Electric bikes are categorized by classes: Class 1 ebikes are pedal-assist cycles with a top speed of 20 mph. (Some localities have banned Class 2 and Class 3 ebikes, which are throttle on demand.) The trick to using a Class 1 bike is to, well, pedal. “If the pedals stop, the bike doesn’t go,” says Saltvold, who describes using an ebike as akin to running on a moving walkway in an airport terminal. Whitaker notes that customers say they switch off the pedal-assist to get more exercise, then turn it back on when going up a hill or wanting to increase their speed.
OHM bicycles use E-One Moli Energy (Canada) Ltd’s Lithium-ion battery packs to deliver the safest and highest power of any mid-large e-bike battery currently available on the market. With advanced protection, performance, and convenience, Li-ion batteries are fast charging and maintain steady power output throughout their lifespan. The e-bike battery packs are specifically configured to work with the BionX motor for optimum range and performance.
The Riese & Müller Load Touring HS is billed as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” and it holds up to that claim. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels) the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28mph, when it cuts out. The massive cargo space (with side walls) can carry and the two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.
Whether the terrain is flat or hilly impacts the distance you can travel, as does the weight of the bike, your own weight, the gearing available on the bike, and how much juice you give it. We suggest that a distance of 10 to 20 miles is a realistic expectation. Of course, if you're prepared to do at least some pedaling, you can extend that dramatically.
Have to give a shout out to a Bulls Brose option. They were the first manufacturers I saw integrate the battery into the frame really well, and they’ve continued to improve upon that design. As I mentioned above, I love the wave frame. Super easy to get on and off and it’s got a cool look as well. If you’re not a fan, this bike does come in both a Diamond and step-thru frame.
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.
One of the biggest drawbacks to any ebike is its range — and perhaps to a larger extent, the capacity of its compatible battery. Since battery technology innovation is fairly stagnant, the German ebike company Riese and Muller decided that instead of making a bigger battery, it’d just slap a second one onto its latest release, the Delite nuvinci. Though the attachment does add more to the final price (to the tune of $823), it also increases the Delite nuvinci’s range to a whopping 130 miles — which is leaps and bounds further than any other ebike on this list.
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).