In the English language arguably one of the ultimate of accusations is to be labelled a ‘cheat’.
And rightly so! After all, as the Oxford Dictionary so very clearly states, “to cheat at something is to act in a dishonest way in order to gain an advantage”.
Cheat in a game, in a competition, during an exam or, even, in marriage, and you risk either being charged with an offence, ordered to make amends or, at the least, being publicly and privately ostracised.
Essentially to be outed as a cheat is tantamount to being declared a public pariah.
So why is it then that the word ‘cheat’ is so widely levelled at anyone who dares to ride an e-bike?
No, e-bike enthusiasts are not serial bigamists, are not committing any offence in the eye of the law – as long as they adhere to all road rules - and in the true sense of the word are doing absolutely nothing dishonest.
E-Bikes Allow People to Have Fun While Getting Fit
All they are doing is getting fit, having fun and generally enjoying all the physical and mental benefits that come with cycling, in many, many cases for the first time in years.
Maybe the only similarity – and it is a moot point - between the Oxford Dictionary’s definition of the word ‘cheat’ and the booming e-bike industry is that by the true definition of e-biking it is true that you are gaining an easier ride over someone on a traditional bicycle.
But then isn’t that what e-biking is all about – no matter whether you are on your daily e-bike commute to work, discovering new off-road trails virtually inaccessible on a normal bicycle or cycle touring at an exotic location - e-bikes help to iron out hills, tame headwinds and generally help you to travel further in a shorter period of time without your legs, lungs and every sinew in your body crying out for you to stop.
The fact of the matter is that if the small, misinformed section of the public who continue to label anyone who dares to ride an e-bike as a cheat actually took the time to ride an e-bike for themselves they would very quickly change their tune.
Time and time again during the E-Bike Cycle Tourists record-breaking long distance e-bike ride of 27,800kms in 2015/16 in mainland Europe and the UK my wife Rachel and I were accused of cheating.
Little did our accusers know that it was actually the attraction of cheating on our e-bikes that provided the only reason we were actually able to spend 16 wonderful life-changing months e-biking extensively through 13 countries.
No Hill is Too Steep and No Wind Too Strong on an E-Bike
Without the electric assistance provided by our e-bikes it would have been literally impossible - both physically and mentally - to complete the journey.
As it was there was no hill that defeated us in renowned hill climbing country in France, Wales, Ireland and Portugal, no headwind that proved too strong and no destination that was unattainable.
But there we were – particularly in the UK – having to defend ourselves against those ongoing cheating accusations as we rode our e-bikes into village after village, during our nightly campground stops or when we stopped to stock up on our food supplies.
While at times we had a queue of people waiting to talk to us about our journey, our e-bikes and the equipment we were carrying, inevitably there would be one person in the crowd of onlookers only too eager to throw out the cheating tag.
The irony on many occasions was that those same accusers had just stepped out of a car powered by a ‘cheating’ combustion engine and in all likelihood had not raised a sweat in years.
Isn’t Driving a Pollution-Spewing Car Cheating?
Clearly having a pollution-spewing motor to get you from point A to B is cheating, but the irony of the situation, unfortunately, is lost on most e-bike accusers.
As my dear long-departed Grandma wisely told me when I was a child, “sticks and stones can break your bones, but names will never hurt you”.
With her words loudly ringing in my ears we happily cheated our way up every mountain that came our way and visited countless places that we never dreamed we could reach on a bicycle … basically we cheated ourselves into peak physical fitness, how good is that!
The other crucial fact the e-bike accusers have failed to realise is that riding an e-bike is pure unadulterated FUN.
I challenge anyone to ride an e-bike for the first time and not to return with a beaming smile from ear to ear, widely known in the e-bike industry as an e-smile.
Throw into the equation the fact that you are out in the fresh air, there are no taxes levied against e-bike owners, no expensive insurances to pay, no parking costs, that it costs basically nothing to recharge an e-bike battery, that anyone of any age can ride an e-bike, the obvious health benefits of riding an e-bike and that you do not need a license with expensive yearly fees attached and basically the benefit of owning an e-bike is a no-brainer.
In Ireland there is an intrepid group of cyclists – aptly named the ‘Cheaters’ - who enthusiastically claim they have discovered the fountain of youth. Yes, you guessed it, the source of that magical fountain for each and every one of the Cheaters is their e-bike.
Do As the Cheaters Did – Buy and E-Bike and Rediscover Your Youth
On a regular basis the Cheaters, many of whom had not ridden a regular bike for years due to health, joint and weight issues prior to purchasing their e-bikes, head out on local roads and trails – and they love every minute of it.
The result? They are fitter than they have been in years, their joint mobility has improved out of sight, they have all lost weight and most importantly they are having more fun than they have had for years.
So there you have it. With no trophies or prizemoney on offer for your daily e-bike commute or for your leisurely ride to the beach, cheating is not an issue.
You can't cheat at going to work or to the shops; basically you can’t cheat at having fun.
The best e-bike enthusiasts can do is to continue to push the very positive e-bike message loud and clear.In time those same people who said motorised vehicles would never take over from the horse and cart or that computers would never supersede typewriters will eventually concede that yes e-bikes are a great invention and yes, “I want one”.