Dispatch from the Portland Electric Bike Expo (photos and video)

Dispatch from the Portland Electric Bike Expo (photos and video)

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All the test rides and information you want, all in one place.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The electric bike revolution has landed in Portland.

All weekend long at the Electric Bike Expo the world’s top e-bike brands are offering free test rides of over 100 different models. I swung by on Friday afternoon to get a closer look.

The tents and the test track were buzzing with activity. And one thing immediately stood out: The faces of the people riding were not the same faces I see on my regular commute or at various bike events around town. And that’s one of the most exciting things about this e-bike boom: It’s getting a whole new demographic on bikes.

Just like the cargo bike revolution redefined our idea of what bikes could do, e-bikes are expanding the realm of cycling possibilities for a whole new crop of riders.

And yet there are still many haters out there who cling to the notion that e-bikes aren’t really bikes, or that the people who ride them are cheaters. Hogwash.

Chris DiStefano, former marketing guy at Chris King Precision Components and Rapha who’s now with River City Bicycles, says much of the pushback from industry-types is simply due to a lack of understanding. “The biggest misconception,” he said, after doing a few laps on the latest Stromer ST2, “Is they think it’s a throttle. The bikes don’t move unless you pedal them.”

DiStefano was at the expo with his new boss, River City owner Dave Guettler. They were pedaling lots of bikes looking to sell in their shop — a shop known for its deep roots in Portland’s road, cyclocross, and mountain bike racing scene.

For more on the state of the e-bike market in America, below is a brief chat I had with Pete Prebus, the man behind Electric Bike Report and one of the organizers of the expo:

And here are a few more scenes and faces from the event:

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Mike Minnick and his dog Bixby!
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Now that’s a headlight.
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One of my favorites.
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This Kalkhoff with 20-inch wheels is billed as a one-size-fits-all.
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The Stromer ST2s is just amazing.
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This “BigBud” model from eMotion has all-wheel-drive. You can choose front, rear, or both.
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Patrick Mok from north Portland on the Faraday. He loves how it looks and the simple operation of the motor. He commutes by bike most days, but says “Some days when I don’t feel like riding I think I’ll just jump in the car; but with this I would bike more.”
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Lois Golden lives in the southwest hills where she and her husband are trying to go grocery shopping and do other errands without a car. “These bikes give you just that little extra bit to get you home. I’ll get out on the bike more with outo of these,” she said. Her husband already has an e-bike and she tried many different models looking for something that fit just right.

The Expo runs Saturday until 7:00 pm and Sunday until 4:00. Admission is free. Full details here.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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