Rolling with Rahsaan

A Pro Cyclist’s Introduction to E-bikes

Rahsaan Bahati was a professional cyclist who made a career traveling the world racing bicycles. Now he lives in his native Los Angeles and faces the more mundane realities of trying to navigate the busy streets as he goes about his daily life. In an attempt to escape the typical commuter’s car conundrum, he’s chosen a different mobility solution—the e-bike. We caught up with him to find out how it’s going.

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Electric bikes can have applications as broad as regular bicycles, but they also present unique features that make them more attractive in some scenarios. What is it about an e-bike that makes it relevant in your daily life?...is there a specific purpose it can serve or offer a solution to a problem you face?

In metropolitan areas like where I live, traffic is everyone’s nightmare.  In Los Angeles where public transportation is quite streamlined, you’re left with few options for alternative transportation. This is where I think an e-bike is the most economical solution. It helps with time management, you will get exercise and burn some calories, and believe it or not, you have lots of energy after riding on a pedal assist e-bike, so you can focus at work, and not be dead tired when you arrive home.

The very first time I mounted my Raleigh Redux IE and laid down just enough power to get the wheels turning, I remember the feeling as if someone gave me a huge shove in the back. The connection between my ‘human’ power and the Brose motor is nearly instant and it’s a feeling that’s hard to describe. Therefore I always encourage people to take a test ride and pedal an e-bike to fully understand the sensation I’m attempting to describe.

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What kind of preconceptions did you have about e-bikes prior to getting one yourself? Has your opinion changed?

Coming from the cycling industry where I spent twenty-one years racing all across the globe and collecting numerous wins, including ten US national championship titles, I was completely turned off by the thought of e-bikes. The misconception I had was that ‘it’s not a bike’ and all you do is sit there and hit a throttle.

Well as I soon found out, this is completely false when you’re using the Redux iE, which is a pedal assist electric bike. Meaning, when you pedal under your own power, the motor on the bike will assist you. Think of it as always having a tailwind when riding your bike.

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Having been a professional cyclist and still very active within the racing community, how do you feel e-bikes are viewed by people within this circle?...and how would you counter some of the bias you encounter?

The racing community thinks it’s not a bike. Most would say, ‘just get a motor cycle or a scooter.’ Yes this is an option for my commuting, however, there are way more disadvantages to having a gas-motorized ‘bike’ versus an electric assist bicycle.

For example, if I wanted to purchase a motorcycle to use for transportation to beat traffic, I would first need to have a motorcycle license for anything over 50c. This requires time away from home, work and family to attend a class and stand in line at the DMV…and we all hate hanging out at the DMV! I would also need to purchase special insurance, buy a DOT certified helmet, pay registration once a year, and maybe more. And on a motorcycle you need to mix it up in the traffic lanes!

With an e-bike it’s very simple; pick a bike that suits your needs and you’re ready to go. And instead of being stuck in traffic, you can take advantage of the bike lanes and paths.

electric-bikes-rahsaan-bahati-redux-raleigh-electric-wood Photo Credit Jurban Photos

How do you think other bicyclists and motorists will react to you riding an e-bike?

I have personally had mixed reviews from riding my e-bike, and some come from my peers as they think ‘I’m cheating’. But really, I’m helping mother earth, reducing the amount of cars on the road one at a time, burning calories, and turning a 1 hour 45 minute round trip commute into 45 minute round trip. That’s an hour saved every day!

Most motorists I talk to on the road think it’s amazing as they have no knowledge of the e-bike world. They are absolutely blown away that a bicycle is keeping up with them, or even beating them in traffic!

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Before riding an e-bike, did you have any concerns about technical issues?...how it operates, battery life, having to charge it, etc.?

The biggest concern for me, and I think a lot of people, is battery capacity and the bike’s range. I have become a complete believer in these efficient systems and technology though, as I have already pushed my Raleigh Redux IE to the limit. I rode it 24 miles on the fast, sport mode, which assists me up to 28 mph holding somewhere near 250 watts. The range for me personally is fantastic and on the lower assist settings, I can ride 50 to 70 miles or more. And as the technology gets better, maybe we will see 80 or 100-mile ranges on these batteries? So I hope!

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Are there specific laws in your area that regulate where and how you’re allowed to ride an e-bike?

In California at this time, I’m not aware of any laws that will prohibit me from riding an e-bike. The Redux iE is a Class-3, speed bike and you can ride it on any street that allows bikes and also in the adjacent bike lane, which really helps me beat traffic.

Learn more about Rahsaan and his foundation at bahatifoundation.org

Bahati Foundation Mission Statement

The mission of the Foundation is to support inner city youth in under-served communities through inspirational speaking engagements and cycling outreach programs. These are designed to motivate and empower kids toward higher achievement in education, music and sports. We invite corporate partners to exercise corporate social responsibility by becoming involved with the mission of the Bahati Foundation and the cycling team – in an effort to positively affect the lives of inner city and underprivileged youth.

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electric-bikes-raleigh-electric-rahsaan-brick-wall Photo Credit Jurban Photos

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