The Benno e-Joy promises to be as fun to play with as it is to look at. Benno says it took inspiration from the timeless style of vintage Italian scooters and classic German cars. Add in the functionality of front and rear cargo racks and the 250w pedal-assist motor and you have a beautiful bike that's ready for anything. Cruise into town for groceries, wander comfortably along a gravel path on 2.35-inch balloon tires, or add the child seat attachment and take your kid along for the ride, and beach-goers will appreciate the surfboard rack. Whatever your cycling pleasure pursuit may be, the e-Joy can be your ticket to fun.
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.
If the bike is in fact similar to the EB-5, then it is probably a great around-the-city or campus electric bike, but perhaps not the best long distance commuter for rough roads. Though considering the bike won’t ship for at least another 4 months and the US shipping cost will bring the total price of the Spark Drive Mini to $499, impatient riders might be better off with the equally priced and Amazon-shipped EB-5 anyways.
The features continue with integrated lights and a minimalist display set into the top tube that relays charge, speed and level of assist. The most exciting aspect to the Vanmoof though is a setting on the app that allows you to toggle your bike’s speed limit between European 25kph and more generous (but not entirely legal) 30kph United States limit. That cheeky extra 5kph is enough to make the Vanmoof the bike for city riding at pace. The S also features a Turbo Boost button (that puts the motor at full assist), which was a welcome bonus nipping across busy intersections or powering out of a tight corner where your speed has dropped.
Should an e-bike actually look like an e-bike? Vanmoof think so. With a design and engineering sensibility that’s more Silicon Valley startup than heritage bike brand, Vanmoof is probably the most WIRED of the bikes on test. And the Electrified S has a host of features to prove it. The Bluetooth/proximity activated e-lock (with tamper sensor) that’s built into the frame is a clever innovation, although we're not sure this would be enough theft protection for inner city areas, (where the Vanmoof’s striking design stands out like a jewel on the bike rack). However, for €7 a month, if your bike is stolen, Vanmoof will track down your bike – or replace your bike with a model of the same age if they can’t retrieve it.
Designed for riding around town, this pedal-assist bike has four levels of electric assistance – Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo – and a maximum assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. This is a well designed and engineered bike, with Shimano Nexus components and a Bosch Performance electric-assist mid-drive system. Front and rear lights are included, and you can even use the battery to charge your smartphone. The integrated ring-lock will help deter would-be thieves, but it’s always best to back this up with a dedicated bike lock.
The other thing to consider is that this is a Kickstarter project, so you aren’t directly purchasing from the company, but rather “backing the project” in exchange for a bike. Technically, Stark Drive, or any Kickstarter creator, could cut and run with the money, leaving their backers without legal recourse. In this case though, Stark Drive has already run a successful crowdfunding campaign for their previous bike and demonstrated their ability to deliver, so this is probably at least somewhat safer than a brand new Kickstarter start-up.
The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.
It really is a simple e-bike, and while I could go on about the frame (aluminium), and the weight (very light), the experience of using this bike for a few days is more interesting. While it feels like a less high-tech product than others in this list (no gears; a shorter battery life of 30 miles; two modes not three), it basically retails at half the price as those competitors – and I certainly didn't find it to be half as good.
In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various U.S. patents. For example, on 31 December 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted U.S. Patent 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel". There were no gears and the motor could draw up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-volt battery.
There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
I tested the Sduro 8.0 towards the end of last year (there's a new range out for 2018) and was surprised by its nimbleness. You expect e-bikes to be less maneuverable than their acoustic predecessors, but, pelting down some bespoke forest paths near Pedal & Spoke in the Surrey hills, I found I completely forgot that there was a box of electronic EPO on my frame. Partly, that's because the battery is cleverly integrated into the frame to decrease drag; mostly, it's because the suspension is soft and the steering nimble, much like a normal mountain bike.
Cost: Good e-bikes are not cheap, and unlike most bikes, the costs associated with owning an e-bike don’t end when you hand over your credit card in exchange for a shiny new steed. The average cost of operating an electric bike is around $390 a year, including maintenance and charging. You’re also likely to need to change the batteries every 3-5 years so factor that into your costs.
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.
All Kalkhoff bikes come with lots of extras: hub or motor powered front and rear lights, bells, fenders, chain guards and racks. Some include a built-in quick-lock or a rack-mounted pump. There are a number of features available for the discerning cyclist, whether it's the Magura hydraulic brakes, the B&M super-bright hub-powered headlight, the top-of-the-line Shimano internal hub or derailleurs or the three-layer powder-coated paint process.
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.