Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Our Solar-Powered Electric Bike!

Today I’m bustin’! I just bought the coolest thing ever! Well – after solar panels and a wind turbine! We bought an electric bike and it’s an absolute blast! You can tell I’m pumped about it by all the pictures I’ve taken. The Mather’s have a bit of a tradition of taking photos of their new cars. Excessively. Obsessively. Just way too many pictures. My dad is still a big fan of this tradition. “Yes Dad, it’s a new car, it’s a great new car. You know there are only so many angles that you can take a photograph of a car from, right?”

I used to be this way but I’ve sort of wound down this tradition here. Yes we buy very efficient small cars, but they are cars nonetheless. Cars emit C02 into the atmosphere and this is what’s melting the glaciers. Guilty as charged. So many people will meet us at shows and say “Wow you live off the grid you are such a great environmentalist!” I disagree. Yes I make all my own electricity from the sun and wind and an increasing amount of my hot water from the sun, but Michelle and I, like most off-gridders, live in rural areas so what we save in coal fired electricity emissions we offset with too much driving. Someone living in a city, living in an apartment with only one wall exposed to the outside, taking transit and walking has a way smaller carbon footprint than I do. So way to go city dwellers!

As we’ve looked at where our emissions are coming from we’re really knocking down our use of propane and substituting cooking with electric appliances like our induction stove top. But it was the transportation issue that was killing us. We are 13 kilometers (8 miles) from Tamworth. So every time we have to go into town to ship books or DVDs we have to drive that far. I have a road bike and don’t mind riding, but it’s easy to be lazy. Too cold. Too windy. Too busy. Don’t have time. You know the routine. On the road bike I can make into town in about 35 minutes and 45 minutes home. Add in slower times for wind, some stretching for my 50-year-old muscles, and a gab with our Post Mistress Katie and suddenly I’ve shot 3 hours.

Then along came electric bikes. All the environmental benefits of a bike with the efficiency of wheels and gears and the lightweight and this amazing little motor to help you along. Our Schwinn bike uses a lithium polymer battery and is rated as having a 25 km range depending on wind, weight of the rider and how much you use it. It is absolutely a blast to ride. You can ride it like a regular mountain bike or you can use the motor to assist your pedalling. Or, best of all, you can just stop pedalling and crank up the motor and you’re zipping along like a moped or a scooter without any effort at all. It’s brilliant! Zero-carbon transportation! Well, zero-carbon for us because we charge it with our solar panels. In the words of the 1970’s Glam Rock Band Prism… “On my solar powered electric bike!” Well that’s almost what they said.

Michelle hasn’t been a huge fan of riding all the way into town so now she can take the electric bike and I can take the road bike and we can have coffee in town with zero-carbon. In my upcoming book “Thriving During Challenging Times” I’m emphasizing the necessity of reducing your purchases if you are aiming for financial independence. So buying a bike certainly contradicts that, except that I emphasize if you are buying things you should buy hard assets that will help you to achieve independence. Solar panels help you reduce your electricity bill maybe getting off the grid one day. An electric bike saves you having to buy gasoline  which is going to becoming increasingly expensive since we hit peak oil in 2005. And as I note in the book everything I’m recommending is helping you to reduce carbon footprint. Win/win.

So now you know if you order books or DVDs from our website, there’s a very good chance they’ll be delivered to our local post office with our electric bike. Solutions for sustainability are out there. Why not start your solar array with just enough solar panels to charge your electric bike? Then next time you get $1,000 back on your income tax, buy more panels. When Uncle Fred dies put that $3,000 he left you into more solar panels.
Get your butt off the couch and onto a bike and start being part of the solution!

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2 Comments

  1. I loved this article. It’s amazing how fun electric bikes are and how if you think about it, you can replace a lot of your daily driving on an ebike. Battery technology is very important and lucky for all of us battery technology has come a long way.

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