Racer Turned E-biker - Rahsaan Bahati's Journey

Rahsaan Bahati walking his Raleigh Electric Redux iE Photo Credit Jurban Photos

Rahsaan Bahati is an e-bike convert who believes there's a bright future ahead for these wonderful, hybrid human and electric powered machines. Maybe that doesn't sound so strange given the rise in the popularity and accessibility of electric bikes, but his background might make his journey toward adoption seem a little more unlikely.

Raised in inner city Los Angeles, Rahsaan's start in life didn't exactly put him on the natural path toward becoming an evangelist for alternative transportation, but he counts himself as lucky. "I'm a grateful son from two awesome parents who raised seven kids in the rough areas of Compton, California," he explained. His parents had a tough time providing for them all, but,"we always had food, we always had clothing, we went places. That's huge!" His was not an atypical childhood, but something happened that would change his life forever.

"Reggie Garman, he was the guy who first introduced me to the sport of cycling."

Bahati was introduced to bike racing by his sixth grade English teacher. "Reggie Garman, he was the guy who first introduced me to the sport of cycling." The support and acceptance Rahsaan found in the local Los Angeles Major Motion Cycling Club lit a spark in him. Inspired and financially backed by club activists David Pulliam, Damon Turner, Kevin Evans, Allen Cox and Denny and Beverly Scott, Rahsaan quickly excelled on the bike. Though the physical accomplishments were his own, he humbly gives 100% of the credit to his parents and the 'village' of people who sent him to his first National Championship event and helped launch his career as a successful professional bike racer.

Rahsaan Bahati enjoying a coffee with his Raleigh Electric Redux IE Photo Credit Jurban Photos

Professional cyclists are renowned for their fitness, so why would someone like Rahsaan even dabble with the idea of riding an electric bike? It started out of curiosity and opportunity really. While attending an event, he was offered the chance to test ride an e-bike and thought why not. It seemed like a novelty at the time, but he was uninspired by what he rode and left nonplussed, "and never thought about riding one again," he admitted.

As the old adage goes, the only constant in life is change and Rahsaan found himself in a position years later to reconsider his first impression. Retired from racing and working in a bike retail location over ten miles from his house, he was faced with the harsh realities of commuting in LA. Hopping in the car was an exercise in frustration and drained hours from his week. Sure he was still plenty fit to cover the distance on one of the many road bikes in his collection, but the dilemma of whether to kit up, and the uncomfortable inconvenience of showing up sweaty to work became disincentives to pedaling.

Could an electric bike be the answer he was looking for? "My commute takes me down a street that's used by cyclists, and motorists too. Whether I was on my bike or in the car, I would see people on bicycles and people on e-bikes, and you could see the difference in speed. You don't have to be genius, to see that guy's got on jeans and a t-shirt and he's going twice the speed of the guy in spandex with a nice bike."

The store in Santa Monica where he started working had e-bikes in the showroom and his curiosity once again compelled him to throw a leg over. This time the light went on. It was an Accell brand e-mountain bike and his reaction was, "I didn't know you could do this?!" An electric bike would be just the ticket to keep him out of the car and get to work conveniently on something he was more in tune with, namely a bike. His mind started racing and he knew he had to get one for himself.

Rahsaan Bahati riding his Raleigh Electric Redux iE

He got to ride an e-bike on his commute and he knew he had found the solution to his problem. "The e-bike was the best of both worlds. It was like I had a car, but I was doing it on a bicycle. I understand the bicycle better than a car and I was still getting some exercise."

After testing a number of electric bikes he soon settled on the Raleigh Electric Redux iE because of some key attributes. "I'm definitely a believer of the mid-drive system," he said of the Redux. "The main thing I like about the mid-drive system versus a hub motor is that at the end of the day, it is a bicycle, it just happens to have an assist for you," he noted. "I also think it makes a lot of sense that everything is centered in the middle of the bike, which makes it feel more like a bicycle. The hub motors are so rear heavy. I love the way the bike flows when it has the mid-drive system versus the hub motor. And I just feel like it's a better looking bike. That's part of the reason the Redux was attractive to me. The battery is recessed into the frame and you have two regular wheels, and it's a clean look to me."

"It transcends across every area of your life. You can use it for recreation; you can use it for sporting"

And while Rahsaan's main use of his Redux iE is primarily for commuting, he believes e-bikes can widen the door of opportunity and make riding a more attractive activity to an ever growing range of people. "It transcends across every area of your life. You can use it for recreation; you can use it for sporting," he says. He has even gotten feedback from friends who use electric bikes to facilitate activities otherwise completely unrelated to biking. "There're guys I know in Indiana where I went to school who use their e-bikes to go hunting. You have so many different varieties of things you can use an e-bike for that on a normal bike you can't do, or if you can do it, it'll take you a lot longer."

With three girls, Rahsaan is a devoted family man. "I love being a father, I love being a husband, and I love bikes, man. Those are the three things I love." And like a good father, he's tried to connect those dots by bringing home an e-bike for them too. The reaction? "If I can speak for my nine year old, she sees it as we can go farther faster. And it's so true. That (Raleigh Electric) Detour is so perfect for her. It actually fits her and my thirteen year old, and they absolutely love it!"

Rahsaan is decidedly upbeat on the future of electric bikes and says, "I think the future is bright for e-bikes, I really do." But he still gets comments from some of the racer crowd who view pedal assist as something dishonest in the sport. To those he simply counters, "People need to understand that it's not cheating, it's the way of the future." The progression of technology in our daily lives seems to be accelerating at an almost unbelievable pace, and Rahsaan likes to bring e-bikes into that equation saying, "It's like when we first got fast internet. What are you going to stick with dial up? Come on! This is the future, and the future's here. There's no going back. The e-bike area is not going to go back and say, 'let's dim this down a little bit'." And he's right. E-bikes are here to stay and there's a very bright future ahead.

Rahsaan's New Customized Redux IE Electric Bike


Customized Raleigh Electric Redux IE Rahsaan Bahati and his new customized Raleigh Electric Redux IE Rahsaan Bahati checking out his new customized Raleigh Electric Redux IE Rahsaan Bahati at the Raleigh Shop Customized Raleigh Electric Redux IE