The environmental credentials of e-bikes, and electric / human powered hybrids generally, have led some municipal authorities to use them, such as Little Rock, Arkansas with their Wavecrest electric power-assisted bicycles or Cloverdale, California police with Zap e-bikes. China’s e-bike manufacturers, such as Xinri, are now partnering with universities in a bid to improve their technology in line with international environmental standards, backed by the Chinese government who is keen to improve the export potential of the Chinese manufactured e-bikes.
The best electric bikes for bike touring will be the ones that you feel most comfortable on. The most important thing you can do is assess your particular needs and wants and go from there. Don’t forget that it is nice to save money, but in the end you want an electric bike that is going to get you where you need to go. Comment below with questions! Happy riding!
Controllers for brushless motors: E-bikes require high initial torque and therefore models that use brushless motors typically have Hall sensor commutation for speed and angle measurement. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. The controllers generally allow input by means of potentiometer or Hall Effect twist grip (or thumb-operated lever throttle), closed-loop speed control for precise speed regulation, protection logic for over-voltage, over-current and thermal protection. Bikes with a pedal assist function typically have a disc on the crank shaft featuring a ring of magnets coupled with a Hall sensor giving rise to a series of pulses, the frequency of which is proportional to pedaling speed. The controller uses pulse width modulation to regulate the power to the motor. Sometimes support is provided for regenerative braking but infrequent braking and the low mass of bicycles limits recovered energy. An implementation is described in an application note for a 200 W, 24 V Brushless DC (BLDC) motor.
This article first appeared in Electric Bike Report in June of 2013. Since then, we’ve made some changes to our motor selection - our Direct-Drive motors are now all High-Torque 6x9 wound, so they run slower (approximately 15mph at 36v or 20mph at 48v), and our Geared Motors have been replaced by a 500w version, (approximately 20mph at 36v or 28mph at 48v). The Direct-Drive is now our Heavy-Duty motor and the...
Electric Hybrid Bikes- As the name suggests, these bikes combine the properties of mountain and fat-tire bikes. They are built to be fast and, at the same time, tough. They are lighter than electric mountain bikes, so you don’t have to deal with the excess weight when going up hills. You can use the bike to carry heavy luggage or cycle through rough trails.
Back to the bike. I’ve gotta be honest, it doesn’t look half bad. The battery fits into the downtube, which is way better than those crazy brackets you see on cheap ebikes. The welds are also smoothed over, like an old Aluminum Cannondale. The drivetrain is a mix of parts, with Shimano Altus in the rear. Altus is a mountain bike groupset, but on the very low end.
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.)
Others questioned the weight. The Indiegogo campaign claims the steel-framed e-bike weighs just 45 pounds complete, but that’s highly unlikely, says Court Rye, owner of the Electric Bike Review website. He’s posted an 18-minute YouTube video of his thoughts about the Storm eBike that he says tries to strike a balance of appreciation for the low price point and realistic expectations.
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.