Noah Brier | August 17, 2023

The E-bike Edition

On suburbia, electric vehicles, and reshaping space

Recommended Products

Heybike Cityrun
Heybike Cityrun

An e-bike model received as a review unit for Ride Review.

Noah here. After twenty-something years in New York City, I finally made the move to the suburbs. Unsurprisingly, it takes a lot of adjusting. So far, yard work and house projects seem fun (let’s wait to see how I feel when the honeymoon period ends), but car dependence is definitely not my favorite thing. While I live on a relatively quiet street that makes for a good phone call walk, once you venture onto the main road, things get quite a bit scarier. It’s one of those 40mph roads that cut through so many suburban towns—narrow-to-no shoulder and drivers regularly doing 15 mph-plus over the speed limit.

While I got a nice reflective vest for running (thanks, Nick), walking to a place isn’t a real possibility. The nearest shop is about 2 miles away, with a mile of that on a healthy-sized hill.

But then, yesterday, a package with an e-bike arrived. It’s actually a Heybike Cityrun review unit for a site I help run called Ride Review, and while it’s not the first electric bike I’ve ridden, it’s the first I’ve owned. (We never had a good setup for storing one in Brooklyn.) A few hours after the package arrived, I quickly got to work putting it together.

A little over an hour later (I’ve never done this before), I had everything in, aligned, and ready to ride. I took it for a quick spin around the neighborhood before it got dark with my daughter trailing behind on her bike, then parked it for the evening.

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With a bit of time before my first meeting this morning, I decided to take the trek up the big hill to the store for a breakfast sandwich and a coffee. This isn’t a regular part of my routine, but I was curious how the bike would handle the trip, and I’m still trying to find some regular routes and patterns to get me out of the house as I find a new routine in my suburban work-from-home life. So I set off with my reflective vest and helmet and climbed the hill to the store. 

Why is this interesting?

The bike handled everything perfectly, and I arrived about 10 mins later. It was an easy trip in which I mostly relied on the pedal assist to at least feel like I was doing a bit of work.

What really struck me about the whole thing was the freedom I felt. Cars once offered that and still can. But, particularly coming from the city where I could quickly get anywhere with a combination of my feet and public transportation, being able to get to something that resembles civilization—a bit of local retail in this case—without needing to get in the car felt like a big deal. Of course, towns like this aren’t particularly well suited to people on bikes, and as bad as my local road might be, the uphill section is on an even busier section of near-highway with two lanes and people zooming by at high speeds. I imagine there’s not much demand for adding bike lanes or sidewalks on a healthy-grade hill like that. Still, as more people get access to these lightweight electric vehicles, I wonder if we won’t start to hear more rumblings from folks looking for increased safety on roads once reserved for cars.

In the meantime, I’ll be happy to bop around town without needing a few tons of metal and gasoline. And I’ve already ordered some saddle bags, so next time, I can at least come home with more than I can carry in my pockets. (NRB)

Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

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