For most of my life, I wasn’t really into exercise or fitness. I took the dog for a walk or went hiking occasionally, but to be honest, I did it more often in my head than in reality. In my 40’s I met and married Patrick who was a total fitness fanatic and traveled all over Ireland and Europe with him when he competed in triathlons, championship level Europe and the world in the category of age groups.
Being surrounded by him and all his fellow athletes, I thought to myself that I really needed to become more physically active. At the same time, I was working as a health and wellness coach, helping people lead healthier active lifestyles, and I knew I had to do more myself. So I started running, doing regular 5k runs until my knees told me to take my running shoes off.
So at the start of this pandemic, along with thousands of other people, I bought myself a bike, thinking that Patrick and I could pursue an activity together. After several trips on what I expected to be long, leisurely cycles, I found cycling in the hills to be torture and I was totally put off by it to be honest. I had imagined myself enjoying the countryside quietly and there I was, red-faced, out of breath and completely overwhelmed. I could handle feeling that for 30 minutes in a HIIT workout, but not for 2-3 hours on a bike. It wasn’t for me.
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I considered buying an electric bike, but I had done so much research before buying my own bike that I had what I thought was the most comfortable bike ever and didn’t want to. change. Then I heard I could put an e-motor on my bike and although I was skeptical – well it won’t be the same as a custom e-bike my bike just won’t be the same – but I decided to look into this.
Back to research and I went with a recommendation for swytchbike.com , a company that sends you the kit and that you assemble yourself. Although I was assured it was a very simple process, I’m not a bike mechanic, I had never repaired a puncture, so I wasn’t convinced I would be able to do it myself- same. I said I would give it a try, but I was sure I would end up calling in an expert – my cyclist husband.
The day the box arrived, I was super excited. All instructions were very clear, all parts came in individual boxes clearly labeled inside. There was even an illustration of the few basic tools that would be needed to complete the job. Even I knew what they were. Now I had to stop telling myself that I couldn’t do this and get on with the job.
The only help I needed for the job was to remove the tire and put it on the new wheel – probably something others would find simple, but I had never done it and it wasn’t one of the SWYTCH instructions. The whole process took me about 2 hours and I couldn’t believe how simple a process it was. But of course the real test will be how it handles on the hilly roads of South West County Kerry, where I live.
I was told it had a 50k battery life which is amazing when you think about the size of the PSU which sits neatly in a cradle on the handlebars but the skeptic in me said it Probably flat, with little need for help, and my area is hilly, so I was nervous about going far. When I sat on “my new e-bike” for the first time and it took off, on my hilly road, I was amazed and excited enough to venture a little further.
My first trip was a 20km cycle from home around the beautiful island of Valentia. It was the most amazing cycle I have ever had. It was as if I was floating on the hills. I could take in the beautiful scenery while following and chatting with Patrick. I was battery conscious, so that bit of range anxiety was the only thing stopping it from turning the hard work of cycling into a most enjoyable journey. I relaxed a lot about this when I got home and still had about 50% battery left.
It’s also reassuring that the battery charges very quickly, so if a much longer journey was planned, I could always take the very compact charger cable with me and recharge it while having lunch or having a coffee in a cafe or a cool pub along the way.
Since then I have ventured on many 20-30km cycles and not only have these been very enjoyable experiences, but I have also felt the unexpected benefit of getting fitter, despite the electric assist on my bike . Because I know I have the backup power, I now tend to only use it when I really need it, like steep hills or biking in strong winds (I would never have done any bike in the wind before) and I find that I am much more adept at cycling than I was before the conversion.
If there was one small change I could make to this kit, I would make it a little easier to release the PSU – it takes a little press of the release button. THAT SAID, I would definitely recommend the Swytch conversion kit.
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