Regular readers of mine will know that I'm a big fan of electric bikes (and I'm not the only one). I have been lucky to get the chance to review a variety of models over the years like CurrieTech's Izip Trekking, the Optibike 850R and Pedego's Comfort Cruiser. I have enjoyed every electric bike that I have ridden, but it's the Comfort Cruiser that has become my regular around-town bike. The Cruiser, made by Pedego, is a powerful beast of a bike that zooms on flats and eats up the hills of my hometown of Portland, Maine.

I first started riding my Cruiser back in 2009 when Pedego offered it to me for a short review period. I ended up keeping it the rest of that year to test how it stood up to a Maine winter (it did great). After that, Pedego let me hold on to the bike so I could review it as it aged. The Comfort Cruiser, like most e-bikes, isn't cheap, so it's nice to be able to track how it weathers the years. If you spend close to $2,000 on a bike, you want to know that it's going to last.

I am happy to report that, so far, the Comfort Cruiser has held up beautifully. In the three and a half years that I've had the bike, I have spent less than $200 on maintenance and repairs. The tires are bomber, the seat is still really comfortable (it better be, with a name like the Comfort Cruiser), and all the electronics work perfectly.

One thing that is important to understand about electric bikes is that you have to replace its battery every couple of years, depending on how frequently you ride. Pedego batteries run $595 for a 36V 10Ah and up to $890 for a 36V 15Ah, but they come with a three-year warranty. I get around 25 miles to a charge on a new battery. The capacity holds up well and only starts to fade in the last 10 percent of its effective lifespan.

My latest battery from Pedego is 48 volts and 10 amps, which equates in the real world to a snappy response and a cruising speed around 25 mph, assuming the rider pedals as well as draws down from the battery.

Electric bikes are great because they let you do one of two things — get somewhere faster or less sweaty. You can get just as good a workout on an electric bike as on a traditional bike, you just end up traveling way faster with the extra push of the motor. Or, you can commute to work without being drenched in sweat. Hills are a breeze and headwinds don't feel oppressive.

The Pedego battery fully recharges in a few hours at a trickle charge. If you recharge at night when utility rates are low, it can add just pennies to your utility bill.

The electric bike market has expanded greatly in the last few years, so besides the Izip Trekking, the Optibike 850R and the Comfort Cruiser, there's also Evelo (my friend Bill works there), Prodeco, and other companies that are but a search away.

If you have never ridden an electric bike and would like to see what all the fuss is about, contact the e-bike companies as a lot of them have demo programs for customers to test ride their bikes. If you're around the Portland, Maine area, you can sign up for an electric bike tour with Bike Portland Maine.

To read more about electric bikes here on MNN, check out:

UPS testing electric delivery bike

4 cool tech ideas for green cars and renewable energy

Don DiCostanzo: Electric bike entrepreneur

Full disclosure: I received the Pedego Comfort Cruiser at no cost for review.

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