Eight provinces of Canada allow electric power assisted bicycles. In all eight provinces, e-bikes are limited to 500 W output, and cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph) on motor power alone on level ground. In Alberta prior to July 1, 2009, the limits were 750 W and 35 km/h (22 mph), but presently match federal legislation. Age restrictions vary in Canada. All require an approved helmet. Regulations may or may not require an interlock to prevent use of power when the rider is not pedaling. Some versions (e.g., if capable of operating without pedaling) of e-bikes require drivers' licenses in some provinces and have age restrictions. Vehicle licenses and liability insurance are not required. Generally, they are considered vehicles (like motorcycles and pedal cycles), so are subject to the same rules of the road as regular bicycles. In some cases, regulatory requirements have been complicated by lobbying in respect of the Segway PT.
The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright or "safety bicycle", has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885. However, many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for many types of cycling.
An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience -- with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist -- she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new. Lydia holds a master of arts in English from Georgia Southern University, and a bachelor of arts cum laude in integrative studies from Clayton College. Her expertise is in the areas of robotics, electronics, toys, and outdoors and computer equipment.
Every bike on this list has been thoroughly evaluated and vetted by our team of test editors. We research the market, survey user reviews, speak with product managers and engineers, and use our own experience riding these bikes to determine the best options. Our team of experienced testers spent many hours and miles using these bikes for their intended purpose. We’ve commuted to and from work on them, used them to stock up on groceries and beer, tested their passenger-hauling capability, ridden them on questionable terrain (just to see how they’d handle), and run their batteries down to officially see how long they last on one charge. We evaluated them on performance, price, comfort, handling, value, reliability, fun, and overall e-factor to come up with this list of bikes that will best serve the needs of anyone looking to add a little pedal assist to their ride.
Choose a 36- or 48-volt battery with a capacity of 10Ah or 20Ah. Choose a battery designed for use on an electric bicycle, as it will come with a charger and be much easier to install. Make sure the voltage and capacity of the battery you choose is compatible with the conversion kit you purchased. The higher the voltage of your bike's battery, the more powerful your bike will be. When building an electric bike, choose a 36- or 48-volt battery to allow for speed and comfort.
Electric-assist and other "motorized bicycles" do not need to be inspected, do not require a license, and do not require registration. The vehicle must meet all of the following criteria: a post mounted seat for each person it is designed to carry, two or three wheels which contact the ground, fully operative pedals, wheels at least 16 inches in diameter and a motor not capable of propelling the device at more than 20 mph on level ground. The driver does not need a license, but must be at least 16 years old. DC law prohibits motorized bicycles from traveling anywhere on the sidewalk or in the bike lanes. DC Regulation 18-1201.18 provides: "Except as otherwise permitted for a motor vehicle, no person shall operate a motorized bicycle on any sidewalk or any off-street bikepath or bicycle route within the District. This prohibition shall apply even though the motorized bicycle is being operated solely by human power." So, if cars are prohibited in a particular place, motor-assisted bikes are also prohibited.
China's experience, as the leading e-bike world market, has raised concerns about road traffic safety and several cities have considered banning them from bicycle lanes. As the number of e-bikes increased and more powerful motors are used, capable of reaching up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), the number of traffic accidents have risen significantly in China. E-bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision, and because e-bikers use conventional bicycle lanes they mix with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians, increasing the risk of traffic collisions.
EU: EN15194 (EPAC – Electrically Power Assisted Cycles) defines the use pedal-assisted less than 25k/h bikes: "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h or if the cyclist stops pedaling.”
Several bills have been sponsored to legalize electric bicycles for use on NYS roads, and several have overwhelmingly passed at the committee level, but none of these initiatives has been able to be heard and then passed in the New York State Senate, until 2015. The latest bill S3997, "An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycle. Clarifying the vehicle and traffic law to define electric assisted bicycles; establish that electric assisted bicycles, as defined, are bicycles, not motor vehicles; and establish safety and operational criteria for their use." has passed in the Senate for the first time ever in 2015. The related Assembly bill A233 was not brought to a vote in the assembly even though it had passed with little issue in prior years.
All classes of electric-assisted bicycles may be operated on a fully controlled limited access highway. Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles can be used on sidewalks, but Class 3 bicycles "may not be used on a sidewalk unless there is no alternative to travel over a sidewalk as part of a bicycle or pedestrian path." Generally a person may not operate an electric-assisted bicycle on a trail that is designated as non-motorized and that has a natural surface, unless otherwise authorized.
In addition, we have a new lineup of torque sensors from NCTE to replace the long out-of-stock THUN devices. This restores the option for a true transducer that measures the actual spindle torsion. They provide an accurate human watts readout, and unlike other sensors they can be used in mid-drive setups where the motor is driving the right side chain.
On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.