There remains an element of myth around them, however. For some, it's cheating; for others, it's like riding a motorbike. Neither is true. Electric bikes offer battery-powered assistance, which means the engine gives you a power boost when you pedal. While this jacks up the price, they're a simple, quick and fun way of commuting, exploring the countryside, or even going off-road.
Information about the company’s two co-founders is scant. Storm Sondors has left virtually no trail behind him on the Internet, save for a seldom-used YouTube account. Jon Hopp is a film editor working for a Los Angeles marketing firm. His Facebook account displays photos of two fat-tire bikes virtually identical to the Storm eBike, sporting logos from different manufacturers.
You turn it on by pressing the green button on the battery once for low power and twice for high, although to be honest, there is not a lot of difference between them. After that, you just pedal. There are no gears, no chain to muck up your trousers (a motorbike-style carbon fibre belt is used instead) and not that much difference in feeling compared to riding a normal bike.
“First, Taiwan and China have been building almost all the bikes for the entire world for the past 30-40 years. They have ecosystems and two generations of tradesmen that result in the best bikes in the world. Look at all the top brands—Giant, Specialized, Cannondale— they all make their top end bikes in China and Taiwan. Even look at the Italian brands and you’ll see they build their frames in China and Taiwan and paint them in Italy.”
For the past few months, I’ve been preparing for a trip through Scotland and England. If you’ve read any of my other lifestyle posts, then you know that I think the absolute best way to explore an area is by bicycle. So, when I was planning my trip, of course I decided to do an electric bike tour. I’ll be doing a John O’ Groats to Land’s End ride, approximately 900 miles. Let’s talk about the best electric bikes for bike touring.
“I can go on Alibaba, buy parts, set up shipments, and get people to buy these things,” she says. “The question comes on the support side. Will they have spare parts? Will they have tech support? Do they carry insurance? Real manufacturers of e-bikes have serious insurance in case something goes haywire or someone has an accident. That’s $20,000 to $30,000 a year.”
So instead of giving US companies breathing room to manufacture their own e-bikes, the tariffs are largely just hurting the US electric bicycle industry by preventing it from importing and selling affordable e-bikes, without solving the underlying reasons causing US e-bike companies to choose not to manufacture their e-bikes in the US in the first place.
Once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or, I dunno, an inflatable sumo wrestler costume. Whatever you like.
Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there's a good way lock the battery to your bike if you'll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won't feel that much when you're riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.