3 Facts to Know about Electric Bikes

Though they’re known by many names (including pedelecs, electric assist bikes, and e-bikes) and come in many makes and models, high-quality electronic bikes offer powerful motor assistance across the board. We love them for their efficiency and ability to help cyclists of any level power through hills and enjoy a smooth ride (even when riding against the wind or facing other challenging conditions). Let’s explore three more reasons why electric bikes are worth the investment.

1. They can help you stay active

Navigating varying terrain and riding up inclines can be intimidating — especially for beginners or those who aren’t accustomed to riding a standard bike. If you prefer other forms of activity over cycling, don’t currently practice a regular fitness routine, are a casual rider, or struggle with aches and pains or other health concerns, an electric bike may just be the solution for you. In fact, in a study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, previously sedentary participants experienced “significantly greater aerobic fitness, better blood sugar control, and, as a group, a trend toward less body fat” when they rode an electric bike to and from work for three days each week over the course of one month.

E-bikes are an especially good option for people whose health circumstances deter them from exercise. Because the motorized pedal assistance minimizes impact and offers greater control over exertion, e-bikes are easier on bad knees or joints and more accessible for people with mild asthma that is exacerbated by intense activity (though you should always discuss with your doctor first).

Essentially, many factors that you may otherwise consider limiting can actually be compatible with electric cycling, ultimately allowing more demographics to stay active and healthy!

2. They’re great for commuting

When it comes to finding reliable and efficient transportation to and from work or school, electric bikes are an outstanding compromise between a car and a standard bicycle. As an alternative to an average vehicle, an e-bike will significantly reduce emissions and improve your carbon footprint. Factor in energy cost, purchase price, and other maintenance expenses and e-bikes cost an average less than five cents per mile compared to 71 cents per mile in a car.

If your route features formidable hills or frequent headwinds that complicate a standard bike commute, electric assistance can offer the power you need to take on any challenging terrain you may encounter. A less exhausting ride will also limit sweat so you can arrive at work fresh as ever.

3. They’re all different

Not all electronic bikes are created equal. Most models are created with different purposes and different types of riders in mind. Everything from the motor type to the battery and the tires will influence the intended use. So before you start browsing, be sure you can answer: where do you plan to ride your e-bike and how do you plan to use it?

For example, an e-bike that is best suited for commuting on urban roads will often have different specifications compared to one built for trail riding on unpaved surfaces. Other popular uses include cruising, touring, or even hauling cargo.

While many electric bikes feature pedal assistance (or, in other words, allow you to add power to your natural pedaling rhythm), some feature a throttle that powers the bike even without pedaling. Regardless of the type of e-bike, most operate at an average maximum speed of 18 mph, while some can run up to 25 mph. It’s important to note that electric bike road laws vary by state, so be sure to educate yourself before taking yours for a spin.

You’ll also still want to consider the same factors you’d compare and contrast when choosing a standard unassisted bike, such as frame, brakes, and suspension. However, when shopping for an electric bike, you’ll also want to pay special attention to the range (or the distance you can ride on a single battery charge), as this will ultimately define how you use the bike.

Bike ride from montlake to lincoln park

Ride Guide: West Seattle, Fauntleroy, and Vashon Ferry

If you’ve been keeping up with our Seattle Ride Guides, you may have followed along as we set out on our last bike route through Ballard. This time, we’re pushing southwest from Montlake toward West Seattle to the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal, where riders can take in Elliott Bay views or opt to sail onward to Vashon Island.

This 34-mile route (not including an optional ride on Vashon) features some varied terrain and moderate traffic, though it predominantly follows bike lanes, bike paths, or other established bike corridors. And, of course, you’ll encounter plenty of urban parks and trails plus food and beverage pit stops.

Get on your bike, take a spin on one of our bike rentals, and consult our guide as you prepare to discover what makes the route to West Seattle, Alki Beach, and Vashon Island so special.

1. Begin at Montlake Bicycle Shop and travel east on E Lynn St toward Washington Park Arboretum. Turn right on 26th Ave E and continue to follow parallel to Seattle Japanese Garden — worth a visit in itself (reopens in the spring; adult admission is $6). If hunger strikes as you approach E Madison St, don’t miss Cafe Flora for a fan-favorite vegetarian and vegan menu (hint: this is an especially good stop for brunch to fuel up for the rest of your ride!).

2. Just south of E Madison St, 26th Ave E turns into Martin Luther King Jr E. Hang a right at E Arthur Pl and follow as it becomes 27th Ave E.

3. Turn left on E Spring St before taking a right and following Martin Luther King Jr Way. Especially on a day with mild weather, Powell Barnett Park is an ideal place to pause for a breather, to relax in the grass and soak up some sun, or for a quick way to cool down in the wading pool.

4. Take a right at S Jackson St as you approach the Central District west of Leschi. Microbrew enthusiasts may justify another stop at the Standard Brewing tasting room for a quick refresher. However, if you have room left for a small lunch, consider saving that appetite for the next neighborhood: the International District.

5. It’s true — the International District is home to Seattle’s best global cuisine, all concentrated within a few blocks. While you can easily ride through the neighborhood and enjoy a great meal at many of the area’s sidewalk cafes, if you prefer to do a little research ahead of your ride, you’ll find plenty of International District food and drink guides such as this one from Eater Seattle.

6. Continue along S Jackson St through the International District and Pioneer Square neighborhood, then turn left onto the Elliott Bay Trail on the west side of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

7. Follow the Elliott Bay Trail as it merges with Alaskan Way S and E Marginal Way S along the waterfront. Cross the Duwamish Waterway via the West Seattle Bridge Trail, and continue along this trail until you see signs to join Alki Trail. You’ll then continue to follow Alki Trail, which runs parallel to Harbor Ave SW, as you work your way along the West Seattle waterfront.

8. As you approach the Alki Ave SW side of the trail just around the bend, you’ll have access to several beaches and parks with some of the best Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay viewpoints, including Seacrest Park, Luna Park, and Hamilton Viewpoint Park. Don’t miss these locations before working your way toward Alki Beach. Of course, once you do arrive at Alki Beach, this is another must-see spot with plenty of places to eat, drink, or lounge.

9. Catch more views, this time across the sound to Bainbridge Island, at the scenic Alki Point Lighthouse. Next, forge onward to follow Beach Dr SW all the way through Lincoln Park. You’ll end your ride by turning right at Fauntleroy Way SW as you arrive at the Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal. Bonus: hop the ferry to Vashon to extend your ride and enjoy the island shops and scenery!

montlake bike ride loop

Ride Guide: Ballard Locks & Ship Canal Tour

So many of the best Seattle bike routes follow the water. In the last Ride Guide, we traced a loop around Lake Union, stopping at favorite local parks, restaurants, and shops from Montlake to Fremont to South Lake Union and beyond.

The ride to and from the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, otherwise known as the Ballard Locks, is a mostly flat 14-mile loop featuring several stretches of bike trails, and requires some route-finding as the trail enters the Ballard neighborhood. Along the way, you’ll ride on the banks of the Fremont Cut, have access to some of the city’s best cafes, and will enjoy views of passing ships.

Important note: Make sure to walk your bike through the Locks and adjacent park to avoid a strictly enforced fine!

Got your bike and your gear? It’s time to ride west toward bayside Ballard!

1. Begin at Montlake Bicycle Shop and travel east on Lynn St. toward 25th Ave E, where you’ll turn left.

2. Continue along 25th Ave E, then turn left at E University Blvd.

3. Follow E University Blvd for two blocks before turning right to head north along 24th Ave E.

4. Continue going north along 24th Ave E. After passing over 520, you will see Canal Reserve park just to your left.

5. Continuing north, turn left once you reach E Hamlin St.

6. Follow E Hamlin St going west until you reach Montlake Blvd, where you will turn right to go north towards the Montlake Bridge. Be sure to enjoy the view while you cross.

7. Continue along Montlake Blvd going north until it splits with NE Pacific Street. Merge with the nearby Burke Gilman Trail, as NE Pacific St can get especially busy with traffic.

8. Turn right once you reach University Way, then take a left to hop onto the Burke Gilman Trail. This will take you through the U-District and towards Fremont, passing under University Bridge just next to “The Wall of Death” public art installation.

9. Continue on west along Burke Gilman Trail. After The Wall of Death, you’ll have NE 40th St to your right, with Peace Park just beyond it to the north.

10. Continue following the trail until it ends at the corner of NW 45th St and 11th Ave NW. You will continue west along NW 45th St. Just before you reach this point, you will pass by the Burke-Gilman Trail Orchard in the U-District, and SteamWorks Espresso in Fremont in case you want a quick pit stop and a cup of coffee. For this entire stretch you’ll have the Fremont Cut and Salmon Bay just to your left.

11. Continuing west, NW 45th St will become Shilshole Ave NW. Use the footpath just to the right of the street to go under the 15th Ave NW overpass.

12. Keep on Shilshole Ave NW until you come to NW Market St. Here you will take a left to continue west. This will take you through the southern tip of Old Ballard. To the right, after 26th Ave NW, you’ll find Firehouse Coffee, and past 28th Ave NW to the left you will see Kiss Cafe and Portage Bay Cafe.

13. Turn left onto NW 54th St when Market splits. This will be the midway point for the ride.

14. Turn left on 30th Ave NW. At the end of the road you will see a path through Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden that will take you to the Ballard Locks.

15. Cross Salmon Bay over the Ballard Locks, and keep an eye out for a glimpse of any ships coming to dock. On the other side of the bay you’ll come to Commodore Park.

16. In Commodore Park, take the first right just by the water. Watch for the first left to take after this. Go past where your trail merges with another coming from the south west, and take the next right onto W. Commodore Way.

17. Turn right onto W. Commodore Way, followed by an immediate right onto 33rd Ave W. This will take you just east of Discovery Park.

18. Continue on 33rd Ave W, and take a slight left to begin going south on Gilman Ave W. This will have you passing Kiwanis Memorial Preserve Park.

19. Gilman Ave W turns into 32nd Ave W. Follow it until you can turn left on W Government Way. This soon turns back into Gilman Ave W.

20. Continue along Gilman Ave W. until you can turn left onto W Emerson Pl. Once you pass 22nd Ave W to the left, keep an eye out for the Emerson Street Bike Trail / S. Ship Canal Trail. Once you spot it, hop on. This will take you all the way up to and through the northern tip of Queen Anne and where it meets with Fremont where you can once again see Fremont Cut to the left.

21. Turn right from the trail onto Westlake Ave N. You’ll have the Aurora Bridge in sight just to your east.

22. Continue south on Westlake Ave N. and get on the bike trail all the way to the south end of Lake Union.

23. Continue north on Fairview to Roanoke, then turn right and up the hill, crossing the I-5 overpass and passing the Roanoke fire station. Roanoke will then become Del Mar Dr. E.

24. Ride on for another couple of blocks until you cross over SR-520, then take
your second right up into Interlaken Park on E. Interlake Blvd. Stay on that road as it winds
through the park and takes you to 24 th Ave E.

25. Rather than crossing 24th Ave E., go left and ride one block down the sidewalk to get on Boyer Ave E. Go left for one block, then turn right on 23 Ave E.

26. Ride north for another block. As 24th veers a little to the left, stay straight and you will
be heading down into the alley between 23rd and 24th. Enjoy the short stretch of cobblestone remnants and continue north until the alley ends at E. Lynn St.

27. Go right down the steep hill and in 50 feet Montlake Bicycle Shop will be on your right.

Ride Guide: Lake Union Loop

We’re back with another favorite Seattle bike route packed with destinations along the way! Last time, our Pike Place Market Ride Guide offered an urban ride with the promise of tasty treats awaiting you at the end.

This relatively effortless ride presents a complete loop around Lake Union, a prominent fixture among Seattle’s landscape, with no shortage of parks, bridges, trails, and local eats dotted throughout.

While you can set out on this route from any point along the 10-mile Lake Union Loop, and may choose to travel either clockwise or counterclockwise, we’re going to kick off from the Montlake Bicycle Shop doorstep and work our way counterclockwise.

Prepare to see the city through fresh eyes as you embrace your inner urban explorer, grab your bike (or rent one for the day), and hit the road!

1. From Montlake Bicycle Shop, work your way north along 24th Ave E.

2. Just past E Louisa St, your path will veer slightly left into E Montlake Pl E, which then becomes Montlake Blvd E as you travel toward the Montlake Bridge. Continue to follow Montlake Blvd E until reaching NE Pacific St, where you’ll take a left and ride parallel to the Burke-Gilman Trail and UW Medical Center. Follow this until you merge with the Burke-Gilman Trail near University Way NE. Continue through the University District toward the Ship Canal Bridge.

3. When you reach the Ship Canal Bridge, it’s time for your first minor detour. Take in lakeside views at North Passage Point Park, then move west toward Ivar’s Salmon House for a classic Seattle-style chowder or fish and chips lunch.

4. Rejoin the Burke-Gilman Trail as it turns into the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop. You’ll ride parallel to N Northlake Way along the waterfront, passing through the south end of Wallingford. Don’t miss unprecedented south-facing skyline views at the top of Kite Hill in Gas Works Park.

5. Continue to follow the trail, then join N 34th St at Stone Way N. Pass under the Aurora Bridge, then upon reaching Fremont Ave N, ride toward the colorful blue and orange Fremont Bridge. If you wish, spend some time alongside the peaceful water passage at Fremont Canal Park before crossing back to the Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop section that runs parallel to Westlake Ave N.

6. You’ll ride by the marina as you approach the South Lake Union neighborhood. To the west on 8th Ave N, Hopvine Patch is a great place to pick up a bottle or can of your favorite local beer to enjoy as a refreshing reward at the end of your ride.

7. The Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop will eventually pass through Lake Union Park. History buffs with an hour or so to spare will appreciate the chance to wander the collections at the Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI). At the east end of the park, you’ll then make your way north along the loop before joining Fairview Avenue.

8. You’re now in the Eastlake area, and Fairview will become Fuhrman Ave E as you pass back under the Ship Canal Bridge toward Portage Bay. Follow this road as it turns into Boyer Ave E and intersects with the 520 Bridge near Montlake.

9. Once you reach the intersection of Boyer and E Lynn St, you’re in the home stretch! As you arrive back at Montlake Bicycle Shop, you’ll have your pick of neighborhood eateries to satisfy the appetite you’ve worked up. In the mood to carbo-load on fresh pasta, wood-fired pizza, and other Italian favorites? Try Cafe Lago just across the street. You may also choose to press onward to local treasure Montlake Boulevard Market just a few blocks north of the shop to pick up some deli eats or fresh ingredients to go with your Hopvine selection from earlier.

a bicycle trail through pike place

Ride Guide: Pike Place Market

Welcome back to Ride Guides: a series that traces our favorite local bike routes and showcases select destinations along the way.

In the first guide, we followed the Greenlake Loop with Gas Works & Ravenna Park with stops at local coffee shops, cafes, breweries, and viewpoints. This week, we’re mapping out an easy ride from the Montlake neighborhood to world-famous Pike Place Market.

Along the 5-mile route (one way), you’ll pass through urban parks, trails, gardens, and viewpoints before landing at the Market to sample favorite local shopping and dining destinations. Gear up and be prepared to ride with moderate traffic, with some stretches along urban bike paths.

1. Begin at Montlake Bicycle Shop on 24th Ave E in the Montlake neighborhood.

2. Travel south to E Interlaken Blvd, where you’ll join the Lake Washington Bicycle Path and wind through acres of wooded greenery at Interlaken Park.

3. On the other side of Interlaken, you’ll cross over SR 520 and by grassy Roanoke Park in north Capitol Hill — the perfect place for a picnic stop on a clear and dry day. Just across the I-5 overpass, take a breather at Bagley Viewpoint and admire Lake Washington and the Bellevue skyline in the distance.

4. Next, you’ll turn left on Franklin Ave E and continue south to E Newton, then Lakeview Blvd E on the east side of I-5. If you have some extra time, opt for a slight detour at this point to meander through the flowery hillside oasis at Streissguth Gardens.

5. Follow Lakeview Blvd E south to Melrose Trail and through Bellevue Place to Melrose Ave E. You’ll then have ample shops, eateries, and activities to choose from near the intersection of Melrose and Pine. Melrose Market on Minor Ave is a local favorite and paragon of artisanal foods and goods, including top-quality beans at Honor Society Coffee and colorful bouquets at the indoor flower shop. John John’s Game Room is another unique option for pinball wizards thirsty for beer and old-school arcade games.

6. Follow Pine all the way toward the waterfront, passing by Westlake Center, until reaching Pike Place Market.

7. Hopefully you’ve worked up an appetite by now, because there’s no better place to fill up than the Market. Try the friendly Mexican Grocery (next to the original Starbucks) for fresh handmade tamales and salsa. Thirsty? Beer drinkers need not look further than Pike Brewing Company. Bookworms will love wandering the stacks at Lamplight Books on the Market’s lower level and Left Bank Books on the corner of Pike Street.

8. Before heading back, take advantage of some of the finest views of Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains. At the north end, Victor Steinbrueck Park is a popular stop for Market crowds.

9. Simply trace the same route on your return journey to Montlake, or ride to Westlake Station on 4th and Pine if you want to connect with a bus line or light rail.