Welcome to the World of Electric Bikes
If you are new to electric bikes then this article will help you get a quick understanding of what electric bikes are all about.
You will learn about;
- the reasons to have an e-bike,
- how fast and how far they go,
- how much they cost,
- the different types of e-bikes,
- what the future of e-bike looks like,
- and how to checkout electric bikes in your town/city.
So what’s the point of an electric bike?
To some people the idea of an electric bicycle sounds strange.
Why would you want to put a motor on a bicycle that you can just pedal?
Well, here are 5 good reasons (there are many more!):
1. Getting more people on bikes. Riding a traditional bike over hills and into headwinds can be very challenging. An electric bike can flatten those hill and turn a headwind into a tailwind. E-bikes can enable people with an injury to ride a bike again. Overall, e-bikes provide a way for many more people to enjoy a bike ride.
2. Electric bikes make it easy to choose your bike over the car. An e-bike can get you around town quicker than a traditional bike and you can arrive at work without sweating. Commuting by electric bike is one of the best ways to have the bike to pay for itself. An electric cargo bike can be a great car alternative/replacement because you can carry people and cargo on a bicycle! There are some people who have sold their car and use an e-bike as their main form of transportation.
Portland State University has been doing a study on the use of electric bikes and the results are impressive.
3. Electric bikes are equalizers. An e-bike can help couples, families and/or friends ride together. Not everyone has the same fitness level and an electric bike can help those who are not as fast on a conventional bike ride with family and friends who are faster.
4. Businesses can use electric bikes/trikes as delivery vehicles and advertising. Some businesses can use electric bikes as company vehicles for employees to use for meeting clients.
5. Electric bikes are great for just having fun! Adding some assist to your ride will put a smile on your face. It is great to talk about the technicalities of an electric bike but you really need to ride one to truly experience the fun!
How far and how fast?
Here are some general stats for typical electric bikes. Your mileage may vary.
In the US you can typically expect an electric bike to go up to 20 mph and get a range of about 20-25 miles.
Recharging the battery takes about 4 to 8 hours.
They weight range is typically between 40 to 65 pounds.
Electric bike conversion kits start at around $300.
Complete economical electric bikes start at $700 and go up from there. If you plan on riding a lot, then I recommend going with a quality electric bike and those typically cost $1500 – $2000.
An electric bike is still a bike:
Electric bikes are great because they are still considered a bicycle as long as they meet certain requirements.
That means that they can still use bike lanes/paths and they don’t require a license, registration, or insurance. And you can park them anywhere, enjoy the fresh air, get some exercise, etc.
Here are the typical limits to still be considered a bicycle:
In the US: 20mph and 750 watts of power.
In most of Europe: 25 kph (15 mph) and 250 watts of power. (A speed pedelec can go up to 45 kmh but it needs to be licensed similar to a scooter.)
These are all generalities and the rules may be different where you live.
Types of e-bikes:
Commuter: Commuter electric bikes are typically are designed and equipped (fenders, racks, lights) to make commuting around town easy and convenient.
Sporty Commuters (Speed Pedelecs): These are fast electric bikes that go above the traditional 20 mph limit because they require that the rider be pedaling for the assist to reach the speeds above 20 mph.
Cargo: Electric cargo bikes offer ways to carry other people and things. They are a great car alternative.
Beach Cruiser: Yes, you can have a classic beach cruiser style electric bike and cruise the boardwalk. These have a comfortable, easy to ride position.
Mountain Bike: Electric mountain bikes are an emerging niche in the e-bike world. These enable more people to enjoy a mountain bike ride. They can also be a solution to those how would typically shuttle their bikes (in a car/truck) to the top of a mountain for the downhill ride.
Fat Bikes: Fat electric bikes have super wide tires (4”+) and they can be ridden on sand or snow. Adding electric assist makes a Fat Bike a lot of fun!
Folding Bikes: Take an electric bike everywhere you go! Folding electric bikes can be a great solution for storing your e-bike in your apartment, office or taking with you in the car, taxi, bus, train, boat, and plane (batteries can be an issue on planes). There are 2 types of folding e-bikes; the full size wheel version and the small wheel version.
Touring Bikes: Electric touring bikes have the ability to travel long distances and the capability of carrying bags/panniers.
Trikes: There are upright electric trikes that are great for people who have balance issues or who want to carry heavy cargo loads. The electric recumbent trikes are good for those looking for more of high performance ride with a comfortable laid back position.
Conversion Kits: If you have a bike that you would like to electricify then there are electric bike conversion kits that you can buy.
Big industry sees the future of e-bikes:
The future looks bright for electric bikes.
There are big companies who are currently developing their electric bike products because they see the future of this market place. Brands like Bosch, Yamaha, Samsung, Panasonic, and LG to name a few.
Electric bikes are inherently high tech which lends to integrating them with other new technology.
There are number of bikes that are offering Smartphone integration with custom apps, GPS tracking, and cloud based diagnostics.
And here is an electric bike that has Google Glass integration!
The future of electric bike technology is exciting!
Electric bikes in your town/city:
Keep an eye out for electric bikes in your town or city. Ask e-bike riders about their bike. I think most people are excited to talk about their bike.
If you haven’t ridden an electric bike, then you absolutely need to! I have heard from many people that they really didn’t “get the e-bike idea” until they rode one.
Check with your local bike shop to see if they have electric bikes. There may be a specific electric bike shop in your area too.
Enjoy the ride!
P.S. Don’t forget to join the Electric Bike Report community for updates from the electric bike world, plus ebike riding and maintenance tips!
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tom perry says
Building your own ebike is the best option