SPECIAL EDITION: This week, EV World takes you to INTERBIKE 2012, the premier cycling and fitness equipment trade show in North America as our next logical step in preparing to launch our ePEDALER retail spin-off.
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First a public disclaimer: I attended Interbike, North America’s largest bicycle and fitness equipment trade show with an ulterior motive. In the past, I have attended various EV-relevant conferences and trade shows as an observer, talking to people, taking notes, photos, recording videos, all to feed the Internet’s insatiable appetite for information, preferably FREE information. That is not a very smart business model, as I am sure you’ll agree. So, I have come up with a new model: it’s called ePEDALER and it solves one of the e-bike industry’s biggest challenges; how to get Americans out of their cars and onto two-wheels: e-bikes, in particular. So, while this Special Edition of Insider Illustrated gives you, dear Premium subscriber (Thank You!), a glimpse of what Interbike 2012 was like, my real motive was to take the next steps towards launching the ePEDALER retail concept, which meant meeting people, testing product, taking the pulse of the industry, learning what works, what doesn’t from a retailing point of view. In this regard, the trip was well worth the expense: especially if the conversations I had regarding product support and start-up funding prove fruitful. Don’t worry, EV World isn’t going away. In fact, I think it will end up being even stronger because of the synergistic effect of the two enterprises. More to come...


What would happen if you got some 30 million folks in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin to get out of their cars for round trips of less than five miles half of the time, six month out of the year, and got them onto bicycles instead? That’s the question Jonathan Patz, the director of the Global Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, asked himself one day as he rode his bicycle to work.

It turns out a lot of really good things start to happen, which he and his coauthors report in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. While the actual study itself is not currently available online (the site says it is unavailable) a number of other publications have reported its findings, including a good article by Lynne Peeples on Huffington Post. In that article, she explains that Dr. Patz and his colleagues, “looked to the more than 30 million people residing in urban and suburban areas” of those six upper mid western states. They analysis concluded, “making those short trips on bicycles could save approximately four trillion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 1,100 lives and $7 billion in mortality and health care costs for the region every year.”

Given the rancorous political debate going on in the USA this campaign season over health care, if not global warming, the results of Patz’s study underscores one of the key factors driving the modest growth of cycling in America, especially among aging Baby Boomers, who represent the fastest growing segment in terms of fitness club membership and involvement in cycling.

So, what happens if we electrify some of those bikes? Won’t we lose any health benefits if we let e-motors do the work for us? This was one of the concerns raised in the LEVA dealers symposium at Interbike 2012. Are pedelecs - bikes that offer torque assist only while pedaling - more conducive to fitness than throttle-controlled models? The consensus appears to be yes, pedelecs are probably more suited to maintaining general fitness since riders aren’t tempted to let the e-motor do all the work. A study done years ago at Monash University in Australia (see 2 charts from study on page 5) seems to confirm at least the cardio benefits of a pedelec compared to a car and even a conventional bicycle. While the study needs a far wider sampling, it does suggest that pedelecs are better at keeping the rider’s heart rate in the target heart rate zone longer, as well as closely paralleling heart rate by time compared to a conventional bike. What we’ll see in America are hybrid systems offering the ability to switch from pedelec mode to throttle-only mode, giving riders the choice of which system to use. Let’s hope they choose well.


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