Power to public with an e-bike

ABBIE NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 22/07/2014
John Hayman
STACY SQUIRES/ Fairfax NZ
EXTRA PUSH: John Hayman lets the bike do some of the work.

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If the weather is nice, John Hayman can often be spotted whizzing down Huntsbury Hill with panniers bulging and a smile on his face.

At 77, he is cruising around town on an electric bike.

Hayman purchased his e-bike about a year ago. His son in Wellington had one for getting up the hills in his commute and it seemed a perfect fit.

He has always been active, but says living on a hill was limiting because of the effort required to pedal up it. The e-bike takes care of that little problem - and Hayman is not the only one using one.

Electric bike retailer Mark Koudelka has sold about 300 electric bikes nationwide in the past few years and many go to older people.

Business has picked up in the past year, he says.

Electric bikes combine the power of pushing the pedals with a little motorised assistance. You can pedal it by yourself or have the motor do a little, or all, of the work.

The beauty for older people is the ability to keep their independence and active lifestyle without worrying about getting worn out too far from home.

Koudelka says the oldest person he has sold a bike to was over 80. Most people were in their 50s or 60s.

"Sometimes they might have medical conditions and it's the only way they can get around. Some have lost their licences."

For Hayman, the ability to zip down and do some grocery shopping or visit the shops is essential.

His bike takes four hours to charge from flat and carries a good 10 kilograms of groceries.

He has gone 80 kilometres on one charge and is far too young and active to be needing a mobility scooter.

Koudelka says some older people are initially sceptical of the new technology, but many customers have been won over by the speed of the bikes (about 25kmh).

Christchurch is perfect for electric bikes because long distances can be covered with ease.

The bike can do all the work on the flat if necessary, he says.

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- The Press

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