What Are E-Bikes and Should YOU Try One?

Throughout the year, our staff members will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Andrew Magill informs us on E-Bikes.

E-Bikes, or electric assist bicycles, are rapidly becoming a more common sight on streets and bike trails. They have already been popular in Europe and some parts of Asia and Australia. But what exactly is an E-Bike? It is a bicycle with a battery-powered motor that either assists the rider while they are generating force from pedaling or may power the bike without pedaling (up to specified speeds). While the motor is active, these bikes won’t travel faster than 28 mph.    E-Bikes use rechargeable batteries and small computer systems that function as information and control modules. There are E-commuting bikes, E-mountain bikes, E-adult tricycles, E-cargo bikes, and more. Motors will either be integrated into one of the bicycle’s wheels (usually the rear) or can provide torque to the pedals through the bottom bracket (this setup is often called mid-drive). Batteries are also affixed to the bicycle in various locations depending on the model.

E-Bikes are designed to handle almost exactly like traditional bicycles, however, the electric motor means that users may travel with less effort and cover more distance in less time. E- Bikes can be an excellent choice for those using a bike for transit, and make riding easier for anyone who might shy away from using a bike for reasons such as health, fitness level, age, disability, or the need to carry heavy cargo.

E-Bikes do come with some interesting challenges. They are more expensive to buy than their non-electric counterparts. Also, batteries need to be charged regularly and occasional maintenance or repairs will be needed to the drive units and computer systems. This requires some education for users and bicycle repair shops. E-Bikes are often much heavier than traditional bicycles due to the motor and batteries, so lifting them up stairs can be challenging. However, many E-Bikes have “walk modes” which allow the motor to assist the user in pushing the bike up a steep hill or ramp. The frequency with which the user will need to charge an E-Bike battery depends on the specific battery and motor, as well as the duration and load that are required from these components, but they can usually run for multiple trips. The batteries can be charged in almost any electrical outlet, however, manufacturers recommend using the specific charger designed for their battery.

The hope of individuals and advocacy groups who support bicycling is that E-Bikes will mean that more people can bike more regularly for fun, transit, or fitness benefits. This can increase public health, reduce traffic congestion, and reduce vehicle emissions. It can make it possible for friends and families to bike together as a group. Another goal is to ensure that E-Bikes remain classified as bicycles and are not confused with other electric-powered vehicles such as electric scooters or E-Motorcycles. If you find E-Bikes fascinating or want more information, stay tuned. Expect to see E-Bikes available for rent or demo in the near future at locations around the Twin Cities. Alternatively, stop in at our 2010 26th Ave South location. I’d love to talk with you about E-Bikes. After recently attending a four-day E-Bike design and repair training, I am really charged up about this topic!

From the Mechanic’s Bench: Bikes in Pop Culture

Throughout the year, our staff members will be providing blog readers with maintenance and mechanics articles on different skills, knowledge, and tips for safe riding.

In this article, Skye Vang takes a different spin on things with three cool bike things to check out.

Wind Breaker, comic by Yongseok Jo

“Jay is the Student Body President of Sunny High. Not only is he a smart student, but he is also an extreme biker with extraordinary technique. Trail his bike to encounter his friends, loves, and adventures.”

Wind Breaker is a Korean comic (with English translations) I just discovered a few months ago on Webtoon. There are over 200 episodes currently on the Webtoons platform with new episodes up weekly on Mondays! They can be read online or through the Webtoons app. My favorite parts of this comic are the bikes, the illustration, and the way the action scenes are conveyed. Also, nearly everyone wears helmets, they compete in a variety of street races and competitions, and there’s just a bit a teen angst–we all remember those times, right? Check out some screen shots of the comic below.

You can read the comic here: https://www.webtoons.com/en/action/wind-breaker/list?title_no=372

Biking (solo) by Frank Ocean, Biking by Frank Ocean ft. Jay-Z and Tyler the Creator

Content warning for explicit language.

Frank Ocean is one of my top 5 favorite artists so when I heard this song I was so geeked. It came out summer 2017 and I can’t tell you how many times I rode to this song that summer with arms sprawled out catching a sweet lil tan and all the fresh air filling my lungs. “Biking” is smooth and relaxing, puts you in just the right mood to cruise–it’s really feel good. Also, look at how relatable these lyrics are: “I’m biking uphill and it’s burning my quads/I’m biking downhill and it sound like a fishing rod.” My quads are burning right now just thinking about biking up those pesky St. Paul hills. There’s two versions–one with Frank Ocean alone and the other with Jay-Z and Tyler the Creator. Both are great but I do have a favorite. Listen to both below and let me know which one is yours.

Biking (solo) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKY8-c5CRgU
Biking – ft. Jay-Z and Tyler the Creator – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYGPcfUqzL0

Yowamushi Pedal, anime by Discotek Media

“Onoda Sakamichi is a rather timid, anime-loving first-year student at Sohoku High School. Upon entering high school, he tried to join the anime research club, but after meeting Imaizumi Shunsuke, a renowned cyclist since middle school, and Naruko Shoukichi, who swept the Kansai cycling championship, he ended up joining the competitive cycling club. “

If you like more moving-action rather than comic-style action, you should check out Yowamushi Pedal. I’ll admit I haven’t watched this one yet, but it caught my eye on Crunchyroll, so I’m going to be watching it soon! So, why don’t you join me? I do know one thing, though–sports anime are super intense and usually packed with tons of character development that really makes you root for the underdog. You can catch this on Crunchyroll, both online or in app form. Episodes are in Japanese with English subtitles. This is season 1, and there are multiple seasons and films. Watch the promotional video here (sorry, no English subtitles for the promotional video): https://www.crunchyroll.com/yowamushi-pedal/yowamushi-pedal-pv-1-644851

If you want to check out more anime featuring cycling, check out this list here: https://www.anime-planet.com/anime/tags/cycling

That’s all I have for you today. Feel free to send your favorite bike comics, songs, or anime/tv show/movies to [email protected] Hope you all enjoy.

Re-Opening January 15, 2019


Consolidating two shops is a lot of work. And our staff is taking this week off to rest. That said, we are pushing back our reopen date to Tuesday, January 15, 2019, so we have a little more time to get our space organized and ready. We are looking forward to our shop being the best it can be for you, and to be able to offer retail sales and service, Open Shop, and Grease Rag again in the new year. Thank you!

Looking Forward to 2019

After 3 weeks of intensive moving, we are nearly cleared out of our old St. Paul space. Leaving this building after 10 years is bittersweet. We will miss our neighbors and community members dearly. Nonetheless, 2019 is a new beginning for C4C, and we look forward to taking positive steps with you all throughout the coming year.

St. Paul Shop Closure Timeline and a Call for Volunteers


ICYMI: We will be closing our St. Paul shop in the coming weeks. Below is a timeline and dates for the last days of Open Shop, Grease Rag, and Retail in our St. Paul shop.

Wednesday, November 21: Last Day of Open Shop, 1-7pm
Saturday, November 24: Small Business Saturday in Retail, 12-6pm
Tuesday, November 27: Last Day of Grease Rag, 5-8pm
Tuesday, Nov 27-Saturday, Dec 1: Liquidation sale in Retail, 12-7pm, 12-6pm
Saturday, December 1: Last Day of Retail in St. Paul, 12-6pm

Additionally, we will be closing our Minneapolis shop during the month of December so that all staff may help with the St. Paul shop closure. The Minneapolis Shop will be closed December 3, 2018 – January 1, 2019.

We will be in need of volunteer help during December to help us clear out and move our St. Paul shop and office. Although we do not yet have specific dates and times for this, if you are interested in helping, please sign up here and we will contact you as soon as we do have dates and times.

Let’s Raise $15,000 on Give to the Max Day!


It’s end-of-year fundraising time for Cycles for Change, and this year it’s more important and pressing than ever that we reach our goal of raising $15,000 on Give to the Max Day on November 15, 2018!

2018 has seen very happy highs and some unfortunate lows. This summer, we:

  • Welcomed our new Executive Director Tina Cho to Cycles for Change
  • Held 6 awesome Slow Roll St. Paul rides
  • Taught bike mechanics to 7 new youth apprentices in our 8-week Summer Program
  • Tripled our number of Learn to Ride classes and taught over 200 adults how to ride a bike

Each year, we strive to increase our sustaining donor base–generous people like you–who believe in our mission and our work to continue building a diverse and empowered community of bicyclists in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Recent tax reforms have led to some major changes in foundational funding, and many small nonprofits (including C4C) have been directly impacted. Your generous support builds the foundation for our work and directly funds our ability to continue our Youth Apprenticeship program, Learn to Ride classes, weekly Open Shop nights, and social enterprise bike shop. Now, more than ever, we need to sustain and build on these important resources to our community.

Please support Cycles for Change on Give to the Max Day this year by making a financial contribution, or by becoming a sustaining donor. Your tax-deductible donation directly supports programming, as well as general operating expenses like rent, marketing costs, staff professional development, and team building time. Together we can use bicycles to impact our community.

This year, our board of directors will match every donation of $75 or more, up to a total of $3,000. Please consider increasing your contribution this year; it will double your impact.

Thank you again for your continued support of Cycles for Change.

Donate here: https://www.givemn.org/organization/Cycles-For-Change

Important Announcement: Organizational Changes at Cycles for Change


Dear Cycles for Change community members,

We want to thank you immensely for all the support you’ve showed us throughout the years. Our daily efforts are driven by our mission and rooted in our community. You are the reason we do this work.

In the spirit of honesty, trust, and transparency, we have some serious news to share with you.

Due to our current financial situation, Cycles for Change has been forced to make extremely difficult decisions that will impact how we operate in 2019.

Because of the loss of key funding and weather-related shortfalls in shop revenue, we cannot afford to renew our lease for the St. Paul shop (which will rise to market rate in 2019, effectively doubling our current rent).

We are beyond heartbroken to announce that we will be closing our St. Paul location by December 31, 2018.

We do not take this loss lightly. Cycles for Change has been in the Frogtown/Rondo neighborhood for over ten years, and we do not intend to abandon our neighbors and community members that we’ve built relationships with for over a decade.

Challenges are meant to be overcome. Our goal is to find a new space in St. Paul in which to operate, so that we may still offer Open Shop community space in 2019. And while we have not yet found a new space, we are continually searching for a place we can afford. We deeply care about our St. Paul community and will explore every possible avenue to continue doing this important work here.

Watch for a follow up message tomorrow about how you can support us on Give to the Max Day. Minnesota’s annual day of giving is on Thursday, November 15, 2018.

Please email any questions you have to Tina Cho at [email protected] or Andrew Petriuusi, Board Chair, at [email protected].


Tina Cho
Executive Director

Slow Roll August Rides Recap

Eighty-eight degrees and sunny may sound like the perfect summer day–but it can make for a sweaty bike ride! Riders gathered on August 8 near Cycles for Change’s St. Paul shop for our last Frogtown/Rondo ride of the season. The route for the ride was co-created by C4C’s new youth apprentices finishing up their 8-week summer program–and they all helped bike marshal the ride as well, as ride leads, corkers, and sweeps.

Under the hot August sun, about 40 riders convened–half of them youth. The group set out for a slow ride from University to Charles to Dale to Marshall to Grotto and back to University. Riders crossed bike/ped bridges over I-94 on Mackubin and Grotto, and stopped at Victoria and Blair on the East side of Frogtown Park and Farm to listen to C4C youth apprentice Sukie talk about the history of the Frogtown neighborhood. Did you know it was once a swamp and home to millions of frogs before the swamp disappeared and German settlers arrived? Sukie expressed his love of this neighborhood for its cultural diversity.

After hauling up probably the only two hills in Frogtown and tooling along a little path that runs from the Rondo library to Carty Park, riders completed a 5 mile ride. Upon returning to the starting point, C4C youth apprentice Zahkia addressed the group about the history of the Rondo neighborhood and the destruction I-94 created. Riders enjoyed chicken wings, cornbread, and mac and cheese from Hickory Hut while being mesmerized by a special guest–a 6-week old puppy sleeping in a puppy carrier.

For the last ride of the year, Slow Roll St. Paul connected with the Lower Phalen Creek Project, which helped bring an Indigenous focus to the bike ride on the East Side. MN Native Food Perspectives catered and served delicious cedar tea, wild rice, and fry bread. Sharon Day, Anishinaabe elder and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, visited the group of riders near the shores of Lake Phalen and talked about the cultural importance of water to Indigenous peoples, particularly to Indigenous women. She outlined the truth that water is a life giver, and because women also give life they are the keepers of the water. Melanie Kleiss and Mishaila Bowman of the Lower Phalen Creek Project followed, adding to the importance of water in communities.

With this in mind, riders kicked off on the ride route, which followed the proposed daylighted sections of Phalen Creek. The creek historically flowed freely out of Lake Phalen, but was diverted entirely underground in a large storm pipe. The Lower Phalen Creek Project works to restore portions of the creek back above ground, which would then restore and stabilize stream banks, while bringing amenities to the East Side community. After riding along the Bruce Vento Trail, then down through a wooded ravine, riders took a quick break to catch their breath at a restored prairie decorated with a public art installation.

Once back at Phalen Lake, participants finished off the night and the Slow Roll St. Paul season with some words from Wakíŋyaŋ and Thorne LaPointe and Crystal Norcross. They shared the relationship between water and Indigenous people, and the connection between life and water. With that, they ended the evening, along with the Slow Roll season, with a Lakota water song and closing prayer.

Thanks again to all of our outstanding partners for making Slow Roll St. Paul the success it was this year! It was great to learn about all of the incredible work organizations are doing in our community, and even better with a belly full of food from local restaurants. Make sure you stay connected to everyone that helped shape this year’s Slow Roll St. Paul:

And a special shout-out to our amazing crew of bike marshals! We couldn’t have done it without all of you showing up week after week to help keep our riders safe. Thank you!