Commuting by bike for a month on the Niner RLT e9 RDO eBike
In Mid January of 2021, we decided to take on a personal challenge and committed to doing all of our errands by ebike for one whole month. We’ve been racing mountain bikes professionally for years but embarrassingly, we’ve never really commuted by bike at all. In fact, we’ve always looked at our bikes as high performance tools (which of course they are!) instead of transportation (spoiler: they can be both). When Niner started making the RLT e9 RDO gravel bike, we were immediately intrigued – could this bike replace our car? At this point we were living in our van, so this was mainly a hypothetical question.
In December of 2021, however, we moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico, a small town with great bike infrastructure. While we live about 6 miles from a grocery store, there are bike lanes the entire way. As you can see, we were running out of excuses, and so in mid January, we pledged to leave our car parked in the driveway for one whole month (except to go skiing because we aren’t masochists here!). This challenge proved both harder and easier than we anticipated.
First off, using an ebike to commute really changes the game. While it takes us 12 minutes to drive to the grocery store from our house, it takes 15 to ride an ebike. And it’s a lot more fun!
We quickly learned that backpacks weren’t going to cut it for grocery shopping, so we invested in a great set of waterproof pannier bags from Ortlieb. With the ebike, we didn’t feel the weight of these bags even when fully loaded, which was pretty amazing.
Our major challenges came from the weather – not surprising in January/February in the Rocky Mountains. We learned that dressing for a training workout was NOT AT ALL the same as dressing for an ebike ride in 15 degree weather. However, after a few very chilly rides into town, we started wearing approximately double what we thought we would need and found it a lot more comfortable. Also, investing in PEARLiZUMi AMFib “lobster gloves” helped a lot for the frozen fingers.
Once we got these logistics figured out, however, grabbing the bike instead of the car keys became automatic and the pluses outweighed the minuses. While we probably won’t go fully car free any time soon (we travel a lot), we can easily see ourselves doing most of our errands by bike going forward. Since our challenge finished, we’ve settled on a balance where we shop occasionally by car to purchase heavy or bulk items, and do all small errands by bike. Overall, we are very glad we took on this challenge, as we proved to ourselves that we don’t need a car for errands, even during the worst weather of the year. Commuting by ebike in the summer is going to feel like a breeze by comparison.
Want to see more? Watch the video here:
See all of Syd and Macky’s adventures here: