By Laura Fox
Are Metro’s improvement programs and other unplanned-yet-common delays causing you commuting headaches? Road construction got you down? An e-bike may be just the prescription for effortless commuting on Northern Virginia’s network of hilly roads.
Alan Levine, president and CEO of Hybrid Pedals, located in Arlington, is passionate and knowledgeable about electric power-assisted bicycles, or e-bikes. His first foray into innovative transportation began in 2001 when he started Doctor Delivery, the first restaurant food delivery business in the Washington area. In search of an economical and environmentally-friendly delivery platform, Levine discovered the electric bike. In 2012, he founded Hybrid Pedals.
“An electric bike makes sense because it is far more economical than the Metro; it costs a nickel in electricity to charge a battery to go up to 50 miles,” Levine says. “You charge in a 110-volt socket straight into your wall, just like your computer. It is the same lithium ion technology used in your computer batteries.” E-bikes do not require registration or license fees, another cost savings.
“The economics and the speed at which you can commute and save time is astounding,” he says. “I can get to anywhere in Arlington faster by electric bike than anybody can by automobile. I don’t have to worry about where I am going to park, and I can avoid traffic.” You can also bring e-bikes on the Metro and ride them on bike paths. E-bikes are also weatherproof the same way your car withstands a heavy downpour.
New bikes start at $1,500 and average about $3,000. Compared to a car, the bike pays for itself in six months, says Levine. The battery lifetime is about 20,000 miles. In addition to the one-person e-bike, Hybrid Pedals also sells tandem bikes and bikes that can hold up to 400 pounds of cargo (plus the rider). Hybrid Pedals has seen 150 percent growth in e-bike sales from 2015 to 2016.
What’s it like to ride an e-bike? “You feel like the Bionic Woman when you are pedaling,” Levine says. “You feel a surge that you don’t feel when pedaling a regular bike. Many people are fit enough to ride the bike. Some people need pedal assist, which comes in five levels, and some people need total assistance provided by a throttle. With the throttle you could commute all the way to work and arrive without sweating.”
Levine also points to the health benefits of riding an e-bike. Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder studied 20 sedentary volunteers who rode an electric bike to and from work three times a week for at least 40 minutes each time for a month. They found that the riders were getting a moderate amount of exercise, comparable to a brisk walk or easy jog.
Take a test drive on an e-bike at Hybrid Pedals. // 822 N. Kenmore St., Arlington; 703-522-7700
Other Northern Virginia E-bike Retailers
Big Wheel Bikes (supplied by Hybrid Pedal), Arlington
Spokes, located in Alexandria, Belle View, Fairfax, Leesburg and Vienna
Freshbikes, located in Arlington and Fairfax
Revolution Cycles, Arlington
Conte’s Bike Shop, located in Arlington and Falls Church