Bike Share services are not new in many major cities, but electric bike share bikes are fairly new. Here at Electric Bike Journal we know how awesome it is to ride a bike in a new city. It is a great way to see a new place at a nice moderate pace. Faster than walking and more convenient than a car. We have seen the Biketown Bike Share program in around our head quarters of Portland, Oregon and wanted to see what it was like using the electric bikes to get around for a little food and fun tour.
The Biketown Bike Share program has an app that you can download to locate bikes, reserve them and pay for them. When you open the app you can see where the closest bike is to you and how many miles it has left on charge. After you get to the bike you scan the QR code via the app and it prompts payment. Once you pay for the bike and unlock it, the minute counter starts and you will be charged $.20 per minute that you are riding. It is good to have an idea of the route you want to take ahead of time so you don’t add any time to your ride. We brought along a Lezyne Phone Holder to hold the phone and used Google Maps Cycling directions to choose the quickest route to our destination.
The Biketown Electric bike immediately delivers power as you pedal via a 250watt front hub motor. It has an internally gear rear hub and you have a grip twist shifter on the right hand grip. Choosing the correct gear is as easy as a twist forward or backward to get you pedaling at a comfortable cadence. There is a basket up front, with a bungee attached, however, it wasn’t quite spacious enough for our 30L camera bags. There are fenders front and back to keep you dry in inclement weather, as well as, lights integrated onto the bike both front and rear. The bikes have a lock mounted on them that you use to either lock it to a Biketown hub for free a free locking fee, or you can lock it anywhere else for a $1 locking fee.
Portland is known for its coffee shops, and there are no shortage of them in any part of town. Our first stop is one of Dusten’s favorites, Heart Coffee. We got lucky and there was Biketown hub very close to Heart Coffee so we parked our bikes and went in to get a tasty cold beverage to start our day. After we cooled down a bit and got caffeinated, we went back to the Biketown Hub to get bikes to ride to our next destination. Unlucky for us, only one bike was left at the rack…we opened the Biketown app to locate the next closest ones and began walking to them and as we rounded the corner we saw another Biketown bike pull up and lock up to the hub. Lucky us! We quickly unlocked the bikes to claim them as ours to ride to our next destination.
We believe a good day starts with coffee and donuts, so obviously we had to go get donuts next. We pedaled over to Doe Donuts, an all vegan donut and ice cream shop. Many searches for donuts in Portland will lead you to Voodoo Donuts, but Doe has just as creative of seasonal flavors that are very tasty. They have their staple flavors of the classics but it really is the seasonal flavors that keep me coming back. There were bike racks right in front and this time we have an issued with someone pedaling away with one of the bikes we were riding.
Next we wanted to take a cruise through one of the nice parks in Portland. There are plenty spread throughout out the city and Laurelhurst is one not to miss. It has a nice pond in the middle and plenty of shade if you want to ride here to have a relaxing afternoon or picnic. We did notice on the Biketown app that this was designated a “Slow Zone” and the bikes would not pedal over 10mph. Good to know and also nice they have this for a place a lot of people are walking though so you aren’t just blasting by people too fast.
All over Portland there are food truck pods that have a variety of food trucks with different cuisine. These food pods are awesome to go to when riding around since you can eat outside and park your bike close. Plus, on a nice day its just so great to eat outside. The foods pods are also great if you want to have some choices of a variety of food for your group. A choose your own adventure for food for everyone. We just happened to choose the same one and both got wraps that were delicious.
After a good lunch we wanted to head to the river to ride along the East Side Esplanade. At this point we had only ridden about 5-6 miles so wanted to put some miles in and enjoy riding along the river. Another nice thing about Portland is that it is a very bike friendly city. There are neighborhood greenways through most of the neighborhoods which limit cars and are even blocked off for bikes at some points. On some of the main streets there are designated bike lanes as well.
As we pedaled on the East Side Esplanade next to the Willamette River, the water looked very enticing. There aren’t many too many swim areas near Downtown, but there are some docks that have public access. As we neared the OMSI Museum, I remembered the dock next to the submarine in the river. Yes, a submarine in the river. It is part of the OMSI museum and you can book tours to go inside it. Luckily I was prepared with swim trunks and did a quick change for a cool off jump into the river.
Our final stop would be for ice cream, because a good day has ice cream involved (and coffee, and donuts…). It was a short pedal to Fifty Licks ice cream and we lucked out again that a Biketown hub was right across the street so we were able to lock up our bikes for free. Fifty Licks is a Portland Locals favorite made from scratch with local ingredients. They have a good variety of dairy and non-dairy flavors for types of ice cream lovers. We opted for mini scoops since we were indulging for most of the day already.
The ride back to our start point was a slight uphill and we were happy to have the electric Biketown bikes to assist up the rest of the way. The bikes were very easy to ride and pretty conveniently located though out town. The app makes it easy to see where they are near you and getting going with the bike is simple via the app. We only had that issue of not enough bikes for us one time, but lucked out one arrived just before we searched for another. In the end we were pretty pleased with our experience riding the Biketown electric bikes. Our total mileage for our day was around 12 miles and the final cost was about $30 per rider. This price may seem to be steep, but being able to get a bike at our convenience and not go to a store that has set hours. You pay for as much as you use it and can easily park them close to your destinations. An electric bike rental from a store will cost you $50 or more a day, so the Biketown bike share is more economical if you just want to use it for a few hours.