E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.
But the good times of the stealthy ebike existence will not endure forever. The ebike market is growing steadily and more so, technology is driving performance up and costs down. The market for a green, lifestyle friendly, transportation technology, with GPS, theft ID, cell service and probably skim lattes is alive and driving an emerging market. It is a matter of time before we all must face and respond to the legal demands of the state and local laws. Not to be over obligatory about being legal and duty oriented, but I do call on my fellow ebikers to ride legal, whether ebike, moped or other. Go ahead and build the 1200W ebike of your dreams, but get it insured and licensed if you must. Such compliance will set the precedence for public acceptance of ebikes in general, and build a track record for expansion and mainstreaming of moped-speed ebikes for commuter value driven needs of the future.
There's no question that electric bikes are far better for the environment than petrol-powered car engines. But that doesn't mean they're completely perfect. Making and disposing of batteries can be very polluting. Not only that, but an electric bicycle is still using energy that has to come from somewhere. You may think you're using clean green power, but the electricity you use for getting about might have come from a filthy old, coal-fired power plant or one driven by nuclear energy. (If you're lucky, of course, it might have come from solar panels or a wind turbine!) Electric bikes are nowhere near as environmentally friendly as ordinary push bikes, but nothing is ever perfect—and, as people often say, "the perfect is the enemy of the good." Electric bikes are certainly a step in the right direction. If everyone used them to get about instead of cars, global warming might be less of a problem, and the world would be a far cleaner and healthier place!
Some e-bikes operate in pedal-assist only, others have a throttle, and some have both. Generally, pedal-assist only bikes will provide multiple power settings to choose from to help customize your ride, while bikes with both throttle and pedal-assist will have limited pedal-assist options. With these bikes, the throttle provides full control (when needed) while pedal assist is just a secondary option, great on straightaways or open road.
The Registrar will permit an electric motor driven cycle to be registered if it meets Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (CMVSS) as a Limited Speed Motorcycle, or Scooter as is done with gas powered motor driven cycles. If the vehicle was manufactured after 1988 it will bear a compliance label stating that it meets these standards. The operator will be subject to all the requirements placed on operators of motor driven cycles.
The Domane+ e-road bike is the electric version of Trek’s popular Domane. It’s designed for riders who appreciate that bike’s reliable comfort and IsoSpeed technology but want the added fun and function of e-assist. It’s also the ideal companion for anyone coming back from injury, slower riders who want to mix it up with a speedy group, and couples with different fitness levels. A Bosch Performance Line Speed motor provides a very welcome 28 mph of pedal assist, and the 500Wh Powertube battery sleekly integrates into the down tube. Also integrated: front and rear lights, which are powered by the battery—no charging required.
Bicycles are popular targets for theft, due to their value and ease of resale. The number of bicycles stolen annually is difficult to quantify as a large number of crimes are not reported. Around 50% of the participants in the Montreal International Journal of Sustainable Transportation survey were subjected to a bicycle theft in their lifetime as active cyclists. Most bicycles have serial numbers that can be recorded to verify identity in case of theft.
Government regulation is written and administered with a broad, dull, painful axe. Regulations do not mix well with independent, maverick, DIY programs either. Vehicle regulations get started when there is either a visible tragedy, or a rising conflict with the status quo (like the SFO scooters program). The ebike community cannot afford a deadly accident especially if it involves others and the ebike or ebike rider are at fault. The Ebike community is up against a tough status quo that consists of pedestrians, motor vehicle traffic, the large well-funded and battle tested regular bicycle community, and the environment (especially for MTB riding and off-road use).
My one complaint is the bike’s weight. This sucker is heavy! The aluminum frame looks light, but the the hub motor (4 pounds) and battery (5 pounds) add up. The bike’s total weight is 39 pounds, which is about average for e-bikes but not something you’d want to lug around all day. “This is not a solution for everybody,” Miller admits. “If you live in a fifth floor walkup this is probably not going to work.”
Both the Stromer and the Stoeckli are very nice looking designs and easy to handle. Reliability for both does not seem to be up to Swiss standards, e.g. some of the 2012 Stöcklis seem to have bad contacts. However, as of 2013, most of these problems should be fixed. The Cube got criticized for its battery/saddle system, but this has probably been fixed in more recent edition and it has less "punch" then the other's since the motor is smaller (324W?). I don't know about the BH Neo Nitro. Given the relatively low price of the BH Nitro, it may be the best buy in this category if you plan to cover smaller distances (the battery is limited to 9Ah, and Spain's industry does need some help ;) Anyhow, all of these models come with a variety of motors and country-specific modifications. E.g. in France, the BH Nitro comes with a 350W motor and is electronically limited to 25km/h, whereas in Switzerland you either can get a 500W - 45 km/h version or a 250W? - 25km/h version.
For years, riders have been making fun of others who mount mudguards, a rack and a fixed headlight on their bikes. Admittedly, these home-built creations usually aren’t very attractive, but there is a reason why many riders do it anyway. For them, their bike is more than just a piece of sports equipment or a status symbol. They use it in their day-to-day lives and for that, above all else, it has to be practical. Ever more manufacturers are catching on and offering complete, everyday eMTBs, which, compared to trekking bikes, are well suited for light off-road use too. On top of that, the wider tyres and longer travel of the new breed of SUV bikes offer additional safety in urban environments e.g. on kerbs, railway tracks or on wet, dirty roads. Oh, and they look really good too, as proven by the SCOTT Axis eRide we recently reviewed! The most prominent representative of this new breed is Haibike’s new FLYON series.
A human traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 16–24 km/h (10–15 mph) uses only the power required to walk. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. If the rider is sitting upright, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination. Drag can be reduced by seating the rider in a more aerodynamically streamlined position. Drag can also be reduced by covering the bicycle with an aerodynamic fairing. The fastest recorded unpaced speed on a flat surface is 144.18 km/h (89.59 mph)
In Norway, e-bikes are classified as ordinary bicycles, according to the Vehicle Regulation (kjøretøyforskriften) § 4-1, 5g. Hence, e-bikes are not registered in the Vehicle Registry, and there is no demand for a license to drive them. Still, there are constraints on the bicycle construction. The maximum nominal motor power output can be no more than 250 watts and the maximum performance speed of the vehicle when the engine is running is 25 km per hour (15 mph). A function that reduces motor power when vehicle speed exceeds 25 km per hour is mandatory. However, if the motor is not running, the e-bike, or any other bike, answer only to the constraints of the ordinary speed limits.
^ Consumer Product Safety Act, Pub. L. 107–319, December 4, 2002; codified at 15 U.S.C. 2085(b): The CPSC regulations do not differentiate between commercially manufactured low speed electric bicycles and those converted from ordinary bicycles by their owners using an aftermarket electric motor and battery kit, nor do they regulate the construction of electric-power bicycles using owner-built or sourced components.
Operators are subject to driving rules and equipment requirements (if applicable) when operated on the public streets or highways (which includes the main traveled portion of the road, shoulder and sidewalk). This means that an operator could be cited for speeding, failure to signal, unsafe change of course, driving on the sidewalk, DWI (this would apply to anywhere in the state and not just the streets/highways), and all other driving rules contained within state law that would apply. They may also not ride more than two abreast and may not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. On a laned roadway, they must operate within a single lane.
By 2001 the terms, E-Bikes, power bike, pedelec, assisted bicycle and power-assisted bicycle where commonly used to describe electric bicycles. E-bike, according to Google, is a term that has increased in trend. This term generally referred to an electric bicycle which used a throttle. The terms Electric Motorbike or E-Motorbike have been used to describe more powerful models which attain up to 80 km/h.
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.
And the last product update to kick off the year is the pilot release of our new Baserunner motor controller. We spent much of last summer and fall trying to cram an even more miniature version of the Phaserunner into compact profile that could fit inside the controller cavity of the popular Hailong downtube battery cradles, and by golly we did it. While not as powerful as the Phaserunner (just 55A max phase current, and 60V max battery voltage), the Baserunner is perfectly suited to the smaller geared and direct drive hub motors using the Higo Z910 plug. This allows for a very tidy installation with no separate controller to mount.
European Union directive 2002/24/EC exempts vehicles with the following definition from type approval: "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 25km/h (15.5mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling." This is the de facto definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle in the EU. As with all EU directives, individual member countries of the EU are left to implement the requirements in national legislation.
Some components, which are often optional accessories on sports bicycles, are standard features on utility bicycles to enhance their usefulness, comfort, safety and visibility. Mudguards, or fenders, protect the cyclist and moving parts from spray when riding through wet areas and chainguards protect clothes from oil on the chain while preventing clothing from being caught between the chain and crankset teeth. Kick stands keep bicycles upright when parked, and bike locks deter theft. Front-mounted baskets, front or rear luggage carriers or racks, and panniers mounted above either or both wheels can be used to carry equipment or cargo. Pegs can be fastened to one, or both of the wheel hubs to either help the rider perform certain tricks, or allow a place for extra riders to stand, or rest. Parents sometimes add rear-mounted child seats, an auxiliary saddle fitted to the crossbar, or both to transport children. Training wheels are sometimes used when learning to ride.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.
I eventually got used to it over time, but at first having both kids behind me made the bike feel like it would sway to or fro perilously. I think it was just too much weight to navigate safely, and would be fine with younger kids that didn’t come close to the 120-pound weight limit for the rear cargo area. Overall I’m still a bit partial to a box-style bike if I’m hauling multiple kids and want to be able to see what they’re doing.
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.
Some of the Rad Wagon’s (small) flaws became apparent once I added more weight to the bike. The integrated rear rack can attach various panniers, platforms, or baskets to cary your cargo, but I was most concerned with hauling my two kiddos to school. Riding the bike with my three year old was a cinch; he held on to the bars in the caboose (available as an accessory add-on) and enjoyed the view. Adding my very tall, almost seven-year-old daughter, however, was a bit more complicated.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.