Is there any place this thing can’t go?
It plows through mountain bike trails like they’re stairways to heaven. It negotiates multi-use paths efficiently yet with just the right amount of stealth. On the road it’s the best of both worlds with the maneuvering ability of a bicycle but the get-up-and-go of a motorcycle. On the racetrack, coaches use it as a sort of pace car to keep up with and even stay ahead of world-class cyclists. It lights up the night sky with astonishing clarity; and it’s even good for escaping skunks… but more on that later.
Boulder’s Optibike – Almost Made in the USA
The Optibike is the wonder child of Jim Turner, motocross rider turned triathlete
turned inventor. It should come as no surprise that the Optibike is engineered and built in (the People’s Republic of) Boulder, Colorado, a community rapidly becoming the hub for both high tech businesses and outdoor lifestyles. No product better exemplifies the meshing of high tech and outdoor adventure than Optibike, the Ferrari of bicycles.
But all the superlatives used to describe Optibike might give the impression that it’s only built for world-class athletes and adventure seeking daredevils. Fortunately, this characterization couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s not just a cliché to say that the Optibike is the ultimate machine for nearly everyone. It’s a commuter bike, a recreational bike, a mountain bike and an errand bike. Who needs a car, when you can get just about anywhere on a power-driven bike? With the right set of tires, an Optibike can handle just about any conditions and provide a lot of fun in the process.
Is the Optibike truly as good as a car? Its owners might argue that it’s better. In addition to using it for getting to work, nabbing some groceries and providing for rock-hopping fun, it’s got three huge advantages over an automobile; it provides fitness and improves the environment. And it’s a lot less expensive than driving a car. In fact, for certain electric bikes reviewers who happen to have solar panels adorning their rooftops, it’s basically free to run.
So what’s the Optibike have that other electric bikes don’t? OGL (Oh Good Lord – OMG is so yesterday.) It’s got a seriously powerful motor and heavy-duty batteries that get you going. Then it’s got a 14 speed Rohloff Speedhub to keep you going. Next it’s got Fox front and rear suspension to keep you going smoother. And finally, it’s got oversized Avid hydraulic disk brakes, just in case you ever need to stop.
Not even the dead of night can stop the mighty Optibike with its seriously luminescent headlights powered by some serious wattage. In fact just minutes before writing this article, the aforementioned electric bike reviewer encountered a skunk on the night trail. On a regular bike, he would have been screwed, blued and P.Ued. But thanks to the bright lights for illuminating the problem and a powerful motor for escaping the problem, Mr. Writer Dude was 50 yards away before the skunk could say Pepe LePew. Another problem solved by the Optibike. (Don’t look for that one in their sales brochures. The folks at Optibike are much too humble to go touting their skunk-evading superiority.)
So what are the downsides to the Optibike? Frankly, there may not be any. But some suggestions are in order:
- Seriously consider getting a second battery with your Optibike. You won’t regret it.
- Take it easy at first. The Optibike is not the same as a typical mountain bike. It’s more powerful, heavier, and even has the brakes on the opposite side. (Unless you’re a motorcyclist or a European; then it has the brakes right where they belong.)
- Don’t waste time loading the Optibike on your bike rack. Just ride the darned thing to the trail. You’ll probably get there quicker and have more fun in the process.
- Go new places. If there’s one word to summarize the Optibike experience, it’s freedom. Try the bike trail that’s been on your bucket list. Ride up Magnolia Road on a hot day. (It’s a Boulder thing.) Ride that three-day rail-trail in one day. Go for a night ride. Ride it in a parade. The skies the limit, but the trail’s more fun!!
- For goodness sakes, wear your helmet. The Optibike will give you power and freedom, but it won’t give you immortality!! Enjoy it to the max, but enjoy it safely and responsibly.
If you’ve ever owned or ridden an Optibike or any other electric bike, share your experience with the Trailsnet community by entering some comments below.
Best for use on: Concrete & paved trails or roads, Gravel trails, Dirt singletrack trails, Level to moderate trails, Steep or hilly trails
Best used for: Commuting, Recreation, Adventure sports, Exercise, Short excursions