Very well put. I agree with you, I too lucked out picking this particular bike October 2020. The only comparable lightweight e bikes back then were mostly rear hub Mahle ones and word was not great for hills. After I bought it I aimed to ride my Vado SL with minimal assistance and it's had a remarkable effect on my health. In my case it was as a 'hill buster' to get me over the hills. Otherwise I wouldn't have felt any need to buy an e bike. On the downhills or flats I ride with assistance off until the bike feels sluggish, or heavy then I put on eco. But like you, recently having been mostly off the bike for a couple of months due to work I knew my fitness was poor and my motivation to get out on the bike was low. So I told myself not to worry about assist levels or how I used to ride or being miserly with assist and just concentrate on getting some rides with decent mileage. I've never been interested in using an e bike to go fast, that aspect was a real puzzler initially on reading these pages about the big heavy e bikes as It's not why I ride. A lifetime of ordinary bikes means I go fast when I go fast and slow when I have to, like on hills or with a head wind and that's always been enough. The e bike, this clever little Vado SL was bought for one purpose; to level hills. And once set up right (Lower gears & wider tyres in my case) that's exactly what it does. So getting back to it after this break I told myself get some 20-30 mile rides in and don't worry about assistance or fitness because if you lived somewhere flat you'd be aiming for that distance on an ordinary bike and all the Vado SL is doing is making it feel flat, but you are still pedalling for 2 to 3 hours and the cardio exercise, the journey, the adventure and having fun is the main thing. Without fun it's a chore and I have a bike because it's always fun whereas the gym, say, would be a boring hell for me. Like prison. I really fail to see the attraction for kids obsessing about gyms these days. Just get out and ride or climb mountains or swim in the sea or something not in a sweaty box! Anyway this plan worked, 2 rides last few days; Friday last, 24 miles with 2593 feet climbed including five big hills with at least 20% gradient and then Sunday I did 32 miles with 1986ft. Both using 45/65/100 but predominantly in Sport 65/65 when assist was being used. Felt guilty at first as that seemed far too much help. But it was great. Incidentally 35/35 is not any real help as the hills are so steep it feels too weak so I set base level as Eco 45/45. These 2 rides were fun and I feel I'm back (work permitting) where I need to be, looking up old routes like old friends and with new ideas filling my head for the coming months.
Re the new SL 1.2 motor - big draw for me is the quietness, the lanes I ride are quiet and on the hills the motor really whines, sounding so loud. In towns the traffic easily drowns it out. The 40% extra torque - don't mind that, be good to have it as there is no weight penalty and I can re adjust the settings to reduce assistance if I feel it's making me lazy or eating the battery. Plus muddy rocky bridleways I venture up would be more fun with extra grunt! But let's see what direction the next incarnation of Vado SL is first. What other changes they make. I am curious after seeing the Creo 2. I did not expect the 50mm tyre clearance. That was a big surprise.
I can relate to the sense of "guilt" that you experienced. I have experienced it too.....but I'm getting over it.
I have ridden over 1300 miles since mid June and I never never never would have done that without my Vado SL.
Most of those miles were ridden without power assist.
I too use the assist to flatten the hills.
Sometimes I use the assist to add speed and thus excitement to a route....still getting my Watts....still burning my calories.
On that occasion where I am tired, unmotivated, or otherwise simply am not excited to get on the bike.....once riding I invariably enjoy myself and get a good workout.....100% of the time (like today with 81 cardio minutes).
On rare occasions where I say "screw it all" and just put it in Sport mode to casually ride and converse with a friend....I should do so 'guilt free' and enjoy myself.....and I will.....and I still get a few watts or calories burnt.
I was not a heavy guy....but I have lost nearly 6% of my previous body weight....I look better....my clothes fit better....and I feel better.
I am still angry at the world every time I turn the news on TV.....but cycling seems to take a bit of the sting out of the s*it-show that is American politics....so my mental health is yet another benefit.
It might be nice to have a full power Vado in the garage....or similar heavy full power bicycle.....or a throttle bike....but I only have one bike and I'm glad that it is of the "light assist" variety. For me.....I want the fitness portion of cycling and the Vado SL has DEFINITELY given me a higher quantity of zone minutes than I would have obtained had I purchased a non electric bicycle.....no doubts about that. In fact....the Vado SL experience(s) may even entice me to buy an analog road bike at some point in the future. We shall see.