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Electric bike sales rise with ecology concerns, gas prices

Electric bike sales rise with ecology concerns, gas prices

Recent reports say the cost of a barrel of oil has risen to over $60 US and signs of a global economy rebound, particularly in Asia, have many commodity experts predicting the price will continue to rise.

In other words, prepare for another round of skyrocketing gasoline prices.

Recent events have seen our economic base gradually switch from traditional manufacturing to "green" technologies and the entire social landscape altered by such legislation as the provincial Green Energy Act.
In other words, environmental consciousness is not a passing fad. It's our new way of life. So, you may want to consider putting the Hummer in the garage and
buying an electric bike.

Electric bicycles have become a rapidly-increasing industry since Ontario passed legislation to make them legal in April. The growing popularity not only stems from ecology and gas price concerns, there is also the appeal that comes from the fact the bikes don't require driver's licenses or insurance.

"More families are going down to one car," points out Mike Daley, proprietor of ERides Canada on Townline Rd and a dealer of Volt Canada electric bikes. "Fifty per cent of trips are around three kilometres each. People are looking for alternative transportation and they are turning to electric bikes."

Ray Hunt, who runs the Scoot-A-Long electric bike dealerships, is one of this industry's veterans with seven years under his belt. He says the sales of his bikes-which have a price range of around $1,000 to as high as $3,500-have increased 40 per cent this year, alone.
Scoot-A-Long's territory stretches from Orangeville west to Kitchener-Waterloo and north to the Owen Sound area. He has also franchised the operation to locations in Windsor and Wasaga Beach.

There are electric bikes that retail for less, yet there is the old axiom that you get what you pay for. Cheaper models, Mr. Hunt maintains, do not have the performance, durability and after-sales servicing that his product lines do.

While prices can go as high as $10,000, Mr. Daley figures that a reliable e-bike suitable for the Orangeville market would run in the $2,000 range.
An example is the Boca, a $2,000 (taxes included) electric bike built in North America by Ecolo-Cycle.

It has a 48-volt system, which includes a 500-watt motor, which takes from two to eight hours to charge the lead acid battery. The charge lasts from 60 to 100 kilometres, depending on how much you open the throttle, but a turbobooster feature allows for longer charges if one pedals the bike intermittently.
The evolving technology around the bikes is seeing the gradual introduction of lithium batteries. While more expensive than lead acid batteries, they make the bikes lighter and lessen the charging time by up to two hours.

What should also be taken into account is that charging the bike's batteries will likely be done at night during off-peak hours. Thus, in this age of smart meters, the cost might even be less than Mr. Hunt's estimate of 32 cents a charge).

As well, Mr. Hunt explains, the more costly lithium batteries have a longer life; up to seven years, he figures.
The Ecolo-Cycle Vista SE, (retailing at $3,500), has a three-speed automatic transmission, a lithium battery that is good for up to 120 kilometres, and a cruise control option that recharges the battery while it's in operation.

It also features rugged ABS plastic construction. Mr. Hunt says that a Vista SE was accidentally dropped from a second storey balcony and came away just a few scratches.

Among the converts to electric biking is Cindy Ness, an Orangeville realtor who has made the commitment to lead as environmentally-conscious lifestyle as possible
.This includes the purchase of a Volt Canada electric bike from E-Rides, (which came with a free regulation motorcycle helmet).
"I plan on parking my car and using the electric bike to show homes in Orangeville and to get back and forth to the office as well as for my personal use like going to the grocery store," says Ms. Ness.

"Electric bikes only go between 30-40 km/hr but are far better for the environment, not to mention the wear and tear of starting our cars, driving a couple of blocks, stopping, showing the house and starting all over again."

It also enhances her ability to spread the message as someone who is serious about energy efficiency; not only in transportation, but in home ownership, as well.
"If there are two identical homes for sale on the market and one is rated as an energy efficient home and the other is not which one are you going to buy? Today not many homes are energy rated but I believe home sales for the future will eventually have to show an energy rating designation."

Andy and Sheila Kirk, a retired Orton couple, say the advent of electric bikes has opened up an avenue of recreation that otherwise would not be open to them.
Health circumstances prevent Andy, a lifelong cycling enthusiast, from cycling alone. With an electric bike, Sheila can join him and keep up. "What it does is allow me to go out cycling with him and allows him to go out," she explains.

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