, immediately becoming one of the largest e-bike shops in the country. Just a moderate drive away, Boulder Cycle Sport in Boulder and ThunderBolt Peak in Snow Mountain Ranch (minutes from Rocky Mountain National Park) both love to share their e-biking passion with guests wanting to take a spin for the first time.
And GoodTurn Electric Cycles in Littleton offers lighter beach cruiser models balancing style and comfort, plus sturdier fat-tire e-bikes suitable for riding through the snow. Yes, snow. How do you think your regular bike would handle that challenge?
Photo by O'Hara Photography.