I recently e-biked from Meiringen to Interlaken in Switzerland, where Sherlock Holmes almost met his demise, and along the mountainous shores of Lake Brienz with a tour company – called Switzerland Trekking. I traveled winding two-lane roads and gravel roads with very steep gradients. The experience was like returning to my ten-year-old self, feeling the freedom and ease of cycling through an idyllic remote landscape. This time, it was on a power-assist bike and a breeze to pedal, especially on those twisty uphills.
Whether you call them e-bikes or more formal electric-assist bikes, they can offer a new way to see the world. Easy to use, a little tricky to master, they welcome energy, whether in Switzerland, the Green Mountains of Vermont, or a mountain on the west coast of Ireland.
If you’re not familiar with e-bikes, it’s important to realize that they still need to be pedaled. The electric feature comes from the attached small motor, which allows you to add a power boost, and the bike has a heavier frame to compensate for the battery and motor. Pedaling, shifting gears and balance are just like any other bike. But in these machines, the bicycle is the engine start of the e-bike. The best e-bikes measure your exertion and add power accordingly by driving the rear wheel. You’ll still get a workout, but you’ll choose the intensity of that workout and adjust the power boost to suit your energy level—and save yourself some hassle in the process.
This allows you to ride with a companion who is a stronger or more skilled rider and has chosen to ride a regular road or touring bike. They are perfect for couples of mixed biking ability to ride together. They open up hillier terrain for riders who cannot handle such inclines without assistance. They allow occasional riders to join multi-day bike trips and help older riders stay in the sport. They are a boon to multi-generational riders, like a family of abilities everywhere. Here’s what some major travel companies have to offer in 2023.
Champagne & Alsace EasyGoing E-Bike Tour
The Loire Valley Champagne & Alsace EasyGoing E-Bike Tour is an exclusive e-bike tour from Backroads. The company provides free e-bikes with biking activities on most of their biking and multi-adventure tours and on all Dolce Tempo holidays. You bike from Reims to Strasbourg on dedicated bike paths, past vineyards and the Route des Vins, along canals and through the peaceful Vosges forests. Their Dolce Tempo trips are more relaxed, and this six-day trip costs $6,099.
Tuscany Bike Tour
On this Trek Travel Tuscany bike tour, you ride from Chianti to Val d’Orcia, past vineyards and through rolling countryside. From tasting a Chianti Classico at Rada to a pizza-making class and exploring the walled city of Montalcino. Upgrading to an electric bike is available at no extra cost. As with all trips mentioned here, the six-day trip costs $4,199 per person, based on double occupancy.
The White Cities of Andalusia
Edelweiss E-Bike Tours is an Austrian company that offers only e-bike tours and has a list of departures to many European destinations. Their Pueblos Blancos of Andalusia tour is a nine-day trip starting in Granada, exploring the Alhambra in the Sierra Nevada, then visiting Antequera, Ronda and the White Villages of Andalusia. Prices from $3,630 per person including e-bike rental.
Switzerland & France: Lake Geneva, Annecy & Alps valleys
VBT notes that many of their rides have e-bikes, but they are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Their Switzerland & France: Lake Geneva, Annecy & Alps Valleys tour will be an e-bike delight. The key word for this trip is “Valleys”. It’s a ride that takes advantage of accessible terrain, biking on well-maintained bike paths and country roads with less traffic. On a journey perfect for beginner cyclists, you follow rivers and lakes with the Alps in the distance. A seven-day tour runs from $4,495.
One of the first companies to offer e-bikes on their regular tours, luxury bike tour company B&R has a number of e-biking tours. One of them is the Alsace e-Biking, which starts in Strasbourg and goes to Dachstein, following the famous Route des Vins to Colmar, with a final dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Frères Haberlin. “Recreational” level with 25 to 31 miles of daily riding. The 6-day trip costs $6,495 per person.