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E-bikes changing gear in New Zealand SPONSORED

E-bikes are an ultra-low cost, low-effort form of personal transport.

Tired of traffic, the high cost of transport and the inconvenience of finding a park? The answer is here and it looks a lot like a bicycle. That's because it is a bicycle, but with a significant difference: electricity, and it's cheap at about 10 cents per 100km. Electric vehicles are incredible at 30 cents per litre, but electric bikes take this another leap forward.

Technologically advanced electric bikes (e-bikes) are taking the world by storm, outselling electric cars by about 300-to-1, and are now more accessible to New Zealanders thanks to energy company Mercury. Championing the advantages of plug-in electric vehicles and renewable home-grown fuel since 2014, Mercury is now also getting behind e-bikes as a smart and fun transport solution.

Chief executive Fraser Whineray explains: "We want to inspire Kiwis to get more out of electricity. That could be plugging in your car to enjoy low-cost renewable fuel, riding an e-bike or just finding new ways to enjoy electricity in your home."

The Auckland Nelson St cycleway connects Upper Queen St to Quay St, making inner city commuting easier and safer.

Already e-bikes have significant appeal in New Zealand – a recent Colmar Brunton poll showed that more than 40 per cent of Kiwis would consider purchasing an e-bike and they cited health benefits/getting active (28 per cent), cost savings (21 per cent) and reducing commuting times (20 per cent) as key reasons for the choice.

What makes an e-bike so appealing is the ultra-low cost, low-effort way in which they enable efficient personal transport. It's the no-sweat way to get to where you're going with the thrill of the wind in your hair.

Appearing very much like a traditional road or mountain bike, e-bikes are equipped with a rechargeable battery and a small but powerful motor. That makes pedalling a breeze and you can also zap up the hills with the motor, or chose an alternative route that would normally be a tough grind. Safety and rapid acceleration in traffic are other reasons for choosing the bike that's revitalising cycling around the world.

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When you own an e-bike there's no need for Lycra - you can take advantage of the bike by riding to work in your normal clothes.

On top of that, they're much easier on the planet than a car, which is why Whineray says e-bikes are the next chapter in making the most of New Zealand's 80+ per cent renewable electricity supply.

"This is pretty much the lightest carbon footprint you could have for a serious commute – they're fun to ride, affordable, and open up cycling to a lot more people across fitness levels. It makes you feel like an Olympic cyclist."

Whineray is now a big advocate for the e-bike experience, and the "wonderful feeling people talk about".

"I've had a lot of fun cruising around on our bright yellow Mercury e-bikes, flattening the hills, and you get around for next to no cost.

"The typical home will use electricity more than 100 times a day for about $6. Adding an electric bike will make practically no difference to that but will certainly reduce the pain and inconvenience of the petrol pump."

From his experience, Whineray says the benefits go beyond low-cost commuting and reduced travel times. "You can arrive at work in normal work clothes and still increase your energy levels and fitness. There is no need for lots of Lycra and e-bike owners tend to use them much more often than a traditional bike."

There is a model to suit all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders – the diverse options available include commuter bikes, cruisers, mountain bikes and even fold-ups. "No matter what you want to use your bike for, there's something to suit your needs. They're all powered by our wonderful renewable energy, with some renewable energy from the bike owner as well! Call it an energy partnership," says Whineray.

Mercury is so keen on the idea that it has partnered with local e-bike specialist, SmartMotion, and Bikes International to offer a full range of e-bikes at discounted rates for its customers. There are about 80 locations around the country, including Bike Barn and lots of boutique bike shops, plus you can buy them online.

No need to rush into it – take the e-bike challenge. Mercury is making it easy to try before you buy, with an e-bike ride experience where a trailer full of them will be travelling the country in a roadshow starting in Auckland and Hamilton this month. Find out when the next e-bike ride day is coming to a neighbourhood near you and how you can get a discount of up to $500 off when purchasing an e-bike.

For more information on e-bikes visit mercury.co.nz.

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