After a recent breakup, I started living alone and took the opportunity to evaluate my own carbon footprint. Although my parents offered me their old car to travel long distances for doctor appointments or to see friends, I realized that being so close to the city, driving every day is not a necessity. Even for a trip to the grocery store, I was seeking a more environmentally friendly way to travel. The transportation industry plays a major role in reducing emissions in the face of climate change, after all, as the Environmental Protection Agency reports that a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.
In November 2021, President Biden announced his Build Back Better plan, which is the largest effort to tackle climate change in American history and aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. The framework includes promoting electric vehicles to American consumers by making them more readily available and lowering costs to ensure clean energy technology. Knowing this, I began looking into electric bikes.
Woman-founded brand Bluejay stuck out to me immediately, and not just because the bikes have a stylish vintage aesthetic with a charming little bell and a perfectly sized basket rack built onto the front. Founder Jen Cohen Bogan set out to design her own model in 2019 after taking her first exhilarating ride on an electric bike and feeling inspired to spread the word about the clean — and fun — way to commute. She launched an informative blog alongside two models, the Premiere Edition (the one I tried, retailing at $3,295) and Bluejay Sport (a January 2022 addition, retailing at $3,995). Bogan's blog touches on everything from an e-biker's affect on climate change to the mental health benefits they may experience. Knowing that many people have questions about e-bikes, Bluejay's dedication to providing answers upfront was another pull for me.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sarah Wasilak
As soon as my bike arrived in the classic Bluejay Blue color with its cognac leather seat and handlebars, I knew I had made the right choice. Sure enough, the ride, including the breaking device, is ultra-smooth thanks to the 350-watt sensory motor. I live on a steep hill, and turning up the pedal assistance to make the climb (there are five different levels) is seamless and allows me to maintain my exact speed — which you can track on the digital display of the control panel along with battery life, lights, and mileage.
While the bike is heavy at 55 pounds, this being perhaps my only struggle as a small person, I feel safe when I'm on it and not at all overwhelmed by the sturdy aluminum frame. Both the handlebar stem and saddle are adjustable with no tools required for maximum comfort. The Bluejay bike has a battery that lasts for 75 miles of riding, but the fact that it's powering a zero-emission form of transportation without polluting the environment makes any time spent recharging worth it.
Of course, another bonus of an e-bike is that you don't have to get sweaty on your ride. While you can turn the pedal assist off completely and ride the bike traditionally, you'll definitely feel confident hopping on when you're a little more dressed up, knowing you're not about to face a strenuous workout. In fact, since you're exerting less energy, you're expelling even less carbon dioxide into the air, whereas the carbon footprint of operating a standard bike is about 21 grams of CO2 per kilometer just from heavy breathing, according to Bike Radar.
Ahead, Bogan talked to POPSUGAR to help break down even more basics of e-biking that she's learned along her journey. Read through her handy guide, then shop all seven unique colorways of the Premiere Edition bike.
How does an electric bike work?
E-bikes use a motor, which you'll see affixed to your bike, that propels and assists the movement of the bike pedals.
Can an electric bike get wet?
It can get wet briefly, for example if it rains, but it's not meant to be ridden through heavy rain, puddles, or streams. If you do find yourself caught in a shower, Bluejay recommends wiping down the metal frame with a towel or rag, then spraying anti-rust treatment onto the bike chain if you have some. Completely submerging the bike in water would cause damage to the electrical system.
Are electric-bike batteries interchangeable?
Bluejay bike batteries are not interchangeable and require specific batteries based on voltage, which should only be charged with the specific charger your bike came with. However, the batteries are recyclable. The battery support also comes with a key, so you can remove it from the bike and charge it inside.
Electric bike vs. electric scooter
Electric scooters are typically much more compact than e-bikes and often don't have the same amount of speed and power behind them. Depending on your needs, e-bikes are typically a larger purchase but have more benefits.
How fast does a Bluejay bike go?
The Shimano Alfine 8-Speed internal gear hub allows the Premiere Edition of the bike to excel up to 20 mph, and you can keep track of your speed on the bike's digital display.
What sets the Bluejay bike apart?
Aside from the vintage aesthetic and cool colorway options you're getting with a Bluejay bike, the technical components definitely set it apart from other bikes. The Bluejay has a powerful motor, a longer lasting battery than other bikes (you can travel 75 miles between charges), and a super quiet, smooth ride, plus powerful brakes. There is also a rear rack that can carry over 55 pounds and can fit a kid carrier, along with a front carrier than can support just over 20 pounds. While the entire bike weighs 55 pounds, it's on the lighter-to-mid end for e-bikes, with some running up to almost 80 pounds.
Is it worth getting an electric bike?
When you consider how much money you're saving on buying gas, paying for parking spots, or putting a down payment on a car, an investment in an electric bike is sound. Plus, Bluejay offers free shipping and assembly and allows you to finance your purchase, paying as low as $161 a month. For Earth Month, the company also committed to donating $100 to Earthday.org for every bike sold in order to help activate the environmental movement worldwide.
What are the disadvantages of electric bikes?
A $3,000+ upfront cost on the Bluejay bike is obviously a splurge, and less affordable than a regular bike. Being that I struggled with the heavier weight of the bike, it can also be more difficult to transport it in and out of your apartment, or down a stairway, if you have one. While regular bikes can also get wet, you do have to keep the weather in mind when jumping on your electric bike, since too much water can be damaging to the motor.
Can you ride an electric bike without pedaling?
There are five levels of pedal assist on the Bluejay bike. If you turn pedal assist off, you can ride the bike normally, but at the highest level, you can speed up the steepest hill at speeds near 20 mph with ease. The only way you'd be able to ride an e-bike without pedaling is if you find one that has a full throttle.