Sunday, May 16, 2021

eBikes as an Example of a Shifting Worldview

When your worldview shifts, it's noticeable. A Twitter friend reminded me of one of those instances today. James, whose Twitter handle is STPBike (St. Paul Bike), had this short thread about his bikes:

Two of my neighbors reeled in shock when I told them I spent $6600 on my @ternbicycles GSD ($5500 base + accessories + tax). There was a certain insinuation of flaunting my riches. But they’ve both purchased cars in the last 5 years.

James and his cargo ebike.

That $6600 purchase represents 32 months of saving — about $200/month set aside (I haven't had car payments since I started buying eBikes). Would they have the same reaction if I drove home a used 12+ year-old Toyota Corolla with 150,000 miles on it? [Screen snapshot showing that's equivalent to the price of a 12-year-old Corolla.]

But James, you have THREE eBikes! This is true. Total I have spent on eBikes is $14,200. About equivalent to a 5-year-old Corolla, 2/3rds of the way to 100k miles. Total time I spent saving for those eBikes was about 84 months — about $170/mo.

eBikes are expensive...very expensive, compared to traditional bikes. But I'm not trying to replace a bicycle. I'm trying to replace a car. I'm trying to NOT buy that 5-year-old Corolla or any car for a long time, if ever. [photo of James with one of his other bikes, for winter)

Instead of buying yet another used car, I chose to get eBikes — each of which eliminates a reason I needed to drive my car. I’m 48 years old and I’ve never owned a brand new car. For the same expense as that used Corolla, I got the experience of three shiny new-in-box eBikes! Three eBikes, which are way more fun to ride than my personal 2004 Corolla. With those eBikes, I've eliminated over 90% of the trips I used to take by car.

So for me, I'm not flaunting. I'm investing in my future transportation needs. Some still choose cars.

Addendum: In summary, eBikes are still seen, by most, as luxury items — not transportation. Any equivalent investment in a car would be unremarkable in comparison. If we want to reduce car trips, the bicycle (electric or acoustic) needs to be seen as transportation.

Another biking friend (among many other responses) replied:

Also, I'm pretty sure if you were showing your neighbors a motorcycle, or boat, or ATV that you spent $6000 on they would never freak out about how expensive that was and how crazy you were to spend that.

And that's all true. As I said, this is a good example of the difference in worldview between mainstream America where the cost of cars is invisible and the world we need where something like an ebike becomes transportation instead of an extravagance.

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