This past summer, my husband Steve, our 3-year-old son Judah and I spent the whole summer in Amsterdam and Copenhagen doing a home exchange. That’s right, just like The Holiday movie, we swapped houses with complete strangers. To answer the questions I normally get right off the bat—no, it wasn’t scary. No, they weren’t weirdos. No, they didn’t trash our house. It was fantastic!
The best part about these cities that we quickly learned about was their prevalent biking culture. In fact, there are more than 880,000 bicycles in Amsterdam, four times the number of cars. In Copenhagen, 62 percent of its residents are now commuting to work or school by bike.
To compare to Los Angeles, there are 220 million vehicle miles traveled every day.
I didn’t realize how much the biking culture would affect me. Every morning, we got up and hopped on our bikes (our son on a bike seat) and explored the cities. We saw all ages of residents biking, carrying children and groceries—many of the women humming by in colorful dresses and chic sneakers. By the end of each day, we had ridden at least 10 miles and after the first week alone, I started feeling different—mentally and physically.
In L.A., I spend way too much time in the car—stuck in traffic, frustrated and stressed from the daily commute. In Europe, being on the bikes daily, my body felt more flexible at the end of the day, my mind was clearer from the concentration it takes to bike along with the release of endorphins. When I came home after our trip, I had immediate withdrawals from my dreamy biking lifestyle. So I determined to bring part of it back with me.
The only problem I ran into is that these two European cities don’t really compare to L.A. They are extremely flat and biker friendly. Los Angeles, on the other hand, is less compact, spread out across 500 square miles, really hilly, lacking bike lanes and full of cars. Even if you’re an avid biker in excellent shape, there are many areas you couldn’t easily (or enjoyably) access. If you didn’t notice from the pictures, I’m also seven months pregnant. Good luck getting around up the hills of Silverlake!
Thankfully, a couple months ago I stumbled across a whole new category of bike: Ebikes.
I went straight to my husband who knows about all things motorized, and he told me he just heard about Rad Power Bikes, North America’s largest ebike brand. I immediately hit up their Instagram, saw their cool vintage-feel designs and asked myself, “Where do I sign up?”
I didn’t want to spend $10,000 on a bike. I just wanted to live a biking lifestyle. Their prices fall at a fraction of the price of most ebikes, mixed with cutting-edge design and utility. With several options—being part moped and part cargo bike—I found the best options for my needs: The RadWagon 3 Electric Cargo Bike, so I could haul my son(s) around along with groceries or shopping bags. There was also the more compact option, the RadMini Step-Thru Electric Folding Fat Bike that I could put in my trunk, drive to another side of the city and pull out for easy transportation.
Since I got these two bikes, I have ridden them every single day this month.
With my pregnancy, I can’t believe how easy it is to get around with power assist levels 1-5 and gear options of 1-7. I used to be intimidated by gears on bikes—my husband constantly trying to explain them to me, but these have a simplified thumb-shifter for easy riding. With this cruising style of ebike, gearing is obsolete with a twist-grip throttle that gives 750W of power on-demand to quickly get up to speed. If I’m going up a super steep hill in the park with Judah in the Yepp seat, then I choose pedal-assist level 5, gear 4 or so and literally feel like I’m riding a moped. If I want a slight leg burn, then I turn down the pedal-assist. I could have never ridden around on a normal bike with the size of my belly! You can literally go anywhere, at any level of resistance or assistance.
I feel like my world has opened up and feel excited about going out because I’m not trapped in the car.
With the RadMini Step-Thru Electric Folding Fat Bike design, I can even wear a long skirt while riding. It also has fat tires that are perfect for dirt and gravel. I’ve explored all the trails in the park, passed through shallow creeks and taken a ride through downtown to grab sushi.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the one waking up at 5 a.m. to run the streets like many of my friends. I have a hard time exercising unless I find it really fun, so these bikes have changed my life in less than a month. Especially in light of the current pandemic, there is no better time to be sure you’re motivated to get out in the fresh air, move your body in an enjoyable and safe way.
By biking, I also feel good about contributing less to air pollution and living a more minimal lifestyle.
I also learned in Amsterdam and Copenhagen that if you want to be a minimalist, then take up biking. If you can only haul a certain amount of groceries back with you or a small amount of shopping bags, then you choose more wisely and consume less. Biking is an incredible way to change your lifestyle into one that’s healthier, mentally invigorating and less stressful.
Rad Power Bikes are available in the U.S., Canada, and Europe at Rad Power Bikes’ online and retail stores. The starting price is $1,199 and many attachments are available to build out each bike exactly how you want it.
Images via Darling
This post is brought to you by Darling partner, Rad Power Bikes. We’re proud to partner with brands that strive to create great consumer products. All thoughts and opinions remain Darling’s own.