Yesterday Mai got her own wheels.
There is quite a variety of bicycles in Vietnam. They range from the old style bikes you would ride in the 1950’s. The electric bicycle was introduced a few years back and have become a big hit. There is only one drawback to owning one for the people here. The batteries need to be replaced about every 2 years, at a cost of about 80-100 dollars. Most Vietnamese do not have that kind of money in their pockets, so it seems to many that an electric bike is not worth the money. However, when I point out that a person would spend much more on petrol in 2 years, they admit that maybe these bicycles are not so bad. As usual with the people here, where the bike was manufactured makes a big difference in price and salesmanship. Myself, I do not care where manufactured. Everything is made in China or Vietnam these days. So, for a cost of 300.00 Us, we purchased an electric bike. The son of the shop owner assembled and tested it as we waited, and Mai bravely drove it home through some heavy traffic.
These bicycles have a standard range of about 45 kilometers. I tested a few and the maximum speed on level ground seems to be about 25-30 km per hour. Most city traffic flows here in that speed range, so using a bike for moving around is perfectly viable. It is of very limited use if a person needs to haul heavy objects or travel for long distances, however, for Mai’s use is should last a week on a charge.
The shape of the bike varies from very simple such as we have purchased, to bikes that mimic motorcycles exactly. These motorbike clones must be very clumsy to pedal when out of power. The simple one pedals like a regular bike. They only have one pedal speed which can vary by the style and manufacturer. The model we purchased seems to have the highest speed, is lightweight, and pedals relitively easy unpowered.