The worst cycling article I’ve ever read
The Atlantic posted an article penned by Ian Bogost titled “The E-bike is a monstrosity.” Clearly, the rage-click market is so strong that even established players want to get a slice of the pie.
But this article was so infuriating, I felt compelled to write something to call out how ridiculous it is.
Even the byline, “Neither bicycle nor motorbike, the two-wheeler’s future demands an identity of its own,” is abjectly wrong. No one — absolutely no one — buys an eBike thinking it’s a motorbike. No one has ever looked at a cyclist on an eBike, no matter how absurd or futuristic the design may be, and thought that this was supplanted as a motorcyclist.
Moreover, not a single person on a bike or eBike differentiates the user persona on each piece of technology in a subcategory. No one — absolutely no one — thinks of an eBike cyclist as someone with a unique persona or identity outside of the realm of cyclist. The only sub-categorised personas in cycling are those clad in Lycra, and normal people.
This article has another ridiculous hot-take in almost every paragraph. It’s actually difficult to disseminate the nonsense and consider the perspective of the author to empathise with them.
E-bikes, by contrast, allow a motor to assist the rider, reducing exertion and thereby delivering you to the office or cheesemonger with a dry brow and dry armpits. But in exchange for that polish, an e-bike rider gets less exercise than the equivalent trip under full pedal.
I can’t fathom why this is a bad thing. The article is trying to paint cycling on an eBike as a problem because it’s easier to cycle on them. This is the first time I’ve read a journalist write that opening cycling up to everyone by making it less physically demanding is a bad thing.
All the downsides of biking still remain, without the satisfaction of persisting in the face of adversity.
I rarely cycle to get exercise. It’s why I don’t own any branded Lycra. Instead, I cycle to get from A to B, often while carrying stuff in a pannier bag. I’m not doing it to shed a few kilos. But even then, you do a workout on an eBike. If I wanted to go full-fitness, I’d get a much better suited bicycle and climb some mountains, or (as the author actually points out in his own ridiculous article), a stationary exercise bike for my house.
The article seems to think if you’re not a Lycra’d-up cyclist exclusively choosing uphill battles on your tracking app to arrive at your destination sweating and a few kilo’s lighter, are you even cycling? As if the primary modus operandi of cycling isn't as a convenient & active mode of transport.
Currently, e-bikes are trapped in the weird smear between pathetic, loser bicycles and pitiable, low-end motorbikes. Especially in America, where bike infrastructure is far less developed than in the small, flat nations of Northern Europe that cycling advocates like to exalt as a model, e-bikes have become kind of a nuisance.
How would a cyclist-for-fitness enthusiast get any sweat out in the flatlands of Northern Europe? I posit they must all exclusively commute through the Pyrenees. Daily. Then they will satisfy the author.
The author follows the above quote up about the dangers of speedy eBike riders. Without acknowledging that the EU has a mandated 25kph speed limit on them, something the US manufacturers can ignore, but seem to take on-board as a global feature.
I wonder does the author ever cook food on an electric/gas hob, or does he insist on hunting his own food, cooked on a fire he makes with stones and flint sourced in woodlands?
I digress. I could quote every paragraph and get some pleasure from laughing at how ridiculous a hot take it is. But there’s just no point. The author is naive in his approach to this clickbait article. But then, is he really? I just wrote 696 words on it.