Because they’re electrically powered, e-bikes sit in a bit of a gray area between bicycles and motorcycles. While some states have enacted specific legislation to state where electric bikes can and can’t be ridden, in other states outdated laws mean they’re regulated as a moped or motor vehicle which can cause confusion over registration requirements, access to cycling infrastructure and how old you have to be before you can ride one.
The F1-trained engineers at William Advanced Engineering assisted with the electrical parts and the result is a 250W motor that provides pedal assistance via the front hub – which is a highly unusual approach – drawing power from a 300Wh battery pack that sits in a bag and goes on the front where the Brompton luggage rack would normally sit. You can also opt for a larger bag that holds both the battery and your spare suit or laptop or whatever.
Out on the road the Soho is easy to fire up, just press the button hidden under the top tube (a nice discreet touch), you’ll then get a set of five top-tube mounted LED’s light up to give you a charge indication. First impressions were that the engagement of the motor is a little jerky in tight traffic (tested in central London) and you could find yourself pulled toward the cars you’re weaving though at slow speeds - unless you’re feathering the brakes.
Bulls electric bikes with Brose motors will always top the list for any long distance ride. Coming in with a huge 650 watt hour battery, Brose estimates that you can take these bikes over 100 miles on one charge easily. They also have 90 nm of torque, which will pop you right up hills even when you’ve got a full rack of gear in the front and the back.
Fat E-Trike from Sun and E-BikeKit™ at Interbike 2014 Fat bikes and electric bikes were all the rage this year at interbike in Las Vegas. It seemed almost every bike vendor at the show has at least one fat bike model in their booth this year. On top of the fats were the electric bikes. And I think it goes without saying that nobody wants to actually pedal a fat...
The environmental credentials of e-bikes, and electric / human powered hybrids generally, have led some municipal authorities to use them, such as Little Rock, Arkansas with their Wavecrest electric power-assisted bicycles or Cloverdale, California police with Zap e-bikes. China’s e-bike manufacturers, such as Xinri, are now partnering with universities in a bid to improve their technology in line with international environmental standards, backed by the Chinese government who is keen to improve the export potential of the Chinese manufactured e-bikes.
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.