Gearing: none (many hub motors, one motor revolution = one wheel revolution), fixed gear reduction for more torque, varies when geared motor drives the chain through the bicycle gears which increases torque about 50% (in low gear) for better hill-climbing and offers better top-end speed (in high gear) than direct drive systems using motors of similar wattage.
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.
As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.
The Nobby Nic tires would work equally well on road, loose dirt, gravel, fire roads, or anything of the like really. The hardtail geometry also isn’t so aggressive that it would be uncomfortable over long distances. Of course, comfort over long distances is key during bike touring. Even though the bike does not come with a rear rack, it does have eyelets for mounting. A rear rack should allow you to carry plenty for a 3-5 day excursion.
This bike is designed for hauling. The Yuba Spicy Curry has a combined capacity of 500lbs (200lbs on the front including rider, and 300lbs of passengers or cargo on the back). To help move this weight, you’d expect a decent motor, and the Bosch Performance Line CX delivers. Normally only found on mountain bikes, the 75Nm of torque makes light work of hills, even with the heavy load.
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).