I purchased my first bike, a three-speed Raleigh, when I was 20. I lived in Brooklyn and went to a commuter college, and the bike radically changed my life. From age 20 to 46, the bike miles piled up. I didn’t ride with a bike computer back then, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I logged over 130,000 miles (and way too many good memories to count).
At 46, the arthritis, which plagues my family’s genetics, took its toll. A hip replacement, a knee replacement, years of dealing with an infected prosthetic knee, and another knee replacement later, riding became problematic. At best, I would pedal only 700-800 painful miles in a year. Some years I logged as few as 200.
Last year, Specialized gave me the pedal assist Turbo to try. My Turbo love affair accelerated quickly. I went from an old guy who drove to work too often to a rocket on two wheels. I have ridden over 1500 miles since June, and I am re-experiencing all the great things about riding. I now ride my Turbo at least six days a week, and I even took it on vacation to the North Shore.
The Turbo is a pedal assist electric bike. There is no throttle, so if you are not pedaling it is not moving. It has four settings: full assist, eco assist, no assist, and recharge mode. I mostly use eco assist, as it still gives me a pretty good workout without irritating my lower joints. I often find myself slipping into high when climbing the Prospect Park hill – especially when I spot a friend on a road bike.
I can honestly say the Specialized Turbo has changed my life. I have lost a few pounds, and I have picked up a few degrees of bend in my artificial knee. I am more flexible, I walk better, my brain is clearer, and I feel like I’m 30 when I’m on my Turbo. Most of all, I appreciate the serenity I feel when I ride. This may seem strange, as my regular commute is from Flatbush to SoHo, but cutting through Prospect Park and zipping down Vanderbilt on a bike beats sitting in traffic any day.
You may think the Turbo is an old guy’s bike, but quite the opposite is true. Most of the Turbos we have sold have gone to 30-somethings who want to commute with style and speed. While E-bikes are still a rarity here, they are becoming more commonplace in European cities and a great option for the medium distance commute.
So if you see an older guy passing you on an uphill and smiling from ear to ear, it’s me on my Turbo. Try to catch me.
-Charlie (I’m usually in the Soho store, so stop by any time for a chat and a test ride!)