Electric times in Park City
PARK CITY, Utah — Roll around this small hamlet nestled in the green embrace of the Wasatch Mountains this time of the year and its allure to mountain bikers can make your head spin. Or maybe it’s the altitude. Who knows.
I came here to show off Bike Friday’s new cargo bike with BionX electric assist to a gathering of journalists, but managed to steal away enough time for me to get some serious experience with this ebike.
Aside from my test ride back in spring, I haven’t spent much time trying out electric assist.
I can understand its draw for riders with specific needs. Combining it with the versatility of a cargo bike transforms the vehicle from a wheel-barrow to a F-150 pick-up. That is to say, it makes a lot of sense when carrying stuff around.
Spend some time pedaling around a place like Park City, where a wrong turn will send you up a 10% or higher grade on some backstreet, and suddenly having pedal assist at your fingertips is more than an indulgence. Coming back down that grade in regeneration mode saves wear and tear on brakes, not to mention your psyche. It’s a must.
With some time to explore both Park City and the realm of electric assist, I ventured up from Kimball Junction to Deer Valley Resort. It’s a nifty 10-mile jaunt that’s uphill all the way.
A couple of steep inclines right off the bat set the tone for my ride. I suddenly realized my method for the convenient electric assist options BionX offers you — that’s four levels of power assist, 35%, 75%, 150% and 300%.
Instead of shifting my gears, I initiated pedal assist to keep my cadence at my preferred level. Ingenious, I thought, but have since come to know that’s the way a lot of people do it.
It just showed me how seamless the use of electric assist can be. In a matter of minutes, I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just doing it.
Of course, a big reason I jumped on the bike on my free day before the real work began was to get a workout. So oddly enough, the farther I climbed up to Park City the less I used the electric assist.
When I finished playing around Deer Valley and headed home, I toyed with the regeneration modes as my braking. By the time I returned to Kimball Junction, I’d recharged the battery to its original level. Too cool.
The next opportunity I had to explore Park City proper came and pedal assist was a must. Climbing up Main Street on a sizzling morning allowed me to maintain a steady pace without showering myself in sweat. When I stopped to take a photo, a small crowd usually formed with quizzical folks peppering me with questions.
Once at the top of Main Street, I ventured up and into the neighborhoods checking out the views that reward hard work to get up the steep streets. Again, BionX made it a simple task and enjoyable, rather than a chore.
By the time I finished my week in Park City, I’d become accustomed to the Haul-a-Day carrying around the extra 16 pounds from the BionX unit. It didn’t really seem like that much different from a standard Haul-a-Day. A little work, but that’s why I pedal in the first place.