Only the poor want ebikes

General Discussion about electric bicycles.
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Only the poor want ebikes

Post by flat tire » Apr 28 2017 12:31am

I'm sure many others have noticed this before me but i've never seen it written about so let me begin.

We're enthusiasts. Our financial status is unimportant because we love our ebikes and we've gone the extra mile to find out information about them. That's why we're on this forum. We can hardly imagine anyone seeing our ebikes as anything but really awesome tools for having fun and getting places (fast!). But what about regular people, with regular lives and no electrical experiments?

Exactly what kind of regular people like ebikes? I've often scratched my head at this before but now I'll tell you: poor people. You heard me right. They understand the immense utility in an ebike as a commuter. They know there is great value in a small, light vehicle that refuels nearly for free and isn't subject to various fees to maintain road-legal--err, road-going--status. Poor people ALWAYS ask me about the ebike. They want to know how much it costs, how fast it is, and how far it goes. ALL OF THEM want to know this. If I pass a real beater, there's always a high chance the driver has noticed my bike and will excitedly ask me about it.

People in decent, or expensive cars? Please. NOT A CHANCE. Sometimes the kids will get excited, IF they look up from their cell phones. But the drivers don't care. Bicycles aren't fun, they're just for poor people. :(

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by neptronix » Apr 28 2017 1:42am

That's more of a bike problem than an ebike problem unfortunately.

Think about it this way. If you ignore the fact that a car is very expensive to purchase and run by comparison, destroys the environment, eats up space, and is generally a massive waste of resources in half the situations it's used in... from an end user standpoint, a car is very superior to a bike for one reason... comfort and convenience.

Then there's the practical stuff you can't deny. The carrying capacity, range, and speed of a car beats everything else. A car has massive utility and a 2 wheeled vehicle of any sort... not so much.

Every time you see someone going out to a restaurant.. buying things they don't really need.. driving a car.. or something else they could live without.. they're seeking comfort and convenience, and that seems to sell more than utility ever does. But some people will buy excessive utility and never use it just to be opulent and pretend to be 'safer', hence the SUV..

A bicycle is a pretty spartan thing. It takes a certain toughness and lack of concern about social heirarchy positioning to reject the opportunity of sitting on a cushy seat in an air conditioned box versus facing the elements and the potential for getting accidentally murdered by someone else in an air conditioned box, of which ~99% of what travels on roads happens to be. Bicycle commuters are oddballs and you'll notice that you won't find many of them outside urban areas where the car begins to get disadvantaged by lack of space.

Poor people don't necessarily have toughness. Most of them lust for the comfort and convenience they see around them. Many of them are accommodated to comfort and convenience in the past and see themselves as just temporarily missing it due to their lack of income. Many of them So when they see a $2000 price tag on a used car and $2000 for a new bike and the used car is the obvious choice to them. They will only ride a bike when they are really dirt poor. So most of these people just don't see bicycles the same way me and you do.

I have a hard time arguing in favor of the ebike in these days of cheap oil. I have a hard time being the only bicycle commuter on the road in my burb on a perfect 70 degree day where riding a bike should be the obvious choice because no AC or heat is required. I have a hard time knowing we could put a dent in the national deficit, our own pocketbooks, type 2 diabetes, obesity, asthma, heart disease, war, and other conveniently forgotten externalities of chronic car usage by simply riding a bike. It kinda drives me nuts but i understand that my thinking is way different than most of America's.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by flat tire » Apr 28 2017 2:13am

Yeah, but what really blows my mind is your average person thinks nothing of a bicycle going down the road at 50 mph!

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by neptronix » Apr 28 2017 2:46am

That's because nobody rides 'em. :lol:
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by TheBeastie » Apr 28 2017 2:52am

Yeah it can be a dangerous thing to be absolute about who wants ebikes the most but I think it depends on what location you engage with people on your ebike.

For a while I was riding my ebike to a coffee shop to have a coffee in a somewhat dubious area of Melbourne, while locking up my bike I had the odd few "public housing folks" who very much enjoyed hanging out in busy street squares all day either begging or doing a bit of basic juggling street performing to bring in a few extra dollars.
But I surprised by the attention I got from some of those guys while locking my ebike up in the near vicinity to them, from the conversations I had with them I could see the ebike was the answer to their problems, I think the idea of walking out of their government housing apartment that probably doesn't offer car parks and zipping up the street 2km away from home to sit around on the busy public street all day with no parking issues was very attractive.

One of these folks (when reading between the lines) voiced the idea of doing a swap. As in exchanging a stolen/considerably much more expensive standard mountain bicycle in exchange for my entry level ebike that I had at built on a budget at the time.

Because I was frequently locking my ebike up in that busy street square location and occasionally engaging in conversation in that area it was easy to make a connection that "only poor people want ebikes" but I don't really believe that with much conviction, its just the circumstances surrounding it.

On a topic as to why possibly richer folks might want an ebike, one idea I have been theorizing in my head lately is that as long as your ebike has been used for over a year (to offset the additional energy that went into creating the ebike specific components+battery), has been charged via a non co2 emitting source like a nuclear powerstation/solar/windturbine then your total co2 emissions using it would be far lower than someone who rides a standard bicycle.

Why? Because when you vigorously ride a standard bicycle you are emitting 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide (co2) via your respiratory system (breathing) than merely sitting on an ebike.
So people who frequently ride standard bicycles are emitting a lot more co2 than folks for the same distance than ebiking folks.

With cars of course it's the opposite as they are large, usually, combustion engine based and very inefficient compared to an ebike. And co2 emissions via combustion vehicles is huge percentage of total man made co2 emissions, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_c ... #Emissions
I dry pedal via PAS sensor which must use a tiny bit more human energy than merely having my thumb on a throttle but I look more normal and less gay this way.

On average a human emits 365kg (0.365 metric tons) of co2 every year in their life from just natural breathing.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_di ... physiology

The amount of co2 emitted via humans is quite a lot. In fact, the earth gains an extra 75million people each year, as stated here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_growth
So that means that each year 75million x 0.365tons_of_co2 = 27,375,000 tons of co2 emissions added additionally from new people merely from breathing in this world.
This is roughly equivalent of what two large dirty 1960s era coal-fired power stations emits every year.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazelwood_Power_Station
Or about three times the amount of a somewhat cleaner coal-fired 1970s power station https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladstone ... #Emissions
Or about 4 times the amount of a 1990s era coal-fired power station (7,213,854 tons co2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Power_Station

Anyway, I thought I would just pop that in there.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Chalo » Apr 28 2017 3:24am

Car driving is like slavery-- in that it's grossly harmful to everyone and dehumanizing, and also in that​ most people know it's wrong, but because it's ubiquitous and encouraged, they do it anyway.

In a bitter but poetic twist of irony, most people who drive are actually enslaved by their cars. They work endlessly for their cars, they suffer weakness and illness for their cars, and they surrender what they know is right for the sake of their cars. And like truly hopeless slaves, they take the side of their master when anybody speaks or acts against him. Because even though they know what they do is wrong, they​ don't how they'd possibly get by without him.

The bicycle represents the promise of freedom and mobility through effort and responsibility. Not everybody understands this, but even folks who don't understand it are often made uncomfortable because they recognize that the bicycle is basically good and what they've chosen for themselves instead is fundamentally wrong. There's no explaining the degree of hostility against something as benign as cycling without acknowledging people's strong aversion to being reminded of their moral failures.

E-bikes, like conventional motorcycles, don't fit neatly into this framework. They're clean and low-impact like bicycles, they don't armor the operator against the mortal harms he imposes randomly on others, and they're not gluttonous and wasteful and noisy and bullying like cars. But neither are they powered by the rider's resolve. They're not an easy way compared to a four wheeled murder vehicle, but they're easy compared to muscle power. And that's the root of some people's resentment about "cheating". But I believe it's also the root of some e-bikers' rude habits and unwillingness to play by the rules that apply to them-- including but not limited to using rights of way they're not entitled to, and refusing to register or insure vehicles that are clearly motorcycles under existing legal definitions.

So when the truly poor are attracted by e-bikes, it's probably more about the tiny and thus potentially affordable version of a low effort, low commitment solution-- which is to say, a cheat-- than it is about seeing the generalized benefits that the e-bike offers as an alternative to cars. Those who have both insight and resolve are already on their bikes, and most of those few don't need or want help pedaling.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by anoNY42 » Apr 28 2017 5:13am

TheBeastie wrote:Why? Because when you vigorously ride a standard bicycle you are emitting 10 times the amount of carbon dioxide (co2) via your respiratory system (breathing) than merely sitting on an ebike.
So people who frequently ride standard bicycles are emitting a lot more co2 than folks for the same distance than ebiking folks, especially if their riding commutes are long.
Maybe if you go from being sedentary to riding a bike, but then the increase in co2 holds regardless of how you exercise. If, however, you currently try to keep fit using a treadmill, and give up the treadmill when you start biking, your co2 emissions probably balance out.

By your logic, no one should exercise since it increases co2.

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Chalo » Apr 28 2017 5:24am

The fallacy is in treating closed cycle carbon dioxide emissions as equivalent to fossil carbon emissions. It's all part of the natural carbon cycle until you start extracting petroleum, coal, and natural gas that was sequestered for millions of years.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by neptronix » Apr 28 2017 5:37am

Well actually i did the calculations long ago. Food energy is super carbon and petrochemical intensive today, from the soil to the store. So unless you grow your own veggies yourself, use the throttle :mrgreen:

On a per dollar basis, even if you are eating cheaply, food energy is expensive per mile because human beings are so inefficient at using food... we're kind of like internal combustion engines in that regard. A majority of what you put in your mouth comes out the other end unburned.. :lol:

An ebike really shines in alll sitatuions and by all calculations i've done.. even including battery degredation per mile.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by MadRhino » Apr 28 2017 5:50am

Here rich people like ebikes as a toy. They buy one, ride it twice, and let it rot in a garage. :D

Poor people have no idea. They look at a 7000$ bike and say: Wow, that bike must be 1000$. Poor people buy a stolen bike to the junkies at the park, 40$ and they don't have a clue it's a 5000$ Specialized.

Here it's the motorcycle kids who are interested with my bikes. Yet very few will go through the trouble building one.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by docw009 » Apr 28 2017 8:25am

Some of the old people want them too. Being able to ride up hills again is what sells them to former bike enthusiasts, and they don't care about price that much, wheelies, or 30 mph. Range not a big factor because the lady won't ride more than 13 miles. Anyway, from what I see at the golf course, lots of guys my age couldn't go an hour anyway w/o having to find a place to pee.

And none of them want the kind of bikes built in this forum. Perceived reliability means their bikes are bought in bike stores.

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by RonnieBrowen2106 » Apr 28 2017 9:49am

I am not rich, but I am not poor either. E-Bikes to me are just another one of my hobbies. Also, they are a fun alternative form of transportation. Even though my current E-Bike only goes 22 MPH, it gets me to work faster then the bus (25 min VS 1 hr). My next E-Bike goes 37 MPH, but it is not finished yet. I don't think that all E-bikers and cyclists are arrogant or un-aware, from what I have seen it is the people driving cars that are. All the cyclists here in Duluth are very polite and nice. There are a lot of them, roadies, MTB, Gas bicycles, E-Bikes and you will see them all when the weather is nice. The best advice is to drive like you are the only one with there eyes open, which is generally true. College students are horrid in Duluth. I am always extra cautious when biking near UMD.

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Eskimo » Apr 28 2017 10:16am

We propably don"t have same kind of poor people than in you have in USA, but i know what you mean. Here e-bike is middle-class thing. I have noticed a new kind of divide, which goes so that if you have a kitbike, you are considered as a "poor". Here everybody is now buying them four grand, turn-key bikes and DIY/kitbike rider is looked bit down no matter how expensive missile his bike is. You gotta have that brand sticker, or you are not in the game. Of course car drivers tend to think cyclists as a poor people here too, but they are wrong. Cyclists in the city are very middle class, academic people that own their downtown apartments. Those few poor people in the city do not ride bicycles, they use public transport without paying the ticket, which is very easy to do here. They might get thrown out sometimes but what the heck, next train/tram comes soon.

Here poor people use cars. Thirty years old rusty wrecks, that just about keep going with daily religious maintenance. Sometimes they might not have insurance or driver"s licence, but they still drive because there"s practically no cops on the countryside. Many poor live outside the city on the countryside, they can not afford city rents, so they kinda need a car to get places. Middle-class urban educated people use bicycles and don"t have cars. Car is no-no if you live in the city, not cool to have. 43% of the people here in the city area voted Greens, and over 20% voted far-left socialists. Conservatives get 10% or less here. Out on the countryside it"s totally opposite situation, nobody votes Greens or left.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Newagebike » Apr 28 2017 10:43am

I am not poor, I love bikes and when I was young I was ahead of the times, thinker, a tech lover. ect. So the OP is just generalizing based on their experience which is not mine. Peace!

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by swbluto » Apr 28 2017 10:47am

Potentially, ebike riders get more vitamin D sun exposure than most ordinary drivers.

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by ecycler » Apr 28 2017 11:37am

I get interest from all walks of life. Unless they are familiar with high-end mountain bikes, most people are shocked (rich and poor) when they are bold enough to ask what these contraptions cost.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Raged » Apr 28 2017 12:17pm

If you have the motivation to go out and spend at least $500 of hard earned as well as spend "countless" hours researching and refining your ebike to get the best bang for buck safely... you wont be poor for long. The DIY attitude with custom bikes is the difference between someone who looks and dreams vs those who apply themselves and solve problems.

People who do *stuff* and learn to solve problems generally stop being poor.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by MadRhino » Apr 28 2017 1:55pm

Raged wrote: People who do *stuff* and learn to solve problems generally stop being poor.
+1

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by cal3thousand » Apr 28 2017 1:58pm

It's interesting to also think about those who *can* ebike and those that *want to* ebike.

The poorer types would absolutely love to ebike, but they cannot afford it. They drive around in <$3k cars and poke their heads out and ask "How much was that?". After I say anything above $2k (I usually say $4k), they glaze over, knowing that they cannot put away the money to get one. They could never see themselves dropping their car for a bike that costs just as much. But those are also the folks that don't really understand the math to riding an ebike.

Then, there are those that can easily afford to buy a bike every other week, at the other end of the spectrum. (Mind you, in LA, those 2 parties are usually only separated by 10+ floors of vertical building space) These folks would never be caught dead on anything that requires balance and lack the protective sheet metal armor they are accustomed to.

Then, finally, there's me in the middle. Not so poor as to not afford a good ebike, yet not rich enough to look down upon them. I'm in the perfect place :D
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Chalo » Apr 28 2017 2:22pm

MadRhino wrote:
Raged wrote: People who do *stuff* and learn to solve problems generally stop being poor.
+1

Quote of the month :D
A lot, probably most, of the people I know spend more attention on reducing their needs than on increasing their incomes. We see folks with lots of money all the time, living terrible lives that none of us want. Opting out of the greed trap takes more cleverness and enterprise than making money does.

DIY e-bikes, like bicycles in general, are part of a system of wealth that's measured in self-determination rather than dollars. Money-rich parasites not only don't want to take that wealth away from you, but they usually can't even get it for themselves.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by Raged » Apr 28 2017 4:31pm

Chalo wrote:
MadRhino wrote:
Raged wrote: People who do *stuff* and learn to solve problems generally stop being poor.
+1

Quote of the month :D
A lot, probably most, of the people I know spend more attention on reducing their needs than on increasing their incomes. We see folks with lots of money all the time, living terrible lives that none of us want. Opting out of the greed trap takes more cleverness and enterprise than making money does.

DIY e-bikes, like bicycles in general, are part of a system of wealth that's measured in self-determination rather than dollars. Money-rich parasites not only don't want to take that wealth away from you, but they usually can't even get it for themselves.
This rings pretty close to home for me... I was senior IT on quite a good 6 fig salary before my massive stack (check the video in my build log). When you come so close to death and spend 10 months in rehabilitation learning to use your hand and walk again, it puts a very different perspective on life. I'm thankful that Australia has medicare and all my rehab/hospital/physio was free. Since then, I rage quite IT and now run my own business and work 3.5 days a week and spend the rest of the time ebiking or catching up with family/friends. Money isnt all that it's cracked up to be, but when you're young, you want to be the "big man" that every one looks up to. I now spend alot of my time teaching and mentoring the youth as part of my new role which I find much more fulfilling than solving Oracle or SAP Financial issues with a busted database with no indexing. I still cant do a 100km unassisted ride without fukcing my knee for 2 days though =(. No more BSEG/BKPF reconcilliation here =)

For me, ebiking is still part of my rehabilitation. I can just go further without hurting which is ok for me.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by slacker » Apr 28 2017 5:07pm

most of the poor people i have interacted with just want food and shelter. most do not care about e-bike's. do not know where the op lives but it must be different than where i reside. the people i encounter are curious about my bike and i tell them it takes the hill out of the hill. in my opinion most poor people are more concerned about their well being than e-bikes or bicycles for that matter. YMMV.

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by swbluto » Apr 28 2017 5:19pm

I think that depends a lot on the local road infrastructure. In my area, it's 70 mph roads in all directions, so there isn't much applicability for e-bikes other than quick jaunts to this tiny town. And, in that regard, people use all sorts of vehicles to accomplish that, from dirtbikes to ATVs to golf carts. Usually the people who commute by bike to the tiny town have the most interest in electrifying, and there's a couple of those in this area. 2 of them are regulars, I've seen others whom I think probably have a car issue or some such. Those regulars are, indeed, poor, dependent on the jobs in the local area, lacking a vehicle necessary to access higher paying jobs elsewhere in the city. I personally would not confine my job opportunities to the ones here, but that's pretty easy for me to say since I don't really depend on "the local area".

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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by MadRhino » Apr 28 2017 8:33pm

MadRhino wrote:
Raged wrote: People who do *stuff* and learn to solve problems generally stop being poor.
+1

Quote of the month :D
I was born on a farm in the late 40's, where almost no technology was in use. We had electricity, that is about it. I spent my youth farming with horses, producing and making almost everything that we needed. What we couldn't produce by ourselves, was traded rather than purchased.

When I arrived alone in the big city at 15, everything around was a world that I had seen only in books. Soon I realized the main difference with my habits, was that I would have a lot of spare time. I did lots of stupid things with all that new spare time, and probably would have ended in deep troubles if my new girl friend hadn't soon be pregnant. That gave me a goal, and I started to build and produce.

All my life I considered myself rich because I never owed anything to anyone, and always had much more than needed for my family and friends. Even today going on 70, I keep building a few hours a day with small crew. I am still strong and healthy, keeping happy my girl friend, 3 ex wives, 7 kids and 19 horses. That is being rich enough.

That is why that quote is speaking truth to me. It is exactly what I spent my life doing and teaching.
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Re: Only the poor want ebikes

Post by footloose » Apr 28 2017 8:59pm

I live in an area where basically if you can live a middle class lifestyle you are technically kind of rich. Ride two kinds of bikes... pedal folders and "normal" ebikes I've built myself. Get lots of questions from entire spectrum of people I meet riding... including a lot of "how much?" questions. Normally say "ah, this bike cost me a bunch because I keep modifying it... but you could get a pretty decent one for less than a thousand." That does put off people who are living in the bushes, no question... thousand bucks isn't an option for them, and they are going to stick with riding what they've got. Interesting, in San Jose CA area there is a pretty substantial populace of people who are living rough... but are mobile typically on beater mountain bikes.

On the other hand, I know of five people who have built their own ebikes now after seeing and sometimes riding my electrics. Fact is, each of them is "comfortable" and has a car also. But every time they now get on bike to ride to grocery store, or library, or restaurant, or hardware store, or whatever... it's a win. They each went with BBS02 based builds. I love my MAC build also but seems I'm a minority in that.

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