Free electric bicycle test rides at bike shop this weekend

Folks interested in cutting their carbon emissions but needing some help negotiating Bay Area hills can try out electric bicycles for free at an Oakland bike shop Sunday.   

Test rides of over 100 e-bikes will be available at the New Wheel bike shop at 1446 Leimert Boulevard.   

Electric bikes can help people bike to work without breaking a sweat while enjoying a fresh-air commute, according to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.

The vehicles are "extremely energy-efficient," the coalition says on its website.   

Depending on various factors, a single-battery electric bike can go about 50 miles on a change, said Jeremy Medina, manager of The New Wheel in Oakland. Cyclists can plug their e-bike into an ordinary wall outlet to charge it.   


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Just a few years ago, electric bikes seemed more like scooters than bicycles because they relied on the twist of a throttle, often jerking the rider forward, according to the bicycle coalition. However, the technology has advanced, and e-bikes now use torque sensors.   

These sensors measure how hard a cyclist is pressing on the pedals, then in turn tell the motor how much to assist the rider based on their pedal pressure.   Riding an e-bike now is like riding a standard bicycle, Medina said. The electricity "just helps you push the pedals," he said.   

The New Wheel bikes don't come cheap. Cost of an e-bike at the New Wheel begins around $2,000, the bike shop manager said.