E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, the environmental effects of electricity generation and power distribution and of manufacturing and disposing of (limited life) high storage density batteries must be taken into account. Even with these issues considered, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
We rode the Vado through the gauntlet, including some of the steepest hills in Palo Alto, and it easily handled everything we threw at it, maintaining a steady 20 miles per hour even on the most daunting of ascents. The bike also handles well on downhills and is both nimble and quick on city streets and paved trails. It’s even comfortable to ride for extended distances, which is vitally important for any bike built for urban settings.
Featuring Bosch’s newest CX Drive motor, the Trekking has enormous torque (that equals acceleration) compared with the rest of the bikes on test. From a standing start the Haibike reaches the 15.5mph European speed limit in seconds. Pair this with mid-sized 27.5in wheels and laid-back mountain-bike geometry, and you have a grin-inducing almost motorbike-like riding experience. This is accentuated off-road, where a rider’s lower average speed is under the motor cut-off point for more of the time, so suddenly the hefty Trekking makes complete sense.
EcoBike offers three e-bike models. The Vatavio fold-and-carry electric bike (pictured above) is innovative and well constructed. The Elegance (pictured below) is a classic design with step-through frame, offering an easy, comfortable ride. The AdventureÂ’s revolutionary frame design allows for true versatility, going from the pavement to mountain trails with ease.
The Soho is one of Coboc’s four single-speed pedal-assist bikes. The bikes are differentiated with finishing kit - handlebar style, bar-tape, saddle and paint finish. With a retro / bespoke styling with Bullhorn bars, Brooks fabric-tape and Cambium saddle and brushed aluminium frame, the Coboc is an e-bike for riders who don’t want to look like they’re riding an e-bike. The ONE Soho is for a rider that doesn’t want gears either.
While the first electric bicycle was invented way back in the 1890s, historically e-bikes have struggled to gain momentum, only breaking into the market in mainland Europe at the turn of the 21st century. E-bikes now account for 38.5pc of all bicycles sales in Germany (Holland and France and also big players); belatedly, the trend is starting to register in the UK. Battery assisted bikes now make up around a third of bike sales at Evans Cycles West End.
Those buyers aren’t likely to get a major workout. Researchers from the University of Tennessee found in a study of walkers, ebike riders and traditional bike riders that those who completed a 4.43-kilometer hilly route on an ebike used 22 percent less energy than traditional bikers and 64 percent less than walkers, most likely because the ebikers got to the finish line faster than the others. But perks included higher levels of enjoyment and no need for a shower when they were done.
Using an electric bike for long-distance touring has its pros and cons. The motor will help carry the extra weight of your kit, particularly on the hills, but you have the added hassle of having to charge the battery every night. You’ll want a powerful motor and a good battery, though if you’re fully loaded, don’t expect to achieve the maximum advertised range.
The riding position is racy, and we suffered a numb left hand after 45 minutes of riding due to a combination of the Bullhorn bars and the narrow position adopted to cover the ‘sissy’ brakes in traffic (picking a flat bar model would be more practical for city commuting). The biggest drawback to the Soho is that on a single-speed the 15.5mph cut-off (for all e-bike motors in Europe) left us feeling like we’d been "deserted". Over the cut-off speed we found ourselves dragging that heavy back wheel with no alternate gears to reach for.
Another independent e-bike dealership, Adam Solar Rides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is also feeling the crunch. With essentially zero low-cost electric bicycle manufacturers in the US, Adam Solar Rides imports their entire lineup of electric bicycles from abroad, mostly from China. Like many small businesses owners, they are left with questions about how exactly the unclear tariffs might affect them and other e-bike dealers.
Thankfully, the Pendleton Somerby is an affordable option which, though not as high performing as some pricier e-bikes, offers a chance for a beginner or less serious cyclist to venture into the electric bike world. With a classic, elegant, low step through frame, getting on is as easy as possible. This is to all intents and purposes a city bike, from its look to the mudguards and chainguards that keep your clothes pristine, and the space for a luggage rack.
Introducing the future of performance and comfort, the Kinekt BodyFloat seatpost. The innovation isolation system, designed here in Washington, greatly enhances the endurance and enjoyment of riding a bike. Engineered to be infinitely tunable to fit your personal riding style and weight, Seattle Electric Bike is proud to offer this breakthrough seatpost for all your biking adventures.
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.