As a man firmly committed to the principle that appearance trumps reality, the Pedego Electric Bike pushes all of my buttons at once. First off, it looks all beach cruiser deluxe with its fat tires and neon color scheme, which could easily make you look 20 years younger right off the bat—especially with your de rigueur helmet and shades on. You might just come off like Steve McQueen if you’re not careful.
But that minor bit of deception is enhanced almost twofold by your seeming ability to glide down the boulevard at 20 mph with your glutes as free from stress as a yogi on muscle relaxants. Thank Pedego’s pedal assist mode, accomplished with a wee twist of the wrist, which delivers a jolt of juice to the rear-wheel hub motor when your own energy reserves are flagging—or when you hit an uphill grade, whichever comes first.
But a funny thing happens to the habitually indolent when they mount this sturdy aluminum steed: little by little they ask less and less of the tireless lithium battery tucked away behind the ample and comfortable seat, and demand a bit more of themselves. I’m not out and out calling it a surefire diet plan on wheels, but it does give you the emotional insurance you need to even initiate exercise, knowing full well that you can get back home without running out of steam (or self-esteem).
Aside from the fact that you can occasionally substitute amperage for ambition, a bike like the Pedego Interceptor III (the model we tested) is a pretty fine specimen—with or without the electro-spunk in the trunk. It has a smooth-shifting, seven-speed Shimano gear hub, grabby-good Avid BB7 brakes and a responsive twist-grip throttle under your right hand.
But the R-Word rules when it comes to judging electric horseflesh like the Pedego: Reliability. Does it or doesn’t it stand up over time, from the direct drive hub motor to the 48V/10, 500-watt battery? Happily, experts agree that the company is building a product that will easily outlive its one-year warranty and then some. Yes the parts are hewn in China — that’s true for 85% of the hardware in the cycle world and current quality is much improved.
But forget the numbers racket for a moment — we are talking about a product whose middle-name is fun, even though many of Pedego’s customers are using the bike as a serious commuter vehicle. If you live five miles away from work and can negotiate safe streets between points A and B, you might just leave that fuel-swilling four-wheeler in the garage and taste the morning air instead of waking up to shock-jocks and a search for parking spots. Do buy an industrial-strength lock for this reprobate-bait — the battery locks up nicely, but the considerable price tag warrants caution over trust in your fellow man.
And here’s a nice touch if you want to check out the full line of Pedego electric bikes—the company has many standalone franchises across this great land, as sleek and ergonomic as an Apple store, with models ranging from city commuters to tandem and trail bikes. Breaking news is the availability of the Stretch Cargo design, capable of holding up to 400 pounds, meaning another human being or two or a backpack full of gold bullion. That could come in handy when the Last Days are upon us.
No guarantee you’ll outpace the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on your Pedego, but you will easily out-style your pokey neighbors as they labor toward oblivion on their old-school, analog two-wheelers. And at a dime or two of power costs for every sixty miles you glide, these babies will easily pay for themselves after a couple years off the gasoline grid. Hey—you’re not only cool-looking on this thing, you’re cooling the globe one ride at a time.
Pedego Interceptor III -- $2895.00, http://www.pedegoelectricbikes.com/products/