Greg Lemond and his amazing candy-colored dream bike

When you are Boy, does a bike mean freedom. Long before you can get your driver’s license, and long before you can buy a car, you can jump on this simple machine that turns human power – through a simple series of levers, gears and wheels – into distance and speed. To ride a bike, all you need is a core, two legs, a sense of balance, and maybe a pocket key. There is a reason why the bike is the favorite vehicle in many disaster movies, from Platform to me Extension. You can check gears, inflate tires, maneuver deftly around car crashes or travel overland through desolate landscapes to unite with your tribe.

Beauty electrical The bike is that it has a motor that does a lot of the work for you. But, of course, it requires sockets, networks, and infrastructure. Depending on your point of view, this means that an e-bike is either a fun way to get as many people out of their cars as possible, or it’s an unforgivable violation of one fundamental principle which is bikedom. It’s like one of those line drawings. It’s either a pretty princess or an ugly old man. Look at it one way, you see one thing. You can’t see the other until your mind does the shift.

I tested electric bikes WIRED Gadget Lab for years. For a long time, I thought these ideological divisions—between what is a bike and what isn’t, who rides it, and why—were concerned with my fellow eccentrics and time-wasters aficionados.

That was until the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate change crisis brought my weird and time-wasting hobby to the level of national fame. In a global pandemic, electric bicycles have made it easier for people to move around cities without risking close contact on crowded public transport. It’s also an alternative to the car, a low-carbon solution to urban congestion in a world increasingly devastated by climate change.

But even as cities move to encourage ebikes, they also have to regulate them – which means knowing exactly what an ebike is. He is. It’s pretty easy to tell an analog bike by looking at it—two wheels are finished, some pedals, and a frame. But some bikes look like heavy, compact cars, with big wheels and cargo racks front and rear. Others are almost motorcycle-like, with the exception of two antique pedals.

In order to maintain the always-thin boundaries between electric bicycles, electric scooters and electric motorcycles, many administrative bodies impose arbitrary restrictions. It varies from city to city, county to county, and state to state. Within city limits, the e-bike can only assist the rider up to 20 mph. In some places, it can’t even have the throttle. sometimes It is considered a motor vehicle and is prohibited in public parks, but sometimes Allowed in the corridors.

It’s confusing. I can’t ride them in the driveway because they can’t go over 20mph (unless they can sometimes?). On the other hand, riding someone into the bike lane is a sure way to get everyone — cars, cyclists, pedestrians, dogs — to stare at me.

Most companies want their electric bikes to be legally defined as bicycles, and their customers to have the same freedoms and safety guarantees as other cyclists. Anyone can ride a bike. For scooters and motorcycles, you need a licence.

Of course, there is a tidy way out of this legal and logistical mess that the ebike world has created for itself. You simply make electric bikes that look exactly like analog bikes and treat them as such. And nobody wants to make a bike more than LeMond. You only need to see a picture of him from back in the ’80s – mouth open, holding his number in astonishment for the camera – to feel a palpable sense of amazement and joy in the sport, in being young and opening up the world before blood pumps through your superhero heart as you prepare to fly down the mountain.

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