How an e-bike can revolutionize your surfing experience, with Chippa Wilson
“E-bikes are for the Karens!”
Now, just wait a second.
Chances are you, like me, have already thought – “E-bikes, there’s so much to love – eco-friendly, cost-effective, probably quite fun, fresh air, surfboard support, etc. – but I’m not going to spend a few thousand dollars to look like a jerk.
Well, Chippa Wilson (a man who owns a fleet of vintage Harley choppers), just splashed the cash on an e-bike company called PEDAL Electric that makes bikes specifically designed to enhance your surfing existence. With the added benefit, clearly, of treading lightly on mother earth when gas prices are sky high and natural disasters are increasingly a part of life.
Chippa is no fool, and PEDAL Electric launches in Australia today. Since Chippa is a longtime friend of the Stab institution and has done a lot of solid things for us over the years, we thought it was fitting to spotlight his latest “taker”. So call him on WhatsApp to hear his curious little electric bike theory.
“They are quite fast, they go up to 50/60 km/h. It’s just unassisted power, no pedaling,” says Chippa excitedly from Tasmania, where he’s halfway packing his house before traveling 5,000km north to Exmouth in Washington State.
The story goes that Chippa, like many of us, had long been curious if a pedal assist could improve his surfing experience. Particularly the stealth element that comes in when you’re not burning oil.
“I always dreamed of having a bike that I could put in the back of the car and cruise down a track and find some waves without being loud,” says Chippa. “I have a little Honda Postie bike and when you burn out you’re pretty loud and obnoxious. If you walk through a perfect little forest behind the beach or something, you look like an asshole.
Chippa stumbled across the already working PEDAL Electric (albeit recently, given that the brand is a product of the lockdowns). Chippa and owner Spencer Gillis chatted and got along so well that Chippa ended up buying green for a slice of pie.
“I was legit just talking to them about the bikes and we got along really well,” says Chippa. “I had a detailed analysis of the product and yes, it all kind of fell into place and we are there now.”
Chippa has yet to get his hands on a personal machine, but he just spent a few days working on the two PEDAL Electric models – the premium AWDII and the standard CORE – in his Tasmanian home (for now) .
As a result, Chippa feels rather stable in his investment.
“Damn, they’re kinda fun,” he says. “I was tripping, riding on some of the roughest tracks. It was surreal, I walked into the deepest sand and didn’t even have to put a leg down, I was just rolling over it.
Chippa, like most of us, doesn’t like crowds much, and that’s the direction he plans to point his PEDAL Electric when he puts his mitts on one of them – in bottom of the beach.
And Australia certainly has no shortage of open, relatively inaccessible beaches that you’re usually too lazy to walk and check out, but know how to pump on occasion. Sand according to.
“Ah man, it’s gonna be crazy looking for banks along the beach,” Chippa says. “You can race up to this corner embankment, on the sand. You will be able to find some epic shit.
I didn’t want to lead with the “E-Bikes sound great and all, but most surfers think they’re for dorks.” So I slipped it in the middle.
“Yeah, that’s kind of why I got involved to be honest,” says Chippa. “There’s a million other brands out there, but damn they look silly. They’re cool. They’re more utilitarian badass that go anywhere. And I think they have the looks pretty cool too.
The top of the line AWDIII is, as the name suggests, AWD – “You flick a switch and go to all-wheel drive, then your front and rear wheels spin. It’s like four-wheel drive, it’s pretty crazy,” Chippa tells me, and comes in at around five and a half AUD.
Then the Core – which Chippa says is like it’s not more fun to ride than the AWDIII due to its lightness – is a fairly manageable three and a half AUD. Which, if you can burn all day, even go camping for a weekend, will pay for itself in no time given how expensive gas is, and promises to stick around.
“Dude, you’d literally pay it back in six months,” Chippa said. “With fuel prices, registration, all that. If you live in a small town and don’t go far, this is a no-brainer.
Discovering hidden shores on the beach at some of my favorite East Coast haunts on an assisted two-wheeler sounded pretty good after half an hour of chatting with the clearly excited Chippa.
As I leave, I ask which of Chippa’s well-researched fleet of vintage motors is the least discreet when he goes surfing some of the more low-key surf destinations he likes to frequent.
“I have a ’66 Chevvy K10, which is a big American 4WD pickup truck,” Chippa laughs. “These are a little hot. In fact, it’s red too.
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