TRADING UP FOR AN EBIKE
It’s not just anyone who would trade in their Porsche Cayenne for an ebike. Meet Amo, an accomplished finance professional with a straightforward, kind manner, a keen eye for quality and an exacting sense for the value of time. He’s the kind of person who is constantly interested in finding the best way of doing things. In conversation, it is clear that, 11 years after moving to San Francisco from London, Amo is still perfecting his daily routines.
Amo lives with his wife and two children in the Richmond and works in the Financial District. Before Amo got an ebike, his commute by car was often unpredictable and meant sitting in traffic. As a lover of fast, beautifully crafted cars, he was discontented: “Nobody buys a car so that they can crawl at 10-15 miles an hour.”
Commuting by bike began with an office challenge to ride to work for two weeks. “I did it, and I realized it was taking no time at all.” Amo enjoyed commuting with his mountain bike, but it did not yet seem to fit seamlessly into the patterns of his family life. “I was staying fit and healthy, I was reducing my commute time, but the hills of San Francisco were pretty tough to contend with. By the time I got home my kids wanted to jump up and hug me and I was all hot and sweaty.”
As the son of a taylor in London, Amo’s clothing is a highly intentional part of who he is. The time-saving aspects of riding a bike were great but, in order to replace his car, he would have to find a way of doing it in style. “I was wearing different clothes from what I really wanted to wear. I wanted to wear my tailored shirts, trousers, or nice jeans, and I couldn’t do that on a regular bike, particularly if [I was] going to have a hot and sweaty uphill ride.”
Research on the internet brought a whole new solution to his attention: Electric Bikes. He found that they were increasingly aesthetically sophisticated and narrowed in on a couple important criteria: pedal assist and an integrated battery.
Right away, he went about personalizing and customizing his bike: “I was a very fussy and particular customer, I didn’t see the point of having 21 gears on the bike, so I had them change that out. I didn’t need to have throttle control, so we took that out. I didn’t like having stickers all over my bike either, so we made some changes to the actual skin of the bike. That was fun. We made quite a few modifications to make it what I wanted.”
Riding his new bike, Amo rediscovered his love of speed and agility, this time by ebike instead of sports car: “I found that I [could] go with the flow of traffic. First of all, when you’re riding a bike, cars are often trying to bully their way past you. But then they realize at some point, ‘hang on, I’m doing the traffic crawl.’ On my ebike I’m doing 15-20 [mph] and 25 if i push it. Now [the cars] don’t fight me, they go with me. It’s this mutual respect...Its actually making me a lot safer. I think that is one of the best things about an ebike, being able to go with the flow. Its better for drivers too, because then they don’t feel the need to push past you... [After buying my ebike,] my commute time was down even more, I was going up the hills, and getting everything I wanted out of it, to the point where I wasn’t using my car anymore. So, I sold the car.”
For Amo and his family, ebikes have become an essential part of a transportation solution. These days, if you saw Amo riding down Divisadero, you would notice the collar of his Hugo Boss business jacket popped up, revealing a line of reflective material.
One to take his pleasures seriously, Amo supported the Faraday kickstarter project and now has a small stable of ebikes to ride to work and on pleasure rides: “When I have friends and family visiting from London. We’ll all jump on the bikes and go for a ride in Golden Gate Park. It’s nice to have a guest ebike because they don’t have to labor as hard and can enjoy chatting with us...It’s only very rare that I actually think ‘I miss having a car’. It’s the exception not the norm. It works.”