I met Lou a few months back on a forum where we went back and forth about the different ebikes and how much change an ebike can make in a person's life. So I asked Lou to participate in a Q&A where I asked him about his experience after purchasing an ebike.
Thankfully he agreed to share his experience in writing so I can share with anyone else thinking about getting an ebike.
You can read that full interview here:
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Lou Phillippe, and I'm a newly-addicted ebike enthusiast. I'm a lifelong resident of Colorado, a former Park Ranger-turned corporate jet-setter-turned outdoor writer. I've been riding a bike for 60 years, since my dad taught me at age 4. I delivered newspapers for many years, road biked, mountain biked. At age 12 I won the first city "Bike Rodeo" on a stingray I customized and painted myself. I live in the mountains with there are miles of roads and trails within easy reach, many of which I can access from my house.
How long have you had your ebike and which ebike do you own?
I bought a Rambo ebike on impulse at the International Sportsman's Expo in January, and immediately fell in love with it. My girlfriend rode mine and immediately ordered a RAD Rover. Now it's early summer and we're riding them everywhere. I still ride a conventional mountain bike 10-14 miles every other day for fitness, but for fun, it's the Rambo. My girlfriend is a strong biker and challenges me on trails we would never think of attempting with a conventional bike. At a fit age 64, I accept that I can't do the things I used to do on a MTB, but the Rambo allows me to continue to do what I love without wrecking my knees on the ascents. Instead of killing ourselves, we laugh and hoot when climbing up rocky trails only an ATV should be able to tackle.
Were you already a cyclist? and if yes, why the upgrade to electric bike?
Right now we're riding them for fun, but plan to use them for fishing this summer and bowhunting this fall.
What for you has improved the most now that you're using an ebike?
Our quality of outdoor enjoyment has improved immensely with this new addition to our tool box. Mountain biking was a chore before, but I did it for fitness. Now we look for challenging places to ride. Last Saturday we attempted an old eroded, overgrown Jeep trail that has become impassable for any type of vehicle due to beetle-kill deadfall and severe erosion. We hammered it on the ebikes. When we hit a deadfall patch we either navigated around it or simply lifted the bikes over it. We did several creek crossings and some steep downhill rocky descents that would have been very risky on an ATV due to the uneven boulders that we were able to negotiate around. Five hours later we made it back to the truck. We were sore, scraped, had a couple bloody spots on shins, and were laughing all the way back while planning our next adventure.
I recently read an article I found on the Quietkat website explaining that since 2016 the Michigan (DNR) Dept. of Natural Resources have been using the Quietkat 1000 Watt models for patrolling and citing wildlife violations. But yet people are still concerned about using an ebike as the laws surrounding their use can be contradictory.
Have you had any issues or heard of people getting ticketed for taking their ebikes offroad?
I have talked with high-level trails policy-makers at the county, state, and federal levels. Colorado passed legislation declaring Class 1 and 2 ebikes as not-motorized, so they can be permitted on trails open to conventional bikes. The USFS Regional Trails Coordinator told me he agrees that they should be compatible with conventional biking trails, but that the wheels turn very slowly at the federal level. He also believes it's more of an educational issue, and he thinks it's important to keep older folks out recreating as long as possible. He said he has not heard of anyone being cited on National Forest, even though they are considered "motorized" by the USFS. Since Colorado does not consider them motorized they won't issue motorized registration for them to ride in National Forest, which is contradictory in itself since motorized vehicles are required to display a registration sticker on National Forest trails. Our county recently opened up all the huge foothills open space areas to ebikes on trails, as well. I believe it's only a matter of time before they are permitted everywhere conventional bikes are allowed.
Who would you recommend get an ebike?
I think ebikes are great for anyone who doesn't consider bicycling as an elitist pursuit only for the young and super-fit. It's a great fun tool that still gives an excellent workout, but helps on the uphill stuff. Older folks, especially, will appreciate how they can now ride like they did before, even with bad knees or hips. From a purely objective standpoint, they are green, don't cause any more resource damage than conventional MTBs, and the demographic who rides them tends to be slower and more responsible than the kamikaze downhill MTB loonies who terrify horses, push hikers off trails, and generally wreak havoc on single track trails.
Where will you take your ebike next?
Our next adventure will be next week, when we plan to carry light backpacks in a few miles for an overnight campout at a fishing spot. The camping was my girlfriend's idea. She likes to push the envelope and thought this would be a great trial before hunting season when we may do overnight bivy camps for elk.
The ebike has opened up a huge new vista of fun and outdoor adventure for both of us. I have two ATVs and we can access over 120 miles of roads and trails from my mountain house. The ATVs are still sitting in the garage because we now opt for the ebikes. I highly recommend them for anyone who enjoys adventure, and my quality of life has improved greatly since getting one.
The below is a picture of Lou's actual Rambo. And no, the blender is not an official Rambo accessory :-) and we would need a whole new interview to explain that picture in full so it will be up to your imagination to figure that one out!