Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to justify spending $12,000 on an electric bike.

To stoke the summer blog season for the Ranch, I offer below a little review I wrote for Optibike in March 2010. A year and a half into field testing, we are CRAZY about these units. Highly recommended addition to the Ranch equipment fleet for those who have the coin and the mission. As an added bonus, they are produced in the Colorado home state of RiderLoneWolf, RiderMama. myself and honorary Ranch blog commentator Tea, on the very same roads where I cut my teeth cycling as a teenager on the lipstick red, 29 lb Tawainese made American Flyer road bike in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. -Turbine

“ How do you justify spending $12000 on a bicycle? You don’t. How do you justify spending $12000 on a second car, local commuter vehicle and high-end mountain bike all wrapped into one? Easy. Its called an Optibike.

My wife and I have ridden our 850R and 850R Helia Optibikes for six months daily in all types of conditions.

Our conclusion: the Optibike is the most innovative, convenient and exhilarating form of transportation invented in the past three decades. In urban environments within a 10 mile radius, the Optibike will transport you door-to-door faster than any other vehicle. Light and agile, it is easy to slip through traffic, use bike lanes, short-cut across small streets, alleys, parks, open spaces, parking lots and sidewalks, then park for free directly in front of wherever you are going. Average speeds can easily be 20-25 mph without getting sweaty, which leaves you in clean, presentable condition to attend a meeting in regular clothing.
For the majority of local trips when you need to carry only a few items, U-lock and cable in a backpack when it is not raining, the Optibike will replace your second car or motorcycle/scooter. My wife and I commute to work every day on our Optibikes faster and cheaper than we would in cars. The Optibike even beats our motorcycles and scooters locally because we get there just as fast, but always find front-door parking, and pay no parking meters or parking fines, not to mention using zero gasoline, creating zero tailpipe emissions and never wasting time stopping at gasoline stations.

On the road, the Optibike enables non-cyclists or slower cyclists to keep up with avid road cyclist enthusiasts, potentially giving friends or partners more time to spend together. On the trail, the Optibike is the most awesome form of mountain bike we have ever experienced. It climbs like a Himalayan mountain goat, carves single track with awesome agility, suspension and traction, and replaces what would otherwise be a prohibited highly-powered motocross bike on non-motorized parks, trails and mountains.

If you live in a hilly area, the Optibike may open up options for local errands, enabling you to climb hills around your home without getting too sweaty and over-exerting yourself when you simply want to run to the store or visit a friend or neighbor outside of walking distance. If you are a fitness enthusiast who uses heart rate, cadence and power in structured cycling workouts, you can do that on an Optibike too.

If you calculate the thousands of dollars you save on insurance premiums, annual license plate renewals, maintenance, SMOG checks, tires, oil, filters and fuel of a second vehicle, not to mention parking costs, the Return on Investment for the $12000 Optibike can easily reach the 15-20% level – i.e. $2000 or more per year — not bad for a “bicycle” that replaces a second car. A regular bicycle cannot make this claim because it cannot practically replace a vehicle like an Optibike can.

The Optibike can be configured with a “Chariot”-type bicycle trailer to transport the kids or a “Bob”-type trailer to haul gear bags. We are considering “Old Man Mountain” racks for full suspension bicycles to do touring on our Optibikes. The psychological benefit of knowing that you burn no gasoline and use very little depreciating material (i.e.65lb bike rather than 3000 lb metal car or 400lb motorcycle) to get from A to B is gratifying.

In sum, the Optibike is an extremely useful and convenient tool that leaves you wondering why millions of other people in cities don’t use it.

Once you get past the sticker shock and realize that the Optibike represents a second car, motorcycle/scooter and high end mountain bike all built-into-one, it becomes much easier to justify the price, particularly once you own one and begin to enjoy the benefits of using it. Coming from a couple who did extensive research before buying, we highly recommend the Optibike, particularly for people who fit the usage patterns described.


Santa Monica, CA”