But with increased demand and production, as well as technology improvements thanks to advances in the electric car industry, the cost of components like lithium-ion batteries comes down, Weinert explains. Now, e-bikes are on the market as low as around $1,200 (like the Monroe 250 from Schwinn, available in November 2017). Plus, the competition is stiff. “There are more brands producing than there were five years ago, and they all have to be competitive," LaLonde says.
Everyone seems to know a lot about Haibike’s e-MTBs, but I think their commuting and touring bikes are just as good, if a little bit underrated by the e-bike community. Another bike with the Bosch speed motor, this bike is quick and powerful. I really like the spec upgrades on this bike from the Trekking speed model in 2017. You’ve got Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Deore XT M8000 Shadow Plus drivetrain, and the headlight and taillight run off a dynamo.
E-bikes allow more people to ride more. We know e-bike users who now get to ride with faster friends and don't have to worry about keeping up, or who live in a hilly area, or who've gifted one to their parents so they can ride a charity ride together at the same pace. And of course, commuters who no longer need to use their cars every day, as well as beginners who want to build their fitness. "The e-bike offers more confidence. You can go further, and it’s easier to go over hills than on a pedal bike,” Lalonde adds.
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.
Electric bikes or ebikes, widely popular in Europe and China, are steadily making their ascent in the U.S. bike market. Erik Saltvold, founder and owner of ERIK’s Bike Shop, a Midwest-based chain for bike sales and repairs, says the ebike is the fastest-growing specialty bike in the industry. Last October, market research company NPD Group reported that electric bike sales had grown 95 percent in the 12 months ending in July 2017, with sales totaling nearly $65 million.
Electric bikes and E-bike kits (bikes with electric conversion kits) are part of a wide range of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) that provide convenient local transportation. Generally designed for one person and small cargo capacity, electric bike range, speed, and cost are moderate. For most of us, the majority of our trips are less than 20 miles - within the range of most e-bikes considering the latest advances in affordable lithium batteries. Clean, quiet, and efficient LEVs offer the advantages of an extra car without the burdens.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque and others are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.