I tried out two electric bikes this week with 24-volt motors to assist with the hills. Unfortunately, the 36-volt bikes from Fanini Cicli did not arrive; they are on back order from the factory, so I had to settle for test-riding two 24-volt models.
I rode one in Lucca, where the only hills I could find were the relatively gradual slopes from the centro up to the city walls. It went up those short hills easily. I pedaled with about the same amount of effort it usually takes to move on flat ground. Then I tried out another model in Pescia, which is only a few kilometers from Montecarlo, so I was able to mount an attack on the true enemy, the 480-foot climb up the hill where we will live next February.
I made it to the top without having to get off and push, but not without considerable sweat and effort—and often I was not moving much faster than I would have if I had walked. This would be acceptable if we wanted to use our bikes for a good workout, but more often we will need them to do our shopping and for other daily business. I don’t want a workout every time we need to go outside the city, so these bikes won’t work for us. We won’t be able to try a 36-volt model until we come here to sign the final documents for our house in October, or maybe not even until next February.
Meanwhile, we have found out that we can also buy a used 50cc or even 150cc motorino for only around 1,000 euro, a little less than a new 36-volt electric bike would cost. One of these could carry both of us up the hill, so if we buy a motorbike, we will save both money and sweat.
The only problem, as I previously mentioned, is that only residents can own motorbikes. We can become residents next February, but then we would be expected to get Italian drivers’ licenses. However, I may have found a way to skirt this problem. We could buy a motorino in Lucy’s name. I would be the driver and she the passenger. If we are stopped by the police, I would pull out my American drivers license, and I have been assured by the police chief of Altopascio that it would be valid in Italy. I would state accurately that I am an American citizen. If we are asked for the documents for the motorbike, we can show that it is owned by Lucy, a registered Italian resident.
Will this work? My only fear is that if we register a vehicle in Lucy’s name, she will be asked to show an Italian license. I went to the Yamaha store in San Salvatore and asked the proprietors for their opinion. They consulted with each other for a few seconds and announced that my idea would work, because one is only asked for proof of residency, not a driver’s license, to register a motorbike. They even complimented me on my very Italian solution to the problem. “You’re already becoming Italian if you can come up with an idea like that,” one of them told me.