Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes, have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains. The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines created 18650 battery packs are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.
Probably the most important thing to consider when researching the best electric touring bike for you is how far you need your bike to take you every day. Be realistic about this. If you purchase a lower end electric bike, don’t be surprised when it only takes you half as far as you want to go. Think about whether or not there are going to be opportunities to charge your battery in the middle of your daily riding. If not, it might be a good idea to buy an extra battery.
We ran the C330 almost entirely in its speediest Turbo setting, switching back to Eco or Tour in heavy traffic for a more predictable assistance weaving between cars. Crucially, the display also displays how much assistance you’re getting as well as your speed, trip distance, etc. We used this to ease-back effort and stay in a light power sweet-spot, arriving at WIRED’s HQ without breaking a sweat.
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.