“At $500 apiece,” he says, “the company would be selling e-bikes at a loss, once they factored in product liability insurance, quality control, regulatory compliance, safety testing, and post-sales service and support. Chinese e-bikes could certainly ‘leak’ into the U.S. market near that cost, be sold as a loss leader, or be marketed directly on eBay, but a fully costed business model could potentially lose up to $250 per bike.”
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You turn it on by pressing the green button on the battery once for low power and twice for high, although to be honest, there is not a lot of difference between them. After that, you just pedal. There are no gears, no chain to muck up your trousers (a motorbike-style carbon fibre belt is used instead) and not that much difference in feeling compared to riding a normal bike.
Both Vintage Electric and Optibike build more expensive electric bicycles in smaller numbers that are geared towards wealthier clientele. By focusing on what some would consider “luxury electric bicycles”, these companies might be better positioned to either absorb the cost of increased tariffs on imported parts such as electric bicycle motors, or find customers with enough expendable income that the higher prices of the final e-bikes wouldn’t be as large of a deterrent.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.
James LaLonde, senior brand manager for Cannondale, agrees. He says their entry-level (read: good for beginners and more affordable) e-bike—the Quick Neo—has a battery life that lasts up to 70 miles. “If you ride for a full day, you may want to recharge it before you go to bed. But if you’re just commuting [a few miles], you could use it for a full week before you need to plug in. Then it’s a four-hour recharge when it’s completely dead.” (Of course, you don’t have to wait for it to get to zero if you want a shorter charge time.)
Tackle your daily commute with ease or go for a weekend cruise in style with the Gazelle CityZen T10 e-bike. And don’t worry about those thigh-burning hills; the Bosch motor offers four assist levels—Eco, Tour, Range Sport, Turbo—making hills a breeze and the Lithium-Ion battery provides a range of up to 85 miles in Eco mode. The bike is one of the first to use Bosch's new integrated battery, which is concealed in the downtube. The matte black paint and classic, step-through design give a classic look while fenders, pannier racks, and integrated lights add practical functionality. The bike is easy to maneuver in city streets, but still has assist up to 28mph so you can cover a lot of miles and power up steep hills. There's a suspension fork too. It's not at the level of something you'd find on a mountain bike (or even some better e-bikes) but it takes the edge of some potholes and curbs.