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.
The batteries are the most important parts of the bike, because (if you don't do any pedaling) they contain all the power that will drive you along. Typical electric bike batteries make about 350–500 W of power (that's about 35–50 volts and 10 amps), which is about a quarter as much as you need to drive an electric toaster. In theory, you could use any kind of battery on a bicycle. In practice, however, you want to use something that stores lots of power without being too heavy—or you'll be using half your power just moving the battery along! That tends to rule out heavy lead-acid batteries like the ones that start cars, though some electric bikes do use them. Lightweight lithium-ion batteries, similar to those used in laptop computers, mobile (cellular) phones, and MP3 players, are now the most popular choice, though they're more expensive than older rechargeable battery technologies such as nickel-cadmium ("nicad"). Typical batteries will give your bicycle a range of 10–40 miles between charges (depending on the terrain) and a top speed of 10–20 mph (which is about the maximum most countries allow for these vehicles by law). You can extend the range by pedaling or free-wheeling some of the time.
Electric motor assisted bicycles have been banned in the State of New York and are not permitted for on-road use. It appears the only known allowance of an electric bicycle is if it is an electric powered moped, at this time. There is a proposed bill to allow ebikes. As of May 2009, Bill A2393("Defines the term electric assisted bicycle") has been passed in the NY State Assembly and its corresponding Bill S4014, sponsored by Senator Thomas Morahan, is before the NY State Senate.
Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500.
In Opinion No. 2007-00602 of the Attorney General, Jim Hood clarified that a "bicycle with a motor attached" does not satisfy the definition of "motor vehicle" under Section 63-3-103. He stated that it is up to the authority creating the bike lane to determine if a bicycle with a motor attached can be ridden in bike lanes. No specifications about the motor were made.
The aluminum, step-through eJoy is the happy medium between traditional-looking townies that don’t transport much more than the rider and often cumbersome cargo models that are sometimes a challenge to store. With 26-inch wheels, full fenders, a Shimano Alivio nine-speed drivetrain and disc brakes, a wheelbase similar to the average townie, and a big, comfy seat, it has the appearance of a practical everyday cruiser. But its oversize rear rack, silent Bosch Active Line motor, heavy-duty head tube with front-tray mounts (the tray is an add-on), integrated Supernova E3 lights, and roll-over-anything balloon tires hurtle it into hmm-this-could-actually-replace-my-car status. It’s one of the quietest, most convenient, most stylish, and easiest-to-operate e-bikes available.
Bicycles can be categorized in many different ways: by function, by number of riders, by general construction, by gearing or by means of propulsion. The more common types include utility bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles, touring bicycles, hybrid bicycles, cruiser bicycles, and BMX bikes. Less common are tandems, low riders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models, amphibious bicycles, cargo bikes, recumbents and electric bicycles.
As long as you can do without some of the perks that pricier models offer—like a detailed display unit, integrated lights, and a torque-sensor motor—the August Live! LS is a solid, stable, comfortable, and really freakin’ cute (have you see those polka-dot fenders?) e-bike. Its 8-speed twist shifter, chopper-style handlebar, Touch Down Geometry (for a more laid-back ride), and three levels of assist keep this bike within the realm of “cruiser.” But with a 250-watt Bafang rear-hub motor, a top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph, and reliable disc brakes, the August is no joke. It’ll get you to the top of relatively steep climbs without forcing you out of the saddle, and it feels super stable on the way back down. It has a battery range of 20 miles, but that’s enough to take it where it’s happiest: tootling along at the beach, around town, and through the park.
In some countries mixed systems, i.e. pedaling and/or using a throttle is legal. In EU countries and Switzerland this is not the case. I.e. you can buy an electric scooter, but this is not considered to be an e-bike in the moped / light scooter category. That kind of hack is probably more difficult, unless the original design has been modified to fit with (s)Pedelec specs. E.g. The Ezee models are of that kind and modifications to revert to the original does not seem to be too difficult...
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the U.S., 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 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without requiring a license. Class 2 models have throttles that don’t require the rider to pedal in order to get a boost. They’re allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but are less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because not only do we still love to pedal, we also prefer the greater distances that pedal-assist bikes can cover).
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.
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.
"Moped" means a device upon which a person may ride which has two or three wheels in contact with the ground, a motor having a maximum power output capability measured at the motor output shaft, in accordance with the Society of Automotive Engineers standards, of two horsepower (one thousand four hundred ninety -two watts) or less and, if it is a combustion engine, a maximum piston or rotor displacement of 3.05 cubic inches (fifty cubic centimeters) and which will propel the moped, unassisted, on a level surface at a maximum speed no greater than thirty miles per hour; and a direct or automatic power drive system which requires no clutch or gear shift operation by the moped driver after the drive system is engaged with the power unit.
Electrically-assisted cycles are usually classified as either pedelecs or e-bikes. Under European Union regulations adopted in the UK in June 2003, only power-assisted cycles meeting the pedelec classification are considered to be pedal cycles. The maximum power allowed in the European Union for (pedelec) electric bicycles is 250 W, with a maximum assisted speed of 25 km/h.. To meet the pedelec specification the electric motor must be activated by the rider's pedalling effort and the power must cut out completely whenever the rider stops pedalling. Control of the motor by pedalling is often the key difference between a pedelec and e-bike.
E-bike usage worldwide has experienced rapid growth since 1998. In 2016 there were 210 million electric bikes worldwide used daily. It is estimated that there were roughly 120 million e-bikes in China in early 2010, and sales are expanding rapidly in India, the United States of America, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. A total of 700,000 e-bikes were sold in Europe in 2010, up from 200,000 in 2007 and 500,000 units in 2009.
Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first-ever races in Ireland and then England. Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1890s invention of coaster brakes. Dérailleur gears and hand-operated Bowden cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders.
Maryland defines an "electric bicycle" as a vehicle that (1) is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of an electric motor, (2) is equipped with fully operable pedals, (3) has two or three wheels, (4) has a motor with a rating of 500 watts or less, (5) and is capable of a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour on a level surface when powered by the motor. (Senate Bill 379, approved by the Governor 5/5/2014, Chapter 294.)  This legislation excludes "electric bicycle" from the definition of "moped", "motorized minibike", and "motor vehicle", and removes the titling and insurance requirements required for electric bicycles under prior Maryland law.
Some countries require child and/or adult cyclists to wear helmets, as this may protect riders from head trauma. Countries which require adult cyclists to wear helmets include Spain, New Zealand and Australia. Mandatory helmet wearing is one of the most controversial topics in the cycling world, with proponents arguing that it reduces head injuries and thus is an acceptable requirement, while opponents argue that by making cycling seem more dangerous and cumbersome, it reduces cyclist numbers on the streets, creating an overall negative health effect (fewer people cycling for their own health, and the remaining cyclists being more exposed through a reversed safety in numbers effect).
It is very important that sensors work well and that they are integrated/tuned for good usability. Although ebikes do need some initial mental adjustment from riders, some model do much better then others, e.g. most testers seem to prefer the TDS Impluse over the Stöckli E.T. over the Stromer (which model?) with respect to reactivity. Of course, usability is subjective and some people may prefer one behavior over an other. However, cheap bikes may be just plain bad and this is why test driving is important.
Being member of European Economic Area (EEA), Norway implemented the European Union directive 2002/24/EC. This directive defined legal ebikes for all EU and EEA countries to cycle "with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h or if the cyclist stops pedaling." The definition became part of Norwegian vehicle legislation in 2003. A more detailed specification will become effective when the new European ebike product safety standard EN 15194 is published in 2009.
On October 5, 2009, the Government of Ontario brought in laws regulating electric bikes in the province. E-bikes, which can reach a speed of 32 kilometres per hour, are allowed to share the road with cars, pedestrians and other traffic throughout the province. The new rules limit the maximum weight of an e-bike to 120 kilograms, require a maximum braking distance of nine metres and prohibit any modifications to the bike's motor that would create speeds greater than 32 kilometres per hour. Also, riders must be at least 16 years of age, wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets and follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists. Municipalities are also specifically permitted by the legislation to restrict where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails, as well as restricting certain types of e-bike (e.g. banning "scooter-style" e-bikes from bicycle trails). E-bikes are not permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Riding an e-bike under the age of 16 or riding an e-bike without an approved helmet are new offences in the legislation, carrying fines of between $60 and $500. E-bike riders are subject to the same penalties as other cyclists for all other traffic offences.
Even the humble bicycle hasn't escaped the clutches of modern technology. A whole herd of new e-bikes with electric motors are taking to our cities' streets. Adding a motor to a standard cycle does ramp up the price significantly, but it takes much of the effort out of cycling, making your commute to the office a sweat-free experience and allowing you to sit back and enjoy your suburban cruise.
In the United States electric bikes have seen slow but steady growth since the late 90’s and as a result, in 2001 congress was lobbied and passed the first and only bill to define ebikes in federal law. This law, 107-319, exempts electrified bicycles with operating pedals using motors under 750 watts limited to 20 mph from the legal definition of a motor vehicle.2.
Speaking of which, if you're used to non-electric cycles, be aware that e-bikes are heavy and capped at 25kph or 15.5mph. In many cases, that means the bike starts to feel like its actively fighting against you, if you try to push the speed higher than that by pedalling. That's especially true with heavier bikes, for obvious reasons, and can take a while to get used to.
Since 2000, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs) as a separate category, and which require no license to operate. PABs are currently defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars and operable pedals, an attached electric motor of 500W or less, and a maximum speed capability of 32 km/h from the motor over level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed label from the manufacturer in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle under the statutory requirements in force at the time of manufacture. All power-assisted bicycles must utilize an electric motor for assisted propulsion.
Can I legally buy/build and ride an ebike that’s faster than 20 mph? Yes you can, but you need to know that the ebike is no longer considered equivalent to a bicycle and is subject to other state vehicular classifications. The definitions for electric bikes spanning 20-30mph, and 1-2 horsepower ranges, will vary from state to state, resulting in a no-man’s-land consensus about limits for motor vehicle definition. The common label for a 20-30mph, 2-wheeled vehicle with active pedals is a Moped. Other MVA labels include motor scooter, motorbike and dirt bike which may have equivalent power and speed performance, but do not have pedals to assist and move the vehicle.
Geared Hub Motors – Most pre-built e-bikes use brushless geared hub motors. These motors have internal planetary gears that help transfer power from the motor to the wheel. Because of the internal gearing, these motors provide excellent torque but are limited in top speed. On the plus side, the improved torque means better take-off power and hill climbing ability. Plus, less wattage is required to get the motor turning and they’re typically small and lightweight. On pre-built e-bikes, these motors range from 200w-500w and go up to 20mph. But some aftermarket kits can be as powerful as 1000w, with increased top speeds and huge amounts of torque (ideal for extremely hilly terrain). Besides lower top speeds, these motors tend to be expensive and it’s possible the gears will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (this is highly unlikely, they las quite a long time). Good examples are Ancheer bikes.
Electric bicycles are considered as "bicycles" under Montana law as the law defines bicycles in a two part definition where the first part of the definition describes a conventional bicycle propelled solely by human power and the second part of the definition describes a bicycle equipped with an independent power source for propulsion in addition to foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion. (Montana Code 61-8-102).
At the top end, the 20mph speed limit isn't an absolute, like the speed of light. It's just the most you'll get from the motor. I was able to get it up to 28mph on a flat road (there are no other roads where I live) in Turbo mode and 8th gear, but it took hard work to get there and maintain the speed. The easiest comparison is my mountain bike, where I've hit 23mph on that same stretch of road—and that took a heck of a lot of effort. Exactly how much effort does it take to ride? I have a 15-mile route that I ride on both my mountain bike and cyclecross bike. According to my Apple Watch, I generally burn around 1,400 or so calories on a brisk ride. I'll probably average around 13mph or so on my Marlin and between 16 and 17.5mph on my XO2. I averaged 14.9mph and burned a hair over 1,000 calories with the Bulls Cross E8.
At $799, it is one of the most affordable full-size folding electric bicycles on the market. There are cheaper folding e-bikes out there, but they generally have much smaller wheels and lower top speeds. With 16″ wheels and a max speed of 32 km/h (20 mph), the Shift S1 combines the specs of higher priced e-bikes with the affordability of a budget folder.
We've also released our first native 72V battery pack in a conventional downtube battery casing, assembled using the high power Samsung 27100 40T cells so that even with the small 8Ah capacity it is able to deliver 40-50A continuous currents. This is an ideal battery for fast and sporty offroad ebike builds, allowing powerful performance without the weight or complexity of most 72V setups (either two 36V packs in series or a large triangle frame battery).