The electric bike revolution has officially crossed into the arena of off-road motorbikes. For those who prefer riding in nature, Cake introduced a product which not only respects the environment but other riders, as well. Cake’s Kalk is a silent off-road motorbike that releases no emissions into the atmosphere. Additionally, its electric motor means no gear changing or clutching — a silent motorbike that won’t detract from the experience of others. Perhaps the best part is Cake avoided any sacrifice in performance. The Kalk reaches speeds of fifty miles per hour and features three distinct driving modes: Discover, Explore, and Excite.
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
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.
“First, Taiwan and China have been building almost all the bikes for the entire world for the past 30-40 years. They have ecosystems and two generations of tradesmen that result in the best bikes in the world. Look at all the top brands—Giant, Specialized, Cannondale— they all make their top end bikes in China and Taiwan. Even look at the Italian brands and you’ll see they build their frames in China and Taiwan and paint them in Italy.”
The Ancheer Power Plus can be ridden in pedal-assist mode or fully electric. The removable battery can be charged on or off the frame in 4-6 hours and you’ll get up to 31 miles from a single charge (15 miles if you don’t want to pedal). It’s a great bike for short commutes and light off-roading, though if you’re tall, you may find the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit you.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
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).
On the other end of the pricing spectrum (although not as high-end as possible) falls the Riese & Muller lines. The Nevo line, which features a Bosch motor, hydraulic disc brakes and speeds up to 28 mph also has a roughly $5,000 sticker (a variety of models allows for a cheaper price). Using a carbon belt and Nuvinci grip shifter, maintenance worries lessen. The German-made premium models are hand made to specifications and comfort reigns supreme.
Sometimes space comes at the most premium of commodities and the Tern Vektron offers a space-saving folding option. At about $3,400, the sturdy folding joints include a magnet and rubber strap to keep the bike folded. The quick-release pedals (wheels release too) help with storage of a bike that doesn’t give up power with a 20-mph speed that can range over 60 miles. But the best part is placing two in the trunk of a car.
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.
The Focus comes with lots of extras: front and rear lights, bell, fenders, chain guard and rack. The Panasonic drive system that powers it is the same unit that was on the Kalkhoff bike that climbed to the top of the Pikes Peak bicycle race, one of only 3 types of bikes to survive this 8000 foot 20-mile climb in 2012. The Panasonic drive system is a well built piece of E-bike engineering which drives the bottom bracket and powers the rear wheel through the same drive chain as the rider. It is only available on OEM bikes which have been-purpose built using it. It stands as one of the most refined mid-drive systems ever built.
Riding a pedal-assisted road bike may seem counterintuitive but during longer training sessions, the minimal addition of power helps prevent overall muscle fatigue and injury. Similarly, those looking to enjoy longer scenic routes will appreciate the general boost an electric drive provides. With a top speed of 28 mph, the Road E+1 uses three power modes to give you ultimate control over your ride and assistance level. A four-point sensory system monitors the pedaling force allowing the motor to amplify your movements seamlessly.
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).