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It's your beach cruiser, only better.

Electric bikes are buzzy in the eco-athletic community (yes, that?s a community). But truth be told, we?ve never fully understood how they, well, work.

Luckily, we recently had the opportunity to try one, courtesy of the power-sports company Polaris. Here, our notes from the e-bike lane:

First of all, it?s useful to think of the Polaris ($3,000) as part regular bike, part Segway. You can pedal as usual, but thanks to a rechargeable lithium battery, the bike can also run on a motor for up to 30 miles at speeds topping 20 mph.

Since you control how much (if any) motorized energy you use, each ride?s strenuousness is really up to you. Pedal until you get tired, then turn on the bike?s electricity and use the handlebar keypad to get a mini or mega power boost. Or give your legs a total break and let the motor do all the work.

We love the idea of taking it on a scenic and invigorating daytrip: Turn off the motor for a sweat-drenching workout on your way there, then cruise home on battery power alone.

Commuters may be tempted to ride to work, but beware: At 50 pounds, the Polaris is difficult to lift over a curb, let alone haul up a flight of stairs.

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