Cost: Good e-bikes are not cheap, and unlike most bikes, the costs associated with owning an e-bike don’t end when you hand over your credit card in exchange for a shiny new steed. The average cost of operating an electric bike is around $390 a year, including maintenance and charging. You’re also likely to need to change the batteries every 3-5 years so factor that into your costs.
For the past few months, I’ve been preparing for a trip through Scotland and England. If you’ve read any of my other lifestyle posts, then you know that I think the absolute best way to explore an area is by bicycle. So, when I was planning my trip, of course I decided to do an electric bike tour. I’ll be doing a John O’ Groats to Land’s End ride, approximately 900 miles. Let’s talk about the best electric bikes for bike touring.
I think this is a super interesting bike. I like seeing IZIP stepping into the world of Brose motors. Brose bikes always look clean and refined because of the battery integration. This bike is a pretty great value for what you get. Totally integrated lights, rear rack, fenders, and plus sized tires are all great to have. I wish it had a dual chainring in the front, but you can always add one on a Brose motor.
Designed for the same maneuverability as a non-electric bike, this roughly $3,000 model designed for the city can handle hills and distance. Using a Bosch motor for 100-mile cycling on flat or hilly terrain and a lightweight aluminum frame, the Dutch-made Gazelle model aims for a “sporty posture” and “precise cycling performance” in a robust offering.
Built by a company that’s made cycling equipment for more than four decades, the Vado feels more like a traditional bicycle than almost any other ebike. Its frame and components have been tuned to provide a familiar experience, making it easy for new and long-time cyclists to jump on and start pedaling. Specialized’s heritage shines through nicely, helping separate itself from the competition in an increasingly crowded ebike market.
The first functioning electric motor was displayed in the early 19th century, though the device constructed by British scientist Michael Faraday did little more than swirl a wire around a magnet when an electric charge was introduced. Still, the concept proved that electricity could do work. Functional electric motors would follow in many forms after that achievement in 1821. Soon scientists and tinkerers around the world, including visionaries such as Nikola Tesla, were experimenting with all manner of electric motors -- some worked with DC power, others with AC. By the end of the century, myriad electric motors had been produced, capable of exerting enough force with enough reliable control that they were practical for use in myriad applications.
Like the Currie, the Rayos has a lot of torque, independent human and electric drive systems, and a drive system that freewheels when not in use. The electronics shut the motor off at 80% battery discharge to avoid a full discharge (which really shortens the life of lead-acid batteries). The Rayos is an 8-speed bike that uses standard bike parts. Seats, handlebars, brakes and other non-electric parts can be found at a supercenter or bike store. Electric parts can be obtained from Rayos dealers.
E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, the environmental effects of electricity generation and power distribution and of manufacturing and disposing of (limited life) high storage density batteries must be taken into account. Even with these issues considered, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
Stealth Electric Bikes redefine the ride experience. With a top speed of 30 mph (Fighter) and 50 mph (Bomber) in virtual silence, they are the toughest and most powerful hybrid electric bikes available anywhere in the world. Stealth bikes combine cutting edge technology with pedal power allowing the rider to experience the freedom, silence and agility of a mountain bike, with the acceleration, speed and thrill of a dirt bike.
Everyone seems to know a lot about Haibike’s e-MTBs, but I think their commuting and touring bikes are just as good, if a little bit underrated by the e-bike community. Another bike with the Bosch speed motor, this bike is quick and powerful. I really like the spec upgrades on this bike from the Trekking speed model in 2017. You’ve got Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Deore XT M8000 Shadow Plus drivetrain, and the headlight and taillight run off a dynamo.
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).