Student Ravi Kempaiah will attempt to set a new Guinness World Record by riding his e-bike from Wisconsin to California with a few stops at National Parks along the way.
Electric bikes are just for riding short distances around town, right? While that may have been the case just a few short years ago, e-bike and battery technology improvements are enabling electric bikes to make major inroads into the conventional bicycle market, including bike touring, as this epic e-bike journey by Ravi Kempaiah will attempt to show.
Ravi, a 32-year old materials scientist and Ph.D. student, has been an advocate of e-bikes and electric vehicles for the last ten years, but three years ago, he met his e-bike mentor, Madison's “Crazy” Lenny Mattioli, who has grown his Crazy Lenny's E-Bikes store into an electric bike sales powerhouse. That connection with Crazy Lenny and his e-bike obsession lit a fire under Ravi's wheels to break the Guinness World Record ride for e-bikes, which currently stands at a hefty 4,443.4 miles.
Although e-bikes are rapidly becoming a go-to form of transport in many countries, the US market has lagged behind, perhaps in part due to faulty perceptions as to their capabilities, and part of Ravi's aim on this journey is to begin to change that:
"I think a common misconception about e-bikes is that they are not designed for the common person, are expensive and don’t provide health benefits, all which is untrue. I was inspired to change this perception. I hope that my journey stirs the country to see the positive impact e-bikes can have and changes the conversation about how they fit into our society." - Ravindra Kempaiah
Ravi left Madison on Monday, July 18th, on a top-of-the-line Stromer e-bike, in pursuit of the new record of a 5,000 mile electric bike ride, which will take him through 10 states and include stops at 6 National Parks along the way in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. His route is anything but a straight shot, as it bends and weaves through the country in order to cover the 5,000 miles and hit a few iconic Parks during the ride, although the last segment of the route will see Ravi follow the west coast from Olympic National Park down to San Diego, with a jog eastward for Yosemite National Park.
Ravi's steed is a Stromer ST2 S, featuring a 500W rear hub motor capable of assisting the rider to hit speeds up to 28 mph, and a battery with a massive capacity (when compared to many e-bike batteries) of 983Wh, which can handle up to 110 miles per charge. The Stromer e-bike is also equipped with the BodyFloat Isolation System from Cirrus Cycles, which is said to "help optimize the riding experience" by eliminating the effects of bumps and road cracks on the rider, and which is something that could really make a difference for Ravi when spending the next month in the saddle.
According to the Crazy Lenny's website, Ravi will be "collecting signatures along the way from local witnesses, taking photos every two hours and logging every portion of his trip so he can ensure his submission for the world record meets all the guidelines." He's also sharing his location and regular updates on his journey on the Ravi 5000 section of the website, allowing us armchair e-bike touring enthusiasts to follow along.