The way they work is pretty simple: The motor kicks in with extra assist when you pedal, and there are different levels of assistance. That's it. Just turn it on, pedal, and go! You can also turn the assist mode off and ride it like a regular bike. And e-bikes stop assisting at a certain speed (in the U.S., it's 20 mph or 28 mph depending on class) for safety, of course.
As far as battery life goes, e-bikes get their juice from a rechargeable battery usually located on or integrated into the frame, and many are removable, so you can power up wherever it’s convenient. The length of your ride and how often you use the bike will determine how frequently you have to charge up. “An e-bike battery can last anywhere from 15 to 60 miles depending on the terrain, how much assist you select, and the rider’s weight, among other factors,” says Jonathan Weinert, North American sales and marketing manager for Bosch eBike Systems. “With a dual battery [like the one Bosch has], you can double that range [around 20 to 120 miles], so it’s very feasible to commute for a week without charging.”
The bike recently took first place at the Interbike Hill Climb Challenge, a third of a mile sprint up a six per cent gradient hill. Fortune powered in front of professional riders to secure a decisive win in the first of an annual competition especially created for electric assist bikes. The race was sponsored by the Light Electric Vehicle Association (LEVA).
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.
We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
In full-electric mode, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is capable of moving at up to 20 mph for anywhere from 15 to 30 miles. There are two further options: power-assisted pedaling or fully "unplugged” riding. Renowned Shimano gears are easy to select. Seldom do we come across a product so universally praised by owners. It's not cheap, but comments like "Everything I hoped for!" and "Outstanding!" tell us that it's money well spent.
An anti-theft radio GPS that mounts to standard bottle cage bosses and can locate within 9 feet, it runs on the Verizon network and costs $5/mo in addition to the hardware. Integrated vibration sensing alarm sends an automated text message alerting you anytime the bike has been "locked" using the companion smartphone application (Android or iOS)...
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.