E-bikes are one of the latest ways technology is infiltrating the fitness market. Although they may seem techy and confusing at first, they really are just regular bicycles with a little extra boost. To test one, ask your local bike shop to demo a model they have available (pro tip: If a bike shop won't let you demo, don't shop there). Just getting on one will definitely help you understand how an e-bike works and how one might work for your lifestyle and goals.
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 motor on the Patriot DreamE drives the chain and utilizes the gearing of the bike for remarkable power and speed. If you want more speed or hill climbing power, simply change the rear cassette. The motor is lightweight and mounted low on the frame for better balance. Unlike hub motors, this frame mounted motor allows you to remove wheels (e.g. to fix a flat) like a traditional bicycle - without any wires to disconnect and reconnect.
All three road bikes receive their power from Yamaha’s PWSeries SE motor that comes with four levels of support: ECO+, ECO, STANDARD, and HIGH. The mid-drive motor supplies a maximum of 70 Nm (52 ft-lbs) of torque and cadence support up to 110 rpm. The motors are designed to provide assistance up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Any faster, and it’s all you providing the power.
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).