Photo: This typical electric bicycle, a Sanyo Eneloop (now discontinued), had a range of about 30–55 km (17–35 miles) and a top speed of around 24 km/h (15 mph). Note the 250-watt hub motor on the front wheel and the 5.7Ah lithium-ion battery pack (black, marked "Sanyo," just in front of the back wheel). Picture by kind permission and courtesy of Richard Masoner, originally published on Flickr under a Creative Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0) licence.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
Bicycles offer an important mode of transport in many developing countries. Until recently, bicycles have been a staple of everyday life throughout Asian countries. They are the most frequently used method of transport for commuting to work, school, shopping, and life in general. In Europe, bicycles are commonly used. They also offer a degree of exercise to keep individuals healthy.
Since 2001, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs). They are currently defined as a two or three wheeled bicycle with an attached electric motor of 500W or less and which is capable of being propelled manually. Furthermore to meet the safety requirements set down by this legislation it must meet the following; when engaged by muscular power it must cease assistance when muscular power ceases or if powered by an accelerator controller cease power when braking and be incapable of providing assistance above 32 km/h and bear a label that is permanently affixed by the manufacturer and appears in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle.
Built around a heavy-duty alloy frame, the GSD eschews many of the traits of other cargo bikes: long wheelbases, bigger wheels, and especially, an unwieldy ride. Yet it boasts an extensive capacity, nimble handling—even fully loaded, thanks to a short wheelbase and 20-inch wheels—and enduring range in a package not much bigger than most non-cargo e-bikes. The stout frame holds a 250-watt Bosch motor that gives up to 275 percent of your power back to the pedals and reaches 20 mph. The GSD has room for two battery packs, extending the batteries’ combined range to a claimed 150 miles and making the Tern one of the longest-lasting e-bikes on the market. A laundry list of accessories and a (claimed) 396-pound carrying capacity round out the GSD’s status as an epic day-tripper.
A human traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 16–24 km/h (10–15 mph) uses only the power required to walk. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. If the rider is sitting upright, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination. Drag can be reduced by seating the rider in a more aerodynamically streamlined position. Drag can also be reduced by covering the bicycle with an aerodynamic fairing. The fastest recorded unpaced speed on a flat surface is 144.18 km/h (89.59 mph)
In Israel, persons above 16 years old are allowed to use pedal-assisted bicycle with power of up to 250W and speed limit of 25 km/hour. The bicycle must satisfy the European Standard EN15194 and be approved by the Standards Institution of Israel. A new law, effective January 10, 2019, states that riders under 18 who have no automobile license will need a special permit.   Otherwise, no license or insurance is required. Other motorized bicycles are considered to be motorcycles and should be licensed and insured as such. The maximum weight of the e-bike itself cannot exceed 30 kg.
I eventually got used to it over time, but at first having both kids behind me made the bike feel like it would sway to or fro perilously. I think it was just too much weight to navigate safely, and would be fine with younger kids that didn’t come close to the 120-pound weight limit for the rear cargo area. Overall I’m still a bit partial to a box-style bike if I’m hauling multiple kids and want to be able to see what they’re doing.
There's much less of a sensation of the Electrified S2 'fighting back' once you hit 15.5mph, as well. That's helped by the automatic 2-speed gear box, although this does take some getting used to. Because its cogs are very different sizes you can end up with all sorts of cadence problems as it auto-shifts from high back to low. With practice you can avoid this, or of course you could in theory fit a second cog that's closer in size to the first.
This is an unofficial guide to the laws governing electric bicycles in the United States as of 2016. It was contributed by a guest writer The Smart Ped`aleck who was paid and remains unaffiliated with any electric bicycle company. It may be updated ongoing and is cited throughout with reference links and attributions at the end. It is designed to be an entertaining starting point for understanding the space, digging deeper and in turn choosing the best electric bike platform for your needs.
In conformance with legislation adopted by the U.S. Congress defining this category of electric-power bicycle (15 U.S.C. 2085(b)), CPSC rules stipulate that low speed electric bicycles (to include two- and three-wheel vehicles) are exempt from classification as motor vehicles providing they have fully operable pedals, an electric motor of less than 750W (1 hp), and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles per hour (32 km/h) when operated by a rider weighing 170 pounds. An electric bike remaining within these specifications is subject to the CPSC consumer product regulations for a bicycle. Commercially manufactured e-bikes exceeding these power and speed limits are regulated by the federal DOT and NHTSA as motor vehicles, and must meet additional safety requirements. The legislation enacting this amendment to the CPSC is also known as HR 727. The text of HR 727 includes the statement: "This section shall supersede any State law or requirement with respect to low-speed electric bicycles to the extent that such State law or requirement is more stringent than the Federal law or requirements." (Note that this refers to consumer product regulations enacted under the Consumer Product Safety Act. Preemption of more stringent state consumer product regulations does not limit State authority to regulate the use of electric bicycles, or bicycles in general, under state vehicle codes.)
In a parallel hybrid motorized bicycle, such as the aforementioned 1897 invention by Hosea W. Libbey, human and motor inputs are mechanically coupled either in the bottom bracket, the rear or the front wheel, whereas in a (mechanical) series hybrid cycle, the human and motor inputs are coupled through differential gearing. In an (electronic) series hybrid cycle, human power is converted into electricity and is fed directly into the motor and mostly additional electricity is supplied from a battery.
Since 30 May 2012, Australia has an additional new e-bike category using the European Union model of a pedelec as per the CE EN15194 standard. This means the e-bike can have a motor of 250W of continuous rated power which can only be activated by pedalling (if above 6 km/h) and must cut out over 25 km/h – if so it is classed as a normal bicycle. The state of Victoria is the first to amend their local road rules, see below.
The first regularly produced device resembling the modern bicycle was unveiled in 1818. It was called the Dandy Horse. The two-wheeled ride-on Dandy Horse was the brainchild of German inventor Baron Karl Drais, and it featured a handle bar, a padded seat, and two inline wheels of nearly equal size. What it did not feature were pedals; this was a "running machine," thus its name in German, Laufmachine. The Dandy Horse saw only a flicker of popularity, and was largely an historical footnote within a handful of years, though its design is nearly mimicked in the child's balance bike of today.
Choose a 36- or 48-volt battery with a capacity of 10Ah or 20Ah. Choose a battery designed for use on an electric bicycle, as it will come with a charger and be much easier to install. Make sure the voltage and capacity of the battery you choose is compatible with the conversion kit you purchased. The higher the voltage of your bike's battery, the more powerful your bike will be. When building an electric bike, choose a 36- or 48-volt battery to allow for speed and comfort.
Nevada Electric Bicycle (NRS 482.0287) Bicycle 20 (motor only on the flat with 170LB rider, undefined if pedal assist is allowed to go faster) 750W (it is undefined as to whether this is input or output power, but in the USA, motors are rated on output power at the shaft) No none (use caution here because of "reckless endangerment" laws) no (not a "motor vehicle")
The Freedom’s motor is more powerful than the VanMoof Electrified S — 350w vs 250w — but the VanMoof is technologically superior, with touch-sensitive display, enhanced security system, and an “invisible” lock built right into the rear hub. The Dutch-made bikes are also more expensive: VanMoof’s Electrified X2 and S2 list for a discounted $2,598, while Wing’s e-bikes are available now for an “early bird” price of $1,295; if you order later, it’ll cost $1,695 — which is still almost $900 less than the VanMoof.
For a more stylish ride, cast your eyes over the Coboc Rome. It's a full-size bike, with gorgeous stylings, and large wheels that let you pick up plenty of speed on the road. It has a fuss-free approach too, with its automatic motor assistance -- all you need to do is get on and ride. It's very much like any fixed gear bike you'll see on the streets, but with the additional motor, it's less effort to get about.
In most jurisdictions, bicycles must have functioning front and rear lights when ridden after dark. As some generator or dynamo-driven lamps only operate while moving, rear reflectors are frequently also mandatory. Since a moving bicycle makes little noise, some countries insist that bicycles have a warning bell for use when approaching pedestrians, equestrians, and other cyclists, though sometimes a car horn can be used when a 12 volt battery is available.
E-bikes are classified in three different types: Class 1 and Class 3 bikes are powered proportionally to the “input” a rider gives via pedaling. “It feels natural, and you’re still riding a bike, so all your reflexes, skill and comfort you’ve developed over years of riding bikes apply immediately,” says Fritz Rice, sales manager of Gregg’s Cycles, near Greenlake.
We bought 2 of these to go along with our AW 26"x1.75" Front Wheel Electric Bicycle Motor Kits and they work perfectly! The batteries that came with and were recommended by the wheel manufacturer were "clunky", had to be mounted in hanging bags and just didn't work well. These Li-ion Battery with Battery Holders are sleek, fit our Beach Cruisers perfectly, give us a rack to carry our "beach stuff" and one of the best features is how easy they are to charge! They lock in place when we are out and about, but I can unlock them, slide them both out and take them into the RV for charging when we return. Very happy with these and would recommend to anyone looking to convert their current bike into e-bikes!
Cargo bikes and city bikes are common in the e-bike space, but until recently we haven’t seen that many performance road bikes. The Giant Road E+1 is a pedal-assist performance road bike that’s made for more than just commuting; the powerful motor can crank you up to 28 mph very quickly on the highest setting so you can rip the flats, join your local group ride, or blast through the mountains with far less effort than a traditional road bike. It won’t feel like a 16-pound race bike when you lean it into high-speed turns, but the endurance-oriented geometry allows for an aggressive position on the bike and keeps it nimble and agile at high speed.
If you have dynamo-powered bicycle lights, you already own an electric-powered bicycle! Consider: as you pump your legs up and down on the pedals, you make the wheels rotate. A small dynamo (generator) mounted on the rear wheel produces a tiny current of electricity that keeps your back safety lamp lit in the dark. Now suppose you could run this process backward. What if you removed the lamp and replaced it with a large battery. The battery would kick out a steady electric current, driving the dynamo in reverse so that it spun around like an electric motor. As the dynamo/motor turned, it would rotate the tire and make the bike go along without any help from your pedaling. Hey presto: an electric bike! It may sound a bit far-fetched, but this is more or less exactly how electric bikes work.
The Espin is powered by a 350-watt motor that’s rated for trips up to 50 miles (depending on the terrain and assist level). Once depleted, the battery fully charges in roughly five hours. Thankfully, Espin makes it easy to remove the battery, allowing you to quickly recharge it at home or in the office between trips. A backlit LCD control hub displays your basic metrics and battery life while in transit and LED headlights add a touch of light when needed.
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 22.5kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
First, think about what you need your bike for -- if it's just for a short city commute, in among traffic, then consider a smaller frame that's easy to manoeuvre through cars. The GoCycle G3 (right) is impressively nimble and its electric assistance will help propel you up to 15 mph (24 kph). Better yet, it has built-in lights, automatic gears and you can customise the amount of power the motor provides using a phone app.
However, each country is free to allow faster s-pedelecs if they go through collective or individual type approval. Typically, an S-Pedelec can be associated with "mofas" or "mopeds" or "light scooters". Germany has such a solution: S-pedelecs have max. 500W motors, max 45km/h, max 300% support, can drive up to 20Km/h without pedalling, plus other constraints regarding security, and are associated with Mopeds. In the City you can't use bicycles paths, but you can in the country side.
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.