Red Deer has a lot to learn about electric bikes.
Cycle Source owner Alysia Doram, who rents and sells Motorino brand electric bikes at Bower Ponds, said many people mistake the two-wheel technology for motor bikes.
“A lot of people who come down here don’t know anything about them. They back away,” said Doram, taking a few steps backwards.
“It’s not a motor bike. It just assists you enough to keep the momentum going so you still have to pedal to keep going.
“It’s safe. It won’t go out of control.”
She said the fastest the bike will go is about 32 km/h at full pedal, in top gear and full electric power.
“You can go a lot faster on a mountain bike than you can with these,” said Doram as she stood by her bikes on Saturday near the boat rental at Bower Ponds.
People must use a motorcycle helmet, but there is no licence or insurance required. Cycle Source’s insurance prevents anyone under 16 from renting them. But in Alberta, the legal age to ride them is 12.
It looks like a normal bike other than the 36-volt lithium ion battery plugged into two prongs behind the seat centre post.
The battery, which costs 12 cents to recharge in a wall socket, lasts 3.5 hours at full power.
Doram said in Europe and China, electric bikes are replacing vehicles with 80 million sold. In Canada, only about 1,000 are on the roads, mostly in British Columbia.
They give people who have trouble with an ordinary bike due to asthma, arthritis or knee injuries an option, she said.
“Once we get people on them, they come back with smiles on their faces.”
Darren Rice, of Red Deer, who took the bike for a spin, said it would be a good way to get around.
“It’s really neat. It was a lot like a regular bike, just less effort. Going up the hill, I was able to give it a little throttle and it pulls you right up the hill,” Rice said.
“My wife had a knee operation this year and she’s looking for a way to get around. This might be just the thing for her.”
Doram started the business after her father in Winfield spotted the bikes while surfing the Internet.
With the increase cost for parking, vehicle insurance and gasoline, electric bikes are a good way for people to save money during the summer, she said.
“Just buy a bike lock and save the environment.”
Cycle Source, which also rents regular bikes, operates Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. or call 403-896-3213.