Longtime cyclist Arne Johnson, 72, said his cycling speed has slowed with age. And as a member of the Huntington Bicycle Club, Johnson said he struggled to keep up with the younger, faster members of the group.
So when the Huntington resident bought his first e-bike, it was a “life-changing experience,” he said.
Johnson said he started looking into e-bikes a few years ago after sustaining injuries that prevented him from riding the bike. He bought his first e-bike from Brands Cycle and Fitness in Wantagh in September 2018.
Electric bike sales at Brands have at least doubled since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, owner Gary Sirota said. This follows a national trend: according to the World Economic Forum, sales of e-bikes in the United States have increased by 145% since 2019.
“A lot of people started cycling as a hobby during the pandemic and stuck with it afterwards,” Sirota said.
On March 21, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that bike shops in New York City may remain open during the statewide shutdown order under Executive Order 202.6.
Sales also increased at other local bike shops, including Merrick Bicycles in Merrick.
Owner Dan Yuricic, who also co-owns Long Beach Bicycles, said when gyms and recreation facilities closed during the pandemic, many people turned to cycling for exercise because stores open bicycles were deemed essential, he said.
Yuricic said many of those riders have now switched to e-bikes. “E-bikes allow people to travel longer distances, carry things on their bikes, battle winds, climb higher hills…it makes it easier for some bike club members to keep up with the rest of the world. their groups,” Yuricic said. , “especially in the case where these members are older than the others and have less stamina.”
While some e-bikes only have a throttle, meaning the bike can be used without pedaling, others, like
Johnson’s, are pedal-assist bicycles.
“[They] allow you to train as much or as little as you want,” Johnson said. “You can get a different level of assistance from the bike’s motor depending on the level you choose and how hard you pedal. At level one you’ll do the most work and get the least amount of motor assistance.
Sirota said the majority of its e-bike customers ride for recreation and exercise. However, many Long Islanders use bikes to get to work so they don’t have to worry about finding space to park their vehicles, he said — or worry about breaking a sweat.
“Bikes are a great and healthy way to get to work,” he said, “but the problem is that you have to sweat. With e-bikes, you can get to your destination comfortably, without breaking a sweat. .
E-bikes are also effective for long hikes or camping trips, said Johnson, who noted that he had previously ridden his electric bike from Huntington to the Hamptons.
“With e-bikes, you can do self-driving rides by just carrying your battery charger with you and finding an outlet to charge your bike battery at night,” he said, “you can even bring a bag full of your clothes with you because the engine makes it easy to carry extra weight.
Although e-bike sales have increased, Yuricic said, they will never replace regular bikes. Sirota said he felt the same.
“Regular bikes will never go out of style,” said Sirota, who prefers to ride regular bikes. “Whether it’s young children taking walks, adults exercising or taking rides, or even cyclists competing, everyone rides a bike for different reasons. .so it’s nice to have different types of bikes to choose from.”