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.
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes (e.g., pedelecs) are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This exempts them from the more stringent laws regarding the certification and operation of more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated under distinct Electric bicycle laws.
The second type of electric bike is a much smaller, often foldable unit designed for convenient urban (or suburban) commuting and for easy storage in minimal space. These compact electric bikes are perfect for trips of a few miles, and many are small and lightweight enough to be carried onto trains or buses, allowing their rider to make use of multiple types of transportation in a single trip, and to store their bike in a closet or even under a desk at work, at school, or at home.
The electric bike revolution has officially crossed into the arena of off-road motorbikes. For those who prefer riding in nature, Cake introduced a product which not only respects the environment but other riders, as well. Cake’s Kalk is a silent off-road motorbike that releases no emissions into the atmosphere. Additionally, its electric motor means no gear changing or clutching — a silent motorbike that won’t detract from the experience of others. Perhaps the best part is Cake avoided any sacrifice in performance. The Kalk reaches speeds of fifty miles per hour and features three distinct driving modes: Discover, Explore, and Excite.
This bike is designed for quick handling and high speeds, and not for comfort per se. The Focus is all about form following function. This is both good and bad: you have a bike that is sleek, powerful and nimble, but you also are going to be crouched over the front wheel for better control, gripping no-nonsense grips and riding a saddle meant for performance, not cruising.
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.
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.
Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It's worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.