• Conquering Vermont by ZoomBike
    July 30,2013

    For The Times Argus

    MIDDLESEX — Vermont isn’t called the Green Mountain State for nothing. Its rough terrain can be a challenge for bicyclists trying to commute to work or just enjoying an afternoon of exercise.

    The answer? It just might be found at ZoomBikes, a new shop selling a kind of cycle that helps riders conquer Vermont’s many hills. The bikes at ZoomBikes have an electric motor that assists the rider’s efforts.

    The bikes run on electricity and can go up to 40 miles on moderate terrain before needing to be charged, according to the shop’s owners. But the more the rider pedals and the gentler the grade, the longer the bike’s charge will last.

    Says co-owner Larry Gilbert, “These bikes are great for commuting. In central Vermont one of the biggest barriers to riding bikes are our lovely hills. These bikes help people overcome the hills. The bikes make leaving your car at home easier because they’re so much fun to ride.”

    Gilbert and Lauri Scharf opened the ZoomBikes shop this summer in Middlesex behind Red Hen Baking Co. in the former Camp Meade.

    They sell the Evelo and Solex brands of electric bikes, which weigh more than a regular bike, tipping the scales at 57 to 73 pounds.

    Since the bikes are electrically powered, no emissions are produced when they are operated.

    The batteries can be charged up to 450 times before they lose their effectiveness, the shop says, and the bikes come with a warranty on the frame, motor and battery.

    The price of a bicycle from ZoomBikes ranges from $2,300 to $2,800, with the additional cost of 2 to 4 cents to charge the bike. The more expensive bikes come with a regeneration feature that charges the battery when the rider is on a flat or downhill grade.

    For those who don’t want to pay as much, there is another option. The Ridekick is a motorized trailer that can be attached to any bike. The trailer pushes the bike with the use of a small throttle and costs $700.

    The shop touts favorable reviews of the motorized rides.

    “The bike is great,” says a testimonial from customer Sheila Kearns on the ZoomBikes website. “Electric assist works very well for the hills but also makes startup from stops at intersections feel like less of a hassle for vehicles waiting while I have (the) right of way. (It) is definitely worth the cost and makes stop and start in Montpelier ‘traffic’ much less of a hassle.”

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