riding the east shore trail electric bike vs regular bike

Riding the East Shore Trail: Electric Bike Vs. Regular Bike


Ted Schlater

If you’re planning to bike the East Shore Trail in Lake Tahoe, one of the most important decisions to make is choosing between an electric bike vs regular bike. Each bike has a different purpose and aim, and choosing the wrong bike for you can affect your enjoyment on the trail.

This guide will help you determine whether an electric bike or a regular cruiser is right for you. It will help you understand the benefits of electric bikes vs regular bikes, making it easier for you to decide between the two. 

Biking the East Shore Trail

woman riding traditional bike on the east shore trail

The East Shore Trail is a paved trail that is one of the most beautiful in the country. While it can be hiked, biking is a great way to enjoy the views without tiring yourself out. There’s a reason this trail has been called “America’s Most Beautiful Bikeway,” – and it’s because it’s a joy to experience.

If you don’t have a bike, you can conveniently rent one through Vista Trail Bikes, the North Shore’s premiere bike rental provider. The trailhead is a short bike ride away, and once you’re on the trail, you can enjoy the beauty that Tahoe has to offer while riding miles of paved bikeway.

What’s the Difference between an Electric Bike and a Traditional Cruiser?

The primary difference between an electric bike vs a regular bike is that, as its name suggests, an e-bike has an electric motor. This makes pedaling easier for the user.

Alternatively, a traditional cruiser is a “regular” bicycle – a bike powered by the person riding it, with no electrical motor.

However, there’s a lot more that differentiates these two types of bikes. We’ll cover the technical differences so that you can make an informed decision on which is better for you when riding the East Shore Trail.

electric bike parked on east shore trail

Appearance and Mechanics


As mentioned above, the primary difference between an electric bike vs regular bike is that the electric bike has a motor. However, this may not be immediately noticeable. In fact, most electric bikes resemble regular bikes at first glance.

When you look closer, you’ll generally notice that an electric bike has a battery pack. This is used to power the motor. Additionally, some e-bikes may have a display screen. Although this is not always a standard feature. 

bicycle wheel close up on wooded trail

Maintenance and Repairs

The biggest reason that people are hesitant about e-bikes is worry over maintenance and repairs. However, one of the benefits of electric bikes is that maintaining it is similar to how you would maintain a regular bike. If the non-motorized components of your e-bike fail, you can either repair them yourself or take them to a standard bike repair shop.

The challenge only lies in the rare occasion that the motorized components of an e-bike fail. In this situation, the bike will need to be taken to a specialist in e-bike repair. The growing popularity of electric bikes means that these generally aren’t too hard to find. You’ll likely be able to find one close by.

Additionally, if you’re renting a bike from Vista Trail Bikes for your ride down the popular Lake Tahoe East Shore Trail, you never have to worry about maintenance and repairs. Whether you choose a traditional cruiser or an e-bike, everything will be handled for you. You’ll only have to worry about enjoying your time in Tahoe! All bikes come included with a helmet, bike rack, and locks so you can visit the various beaches & shorelines along the way.

woman riding bike on east shore trail in lake tahoe

Riding Experience

The experience of riding an e-bike isn’t too different from riding a traditional cruiser. Some people who haven’t experienced electric bikes think they’ll have a steep learning curve. However, one of the main benefits of electric bikes is that the electric components simply make cycling easier. The motion of cycling remains the same, whether it’s an electric bike vs. bike cruiser. But riding an e-bike will be an easier riding experience with a motor to help you along. If you’re comfortable on a traditional bike you’ll be comfortable on an e-bike.

E-bikes reduce the energy expenditure required as a cycler. If you’re biking the East Shore Trail primarily to take in the sights, the benefits of electric bikes is that they’ll reduce the amount of effort you have to put into pedaling. Instead, you’ll be able to enjoy the views of Lake Tahoe without worrying about being tired by the end of the ride. Or too tired to make the ride back!

two men biking on dirt trail in lake tahoe area


Whether an e-bike is faster than a regular bike depends purely on your pedaling speed.

E-bikes have a speed limitation. Depending on the make and model of the bike, they can go as fast as 20 – 28 mph. However, once you hit this limit, the motor will cut out. You can still go faster – you’ll just have to do it without the help of a motor, like a traditional cruiser.

If you’re a fast pedaler, you may feel that e-bikes aren’t as fast as traditional bikes. If you typically pedal slower, e-bikes can allow you to go faster. This is because you’ll spend less energy pedaling, and you can push yourself further than you might with a traditional bike.

black mountain bike on wooded trail

Rules and Regulations

One of the biggest challenges of e-bike ownership is the rules that come along with them. As e-bikes are often considered motorized vehicles, they’re usually subject to certain rules and regulations.

These regulations differ from state to state. For example, depending on the class of the e-bike, you must be at least 16 years old to use one in California. However, there are no age minimums for e-bike riders in Nevada. More information about electric bike laws per state can be found online.

E-bikes (class 2) are allowed on the East Shore Trail. However, like traditional bike riders, e-bike riders must follow trail etiquette. Specifically, they should always yield to walkers and hikers.

Which Bike is Right for You?

When it comes to choosing an electric bike vs. regular bike, there are some key factors to consider. E-bikes are a great option for people who want to enjoy the sights of the East Shore Trail and aren’t looking to work out. Since these bikes are easier on the joints, they’re also preferable for older adults and people with joint problems. Finally, these bikes are great if you’re biking with a partner or in a larger group. They help set an even pace that everyone can keep.

Traditional cruisers are a better choice for people looking to break a sweat and get their heart rate up. If you’re hoping to get a workout in while you enjoy the sights, a traditional bike is what you’re looking for. While you still burn calories on an e-bike, you won’t burn as many as you would on a traditional cruiser.

Additionally, if you’re a fan of speeds greater than what an e-bike is capable of, a traditional cruiser might be the better option. While you can go faster than 20/28 mph on an e-bike (without the help of the motor), many experienced riders prefer the feel of a traditional bike for faster speeds.

If you’re biking with young kids, a traditional bike is the better option. This is especially true if you’re also getting a Burley trailer since Burley trailers do not attach to e-bikes.

Finally, there’s also the question of personal preference. You should always choose a bike you’re comfortable with – whether that’s an e-bike or a traditional cruiser.

We hope this guide helped you understand the benefits of electric bikes and decide which bike rental is right for you. If you’re planning to bike the East Shore trail, renting a bike from Vista Trail Bikes will make the trip extremely easy for you – and the qualified experts at our shop will be able to answer any additional questions you may have.