E-bikes helping people facing difficulties cycle again

The technology in e-bikes, or electric hybrid bikes, is rapidly increasing each year, according to Derek Stepanek, the owner of Northtowne Cycling & Fitness. (CBS2/FOX28)

The expression “it’s like riding a bike” often implies something’s easy to do, but strong headwinds and hills sometimes make cycling difficult.

The latest in biking technology can give you the extra boost to keep you from staying inside.

The e-bike, short for electric hybrid bike, has a single battery charge that can last up to 100 miles. This year's newest models have the motor tucked seamlessly into the frame.

The goal of the e-bike is to get people to bike for longer periods at a time, and it’s giving many people who thought biking was never a possibility the opportunity to ride again.

Derek Stepanek says that moment when people step on an e-bike for the first time can be powerful.

"They giggle and smile - we call it the 'e-bike grin,'" said Stepanek, owner of Northtowne Cycling and Fitness in Cedar Rapids. "They are now envisioning themselves out riding a bicycle or all the ways that they could do it, that they couldn’t do it in the past."

A motor provides pedal assistance for people who might not otherwise get out there and ride, inhibited by hills, headwinds, level of experience, age, or even medical condition.

It changed the life of one man who had cycled avidly with his wife.

"He found out he was affected with muscular dystrophy," said Stepanek. "Now, he is able to ride with her and they can share those times."

If you think you might not be getting exercise, think again. You’ll still be pedaling the bike, and you can choose varying levels of assistance.

"They also feel or sense your pedaling, so they ride very naturally," said Stepanek. "It feels like you’re riding a traditional bike. It’s just that with the assistance that it gives - it kind of makes you feel like a bionic biker."

Stepanek says models begin at around $1500-$2500.

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