Not just for commuting: e-mountain bikes are gaining popularity

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Scott and Sara Kylander-Johnson are among the trend of e-bike users. The couple has two e-bikes, one commuter and one mountain e-bike. 

Sara uses their commuter-style e-bike for day-to-day activities around town. 

“I bike a lot, but sometimes I’m just tired or it’s like a beautiful day, but you don’t want to get too sweaty commuting to work,” said Sara. “It’s a lot easier to park it, more enjoyable. I love being outside in the fresh air. It’s a great way to unwind at the end of the day.”

With three different levels built into the bike, Sara can decide how much assistance she wants to use.

“If it’s sunny and nice out, I’ll take my time,” explained Sara. “Then if I just need to get to work, I’ll do the fastest level and that’s fine.”

Scott enjoys going on Duluth’s mountain biking trails on the couple’s other e-bike as well as using it to carry a chainsaw when doing trail work with COGGS. He’s noticed that mountain e-bikes are not as popular in the area as the commuter-style.

“All my buddies think it’s hilarious. They’re like, ‘oh, you’re cheating. You know, like, you can pedal a bike just fine. You don’t need that’,” said Scott. “It’s like anything. You don’t need a four wheel drive vehicle in Duluth either, but it makes it easier. I keep hoping someone else will get a couple of these so we can go and ride because it’s, you know, like anything it’s more fun if you have somebody with one of these two, like a couple of buddies to go out with.”

Mountain e-bikes have a similar style to a regular mountain bike with knobby tires compared to the commuter-style e-bike. Using one on trails some getting used to for beginner e-bike users.

“There’s a learning curve. It’s great going uphill. You can climb a little bit easier going up obviously with the battery, but going down it, it kind of slows you down. It hits about 20 miles an hour and then it shuts off,” explained Scott. “It’s not a motorcycle. You still have to pedal. There’s no throttle. But it’s super easy getting from trail to trail, climbing up a hill, you’re tired, there’s a variety of settings.”

With the levels determining how much assistance is needed, e-bikes are versatile for any age group.

“It’s not just an old guy, old woman, a weak guy, a weak gal, whatever,” said Scott. “It’s a great connector for the family if you’re just not paired up quite right. Like, you have three people in the family, one person’s totally into biking, the other two can’t keep up. They get e-bikes all of a sudden, the whole family goes for a ride and everyone’s having a good time.”