How An E-Bike Can Revolutionise Your Surfing Experience, With Chippa Wilson
Just hear the man out.
“E-bikes are for Karens!”
Now, hold on just a second.
Chances are that you, like me, have previously thought – “E-bikes, there’s so much to like – eco, cost-effective, probably quite fun, fresh air, surfboard rack etc – but, I’m not going to spend a couple of grand to look like a dork.”
Well, Chippa Wilson (a man who owns a fleet of vintage Harley choppers), has just forked some cash into an E-bike company called PEDAL Electric that make bikes made especially for enhancing your surfing existence. With the added bonus, clearly, of treading lightly on mother earth when petrol prices are sky high and natural disasters increasingly a part of life.
Chippa’s no dork, and PEDAL Electric launches in Australia today. Seeing as Chippa’s a longtime pal of the Stab Institution and has done us plenty of solids over the years, we thought it apt to shine a light on his latest ‘preneur. So, dialled him on WhatsApp to hear his curious little E-Bike theory.
“They’re pretty quick man, they get up to 50/60 kms per hour. That’s just unassisted power, no pedaling,” Chippa says excitedly from Tasmania, where he’s mid-way through packing up his house before moving 5000km north to Exmouth in WA.
The story goes that Chippa, like many of us, had long been curious as to whether an assisted pedaler could enhance his surfing experience. Particularly the stealth element that comes when you’re not torching petroleum.
“I always dreamt of having a bike that I could put in the back of the car and head into a track and find some waves and not be loud,” Chippa explains. “I’ve got a little Honda postie bike and when you burn in you’re quite loud and obnoxious. If you’re going through a perfect little forest behind the beach or something, you kind of look like a shithead.”
Chippa stumbled on the already up and running (although only recently, seeing as the brand’s a fruit of the lockdowns) PEDAL Electric. Chippa and the owner Spencer Gillis got chatting, and got on so well that Chippa ended up forking over some green for a slice of the pie.
“I was legit just talking to them about the bikes and we got along really well,” Chippa explains. “I got an in-depth breakdown on the product and yeah, it all kind of fell into place and here we are now.”
Chippa hasn’t got his hands on a personal craft yet, but he’s just had a couple of days burning around on the two PEDAL Electric models – the premium AWDII, and the regular CORE – in his Tasmanian (for now) home.
As a result, Chippa’s feeling pretty stable in his investment.
“Fuck, they’re pretty fun,” he says. “I was tripping, I was riding down some of the most hectic tracks. It was surreal, I got in some of the deepest sand and didn’t even have to put a leg down, I was just trucking through it.”
Chippa, like most of us, isn’t much for crowds, and that’s the direction he’s planning on pointing his PEDAL Electric in when he gets his mitts on one – down the beach.
And Australia certainly doesn’t lack open, relatively inaccessible beach that you’re generally too lazy to walk and check but know would pump on occasion. Sand depending.
“Ah dude it’s going to be insane for sussing out banks up and down the beach,” Chippa says. “You’ll be able to blaze down to that corner bank, on the sand. You’ll 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 in the middle.
“Yeah that’s kind of why I got involved to be honest,” Chippa explains. “There’s a million other brands out there, but fucking hell they look dorky. These are cool. They’re more utilitarian bad arse go anywhere. And I think they look kinda cool too.”
The top of the range AWDIII is, as the name suggests, AWD – “You flick a switch and go to all wheel drive and then your front and back wheels are spinning. It’s like a four wheel drive, it’s pretty insane,” Chippa tells me. And comes in at around five and a half AUD.
Then the Core – which Chippa tells me is as-if-not-more fun to ride than the AWDIII due to being lighter – is a pretty manageable three and a half AUD. Which, if you can burn around all day, even go camping for a weekend, will pay itself off in no time given how dear gasoline is, and promises to stay.
“Mate, you would literally pay it off in six months,” Chippa says. “With the fuel prices, registration, all that stuff. If you live in a small town and you’re not going far it’s a no brainer.”
Discovering hidden banks down the beach at some of my favourite east coast haunts on an assisted two wheeler was sounding pretty good after half an hour of talking to the clearly excited Chippa.
In parting I ask which of Chippa’s well documented fleet of vintage motors is the least discreet when going to surf some of the more discreet surfing destinations that he likes to frequent.
“I’ve got a 66 Chevvy K10, which is a big American 4WD pick-up truck,” Chippa says with a chuckle. “That ones a bit red hot. It’s actually red too.”
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