Rachel L. Davis is an avid bicyclist. But as a working mother of two, with a third child on the way, she doesn’t have time for long bike rides. “In my world, getting my exercise has to be part of my daily life,” says Davis, 36, who owns a marketing strategy company based in Washington. “I live in a hilly part of D.C., and as I’ve become more pregnant, more tired with more children, I don’t have as much energy to be biking 40 miles or biking to Alexandria.”


In a single screen, with simple controls, the BionX command console displays important travel information and allows the rider to easily switch between different power modes. In assistance mode, the display indicates the power supplied by the battery. In generative mode, the display indicates the energy transmitted to the battery. The console is a multifunctional odometer and displays:
You know the saying, “What you see is what you get?” That’s pretty much the case here: An e-bike or "pedal-assist" bike is a pedal bike with an integrated electric motor that adds power when you pedal. It's not like a motorcycle, moped, or motorbike, because it doesn't have a throttle or engine. Think of it like when you get the rocket boost in Mario Kart (except it lasts for more than three seconds).
Another type of electric assist motor, often referred to as the mid-drive system, is increasing in popularity. With this system, the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. In more typical configurations, a cog or wheel on the motor drives a belt or chain that engages with a pulley or sprocket fixed to one of the arms of the bicycle's crankset. Thus the propulsion is provided at the pedals rather than at the wheel, being eventually applied to the wheel via the bicycle's standard drive train.
Another independent e-bike dealership, Adam Solar Rides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is also feeling the crunch. With essentially zero low-cost electric bicycle manufacturers in the US, Adam Solar Rides imports their entire lineup of electric bicycles from abroad, mostly from China. Like many small businesses owners, they are left with questions about how exactly the unclear tariffs might affect them and other e-bike dealers.
I tested the Sduro 8.0 towards the end of last year (there's a new range out for 2018) and was surprised by its nimbleness. You expect e-bikes to be less maneuverable than their acoustic predecessors, but, pelting down some bespoke forest paths near Pedal & Spoke in the Surrey hills, I found I completely forgot that there was a box of electronic EPO on my frame. Partly, that's because the battery is cleverly integrated into the frame to decrease drag; mostly, it's because the suspension is soft and the steering nimble, much like a normal mountain bike.

After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you're pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).
×