Trying Out 3 Different eBikes
At United Sport and Cycle, we feel that eBikes are for everyone. But what specific eBike is right for you?
I love eBikes and I went out on a few test rides with 3 different types of eBikes in uniquely different situations to try and answer the same question for myself.
And along the way, I have found some eBikes that I really like!
Determine Your Needs Before Shopping for an eBike
First off, I took an inventory of my needs, my riding habits, and what I want out of my next bike:
- I have a non-electric road bike already and I think I prefer to keep my road rides on a non-electric bike, as this is where I try to push my speed and distance limits.
- My weekly riding time is limited, with two kids under 4 years taking up a lot of my “down” time.
- I have a Thule child trailer that I use to haul my 2 kids up hills in summer, as well as in the winter. An eBike would be a ton of help.
- I don’t ride a lot of singletrack trails.
- In the summer, I ride a lot after sundown after the kids go to sleep.
- Gravel bike riding is calling my name, and my road bike isn’t set up for it.
- I want to spend more time outdoors, especially in the winter.
With that in mind, here are the 3 very different eBikes I tried out this week:
The Trek Verve+ 2 Electric Hybrid eBike
First up was the Trek Verve+ 2.
My initial impressions? This is the perfect “get-up and go” city eBike! With built-in lights, I could easily check off a few important boxes for myself including rides after sundown.
Along with the built-in lights, I appreciated the great quality hydraulic brakes and the ample torque for towing the kids’ Thule trailer.
The Verve+ 2 eBike also felt really great on my solo rides: the upright, comfortable geometry made me feel like a tourist in my own city!
While cruising down Whyte Ave and zipping through the paved trails in the River Valley, I noticed so much more of my surroundings than I normally do on my road bike—I think because of the Verve+ 2's more "eyes-up" riding position.
The fenders and rear-wheel rack also made me think this is the electric bike I’d want for commuting to the office as well.
I also took the Verve+ 2 for a little gravel ride on some flat range roads. It did alright—although it obviously isn't made for gravel roads—and it gave me loads of range on a single charge.
With the adjustable stem and comfortable saddle, I can see the Verve+ 2 eBike being a really versatile addition to a bike rider’s stable. It is perhaps the perfect eBike for a dad who loves to bike on paved paths with his teenage kids, or who loves to camp and tour the paved campsite roads with his family..
But I Wanted Some More Adventure…
So, I then tested the Trek Rail 7 Electric Mountain Bike which was the gnarliest bike I have ever ridden!
While I'm not a hardcore mountain biker, and I don’t ride a lot of single track, this full-suspension beast was like riding on a cloud. The best part of the riding the Rail 7 electric bike is that you feel invincible!
Like I said, I don’t get a lot of riding time with my two kids to take care of. So, I was stoked to be able to fly to the trailheads at the Terwillegar Dog Park with the bike on full Turbo Mode.
Once there, I changed the bike over to eMTB Mode, and it gave me some really intelligent motor assistance on the trails.
All day, the Rail 7 eBike let me explore a massive area in our vast array of parks and still keep up with more seasoned riders who can climb much faster than me.
I'm in love! I think I might need to take up more mountain biking!
I also took the Trek Rail 7 for a gravel ride… which was unnecessary, maybe, as the Rail 7 is waaaaaay more bike than is needed for that type of a ride.
Still, it handled it no problem, and it was wicked fun!
If you want an amazing mountain bike that also doubles as a speed demon for getting around the city, the Rail 7 is your bike!
A Fat Bike in Summer?
Finally, I tested the Norco Bigfoot VLT 2 Electric Fat Bike.
Now, riding fat bikes in the summer is a bit more rare, but there are lots of people who do it, including a LOT of the staff who work here in the bike shop! So there must be something to summer fat biking, right?
Fat biking has always been intriguing to me, and I read Greg’s winter review of the Norco Bigfoot VLT electric fat bike and was eager to try the bike out for myself.
Now, on top of being a great winter bike, I found that this eBike could—surprisingly—check off all my summer needs as well!
I took it on a muddy gravel ride, a solid trail ride, a ride with my daughter on the bike trailer, and—with some added lights—a cruise around the neighbourhood after dark.
In a single charge, I was able to pack in 2 or 3 really good length rides between charges.
My off-road rides don’t include any steep drop-ins or bunny hopping, so I liked that I had a ton of traction and speed on the off-roads—without the need for a full-suspension system.
If you already have a great summer road bike, and want to add a single bike to your stable for moderate trail, gravel, and winter riding, an electric fat bike is the thing!
Other eBikes I'll Be Reviewing Throughout the Summer
A list of other electric bikes that United Sport & Cycle carries and that I am inspired to test ride—and that I may review here later—include the:
If you’re in the market for a bike or electric bike—from my own personal experience—I recommend you make a list of what type of riding you:
- Currently do
- Want to do
- Might never do
As I saw for myself, it might lead you to a bike you'd never considered before, but that ends up being perfect for your needs and goals!
I also noticed that getting onto an eBike gives you a mental and physical boost to try trails and try rides that you might not otherwise attempt on a regular bike.
Wind Won’t Slow Me Down Anymore
I noticed that all the eBikes I tested crushed Edmonton’s cycling nemesis: headwinds.
The Edmonton area is fairly flat compared to—say San Francisco—however, our version of “hard climbs” are those rides straight into headwinds.
On two of my test rides, one with the Verve 2+ and one with the Rail 7, the average wind those days was roughly 30-47 km/h.
Now, I would have never even considered rolling up the garage door to go on a ride with my road bike on those days.
But I found that the pedal-assistance from the eBikes helps you power through even the craziest winds!
This is important if your lovely wife only gives you 40 minutes till dinner time and you want to crush a solid ride while the kids are still busy doing their homework.
Final Thoughts on Picking out the Right eBike for You
Head over to United Sport and Cycle and ask to test ride some of their eBikes.
They have the best selection of eBikes in Edmonton, including the top 4 brands in the world, so—no matter what your riding goals and skills are—you'll be able to test ride a great eBike for you.
Try out an eBike, feel the difference, and cover more ground this year!
About the Blogger:
Cody Osborne is part of the marketing team at United Sport & Cycle and is passionate about all things bikes (especially Giant bicycles), electric bikes, and hockey goaltending.
In addition, Cody is also the director of Goaltending Development for Precision Goalie Institute. He is the current Goalie Consultant for the Olds College Broncos Women’s Hockey Team and has worked with many minor hockey teams and Associations in the Edmonton area.