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For Pittsburgh woman, eBikes mean freedom and recovery from trauma

For Pittsburgh woman, eBikes mean freedom and recovery from trauma

July 13, 2022 | Justin Christopher

"I wish everyone had an eBike"

That's the desire of Cassandra Friese, a Pittsburgh resident who has already put 1,400 miles on her first eBike in just 8 weeks of ownership. Cassandra was kind enough to sit down to with us to chat, and we're excited to share the way she uses an eBike for transportation and recreation in Pennsylvania.

Cassandra Friese

Cassandra Friese on her Denago City 1 eBike in Pittsburgh, PA.

eBike replaces car

When her car failed, Cassandra looked to bikes as an alternative and chose the Denago City Model 1 with a Step-thru frame. She has a 10 mile trip to work, well within the range of modern eBikes. She's able to commute to and from work without having to charge during the day, and can simply re-charge overnight once back home. 

A primary reason Friese chose to upgrade to an eBike when replacing her bike was the ability to keep up with Pittsburgh traffic for enhanced safety. Although bicycle infrastructure continues to improve, sometimes riders must share space with cars, and a 28 MPH Class III eBike makes it easier for Friese to sing her favorite Taylor Swift song, while being able to manage the flow of traffic on the Pittsburgh hills.

Cassandra Friese Denago eBike with bags and trailer

Accessory bags and a trailer allow the use of an eBike for shopping trips. Friese has also added her favorite pink pedals and a suspension seatpost to her Denago City Model 1.

Since she doesn't own a car any longer, she also uses her eBike for shopping trips, carrying groceries and other items from the store in baskets that she's added to her eBike.

A traumatic childhood

For Friese, 51, life hasn't always been easy. "I had lots of trauma growing up... bikes helped me cope." But it's not all challenges - she's loved bikes and riding for almost her entire life!

Denago eBike outside of Thick Bikes

Cassandra uses Pittsburgh's Thick Bikes for eBike maintenance and customizations.

As she worked on healing throughout adulthood, Friese found the mental and physical benefits of bicycle riding to have a calming effect: "I rebuilt my life from the ground up, the bike really helped me." Today, she's been riding for more than 30 years and has a lifetime of experiences to share with new riders.

Her first eBike

When the frame broke on her well-worn bike, it was time for a replacement, and a new eBike - her first - was at the top of the list. Prior to this most recent purchase, she'd always ridden traditional "analog" bikes around Pittsburgh.

Friese spent about two weeks conducting product research before making an eBike purchase. She was drawn to the Denago City Model 1 because she wanted an affordable eBike with a minimum of a 500 watt motor for power and speed, and City Model 1 was one of the most affordable models that had all the right specs.

Using an eBike for camping trips

Daily commutes to and from weren't enough - Friese wanted to tackle some extended rides including a "bikepacking" trip - loading up with camping gear and then overnighting away from home cooking gear and sleeping bag. She quickly customized her new eBike with racks to carry her gear, fenders, lights, a suspension seatpost for more comfort on rough roads, and even a trailer! There are also a variety of decals Cassandra uses to express her unique personality and make the eBike her own.

Denago eBike inside camping shelter

Friese pulls her camping gear for overnight trips to these shelters outside Pittsburgh.

A trailer is a great match for eBikes, because the extra power on pedal assist and throttle allow the riders to pull heavy items. Trailers keep the weight of their load low to the ground, which lowers the center of gravity and improves handling. They're a great way to carry extra gear, small children, or pets.

Another important upgrade was purchasing an additional eBike battery. By charging both fully before she departs on longer trips, Friese can reach the distant campground (which lacks electricity for charging) and still get back home with some battery charge remaining by swapping in a second battery when the first is drained.

A die-hard Steelers fan

Did we mention that Cassandra is a huge Steelers football fan? It shows in the way she customized her eBike, even adding some Steelers signs to the rear rack to show her Steeler pride. She even uses "Steelers" in her email address!

Pittsburgh Steelers graphic on eBike

Friese has customized her eBike with a variety of stickers and badges, including her support for the hometown Steelers. 

Keep riding Cassandra, we're proud of you!