Electric bikes have soared in popularity and only require the rider to know how to ride a regular bike. So, on my recent Alaska cruise with Cunard, I counted the days to rent an e-bike in Skagway from Klondike Electric Bicycles.
E-bikes are easy to ride. With power assist, you can ride further with minimal effort and tackle hills that may have you walking without the extra battery power.
While we only rented the bikes for two hours, we enjoyed them so much that we rented RadCity e-bikes in Maui three months later.
I discovered Klondike Electric Bikes on Facebook. Owned by George and Nicole, they moved to Skagway in 2019 from Florida and planned to start their e-bike business. They initially purchased 20 e-bikes and scheduled to open in 2020.
Then Covid happened, leaving them without any rentals from cruise passengers. The husband-and-wife team opened their store anyway and spent the year developing a small gift shop.
2022 was their first full year of business, and we were thrilled to support a small family-run enterprise. With a fleet of 26 bikes and one Ford Mustang Mach E (electric car), they’re doing their part to save to planet.
So, if you’re looking for something to do in Skagway, here are some reasons to rent an e-bike to explore the town and beyond.
1. Close To The Cruise Port
From the Skagway port, cruise passengers can easily reach Klondike Electric Bicycles storefront on foot. Located at 398 5th Ave (on the corner of 5th and State Street), the walk takes 10 to 15 minutes, regardless of which dock you’ve berthed at.
All electric bike rentals include a helmet, bike lock, a water bottle holder, and a map with detailed directions of where you can ride within your allotted time.
Nicole recommends reservations as summer peak times fill up fast. Riders can choose from hourly rentals, a self-guided tour with lunch, or a 3-hour guided tour to see the highlights of Skagway.
Guests are advised to arrive 15 minutes early to learn the controls and basics of riding an e-bike.
Klondike Electric Bikes also rents out electric cars, Ford Mustang Mach E, and the Hyundai Ioniq. So, if you prefer a road trip into the Canadian Yukon to see Emerald Lake, consider doing it in a non-gasoline vehicle.
We chose to rent electric bicycles for two hours in the afternoon after we completed our White Pass & Yukon train tour on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway. With five hours allotted to two tours, we still had some time to explore the little town of Skagway on the 4th of July, which was crazy busy.
While you can rent electric bikes in most Alaska ports, Skagway and Sitka offers self-guided rides.
2. Three Electric Bike Choices
Klondike Electric Bicycles has a fleet of Rad Power Bikes in three styles. Riders must be at least 16 years old to operate a bike and 5 feet in height.
Being barely five feet, I opted for the RadMini StepThru, recommended for those 5 to 6 feet.
The RadMini StepThru is a folding bike which makes it an excellent option for city dwellers if you decide to purchase one. Because of their bulkier frame, motor, and battery, electric bikes weigh significantly more than non-motorized models. My bike weighed 69 lbs (31.29 kg).
My bike had smaller rims than Brian’s larger bike as shown below.
I selected the RadRover StepThru for my husband, Brian. It has larger rims, although both bikes have 4” fat tires, ideal for sand, gravel, and paved roadways. His bike weighed 72.5 lb (33 kg).
The final option, the RadRunner Plus, has an extra seat to accommodate another passenger. This bike weighs the most at 77 lb (34.9 kg) and has a total weight capacity of 300 lbs.
George introduced us to our two-wheeled chariots and explained the controls. While Brian had ridden an e-bike before, I was new to power-assisted bikes, so I was the guinea pig.
3. Ease Of Operation
Rad Power bikes have a seven-speed Shimano gear system, like on a regular cycle. However, it has an LCD display powered by the remote on the left handle. Using the up and down buttons, you can allow the battery assist to do as much or as little of the grunt work.
The power assist works with pedaling, so don’t think this is a free ride. Levels one and two are ideal when starting to ride. Level five provides the highest amount of assistance. The more you pedal, the more juice the bike provides.
On the right handle, a twist throttle adds a boost of power and works without pedaling. George was quick to point out not to touch the throttle while dismounting the bike, or our bike might run away.
It was suggested we apply the brake when mounting and dismounting the bike. Being new to e-bikes, I equated the throttle to Turbo power and was too afraid to touch it during my two-hour ride.
George says the bikes have a top speed of 25 mph, no matter the level of power assist. If you want to go faster than 25 mph, be prepared to add some leg work.
With a fully charged battery, bikes have a range of 25 to 40 miles depending on the level of power assist used. The control indicates the battery level.
Learning to ride the bike was relatively easy. I found the bike’s size and weight cumbersome when stopping and dismounting, especially since I’m 5 feet tall (or short).
However, once I got going, I was in e-bike heaven, feeling like I had a team of gerbils powering the wheels for me. The four-inch tires give a substantial grip on gravel and unpaved roadways, which we encountered in a few places.
4. Klondike Electric Bicycles Are Budget-Friendly
Bike riders can choose to explore Skagway on their own or take a guided tour. I loved the fact that I could book hourly, and rates start at USD 25. If you’re cruising to Alaska on a budget and seeking a family-friendly outing, an e-bike adventure fits the bill.
When comparing pricing to other Alaskan ports, I found theirs very reasonable. In Ketchikan, a 4-hour bike and hike cost USD 139, although Norwegian sells a similar 3-hour tour for USD 230. A company in Sitka rents e-bikes for USD 120 for the day, with no hourly rates.
5. Choice Of Tours Or Hourly Rentals
Since it was my 4th time at Skagway and my husband’s 1st, I knew Skagway pretty well and felt confident to explore on our own. If you’re on your first Alaska cruise, you might prefer the 3-hour guided tour.
The guided excursion includes all the popular points of interest, like the White Pass snowplow, Arctic Brotherhood Hall, Gold Rush Cemetery, Lower Reid Falls, and the city overlook. Interestingly, it takes two full months in the spring to clear the tracks to allow the train to run.
Even if it’s your first time in Alaska, Skagway is very small. So, even the directionally challenged would have a hard time getting lost on their own.
For those who seek a self-exploratory adventure, a 5-hour self-guided tour includes a lunch in Dyea. Five hours of free time allows you to enjoy the highlights without feeling rushed. Yep, this is the journey to be the tortoise, not the hare!
Nicole will supply you with a map and mark all the points of interest. Then you’re on your own to ride wherever the wind takes you.
Of course, you’ll need to ride to the Chilkoot Trail Outpost in Dyea if you want to enjoy the Halibut or Salmon melt lunch included in your rental.
6. You Can Cover More Ground
Since it wasn’t my first time in Skagway, I already had mapped out part of our riding route in my mind. However, Nicole recommended we add on a trip up the Dyea Road to Nakhu Bay or explore the streets of Skagway by bike.
Since it was July 4th and Skagway’s streets were congested, we decided to visit Nakhu Bay. By renting an e-bike, we could see more of Skagway on two wheels than on two feet.
We set off on our adventure with unseasonably hot temperatures in the low 80s. We headed out of town, passed the White Pass train yard where they service the train cars and engines, and onto Gold Rush Cemetery.
The route beyond the train yard is a dirt path, so prepare to get dusty and dirty. As instructed, we used the included bike lock at the cemetery to lock our front wheels together.
The Gold Rush Cemetery is the oldest in Skagway and relatively small in size but houses a small surprise. At the back of the cemetery, visitors can take a short walk to Lower Reid Falls.
From the cemetery, we rode up the Klondike Hwy and turned left onto Dyea Road. With an incline, we had a chance to test out the power assist and allow the bikes to aid us uphill.
Along the way, we passed many other e-bike riders who rented from Klondike Electric Bicycles. We waved happily to each other as if we were part of an elite club.
Along the way, a pullout on the left provides access to a scenic overlook. Here, you can look over Skagway and the cruise port. During our port day, there were three ships docked.
Beyond this area, the paved road turns into a dirt path. With big dips and a very uneven surface, this isn’t an area to test your “need for speed.”
We seemed to ride on the gravel road for quite a distance. Once the road curved to the right, we enjoyed picturesque views of Nakhu Bay.
The emerald green water reminded me of Tracy Arm Fjord’s hues. At the end of the bay, we tried to find an access point for the beach but couldn’t find a suitable pathway.
So, we snapped some pictures and headed back to Skagway. Once we hit paved road again, Brian tested the level 5 on the e-bike. I kept mine to level 4, and even at a lower level, my bike hit speeds of 28 mph going downhill, which was fast enough for me.
We returned our bikes 15 minutes early and didn’t feel the need to explore some more. Not having any cushioning on my tush, I found the bike seat a bit uncomfortable.
7. You Can See Dyea
With a one-hour bike rental, you can explore Skagway on two wheels instead of two feet. You could also make a quick trip to the Gold Rush Cemetery and view Lower Reid Falls.
With a three-hour or longer rental, you can ride all the way to the historic town of Dyea. Dyea is home to Grizzly Falls Ziplining Expedition, Sled Dog and Mushers Camp, and you can see the starting point for the Chilkoot Trail, created by prospectors in search of gold.
If you have a long day in port, consider taking the Chilkoot Hike and Float Tour, which combines a trek on the historic Chilkoot Trail with a leisurely float down the Taiya River.
Having had four leg surgeries, I find riding long distances a challenge. However, I found the electric bike easy to use and fun to ride. The fat tire bikes gave excellent stability on gravel and uneven surfaces.
With our two-hour rental, I almost felt like I had bionic legs and could tackle hills I couldn’t do on a regular bike. So, if you’re looking for a fun adventure in Skagway, contact Nicole or George, and they’ll hook you up with the perfect bike.
If you’re not traveling to Alaska by cruise ship, Klondike Electric Bicycles operates until December. With large snow tires, you can enjoy e-bike fun regardless of the weather.
Happy travels ~ Karen