Ken Schwantje - Delta to Burnaby
It’s no doubt that OHM customers love their e-bikes. From commuting, to pleasure use, to trail exploration — there’s a use case for everyone. But what’s their unique story? We sat down with OHM customer Ken Schwantje to get some insights.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a minimalist workaholic. I enjoy my job too much to retire so you can assume my age is closer to 70 than 60, and I do like to push things on the physical side to keep the body from becoming...complacent. Seems I was cycling almost before I could walk. I remember a lot of skinned knees falling off the hand-me-down bike that was 3 times too big for me. Once I got over that, there was no stopping me. I didn't get a full drivers’ license until I was in my late teens as I cycled everywhere. Cycling was in my blood – it must be the Dutch in me.
What made you consider an e-bike? Why did you choose OHM over other brands?
Thinking back, it first came to me a few years ago in Denmark after an all day bike ride on a standard, fixed-gear utilitarian bike. Half the ride — the easy half — was with the wind. The other half was against it. As my legs cramped up on the way back I thought, “It sure would be nice to have tailwind all the time.”
Back home a couple years later, my commute changed from 10km each way to just over 20, and from generally flat to significantly hilly terrain. To add to this, my age was creeping beyond 60. I commuted with my regular bicycle occasionally, but the 80-90 minute uphill ride home was getting tough. It was then I looked at the e-bike solution.
My first two e-bikes were not OHM, and if they were, I would have saved some frustrations. These bikes were gear-hub based and a little on the flimsy side. With my usage being a tad extreme, they could not keep up. From component issues to general wear and tear, the support from the sellers was subpar for the price I paid for the bikes. I began to research other e-bike manufacturers and came across OHM and their stellar reputation for customer service. OHM's support has been top notch, and with a locally-made reliable e-bike, it's an unbeatable combination.
What is your favourite feature on your e-bike, and why?
I initially thought the electronic derailleur was over-the-top, but after a year of use, I really like it and I would greatly miss this feature if I did not have it — it shifts sharply and never requires adjustments.
If it counts as a feature — reliability. This bike has not missed a beat for over a year. My previous e-bikes and original OHM were all hub motor based. I was sad to see the hub motor be discontinued at OHM, but understood why. Over the 4 years with my first OHM e-bike, I watched the industry evolve while enjoying my ride which clocked over 40,000 kms in 3 years. Based on my research, I did have some doubts about the mid drive motor technology. Boy was I wrong! The performance is unparalleled — I have plenty of power and more to spare. I had initially thought the wear and tear would increase on the drive train, but it turns out it has actually decreased compared to the hub motor bikes. I am officially a convert to the OHM/Shimano partnership!
Is owning an e-bike what you thought it would be?
It just seemed like a natural progression as age caught up with me. I really can keep on going and going with the help of some electrons. The decision and subsequent experience has not just met, but greatly exceeded my expectations.
I use my car once in a blue moon. I've put less than 500km on it since February 2020, and more than 9,000km on the e-bike in the same period. I only use the car if the road is a skating rink, or if I’m unable to transport something of substantial weight or size on my back.
How has your life changed since the purchase of your e-bike?
Here’s the kicker: my life has not changed! And I wouldn’t have it any other way. If you can maintain the same pace when you’re pushing 70 as when you were younger, then maybe you just might be onto something. It's been just over 3 years now with a new hip. I rode nonstop for 3-4 weeks after the surgery, then after several physiotherapists and a lot of hard work, I’m nearly as good as new — and a lot better than I would have been without all that e-bike riding. It's a habit, but a good one. I feel guilty anytime I drive.
I do wish that my route was congested with bikes. I'm seeing more and more each year, and hopefully younger generations will be the change to a sustainable future. For now, I'm going to stick with being a bit selfish and enjoy riding the best e-bike by OHM.