Duo gives biking a cross-country jolt

Electric biker photo gallery: Departing Brooklyn for San Francisco.


NEW YORK — An energetic entrepreneur and environmentalist have embarked on an electric biking adventure of a lifetime, setting off on a two-month, cross-country journey from New York to San Francisco.

Boris Mordkovich and Anna Mostovetsky started their 4,000 mile Trans-American Electric Bike Tour Saturday afternoon from Prospect Park in Brooklyn. If all goes well, the pair plan to arrive in The City on June 20.

Mostovetsky told SFBay that San Francisco was a natural choice for the trip’s destination:

“We chose San Francisco (as an ending point) because it is one of the leading cities in getting electric bikes established, it’s a very bicycle-friendly city and there are already existing electric bike businesses there and we thought it would be a great ending point.”

Electric biking has grown to be hugely popular in European and Asian cities, but it hasn’t quite caught on in America, said Eugene Mordkovich, Boris’ brother and business partner in Evelo bikes:

“There are 120 million electric bikes in China, millions in Europe, in the states there aren’t a lot of options.”

Part of the problem are silly laws in places like New York City. Electric bikes are illegal in Gotham unless their speed is limited to a moribund 15 miles per hour.

Mordkovich and Mostovetsky plan talks and presentations along the way attempting to turn people on to commuting via e-bike. Mordkovich believes a varying range of excuses has prevented more Americans from using bikes as their main mode of transportation:

“We want to show that if an electric bike can handle a 4,000 mile journey across the states, it can probably handle any sort of commute a person has.”

The pair will be piloting electric bikes from their start-up, Evelo bikes, who is backing the tour. The bikes have a 40-mile range per charge, so they’ll each take a spare battery with them to extend their range. Mordkovich described the e-bikes to NY Daily News:

“It gives you a gentle push. It feels like you’re going on flat ground.”

Even with an electric assist, riding across country isn’t easy. Training for such a long ride has proven to be a challenge, Mostovetsky told SFBay:

“We’ve been riding on a daily basis (to train) but it’s difficult to prepare for 4,000 miles because its hard to ride 80 miles a day!”

The duo will update the map on their website to show their current location. This isn’t their first electric bike rodeo either: The pair completed a 700-mile, one month tour of New Zealand together.

With gas prices continuing to skyrocket, maybe this trend will catch on. If you’re curious and want to check out an electric bike, you can  rent one from electric bike retailers like The New Wheel in Bernal Heights.