My Winter Commute + an OHM XS 750 E-Bike

Two days ago was the first day of Spring. And this being Arizona–Northern Arizona–we had a snowstorm yesterday.

I’ve been testing out an Ohm XS 750 e-bike. On these icy, snowy roads, this bike made my commute easier in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Ohm XS 750 in my driveway
Ohm on the Range - in my driveway

You may be shocked to learn that the editor of Commute by Bike has a bike commute of less than two miles when utilizing shortcuts. I also have some latent motorcycle skills that I come out from time to time.

Many promoters of e-bikes love to pitch how easy they make hills, but they usually mean uphill.

Right out of my driveway, I have a long downhill of about a quarter mile. The bike lane was full of icy slush. Using the Ohm’s BionX controls, I was able to switch into regenerative mode–not because I wanted to charge the battery, but because I wanted that motorcycle engine braking effect that helps maintain control on a slippery hill. This is better than riding the brake, which is more likely to lock unexpectedly and cause a slide.

Bionx Dashboard
The bars on the left indicate regenerative braking i.e. Engine Braking

I felt a lot safer–so safe that I rode with one hand so I could take a picture. (I didn’t want the speed to be reading zero miles per hour. I did it for you, Dear Reader.)

Then there’s the shortcut on my commute where I need to push the bike uphill a short distance between two parking lots. I can ride this gap when there’s no snow, but it’s my least favorite part of my commute when there is snow–especially when the snowplows create a five-foot wall right where I need to pass through.

The BionX system is pedal-assist only–no throttle. But there’s a little red button below the handle grip, placed inconveniently behind the shifter, that sends power to the rear wheel. I used this to help me push the bike over that pile of snow.

The BionX hidden power on button
The "power on" button and the pile of snow. Trust me, there's an annoying hill right there.

My second shortcut involves about 50 yards of single-track that connects a Baptist church parking lot to a cul-de-sac in the next neighborhood. When there is snow on this path, I have always had to put my foot down. But the Ohm kept pushing for a second when I had to stop pedaling to maintain balance. That made the difference, and I was able to keep my feet up and stay balanced through through this gap.

Church Shortcut
The Church Shortcut

As I said, I have a fairly short commute. I don’t mind pushing my regular bike 50 yards through the snow. But if this snow-covered path were a mile long instead of 50 years, it would probably be a deal breaker. Without an e-bike, I’d probably drive or take the bus.

Lots of e-bike enthusiasts speak about how they will get more people on bikes–people who might not otherwise get on a bike. It sometimes sounds like they’re rationalizing. But this morning I became convinced that e-bikes may keep fair-weather bike commuters on their bikes–and out of their cars–when conditions are less than ideal.

Read Pete Prebus’ review of the Ohm XS 750 on Electric Bike Report.

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