Best Of 2020

Best Way to Give Your Legs a Rest on Steep Cincinnati Hills: Red Bike E-Bikes

Cincinnati’s sweeping, undulating hills are great for Instagram, but a pain for budding cyclists. Maybe the thought of those hills has kept you from riding as much as you’d like as you commute to work or hop from one neighborhood to another. Or maybe overall distance is a barrier. Or perhaps you feel like you can’t keep up with traffic because you’re not in Tour de France shape right this minute. Well, 100 Cincinnati Red Bike E-Bikes rolled out last May could help folks with those dilemmas and get more cyclists riding the city’s seven (plus) hills. The E-Bikes are very similar to the bikes Red Bike has been offering since the nonprofit launched in 2014 — a hefty but stable step-through frame with thick tires, disc brakes and three gears you can change via a twist of the handlebar grip shift. But press the power button above the left grip and you engage the electronic pedal-assist feature. It’s not like riding a moped with a throttle. The system augments your own pedaling via a small Bosch electric motor, providing a little extra oomph when you need it — like a hand on your back gently pushing you forward just before your legs start flagging. In “turbo” mode, the assist goes up to 17 miles per hour. Speed demons are on their own above that. The bikes have been distributed among the 57 Red Bike stations across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Riders can find an E-Bike by looking for a station with a lightning bolt symbol on the Red Bike app. Cincinnati Red Bike, stations across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, cincyredbike.org.