The Pedalshift Project 226: Exploring eBike Touring

Every time I come across an eBike I wonder if you go touring on something like that? On this episode, I chat about my research on the topic!

The Pedalshift Project 226: Exploring eBike Touring

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Gear Talk: Exploring eBike Touring 

First – I’m far from an expert on this. This picqued my interest in the spring of 2019 when I was riding the DC to Cinci route and I got SMOKED on the Ohio to Erie trail by a Mennonite kid on an ebike. You can cover some serious mileage with one of those! But can you tour?
Second – Is this “cheating”? No. Is it cheating to have better gears than the bike next to you? Gears at all? I say ride your ride. Also, this opens touring up to more people, which I’m all for.
Third – there’s been some legal and social pushback on ebikes in a lot of places. They are being categorized as mopeds under some state laws, and if you spend any time on social media, there are OPINIONS on this. They’re too fast, too dangerous… etc. It wasn’t until last summer that ebikes were allowed  on the C&O. 


  • eBikes tend to be heavy, but are getting lighter all the time
  • You need to charge
  • Run out of juice, you’re cranking a much heavier bike
  • Range used to be too low for touring in that 60 mile/day range but battery tech and efficiency is getting a lot better
  • The batteries are too big to fly
  • Price – they can be pricey

Different types

  • Pedal assist
  • Throttle
  • Mid-Drive
  • Hub-Drive
  • There are even e-assist trailers that will give your bike a push
  • There are retrofit kits but those may not be robust enough for touring

Battery swaps

Europe seems to be working off of a standard sized battery and there’s a network of battery swaps at stores, pubs and other places (Switzerland seems to be great for this). Not a US thing, like at all.


250w (Europe) up to ludicrous 750w (US). More power can get you, well, more… BUT it drains batteries faster. 250w is probably the best spot for touring because that gives the best range with assist power.


Improving all the time. Key metric here is Watt hours (Wh). The higher the number the more range you’ll have. Multiply volts by Amp Hours and you can start comparing apples to apples for different voltage batteries (they vary from 12-48 volts across different ebike options)
Battery Strategy – carry a few, take at least one long break where you can charge one or more up

My take

I’m intrigued, maybe not in the near term, but definitely down the line as batteries get better and better
Helping with climbing and headwinds



As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like this spring’s DC to Cincinnatti bike tour! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Sunfields has a new album in 2021, AND Jason has a new solo album in 2021, AND his first solo album is now streaming on Spotify, including America, the Pedalshift theme. Go listen!

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