The geography around us hasn't changed much, but technology is always changing.
I learned that lesson recently when I biked over the Golden Gate Bridge. I used an iZIP E3 Path Plus electric model that had no problems propelling me up the winding paths, across the bridge, and up even more winding paths to see a stellar view of the ocean, a few whales, and the route I had just taken. It was also a lesson in how technology can be incredibly enabling, because I'm not the same 22-year-old young adult anymore who took this same route after college on a normal bike.
In the model I tested, you get about 30-50 miles of range depending on who many hills you traverse, although that's if you are "assisting" the motor and pedaling lightly yourself. I never did try biking for a few miles without pedaling, but that's not too fun anyway--when you move your feet, you feel like you're getting some exercise and you feel more involved in the journey from one point to another.
50 miles! And that's if you rely on one battery pack. I've heard of other riders and some pros who set up "swap stations" along a route so they are constantly riding with no breaks. You could conceivably do that around the Golden Gate Bridge from the downtown area all the way up the coast. It's astounding to think that, even if you're not physically fit (I happen to be fresh off a bunch of bike tests and feeling pretty good about non-electric biking), you could see these same sights, experience the wonder of an ocean vista, and still get back to downtown and have a pizza. When technology becomes an enabling force, it's a help to people of almost every age.
A few things to note about the bike I tested. First, it's a "real" bike. It didn't feel heavy or bulky, so it didn't feel weird riding it. And, it isn't a fold-up like so many electrics, so you sit normally and don't look like a clown ready to join the parade.
Shifting works like every other bike, although it was odd going uphill and deciding to stay in an upper gear because the electric motor was going to move me along no matter what. An LCD display showed my speed and how much juice I had left for the ride (which was more than enough for crossing the bridge and back). The top speed on this bike with assistance is 20 MPH. On the actual bridge crossing, it felt a little slow because, while the path is narrow, you are finally on a flat predictable path.
I couldn't imagine transporting this bike. It weighs a bit over 50 pounds, and the rider who joined me that day said he usually puts them in the back of a pick-up truck. I guess that's one downside, but we also talked a lot about the fact that riders tend to rent these bikes and, if you owned one, you'd likely ride it from an apartment or house and not try to transport it. Why would you? You can use the bike to get to your destination, then ride. It opens up a world of new options.
When we finally crossed back to downtown, we decided to keep riding all the way to a pizza place. Enabling tech works like that. Think of other experiences you've tried because of tech innovations. I work at a coffee shop two or three times a week because the Wi-Fi speed is finally fast enough. A smartwatch I'm testing (shh, it's under embargo) tracks my heart-rate and reminds me to take breaks; it automatically tracks steps and cycling miles without having to press a button, so I tend to ride even more because I like to get a good "score" at the end of each day. I'm also testing a new sensor for a kayak that tracks my paddle movements. All of these advancements involve activities I would not have attempted (or at least tracked) before.
Technology gets a bad name at times. I've written before about distractions in the workplace, and people still tell me they are doing the seven-minute morning routine because they need to start the day with something that isn't shallow and temporal (like, say, checking email or posting comments to articles like this on Twitter).
Now, enabling might also equate to expensive. The Path Plus costs $2,299.99, but I'm OK with that price point. I can see how people of almost any age could ride this around town, trusting the journey will be a success.
Mine sure was. And, I really enjoyed the pizza.