Electric bikes are categorized by classes: Class 1 ebikes are pedal-assist cycles with a top speed of 20 mph. (Some localities have banned Class 2 and Class 3 ebikes, which are throttle on demand.) The trick to using a Class 1 bike is to, well, pedal. “If the pedals stop, the bike doesn’t go,” says Saltvold, who describes using an ebike as akin to running on a moving walkway in an airport terminal. Whitaker notes that customers say they switch off the pedal-assist to get more exercise, then turn it back on when going up a hill or wanting to increase their speed.
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Commuting by bicycle, though laudable, can be hard work. So it makes sense to supplement your human pedal power with a little electrical help, especially if you have a hilly route to the office or no desire to arrive to a meeting in any kind of a sweat. This is where the ever-growing market of electric bikes comes in. Fortunately, gone are the days of the hugely expensive, unreliable first versions, which were never taken seriously anyway. Now the choice is vast, the prices are reasonable (on the whole) and performance and range has in general been greatly increased. Here, we takes a look at six of the best e-bikes available right now, each being the ideal option for a specific kind of commute. You may also be interested in our guide to the best folding bikes.
An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike, powerbike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.
Unlike most e-bikes, the Brompton's battery is integrated into a bag that sits on the front of the bike. While that detracts slightly from the classic, streamlined design, it's handy as it can be unclipped for charging or riding as a regular bike – it's probably one of the easiest to ride without battery assistance thanks to its weight. The battery also powers two lights for safe commuting.
Sometimes space comes at the most premium of commodities and the Tern Vektron offers a space-saving folding option. At about $3,400, the sturdy folding joints include a magnet and rubber strap to keep the bike folded. The quick-release pedals (wheels release too) help with storage of a bike that doesn’t give up power with a 20-mph speed that can range over 60 miles. But the best part is placing two in the trunk of a car.
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.
Riese & Muller’s Nevo line definitely tops my list for commuting electric bikes. These bikes are premium, custom made bikes for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road price. All Riese & Muller bikes are hand made in Germany exactly to your specifications. The Nevo line specifically is incredibly well balanced and keeps riders in a comfortable, upright position. Riders also get a suspension seatpost (either the Cane Creek Thudbuster or Satori Elegance LT), which is a nice compromise between the full suspension Homage line and a complete hardtail.
Beach cruiser fans rejoice with the Raleigh Retroglide iE Step Thru. Cruise the boardwalk with maximum style and minimum effort as you enjoy the perks of a 350 watt motor and a top pedal-assisted speed of 20mph. Enjoy the comfort of an upright riding position thanks to the backswept handlebar and take advantage of the cargo-carrying capacity, thanks to the rear rack, to run errands around town or commute to work. With a claimed range of 35 miles, the Raleigh Retroglide is a great choice for anyone who wants to add a little speed to daily cruise.