Steve Rapp's Famous Mission R ride / by Damon Lavrinc

One thing that stood out about Steve Rapp on the development of the Mission R and his record-setting ride.

It’s not the novelty or the newness of it, it’s just how easy it is to ride and the way the power comes on. There’s no shifting with your feet or hands and you have a lot of time just to worry about riding the bike. You’re not worrying about the gearing and all the other things that go with gas bikes.

And then the lack of shifting comes up again.

Actually, it’s easier to accelerate because you don’t have to shift gears now. There’s nothing hard or awkward. If anything, it’s actually easier to ride because of that. It’s just one gear, smooth power, there’s no hits in the powerband like you have with a gas engine, it’s easy to maintain partial throttle, everything. It’s just so fun to ride.

This is one of the things I’m most excited about when it comes to electric bikes and first time riders. When I was teaching driver training, we insisted that students learn on an automatic. Not because it was easier (although it was), but because there are so many more important things to focus on at first (situational awareness, lane position, speed, and on and on and on), that throwing gear shifts, clutch actuation and rev-matching quickly lead to information overload – all of which is magnified a thousand fold on a bike.

It wouldn’t surprise me that in 10 years time, all new riders will be taught on lower-power electric bikes with a single speed transmission (or reduction gear, whatever) so they can focus on threshold braking, proper cornering and overall awareness.