Among the guilty pleasures of riding an e-bike to work is skimming past cars stuck in traffic. The same goes for passing electric cars, too. After all, EVs contribute to urban congestion just as much as any old gasmobile, whereas an e-bike can contribute to, well, honey bees, among other things.
BUZZ Charter E-Bike Floats Like A Butterfly
CleanTechnica got a chance to test-ride the new Charter pedal assist electric bicycle from BUZZ earlier this month, and it sure lives up to its bee-evoking name.
The pedal assist gives you a nice, strong kick, much stronger compared to some other bikes I’ve sampled. The overall ride feels sprightly and nimble. If this is your first ride on an e-bike, give it a few minutes in a parking lot or some other safe space before taking it into traffic.
My regular ride has a throttle, so I assumed my 20-mile round trip commute to work on the throttle-less Charter would take longer than usual. Not so! The three levels of pedal assist were powerful enough to make up the difference.
I’m a big fan of throttles because my 20-mile round trip commute to work includes 9 miles on a 4-lane county thoroughfare with no bike lanes. The whole route is peppered with tricky intersections, and that extra burst of speed comes in handy for dodging traffic and beating red lights. However, after a few minutes on the Charter I didn’t miss the throttle at all. The punchy pedal-assist more than made up for it.
So, if you’re looking for a throttle e-bike, don’t pass up the Charter before you check it out. As much as I love throttles, they do add another item to maintain and repair, and they are not street-legal in some jurisdictions.
Does Your E-Bike Pass the Hyundai Accent Test?
There are many reasons to buy big, heavy, folding e-bike that cannot fit into the trunk of a small car, or the back seat, or anywhere else even when it’s all folded up. I have one of those big, heavy things, and I love it to death even though it does not fit into the back of my car, which is a compact sedan.
This is a real problem if you are counting on your e-bike to fill in that last mile or so of a car trip. Ditto for taking an e-bike on public transit. So, I’ve been carting my regular pedal bike on dual-mode trips.
That is definitely not a problem with the BUZZ Charter. It fits easily into the trunk of a compact sedan, even without turning down the back seat. It also fits easily into the back seat without having to turn the seat down.
Now, after just a couple of rides in urban traffic I’m spoiled. I threw the Charter in my car on New York City Marathon Sunday a few weeks ago, drove into the city, found a free parking spot downtown in just a few minutes, and beat the Marathon Day traffic all the way up to East 69th Street on the Charter.
For the next trip to the city I parked in the same place and took a night ride up the West Side to Times Square, skipping past the traffic all the way.
At a mere 35 pounds, the Charter is also manageable for mass transit. If you want to shave a few pounds off you can detach the seat post, which is where the battery hides, and carry it in a backpack or something while going up and down stairs.
Re-attaching the seat is a snap because BUZZ decided to mark off the post in increments along with a centering mark, which takes the guesswork out of centering it and adjusting the height.
As for the nitty gritty, the Charter is shipping now at the very decent price of $999.
To be clear, using an e-bike just to fill the last mile of a longer trip may not be necessary if the trip involves a relatively flat mile. Physically speaking, a pedal bike would be just as easy to manage, and typically less expensive. Add some hills, though, and the picture shifts in favor of kicking out the extra bucks for an e-bike. Besides, once you try it, you’ll want to use it all over the place.
What About The Honey Bees?
Speaking of all over the place, I’ve been testing e-bikes with and without throttles (and with and without bike lanes) around New Jersey and New York City, including the super high tech Cowboy 4, the super cool retro Serial 1 from Harley Davidson, and the super fun, super powerful ZX from Super73. I have yet to meet one I didn’t like. An incredible variety is already available to pick from, and more keep getting added practically by the day.
BUZZ stands out by drawing attention to the global honey bee decline, and you can think about coming to the rescue every time you look down and see the BUZZ logo on your BUZZ e-bike.
The honey bee decline is a problem for honey fans as well as possibly leading to a global biodiversity crisis. Here in the US, the Department of Agriculture toted up 6 million managed honey bee colonies in 1940, and only about 2.5 million exist today. That translates into a lot of lost jobs for humans and the threat of crop loss as the pollinator population evaporates.
Eliminating harmful chemicals in agriculture and yard care is one key solution, but not the only one. Our friends over at USDA also note that a startup called Beemunity is testing products that could help honey bees and other pollinators build immunity to harmful chemicals.
A companion strategy is to help honey bees find new habitats and food sources that enable them to weather the impacts of climate change.
On top of preserving the health of managed honey bee colonies, there’s the issue of 4,000 or so native bee species that call the US their home, which is where everyone who has yard can chip in by not using harmful chemicals. Tearing up all or part of the lawn and replacing it with native plants that bees like is also helpful. Check out organizations like The Bee Conservancy to find out more ways to help.
Electric Cars Vs. E-Bikes: Why Bikes Should Always Win
Speaking of preserving life, the need to create safe spaces for pedestrians and cyclists has been evident, well, ever since cars hit the roads, and recent events have hammered home the point. Last week’s bloody mayhem in Waukesha, Wisconsin was just the latest reminder that cars are incredibly dangerous and easily weaponized against anything in their way intentionally as well as accidentally, regardless of whether they run on gas or electricity.
Other recent examples include the murder of Heather Heyer, who was run down by a white supremacist during protests in Charlottesville, North Carolina in 2017. The driver of a pickup truck killed 8 and injured 11 more when he drove onto a bike path in Manhattan that same year, and a van was the instrument of death in an attack that killed 10 pedestrians in Toronto in 2018.
Hopefully one result of the e-bike trend will be a sharp increase in the number of people — aka voters — who can influence policy on urban design.
As much as we love electric cars, the sparkling green urban environment of the future needs more space for pedestrians and cyclists, and less for cars.
A new infusion of federal funding for alternative transit projects under the new infrastructure bill should help, so keep your eyes peeled in your community for opportunities to help advocate for new infrastructure that favors and protects cyclists and pedestrians — and throws in some love for the e-bike, too.
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Featured photo by Tina Casey.
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