WILKES-BARRE — The bikes of the future are upon us, and Around Town Bicycles is offering a free demonstration of what that ride will be like.
The Specialized Turbo Levo is a mountain e-bike that assists riders looking for an extra boost. The Turbo Levo requires a rider to pedal to receive output from the internal battery, helping the bike to accelerate.
Visitors to Around Town Bicycles at 59 N. Main St. can try out the shop’s Turbo Levo e-bike. The store’s staff said it’s currently the only electric bike that meets state park regulations for bike trail use because its electric motor is less than 750 watts and it has functional pedals a rider must use to move — the bike assists pedaling, but it won’t move on its own.
“It’s the only e-bike on the floor in our area that fits the qualifications of being an e-bike that’s allowed on the trail,” said Dave Taylor, an Around Town Bicycles employee. “If you’re a person that has been thinking about mountain biking but hasn’t done any athletic activity in 10 years, you can hop on this bike and you can go and enjoy mountain biking.”
Taylor, who describes himself as an avid cyclist, first saw the e-bike as a “cheating bike,” but he now sees it as an entry point to the sport — for anyone willing to pay the four-figure price tag.
The Turbo Levo is a $4,000 bike with a battery that holds an approximate three-hour charge. The bike is still useable after the battery dies, but rider assist won’t activate until the battery is charged again. The bike also comes with a battery charger and multiple levels of assist that can be adjusted accordingly. That assist is only active when the rider is pedaling less than 20 miles per hour — the battery-powered assist doesn’t activate if the bike goes over that speed or if the rider is coasting.
Around Town Bicycles serviceman Lee Curry said the e-bike is for trail seekers who are not trail fit, the aging biker and the endurance rider looking for a longer trip.
“People who get older but still want to enjoy the trail, the assist bike actually helps, but now we’ve had guys that are fully fit that say they would buy an assist bike because they can ride all day — of course, within the three-hour limit of the battery,” Curry said.
Curry believes e-bikes will catch on quickly and describes them as “a whole different genre of biking.”
Rob Barrese, park manager trainee at Lackawanna State Park, said he hasn’t seen an increase in e-bike activity on park trails yet, but recently the park hosted a free demonstration of the bikes on their grounds.
“I think they’re a niche item,” Barrese said. “I didn’t try them personally; some of our rangers tried them out and they liked them. I’m not sure of the bike’s capacity to handle technical mountain biking, so I don’t know if this is something you’re going to see technical bikers using or if it’s more of a commuter bike with some off-road capability.”