January 16, 2022

The most revolutionary piece of tech I’ve used since the iPhone

Over the past few years I’ve donned an Oculus VR headset (very cool) and dipped my toes into crypto (cautiously optimistic). Before that I’ve outfitted my home with Echo speakers and smart home lights, outlets, and thermostats (actually pretty great, once you lower your expectations). I’ve worn an Apple Watch (but it lives in a drawer after a year), upgraded my iPhone (incrementally better), and even bought a Nintendo Switch to pass the pandemic time (fun!).

There’s a lot to be excited about coming across the innovation horizon. Moore’s law continues to blow me away, and some new tech is barely indistinguishable from magic.

But through all of that, the single most revolutionary piece of technology that I have used in the past five years is one that looks a whole lot like something invented over two hundred years ago. It’s the e-bike.

Nothing has more changed the way I exist in the world, the way I see and interact with the space around me, this much since my first iPhone in 2008. E-bikes change the geography of your biography. They open up new worlds and new sensations. And they are a sustainable, healthy, and downright joyful solution to how people and things get around.

While the first electric bike was invented way back in 1897, only over the last handful of years as batteries have gotten more powerful and affordable has the revolution really picked up speed. When the pandemic brought a bike boom to New York and other cities, everything clicked.

Most leading e-bikes, like the RadRunner I bought (and fell in love with) last summer, have enough oomph to easily get you over the hills and bridges that would otherwise drench you in sweat during a normal commute. On throttle-only mode, you can hit a brisk 20 mph and easily get to most intra-city destinations and back within a single charge. Especially as our cities slowly get more bike-friendly, these devices — not electric cars — are the best solution for navigating car-choked downtowns.

Deliveristas have been ahead of the curve with e-bikes for some time now, and on any avenue in this city you can spot them zipping meals and merch around town with impressive speed and grace. These pros have more experience moving within urban spaces than anybody else, they are the early adopters we should be looking towards to see the future of how the rest of us get around.

The metaverse is nice and all, but we still exist IRL. And there is nothing I’m more excited about in that real world than the power of e-bikes to change our cities and our lives.

About the Author

Ben Guttmann ran a marketing agency for a long time, now he teaches digital marketing at Baruch College, has a book coming out this fall, and works with some cool folks on other projects in-between all of that. He writes about how we experience a world shaped by technology and humanity – and how we can build a better one.

Get my book, it's coming out this fall.

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