You know that dream where you're cycling or jogging or pushing a boulder up a mountain and suddenly the effort vanishes? A wind comes from behind you and makes the strenuous task simple-you could ride forever, run forever, what was impossible now seems a cinch? Well, riding with pedal assist is like that dream, but it's real. You're cycling along, you come to a hill, you're exerting effort. Then, like a magical wind from behind, the pedal assist kicks in and you're sailing up the incline. You're still pedaling, but you've got help. It's exhilarating.
You really can bike to work
It doesn't take much to get me sweaty, so even with assistance, I arrive at work with a nice sheen of perspiration (or more, depending on the humidity levels). But less sweat-prone cyclists, as well as those who can heed their mind's continuous warning not to work too hard in the 90-degree heat, can arrive at work as unmussed as if they'd taken a bus or train. On the few days that temperatures dipped below 80 this summer, I was able to ride the four miles to work (including one considerable hill) without breaking a sweat.
You can save money
The average cost of a new car is around $36K. The average used car costs over $19K. The ebikes I tried cost about $3000, which is about average. Is that a lot for a bike? Hell yes. But if you have a car that you're using mostly to travel the "last mile"-from say, the train station to your house-and for errands on the weekend, an ebike could easily be a lot more cost-effective. When you factor in the cost of gas (~$2.80/gallon right now) or the monthly rate for public transportation ($121 in NYC), the numbers start to favor the bike, provided you don't leave it in the garage picking up dust.
You could lessen your carbon footprint
There are a lot of studies that compare the environmental impact of an ebike to that of a regular bike or a car. I saw this one that argues a regular bike produces 8.5 times more carbon emissions than an ebike, which stretches credulity but is interesting nonetheless.