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To e-bike or not to e-bike? Our thoughts about e-bikes for cycling tours in Slovenia

Here are some thoughts about what we think about e-bikes on our road and MTB tours. We also wrote down some tips for carefree e-cycling in Slovenia and the surrounding countries. To begin with, one thought from our director Jan, which of course you shouldn’t take completely seriously:

“There are two types of cyclists: those who ride e-bikes and those who will ride e-bikes.”

 

Two cyclists on e-bikes on a tour in Istria, Croatia.

A smile is always the first reaction when people try an e-bike for the first time. The photo is from our tour of Istria in neighboring Croatia.

 

Cycling in Slovenia is experiencing a real renaissance. We see four reasons:

 

#01

During the restrictions due to the coronavirus, everyone wanted to cycle (in Slovenia we even had movement restrictions on municipalities for a while, so cycling was an excellent way to exercise and spend free time).

 

#02

With our professional cyclists led by Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar competing successfully in legendary races like the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia, people are falling in love with cycling (again).

 

#03

People increasingly perceive care for nature as their mission and therefore choose activities with the least possible impact on the environment.

 

#04

With the help of electricity, cycling is available to a wider audience.

 

Riding modes on Scott touring e-bikes.

Riding modes offered by most e-bikes: ECO, TOUR, SPORT and TURBO and, of course, the option to turn the e-motor off.

Choose the program that suits you best

This time let’s talk about how we, as a responsible travel agency, view electric bicycles. As long-time cyclists, at first, we didn’t like the idea of ‘heavy and expensive’ e-bikes.

 

“Why should we allow ourselves to take away the thing that we enjoy the most – to use OUR OWN strength to move around?”

 

But once you taste the sweetness of the magical combination of battery and electric motor, your opinion quickly changes. You are less tired on long, steep climbs.

As a result, you cover more kilometers and suddenly places that you had not even thought about before are accessible for an afternoon trip. It didn’t take much to include e-bikes, both road and MTB, in our offer for bike rental in Slovenia (and surrounding countries) because most of our country is very hilly.

Now, when someone is thinking about whether he or she would take an e-bike for our guided and self-guided cycling tours, the correct answer is:

—yes, take an e-bike.

It is completely easy to use (if you can cycle, you can also e-cycle), and you can choose one of the modes that suit you best (for Scott bikes, this is usually ECO, TOUR, SPORT, and TURBO). If you want to deserve dinner on your cycling tour in Slovenia, choose the easiest program and the bike will only help a little. And if you get tired, you just click the ‘+’ button and follow our cycling guide without any problems.

 

Two cyclists on MTB bikes on a cliff in Istria, Croatia.

e-MTB is also on the rise. They make it easier to tackle the climbs, while the extra weight on the descents doesn’t pose a major obstacle to having fun.

 

Do you think e-bikes are heavy? Hey, they’re much lighter than a car!

 

And what about the environmental aspect of e-bikes?

Yup, they are heavier, more expensive, and require additional energy, which doesn’t only come from sausages and beer, but also from dirty technologies such as thermal power plants.

By the way, in Slovenia, 27.79% of energy comes from nuclear power plants, 26.59% from hydro, and 15.13% from thermal power plants (data for the last 12 months, source). But if people ride e-bikes instead of cars or motorcycles, that’s already a big improvement. With a car (even if it is electric) we carry a ton or two with us, and with a bicycle, only about 20-30 kilograms. We also notice that a lot of people use e-bikes not only for tourism, but also for daily commuting (you don’t come to the office all sweaty with the help of electricity), and this is a step in the right (greener and healthier) direction.

 

The weight and a charger of an Scott e-bike.

E-bikes are about 5-15 kilograms heavier than regular bikes.

 

Also, someone who is otherwise not so physically fit (someone’s partner or friend) can join groups of classic cyclists. Ideal for family cycling tours! Still, let’s give a pat on the back to all of you who persist in burning your own muscles and fat. You are still the bigger guys.

How about charging the e-bikes on our tours?

Most of our daily stages are planned in such a way that they can be easily covered with a full battery without charging in between. You can charge your batteries at hotels along the way, so far, we haven’t had any problems with this. On more demanding MTB tours, such as Trans Slovenia 01, it is necessary to be more careful (using the TURBO program when driving over mountain passes will empty even a large battery), but you will be warned of this on our MTB tours, whether they are guided or self-guided.

 

A kid sitting on a child seat on an e-bike in the mountains near Ljubljana, Slovenia.

With additional bags, a child seat or a trailer, many daily journeys can be done on two wheels instead of in a 2-tonne car.

 

Tips for more carefree use of e-bikes on tours:

 

  • Charge the battery at night, even if the battery is only partially discharged. Maybe tomorrow you will be surprised by a longer climb. Keep the charger with you during the day (especially on self-guided tours).
  • Choose a program in which you will still get at least a little tired, the most optimal choice is usually ‘TOURING’. Let ‘TURBO’ be only for when the legs are already weak. The dinner will be tastier that way.
  • Be sure to cover the connector with the cap after charging to prevent mud or water from entering.
  • The most important warning: when changing gears, reduce the force on the pedals for a moment, this way the gears will be shifted more easily and with less damage. This especially applies to climbs – if you shift gears while pressing the pedals fully in the middle of a steep incline (and maybe even in the TURBO program), your chain may even come off or break. Think of this release of power as releasing the gas and using the clutch when driving a car or motorcycle.
  • If you’re traveling with an e-bike in a group, don’t kill all the fun by constantly bragging and overtaking when riding uphill. If you’re really in a hurry, you can always wait at the top of the hill.

 

To finish the long reading, three jokes about e-bikes:

What do e-bikes and diarrhea have in common? With both, you’re not sure if you’ll make it home.

What is the difference between regular and e-bike riders? When reaching the top of the pass, the first ones order a beer, and the second ones look for an electric power outlet.

E-bikes are like Viagra. They can be used even by those who already thought they would never do it again …

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