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Can’t afford an EV just yet? Try an eBike

Conventional wisdom says that things can’t give you lasting happiness. The phenomenon is called “the treadmill.” Buy a brand new Porsche and you’ll want a Fararri. Buy a new Ferrari and you’ll be stuck in traffic on the freeway just like everyone else, and all that horsepower will be pointless. Plus, you’re contributing a whole lot to global warming with that big engine idling. So, instead you could buy a Tesla or a Poelstar 2. They are certainly cool and a lot more environmentally friendly, but you’ll still be stuck in traffic. Want to spend money in a way that will make you happy? Get a dog.

Well, there’s something I bought (used) recently, and it actually has made me and both of my kids happy. It’s a Radwagon from Rad Power Bikes. Since I got it right around the start of the spring, I’ve been using it more than my car. I pick both kids up from school in it nearly every day, and on the weekends we ride it to our neighboorhood parks, or if we feel more ambitious, hop on the Burke Gilman and leave the neighborhood. According to Radpowerbikes, even if you go heavy on the power assist, your CO2 / mile is around 1% of what it takes to drive the average car.

I’ve tried riding a non-power assisted bike with both kids, and it’s tough just to get around the block. Going up one of our steep Seattle hills with both kids takes all the strength I’ve got to go two blocks at 3pm. With the powerbike, we can easily cruise at 18mph and make it up hills with both dad and motor at maximum power. 

Now, before we get much further, I’ll warn you of a couple of problems. 

First, Rad Power Bikes goes out of their way to show people who aren’t fit using their products, and for the most part, they are accessible to anyone. However, going uphill with both kids (with a combined weight of around 75lbs) is a serious workout and a slow ride even with the power assist turned to maximum. 

Second, with both kids onboard, the bike is topheavy. Sometimes, if we’re stopped on a non-level surface and somebody leans too far to one side, I need to use all the strength I’ve got to keep it from tipping over. 

I don’t claim to be a great athlete, but these two problems should put off a lot of people. On the other hand, I can tell you you’ll never feel like more of a dad than you do hauling both your kids behind you while pedaling hard – and I mean that in a good way.

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