E-bikes have come a long way. Over the past 30 years, the use of electric bikes has surged overseas, especially in China, where hundreds of millions of e-bikes are used daily. Here in the United States, though, the rise of e-bikes has been relatively slow. In 2021, the United States only saw fewer than 500,000 e-bikes sold, for example. As such, millions of Americans right now could be looking to buy an e-bike for the first time. I counted myself among them.

As a guy who’s used a bicycle as his primary mode of transportation for the better part of the last decade, I’ve always been interested in e-bikes — but also kind of scoffed at them. Honestly, using one seemed like “cheating” to me. Why would you need some electric motor to help you get around? Use your legs; that’s what they’re there for!

That was a fine stance when I lived on the relatively flat East Coast shoreline. However, I recently moved to the Bay Area in California. This notoriously hilly spot in the US seems daunting for traditional cycling. Sure, I could pedal my way to the grocery store, but by the time I got there, how much of me would be left that I hadn’t sweated out under the hot California sun?