New business offers e-Bike rentals and tours, makes it easy and safe to explore Cuenca and Ecuador

Apr 26, 2024 | 0 comments

If you’ve been using advanced age or physical limitations as excuses for not getting on a bicycle in Cuenca, there’s a new service in town that might change your mind.

Runaway Bike tours and rentals has been in business for 10 years.

eBikes de Cuenca offers bike rentals as well as guided tours to introduce expats and Cuencanos to the many benefits of electric bicycles. The new business is a partnership of expat William Dienst and cycling tour guide Adrian Bravo, who has operated Runaway Tours for more than 10 years.

“Electric bikes offer the opportunity for folks who have cycled in the past who would like to take it up again, but with power assistance for climbing hills and covering longer distances,” says William, a retired family physician from Washington state who moved to Cuenca in 2019. “For those who are not ready to venture out on their own, Adrian provides tours to help you get acquainted with the bike and explore Cuenca at the same time.”

eBikes de Cuenca’s new e-Bikes for rent are made by the Japanese company Giant.

For those considering the purchase of an electric bike, a rental makes perfect sense, William says. “It gives you the chance to get a feel for the bike and to see if you like it before you invest in one,” he says. “We don’t sell the bikes ourselves but there are shops in town that have a good selection.”

He says a good electric bike costs about $2,000 new.

William purchased an electric bike shortly after moving to Cuenca. “Biking was something I did years ago and wanted to get back into in Cuenca, and because of my mobility problems, an e-Bike made good sense,” he says referring to recovery from knee surgery and the degenerative arthritis affecting his feet. “Because of this, walking is hard for me so the bike makes my life much easier.”

Explore the backroads near Cuenca with Runaway Tours.

William has no regrets about his decision and, in fact, has bought three other electric bikes for members of his family. “It’s opened up new worlds for me and I like the fact that it’s environmentally neutral. Depending on which e-Bike, I can typically get anywhere between 30 to 70 kilometers from a charge, which takes me pretty much everywhere I want to go.”

Electric bikes offer several levels of power assistance, but William points out that it’s up the rider to decide how much help he or she needs. “Even with the assistance, you still get plenty of exercise. I typically try to use about 70% of my maximum muscle effort at all times. I get a good workout without pain or hurting myself.”

Group tours can be easily arranged.

With or without an electric bike, Adrian’s Runaway Tours offers biking tours throughout the area. A licensed tour guide, most of his tours are downhill runs. “We transport clients and bikes to a starting point at a higher elevation and then begin the descent,” he says.

One of Adrian’s most popular routes begins in Cajas National Park, west of Cuenca, at an elevation of about 4,300 meters (14,000 ft.) and then goes downhill on the eastern slope of the Cajas to an elevation of 500 meters (1,600 ft.) on the Azuay – Guayas provincial border. “We begin in the high-altitude páramo at Tres Cruces and descend through the cloud forest to the tropical forest,” he says. “You see amazing changes of vegetation, the birdlife and landscapes on the ride.”

Runaway Tours van takes tourists to high-altitude remote Andean locations for downhill runs.

Adrian also offers Cuenca tours for bikers of all ages and abilities, including many expats. One of the most popular is the Four Rivers of Cuenca. “This is a good electric bike tour for people who have not ridden in a while,” William says. “It’s relatively flat compared to other parts around Cuenca; and you get to go to areas of the city most people never see.” In addition to riding along the river greenways, the tour can include stops at the Pumapungo Inca ruins and the Botanical Park at the confluence of the Rios Yanuncay and Tarqui.

William plans to soon join Adrian in hosting city tours, with Four Rivers being his first. Others he’s considering are Turi, Baños, with a stop at the thermal baths, and Sinincay.

E-Bike riders not only enjoy the downhill rides but uphill climbs as well.

For those concerned about safety, William recommends a city tour as an introduction to the rules of the road. “Safety is a concern of many folks considering biking in Cuenca,” he says. “Once you gain a basic understanding of the routes and traffic patterns you will begin to feel comfortable and this is where a guided tour will help.”

He adds that Cuenca has a very good system of dedicated bike lanes and paths, which makes biking on either conventional bikes or e-Bikes safer and more enjoyable. “You have to cross the traffic at intersections but otherwise the lanes are a safe, quick way to get around town.”

Unfortunately, there are no dedicated bike paths in the historic district, he says. “It can be a little trickier there but once you get accustomed to it, it’s very pleasant,” he says, adding that riding on the tram tracks usually offers a clear riding path. “Of course, you want to get out of the way when the train comes.”

Electric bike rentals are available for half a day at $20 and for a full day at $40, with longer rentals possible. Bikes can be delivered directly to the renter’s residence.

The cost of guided tours depends on the number of riders in a group but private tours begin at $30 for a half day and $60 for the full day. The cost includes bike and rider transportation by van to the starting point.
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eBikes de Cuenca, WhatsApp: +593 99 508 0481; Email: runawayadventour@gmail.com; Website: www.runawaybiketours.wordpress.com

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