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Adam Hanabarger, owner of Uncle Adam'??s Uphill Bikes in Lafayette, Ind., replaces a battery on one of the electric bicycles he sells on Monday, March 31, 2014. Hanabarger and co-owner Kimberly Lacey exclusively sell e-bikes by ProdecoTech and are the only dealer in Indiana. / Michael Heinz, Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier

LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Adam Hanabarger used to huff and puff when pedaling to his home atop Asher Street.

All the energy and sweat Hanabarger exerted to bike the incline eventually was too much. It left him exhausted and a little cranky. There had to be a better way, he thought.

"It is just not feasible to do a lot of riding around town if you are not a super athlete," he said.

Hanabarger began looking in the niche realm of e-bikes - a traditional-looking bicycle powered by electric charge and motor. He settled on a ProdecoTech Phantom X2, a black model with a 38-volt, 12-amp hour lithium ion battery behind the seat.

Hanabarger was soon obsessed. He woke up thinking about the bike's ability to propel him up State Street, Ninth Street and even Main Street while other peddlers pushed their bikes or struggled to remain balanced. Friends asked to ride the bike. Sometimes people would stop him and ask to take a picture.

The 35-year-old decided to open Uncle Adam's Uphill Bikes to exclusively sell ProdecoTech e-bikes.

"I think the bicycle should be enjoyed all the time. And this is how you can enjoy it all the time. No trip is too long," Hanabarger said.

"I see this as something replacing the moped. We are not trying to take people off of traditional bicycles. We are trying to take people off of mopeds, because they are silly, and you don't want a friend to see you on one."

ProdecoTech offers about 20 electric bikes. The average price at Uphill Bikes is $1,500, but some sell for $5,000. The Mariner model, with a 250-watt motor mounted to the front wheel, can reach speeds of 17 mph unassisted in "free spinning" mode. You can add to that speed and extend the duration of the battery by pedaling. Its lithium battery needs charged between 25 and 30 miles.

Larger batteries can be purchased. Each has a 2,000-charge life cycle.

The bicycle can be quickly disassembled and fit in the trunk of car - even a Smart Car, according to the company's website.

Uncle Adam's Uphill Bikes is Hanabarger's first business. For now, he is working "12 hours a day, seven days week" promoting the store and his passion about the e-bike. The store also sells local art and tie-dye clothing and home items.

He envisions couples using the bikes for day trips at state parks, or local commuters who want to arrive at work without breaking a sweat.

"No route you have to take is intimidating anymore. You never have to get off and push this bike," he said. "I get a lot more exercise than I would otherwise, because I am not afraid to go anywhere."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: E-bikes take bite out of hilly rides

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