Last summer, I moved back from sunny Southern California and its droughts, fires, mudslides, and earthquakes to the East Coast, where bitter cold, multiple blizzards, and torrential rains have gotten me stoked for the spring. And that’s not even taking into account Omicron, which put a damper on everyone’s winter, to put it lightly, and resulted in many hospitalizations, some deaths for the immunocompromised and unvaccinated, and significant strain on the healthcare system and its workers. As was true of many people, I didn’t feel comfortable going to the gym just yet, so being cooped up inside all winter with nothing but pushups, wall squats, and planks – and hikes whenever it wasn’t too snowy or cold – made me miss the ease with which I could just hop on my non-eBike folding Brompton and ride to the beach in the middle of February, as is easy to do in Southern California.
So I’m stoked, now that spring is here, to put in some earbuds and strap on a smartwatch and get outside to do some biking, hiking, walking, and talking (on the phone). I’ve had the good fortune in my job to test out the latest true wireless earbuds over the last few years, but the cutting-edge options with all the cool features like active noise canceling, audio optimization, spatial audio, and ambient modes, have been pricey for most people and the budget models only offered the barebones capabilities. But now the full-featured true wireless earbuds that used to cost upwards of $250 can be had for less than $100. This means that more people can now not only safely walk and bike out on the street with an effective ambient mode to stay alert for cars or other dangers, but also keep out the family background noise while working from home. Make sure to read our roundup of the best new earbuds and headphones to watch for in the coming months. Many are already available.
Another rising category I’m excited to try out again as the snow melts? Ebikes, which many people still seem to think prevent any kind of exercise. Contrary to popular belief, eBikes, especially of the pedal-assist variety, can be adjusted for whatever level of resistance the rider wants, which means you can not only make that flat, straightaway bike path as light or as challenging as you want, but you can also treat steep hills and even mountains as if you were simply going up a small incline. I’ll never forget the day I tried my first Pedego e-bike out in the Hollywood Hills; I felt like a superhero as I rode up those impossibly steep streets, while still getting a decent leg workout with moderate but steady resistance. Ebikes have come a long way even since a few years ago, and it’s increasingly the must-carry category for consumer electronics and appliance retailers. Here’s a snapshot of the latest crop of eBikes and e-scooters scouted and sampled at the 65,000-square-foot test track in Las Vegas at CES in January. (Incidentally, snow isn’t the barrier to e-biking that it might once have been, thanks to the winter-optimized MoonBike.)
That said, I’m looking forward to the warmer weather, so even if April brings nothing but showers, I’ll still be out there with my earbuds and eBike.