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Electric bikes let Braham couple keep on truckin'

Boyd and Kimberly Funes of Braham have found a joyful antidote to the challenges in their lives. They hop on their electric bikes and ride.

A native Minnesotan, Boyd moved to Las Vegas, NV, in the ‘80s, where he fell in love with Kimberly and with mountain biking. She didn’t share his enthusiasm for cycling until the couple moved back to Minnesota to raise their kids.

“We’d go to the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis, and the kids and I would ride around all those beautiful lakes,” Boyd said. “Kimberly said she’d rather walk, and she did for many years. I bought her a bike in 2005, and she hasn’t looked back.” 

“I fell in love with riding,” Kimberly said. “You’re moving, getting exercise, and getting somewhere at the same time.”

And then the challenges arrived. Boyd’s career in industrial construction took its toll on his body, and despite multiple surgeries, he is physically disabled. Kimberly was diagnosed with MS in 2009. 

“When the disabilities showed up, I knew we had to find a new way to stay out there and continue to ride. When electric bikes came along, I didn’t know anything about them, but I started finding out,” Boyd said.

Through online research and chatting with others, he learned that any bike can be converted to a pedal-assist electric and at significantly less cost than buying a comparable custom e-bike. He ordered kits online and spent about six days converting his favorite old recumbent bike and Kimberly’s semi-recumbent bike to their new ticket to freedom. The cost, $1,000 per bike, was high but well worth it to Boyd and Kimberly.

“An electric bike was my last hope to continue riding,” said Boyd. “For me, it’s literally life-changing. The mental positives…the energy you get…. The $2,000 we’ve invested is worth a billion dollars to us.”

The Funes’ typically ride 30-40 miles at a time, transporting their bikes to the Twin Cities or Duluth for the safe, scenic trails. They also use them around town for short trips to the post office and the grocery store. With 1,000-watt motors and 48-volt batteries, their bikes are heavy and high-powered. They can go as fast as 30 mph, but normal cruising speed is 10-15 mph. It takes about six hours to charge a fully-drained battery.

“You can pedal them just like any other bike, but when you come to an incline, the motor will kick in to take the pressure off. Or, you can just use the throttle; you don’t have to pedal,” Kimberly said. “We can take on any hill. If the wind is strong, we just laugh…. What wind?”

Boyd and Kimberly Funes with electric bikes
Boyd and Kimberly Funes
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