Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE -

Trans­port takes one of the big­gest bites out of the house­hold bud­get.

The bet­ter part of $15 dol­lars in every $100.

I take that num­ber from the bas­ket of goods and ser­vices which Sta­tis­tics New Zealand uses to cal­cu­late in­fla­tion.

It’s not sur­pris­ing so many spend so much on trans­port. Cars rule in Auck­land, fol­lowed by pub­lic trans­port. Bikes come in a dis­tant third.

Cars rule be­cause Auck­land is a big, hilly city mak­ing bik­ing gru­elling.

I’ve cy­cled to work for years, but I recog­nise not ev­ery­one feels as warmly as I do about calo­rieburn­ing, hard-car­dio ex­er­cise.

But rapidly-ad­vanc­ing e-bike tech­nol­ogy could open cy­cle com­mut­ing to more peo­ple.

Dur­ing my morn­ing ride I see more and more folk breez­ing along on e-bikes

I be­came cu­ri­ous, and cheek­ily phoned elec­tric­ity re­tailer Mer­cury, which is mak­ing a big thing of e-bikes, to ask to bor­row Not every fam­ily has two cars Take an e-bike test-ride Buy­ing a cheap bike is a false econ­omy


It was gra­cious enough to lend me a rather fruity-look­ing, bright yel­low ma­chine.

I felt a bit con­spic­u­ous on it, and since then have tried out (and pre­ferred) some dis­tinctly more mas­cu­line ma­chines at Bikes and Bar­bers in Auck­land.

E-bikes turbo-charge your ped­alling with power from an elec­tric mo­tor pow­ered by bat­ter­ies you recharge at an or­di­nary power point.

The su­per-strength they give you takes all the worst bits out of cy­cling. Hills are eas­ier, ac­cel­er­a­tion faster, and av­er­age speed higher.

They make bik­ing eas­ier to do and eas­ier to love.

A study by Nor­way’s In­sti­tute of Trans­port Eco­nom­ics found peo­ple travel fur­ther and more of­ten on e-bikes. The av­er­age length of the trips was dou­bled from just un­der 5km to just over 10.

My Mer­cury loaner cut my com­mute time from Ep­som to Pon­sonby by about a third, and I reckon halved the ef­fort.

For fam­i­lies with one worker within 6-7km of work, e-bikes are sud­denly a very real op­tion for house­holds sick of pay­ing to reg­is­ter, WOF, in­sure, re­pair, and fill two cars with petrol.

With the cost of liv­ing in Auck­land hav­ing risen far faster than I be­lieve is caught by the in­fla­tion fig­ures, two-car own­er­ship is rapidly look­ing be­yond many house­hold bud­gets, es­pe­cially of peo­ple try­ing to save for a house de­posit, with rent to pay, or a fright­en­ingly huge mort­gage to ser­vice.

Mer­cury says e-bike bat­tery recharg­ing works out around 10 cents per 100kms of ped­alling.

They may be cheap to run, but they aren’t cheap to buy.

The de­cent ones start at around $3000-$3500, and that doesn’t in­clude a hel­met and a sturdy bike lock.

That’s a lot of money, un­less you pay for it from the pro­ceeds of sell­ing one of the house­hold’s cars.

Be­ware though, there is some heinous rub­bish on the mar­ket so do your home­work, and do plenty of test-rid­ing!

One day I will own an e-bike, but I won’t be buy­ing one for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

My trusty moun­tain bike keeps me fit and staves off mid­dleage spread, so for the time be­ing I’ll leave my money in the bank, and the e-bikes in the shop.


I liked the e-bike Mer­cury lent me, but it was a bit on the yel­low side for my taste.

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