eBike user profile: Deborah East

Deborah navigates the hills of Brooklyn on her eBike
Deborah navigates the hills of Brooklyn on her eBike

What kind of people ride eBikes, and why? I put these questions to real estate agent and eBike user Deborah East:

My e-bike has got me back into cycling after many years of inactivity, and I am slowly getting fitter and healthier because of the bike.

As a teenager in Christchurch, my bike was my only form of transport. I got a standard bike in my late 30s while living in Highbury – the hill was too hard for me, but I would transport it by car to flatter places. I lived in a city apartment for 2 years and rode a lot, but when I moved to Brooklyn 17 years ago the hill once more defeated me, and the demands of my job meant I didn’t have time to put the bike on the car to go somewhere else for a ride.

A few years ago I discovered e-bikes at the Home Show, and fell in love! A bike I could get up hills on despite my arthritis! So last year when we were about to take a holiday in the Bay of Islands, which usually entails riding everywhere on the resort’s mountain-bikes, I decided to look on-line for a reasonably-priced e-bike. I bought mine from a chap in Albany who imports them from China, and collected it on the way north.

Home again, and I decided to use my e-bike for work whenever I could. I sell real estate, so sometimes I just have to take my car, but if the appointment isn’t too far away and the client doesn’t need a lift, I cycle. I can get to our down-town office from Brooklyn in 12 minutes in peak traffic, and back up in 15 minutes, whereas it would be 20 minutes down by car. So it’s like going to the gym, spending no time, and getting results. I sold a house at the top of Severn St in Island Bay last year, and did all appointments by bike except the open homes.

Parking isn't an issue with an eBike
Parking isn’t an issue with an eBike

The lack of parking hassles means it’s really easy to do errands on the way to & from appointments, and with a basket on the front I can carry up to 5kg of groceries as well as my briefcase.

I’ve had hydraulic disc brakes retro-fitted to my bike so I feel safer going down hills (On Yer Bike/Avanti in Vivian St did it for me – they have been fabulous).

The bike doesn’t carry me up hills on its own – if I stop pedalling, the motor stops – it’s assistance, it isn’t a motor-bike. So I’ve gradually got fitter over the year I’ve been riding it. I flick the motor on when I need it, and ride with the motor off a lot of the time.

Another plus, aside from getting up hills, is that I can flick the power on to get away quickly at traffic lights, and keep more-or-less up with the traffic – I do about 25kph. So cars are less desperate to get past me, and so less likely to cut me off/knock me off – it’s a lot safer around town than a standard bike.

For someone thinking of getting an e-bike, I would recommend buying it from a local supplier so it has a warranty, and so you can trial it first. Make sure it’s under 300 watts so it doesn’t legally count as a motorbike and need registering. Check that the motor won’t surge when you don’t want it to – such as over the crest of a hill. And check that you can manage the weight – mine is so heavy I need help to get it on a bike-rack on a car, but I saw one recently which is only 15kgs. You will need somewhere dry to keep it – it won’t like getting its electrics soaked.

The bottom line is – everyone I’ve met who has an e-bike just loves it, me included!