Featuring Bosch’s newest CX Drive motor, the Trekking has enormous torque (that equals acceleration) compared with the rest of the bikes on test. From a standing start the Haibike reaches the 15.5mph European speed limit in seconds. Pair this with mid-sized 27.5in wheels and laid-back mountain-bike geometry, and you have a grin-inducing almost motorbike-like riding experience. This is accentuated off-road, where a rider’s lower average speed is under the motor cut-off point for more of the time, so suddenly the hefty Trekking makes complete sense.
All Kalkhoff bikes come with lots of extras: hub or motor powered front and rear lights, bells, fenders, chain guards and racks. Some include a built-in quick-lock or a rack-mounted pump. There are a number of features available for the discerning cyclist, whether it's the Magura hydraulic brakes, the B&M super-bright hub-powered headlight, the top-of-the-line Shimano internal hub or derailleurs or the three-layer powder-coated paint process.
Once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or, I dunno, an inflatable sumo wrestler costume. Whatever you like.
If you want it to, an e-bike can replace a car, which is better for good ol' Mother Earth. Weinart says many young professionals are now seeking a "car-free" or "car-lite" lifestyle. In fact, 65 percent of people said replacing car trips was the main reason for getting an e-bike, according to a recent report. Accessories, such as racks, baskets, fenders, and even cargo e-bikes (for toting groceries or kiddos) are all available to make commuting by bike easier and more comfortable.
For those looking to hit the trails instead of the pavement, Yamaha has you covered with their new YDX-TORC electric-assist bicycle, which is powered by a souped-up version of their mid drive known as the Yamaha PW-X center drive motor system, which the company claims offers the extra power needed for more adventure and exploration on the trails, including a fifth power assist setting. As a more powerful e-bike, the YDX-TORC also demands a higher price of $3,499.
Electric bikes or ebikes, widely popular in Europe and China, are steadily making their ascent in the U.S. bike market. Erik Saltvold, founder and owner of ERIK’s Bike Shop, a Midwest-based chain for bike sales and repairs, says the ebike is the fastest-growing specialty bike in the industry. Last October, market research company NPD Group reported that electric bike sales had grown 95 percent in the 12 months ending in July 2017, with sales totaling nearly $65 million.
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an e-bike dubbed Zike. The bicycle included NiCd batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial e-bikes were available.
Patriot DreamE has motor cut-off brake levers and lighted battery indicator on the throttle. Some electric bikes have small tires which perform best on smooth streets. The DreamE has full size, 26" wheels for a safe and comfortable ride. Patriot customers have a choice of color, frame size (standard or small), seat style (contour or velo), motor power (350 / 500 / 750 watts), and battery chemistry (LFP).
Rumour has it, the Gazelle is Europe’s most popular electric bike. We can see why. Right from the off, the bike oozes comfort. Its classic Dutch sit-up-and-beg geometry combined with pedal assist makes it a smooth, comfortable, almost effortless ride. The Bosch mid-mounted motor (in the bottom bracket shell) delivers impressive, even power with four settings selectable via the left-hand handlebar mounted button and displayed on the central Intuvia LCD display.
The wiring could be better, but I think I’m going to make some adjustments to that myself. It’s also worth noting that the motor is in the rear hub just like a basic commuter ebike. This will affect the way it feels, as bottom bracket motors give a more seamless “pedal assist” experience. Of course, this bike seems like it’s made as practical transportation. To me, anything that gets cars off the road is a good thing so lets take it for a ride.
The downside to this mountain-bike build and specification is obviously the weight, at 24.5kg the Trekking feels heavier than the other bikes on test, and rightly bills itself as suitable for heavier riders, too. As with the other bikes here, this is only really a problem for smaller riders, or riders needing to take the bike up or down steps regularly. With its bomb-proof build, full guards and heavy-duty rack, the Haibike is the perfect choice for a burly rider or for doomsday preppers, ready to out ride the apocalypse.
Another great thing about this particular electric bike is that it comes with a Nuvinci shifter and belt drive system. This replaces a traditional derailleur, chain, and cassette. This means there is no need to tune your drivetrain or fix a broken chain. Nuvinci systems are virtually maintenance free, which is great for beginning bike tourists who don’t want to spend half a day figuring out what went wrong with their drivetrain.
Older Americans, especially those 65+ are the real drivers of electric bike adoption in the United States. Betty and Grady Smith of Beaumont Texas may not know it but they are the driving demographic for electric bicycles and tricycles. Both in thier eighties, the couple enjoys riding thier Worksman electric side-by-side tricycle around town. As a business offering electric bike and trike conversion systems since 2008, we've gotten to know...
As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.