E-Bikes vs. Toys

The folks who make e-bikes aren’t stupid. They aren’t solely targeting serious cyclists as their market. They’re targeting folks who may not remember what it’s like to pedal a bike. More cynically, some of them are targeting the consumer who doesn’t know junk from quality.

Hummer Toy
Indoctrinating the next generation of gas guzzlers. Available at Wal-Mart

Recently I was talking to a guy who said he was thinking of getting an electric bike for his 13-year-old daughter’s birthday. I had to suppress the urge to say, For God’s sake no!

This guy told me he saw one for $700, and wasn’t sure if he wanted to get that, or a different gift. I told him that a $700 e-bike probably wasn’t a very good one. Yes, I said it tactfully.

I’m not trying to become an expert on e-bikes. But I’m in a position where I get to try out a few different models, and I’m starting to get an idea of what a good one feels like.

Ironically, this is similar to when I got rid of my car. I rented cars more often, and used a car-sharing service. As a result, I (a) realized that all the cars I’ve ever owned were crap, and (b) developed a taste for Hondas.

Yesterday I wrote about my experience with an Ohm e-bike. That’s my favorite so far–because it feels like a bike. And when it assists my own power, it still feels pretty much like a bike. When I pedal up the hills on the way home, it feels like I’m pedaling on a flat surface–but I’m pedaling.

And yesterday afternoon, I rode home an A2B Metro, which neither rides nor looks like a bike. It’s a throttle e-bike, not a pedal-assist bike. It’s my least favorite so far. It feels to me like a scooter–with pedals instead of pegs. It’s a solidly-built e-bike, but I’m not the target market.

This review on Motorcycle.com says volumes about who the target market is. (“[I]t costs less than some Ducati aftermarket exhaust systems.”)

A2B Metro e-Bike
A2B Metro | Photo: Motorcycle.com (Really!)

A2B also makes bikes that are more like bikes and less like scooters, but I haven’t had a chance to try those yet. The point is, A2B understands that other target market and makes a quality product for them.

I can tell you that it was neither the Ohm nor the A2B that the guy was talking about for his teenage daughter. The retail price of the Ohm pushes $4000, and the A2B is in the mid-$2000 range.

Those cheap e-bikes are the two-wheeled equivalent of the battery-powered toy Hummer from Wal-Mart. This year’s $700 special is next year’s garage sale deal.

Sign up for our Adventure-Packed Newsletter

Get our latest touring, commuting and family cycling posts and sales delivered to your inbox!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

5 thoughts on “E-Bikes vs. Toys”

  1. BluesCat says:

    The California Pizza Kitchen closest to me has an A2B. I put an entry in my blog about it:

    Pizza Delivery Bike.

    They say it works great for them in their sort of specialized application

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      That was a good one, BluesCat. I should have left a comment when I read it.

      I wiped out on the A2B this AM. Banged up my knee. I really want to blame the bike, and those semi-slick, fashion-statement tires. But the truth is I might have been going a little fast around a corner when I hit some of those dreaded cinders that Flagstaff uses on icy roads. The ice was gone. The cinders weren’t.

  2. William says:

    I’ve been thinking of adding an assist to my bike and have been concerned that the throttle type will not feel natural enough. It’s just that these are the less expensive options.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      The Ohm bike has a BionX system, which can probably be added to your bike. It’s the most natural one I’ve tried; it the one Pete Prebus of Electric Bike Report recommended when I was complaining that none of the systems I’d tried so far felt right.

      If that’s in your price range, maybe you can find a dealer and take one for a test ride.

  3. BluesCat says:

    Ow, ow, ow, Ted!

    Yeah, when I was going to NAU I drove a school bus for the Flagstaff public schools for about a year. It is amazing how much you slide on that stuff … even with a fully loaded 66-passenger conventional!

Leave a comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


20% off ALL Ortlieb Bag Closeouts! Shop Closeouts

Scroll to Top