E-bike Tours of Europe Introduced

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Travelers who like the concept of bike tours but lack the muscle can take advantage of a new electric bicycle or e-bike option now available on European cycle tours.

These e-bikes are nothing like the mopeds that tourists can rent in, say, Bermuda, which are more closely related to motorcycles than bicycles, according to Dan Austin, director and founder of Montana-based Austin-Lehman Adventures. His company has introduced e-bikes on all its Europe tours.

"The electric bicycle is different from a 'motorized bicycle' such as a moped because the motor only kicks-in to assist the rider in pedaling and does not independently power the vehicle," Austin told AOL Travel News.

"A moped has a gas motor that propels the vehicle at speeds up to 30 mph, and a moped's pedals are only useful in the 0-5 mph range of its full 30-mph capability."

By contrast, the e-bike has a small electric motor that helps – but does not replace – the pedaling action. Best of all, an electric bike can double the average biking speed from the typical 10 mph to 15 or 20 mph, he said which makes longer rides and steeper hills like those in Tuscany more manageable.

The e-bike should also not be confused with a Segway, a standing scooter that requires no pedaling at all.

Because the e-bikes are easy to use, they widen the net for travelers – including multigenerational families and occasional cyclists – who might not otherwise dare to embark on a Europe cycling vacation.

"Essentially e-bikes level the playing field," Austin said. "Couples can cycle together without fear of leaving a companion in the dust."

E-bikes are also lightweight and more environmentally friendly than mopeds.

Although some European companies are offering e-bike tours, ALA is one of the first tour operators in the U.S. to offer the option.

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Photo, Austin-Lehman Adventures
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