With its chunky, plus-sized tires, at first sight, the E3 Peak Plus seems like a cross between a hardtail mountain bike and a fat bike. It’s good looking: the mid-drive motor and removable, lightweight battery fit in nicely with the lines of the bike, making it look more like a standard mountain bike than other models. Unlike many mid-range e-bikes, it also comes in three sizes — handy if the usual one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit you.
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.
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.
IZIP has been manufacturing high-end, affordable electric bikes since 2005. We think the IZIP E3 Dash is the best of the bunch. This class 3 pedelec delivers power as you pedal taking you to speeds of 28 mph. It's fantastic for your commute, especially if you have hills to climb. The mid-mounted motor configuartion maximizes torque to get you up inclines.
The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots", in which e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.
Controllers for brushless motors: E-bikes require high initial torque and therefore models that use brushless motors typically have Hall sensor commutation for speed and angle measurement. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. The controllers generally allow input by means of potentiometer or Hall Effect twist grip (or thumb-operated lever throttle), closed-loop speed control for precise speed regulation, protection logic for over-voltage, over-current and thermal protection. Bikes with a pedal assist function typically have a disc on the crank shaft featuring a ring of magnets coupled with a Hall sensor giving rise to a series of pulses, the frequency of which is proportional to pedaling speed. The controller uses pulse width modulation to regulate the power to the motor. Sometimes support is provided for regenerative braking but infrequent braking and the low mass of bicycles limits recovered energy. An implementation is described in an application note for a 200 W, 24 V Brushless DC (BLDC) motor.
"Bargain Buys" Most electric bikes priced less than $600 at big box retailers and on-line are aimed at the kid/teen/toy market. They generally lack the performance and durability that people want and expect. Also, parts and service can be problematic with both big box retailers and on-line vendors. We urge you to invest in a quality e-bike, preferably from a local dealer, that will serve you (and others) for many years. Remember, if it's poorly constructed and you can't get repair parts, it will likely become land-fill material. Save, beg, or borrow the money to get a quality bike or kit.
And let’s not forget the economic advantages of owning an e-bike. The annual cost of running a new family car is, on average, about $9,000 per year. Running an electric bike costs around $400 per year. And while filling a gas tank costs around $30, recharging an electric bike battery costs only about 50 cents. A tank of gas may get you further, but not 60 times further!
For many bikes, battery range is more important that total power (because they're all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist kicking in anywhere from 25 percent of you pedal power to 200 percent boost. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you'll be using your bike for long commutes.