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I’ve noticed more people riding bikes powered by battery or gas around my area. I’ve also noticed an increase of electric bike and gas kit offerings on the L.A. CraigList.

We had a chance to review the Wilderness Electric kit back in ’05 on another site; and I also had a chance to ride with one to work.

The electric kit was fun to ride, but the biggest drawback was the weight. The bike pictured tipped the scales at 80lbs making it hard to brake and also a slow handling bike. I commuted with the Electric bike kit for about a month, I then realized that I didn’t need it. I found myself pedaling more than using the electric kit. The biggest reason was that I didn’t want to run out of juice; even though the kit was supposed to last for at least 30 miles.

One great thing about the electric bike is that you can arrive to work rather fresh. I rode the last two miles with the electric kit so I was not sweaty at all. The kit also has a top speed of 20 MPH, not a slow bike by any means, but then there was the braking issue… a heavy bike meant a longer distance to come to a stop.

Prices of electric bikes and kits vary a lot, from $439 for the Wilderness Electric Kit to $950 for an E-bike. Another advantage of an electric bike is that you don’t need a motorcycle license nor does it need to be registered or insured.

Electric bikes may not be for everyone, specifically those who are looking into benefiting from the exercise that riding a bike provides. But for those who are looking into ditching the car and are really concerned about arriving to work sweaty or may not be in the best physical condition, an electric bike may be the way to go.