CLEARWATER — The chopping gurgle of a motorcycle engine is a typical sound at any Harley-Davidson dealership — from potential customers going for test drives or pulling up on their own hogs.
No one expects to see a traditional bicycle on the lot. Well, Harley-Davidson’s version of traditional.
The Serial 1 eBicycle, which is a cool way to say electric bike, offers a sleek way to ride around with the help of an enviolo hub (a motor) in pedal-assist fashion. The line of bikes, with four models differing in price and other aspects, are available to pre-order now and will hit dealerships in March.
What are the advantages over the cruiser bike currently taking up space in your garage? A tryout was in order.
It had been a while since I found myself sitting on the triangular rubber seat, balancing my weight between two wheels. As a kid, I biked for miles on the trails of the Flatwoods Conservation Park in New Tampa on my Giant mountain bike. But that was at least a decade ago.
I was a little anxious about riding around on a motorized bike. The fear of falling off and breaking something important is real.
I stepped over the lowered frame on the RUSH/CTY Step-Thru bike — it was easy to get on this particular model because I didn’t have to swing my leg over the seat or the frame — and started to pedal.
Immediately, I felt a difference. As I made my way through the parking lot, dodging cars at Bert’s Barracuda Harley-Davidson in Clearwater, I noticed the extra oomph my ride got from the back motor.
On straighter paths, the bike coasts at the same speed for a longer period of time, thanks to help from the hub. I still had to put in some work pedaling around the lot, but the motor provided that extra boost as I cruised around at 13 mph or so.
When it came time to brake, the bike slows to a stop with ease thanks to the handbrakes.
Sometimes I like to ride my bike standing up, and I was able to comfortably shift my weight forward and put it all on my wrists. The padded handlebars offered some comfort as I pedaled around at 17 mph.
The wind blowing back against my face and rush of adrenaline from the speed of the bike felt amazing.
But let’s face it; the $4,399 price tag may not be as appealing as the $100 bike found at any big box store. And if you’re already perusing the eBicycle landscape, you’ve probably seen less expensive versions, like the RadCity Electric bike for $1,499 or the Schwinn eVoyageur Hub-Drive Step-Thru for $1,999.99.
But it’s about the experience and the adventure, right?
One major drawback, other than the cost, is the bike’s weight. If you’re lugging your eBicycle around with you to the nearest trail or park, lifting it on and off of your vehicle’s bike rack is a workout in itself.
Depending on the model, the bikes range in weight from 48 to 60 pounds. Standard road bikes, meanwhile, are usually around 18 pounds, while mountain/off-road bikes can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30.
Rich Bunzel, a sales specialist for Serial 1, said the company is trying to market the bike to active retirees in Florida. In cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, the company is looking to attract customers who don’t necessarily have the space for a vehicle but still want the flexibility of getting around. The same can be said for millennials and Gen-Zers trying to leave less of a carbon footprint.
“The demographics are huge,” Bunzel said. “And there’s different pockets of it; it just depends on where we’re talking.”
The small battery that comes on each eBicycle is about the size of a laptop (though a little thicker). It’s easy to take inside an office to charge up before the ride home from work or leave in the garage where it won’t take up a space larger than the bike itself (the charging cord is essentially the size of a laptop charger).
Cyclists may also feel safer at night with LED tail lights and a front LED headlight. Just like driving a vehicle, the tail lights will illuminate when the brakes are applied.
Bunzel said he’s noticed more people getting back into biking during the pandemic with so much of their time spent outdoors. People are rediscovering bikes in their garages that have sat there for years, and they might be looking for an upgrade.
“It’s getting people back in, because people that rode analog bikes drifted off maybe because of their skill level,” he said. “But now it brings them back.”
|Name of Bike||Price||Speed||Weight Limit|
|RUSH/CTY Step-Thru||$4,399||Up to 20 mph||280 lbs.|
|MOSH/CTY||$3,399||Up to 20 mph||280 lbs.|
|RUSH/CTY Speed||$4,999||Up to 28 mph||280 lbs.|
|RUSH/CTY||$4,499||Up to 20 mph||280 lbs.|
Have an outdoor adventure we should try? Curious about the ins and outs of fishing seasons in Florida? Know a cool business or owner to profile? Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.