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Electric bike revolution energises active travel

May 16, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

You see them in Germany, in Britain and in many other places – bands of tourists zipping through cities and scenic spots riding electric bikes. Tour operators, including those in Australia, are full of praise for the machines, which they say are revolutionising the active travel industry.

Keen cyclists, who feared age or weak knees were about to end their days of cycle touring, are finding they can pedal on for years longer – perhaps even decades.

UTracks general manager, Kate Baker says the electric bike trend has exploded in Europe, with e-bike sales on the continent more than doubling from 600,000 in 2010 to 1.35 million in 2016.

In response to this surge in popularity, UTracks is offering electric bikes on 80% of its 187 cycling itineraries across the European continent this year – a huge jump from 2015, when UTracks offered ebikes on just a handful of its active bike holidays.

“Essentially, e-bikes are fitted with an electric motor that adds a speed boost when pedalling, giving the cyclist a helping hand or push to get up and over hills and achieve longer distances,” Baker said.

“As long as you recharge the battery, which can be easily done in a few hours or overnight, you can count on the e-bike to help you when you are going uphill, cycling in headwinds, covering longer distances or simply want to take a break from hard pedalling.

Compact eBike ready to ride

“An e-bike can be ridden by almost anyone and makes the journey physically easier without taking away from the adventurous spirit of a cycling trip.

“With an e-bike anyone can join in: from couples or families with differing degrees of ability to people who do not feel confident enough to do a longer tour on a traditional bicycle or perhaps love the idea of a more demanding cycling route but are not sure whether they can physically complete it.

“For example, myself and my 12 year old daughter cycled the mountainous coastline of the Ionian Islands in Greece – something she could not have achieved this without an e-bike – at least not with a smile on her face.

“It is also a confidence booster for someone contemplating their first cycle tour – knowing they can boost their input with an e-bike is very comforting. And for those who are slowing down and don’t want to take up too much of an active challenge, an e-bike is the perfect way to continue this wonderful style of travel without the physical demands.

eBikers take in the scenery

“We are also seeing older travellers who have been avid cyclists for many years swapping their regular bikes for e-bikes because they don’t want to give up their European biking holidays.

“120 years after they were first invented, e-bikes are becoming the new norm in active cycling holidays.”

A 2016 report from Navigant Research, a leading technology market research company, has predicted that eventually e-bike sales will account for one in three bikes sold in Europe (a figure already achieved in The Netherlands). The report has forecasted that globally e-bike sales will increase by 54.7% over the next nine years. In Germany alone, more than 500,000 e-bikes were sold in 2016.

Some of UTracks cycling itineraries offering e-bikes include:

  1. Prague to Dresden Cycle (self-guided)
  2. Rhine Valley Bike & Boat (self-guided)
  3. Cologne to Mainz by Bike & Boat (self-guided)
  4. Mainz to Strasbourg by Bike & Boat (self-guided)
  5. Berlin Wall Trail Cycle (self-guided)
  6. Berlin to Copenhagen by bike (self-guided)
  7. Berlin Bike & Barge (self-guided)

Edited by Peter Needham in Dresden

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