Ideal 50th birthday present!
I've always been a cyclist - touring, time trials, cycling holidays, college, commuting, etc. I also like new technology. I came across electric bikes (I think while surfing the internet) a few years ago and started researching them more.
At the time, the choice was pretty limited and I did not like the look of any of the models available (old fashioned looking or Dutch style bikes) so I decided to concentrate on a conversion kit for my existing bike (a Dawes mountain bike - I live down a long bumpy farm track).
I gained valuable insight from online forums, particularly the Pedelecs forum, and a Canadian make (BionX) came highly recommended. Unfortunately, there was no UK dealer and I ended up having to import a kit from New York (from a very helpful dealer) - and at a time when the pound was worth 2 dollars!
It was fairly easy to fit and I have not looked back since. It makes cycling even more enjoyable by getting rid of all the less pleasant things (hills, headwinds, sweat etc). I can choose what level of effort I want to put in and my speed and then just go for it!
I very much prefer the pedelec system, in which you have to pedal and the motor then adds to your effort. You are then still pedalling just like an ordinary bike but as if you had a stronger pair of legs. Indeed, for a 50 year old (who is still in reasonable shape but not as fit as when I was younger) its like cycling as if I were a teenager again. A brilliant 50th birthday present!
I have tried quite a few other electric bikes over the past few years, some are mediocre, some are very good but so far, I've not ridden one that suits me better than the BionX.