Bicycles have long been one of the most popular modes of transportation and, in a time where environmental friendless and health are top of mind, the popularity of bicycles shows no signs of slowing down. For many bicycle enthusiasts, an electric bike is the best of both worlds (get where you're going faster and not winded) and with a range of choices and designs available, we've helped narrow down the best models on the market today.
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.
EcoBike offers three e-bike models. The Vatavio fold-and-carry electric bike (pictured above) is innovative and well constructed. The Elegance (pictured below) is a classic design with step-through frame, offering an easy, comfortable ride. The AdventureÂ’s revolutionary frame design allows for true versatility, going from the pavement to mountain trails with ease.
The features continue with integrated lights and a minimalist display set into the top tube that relays charge, speed and level of assist. The most exciting aspect to the Vanmoof though is a setting on the app that allows you to toggle your bike’s speed limit between European 25kph and more generous (but not entirely legal) 30kph United States limit. That cheeky extra 5kph is enough to make the Vanmoof the bike for city riding at pace. The S also features a Turbo Boost button (that puts the motor at full assist), which was a welcome bonus nipping across busy intersections or powering out of a tight corner where your speed has dropped.
But it is not complicated to see the detrimental effects that these policies very likely could cause. Simple high school AP Economics taught me that this won’t be good for either China or the US in the long-term. Even if a country can produce multiple items better or cheaper than another country can produce them, it is always in both countries’ best interest to focus their resources on their most skilled areas, and trade with other countries for the products they can’t produce as well domestically.
E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, the environmental effects of electricity generation and power distribution and of manufacturing and disposing of (limited life) high storage density batteries must be taken into account. Even with these issues considered, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
All three road bikes receive their power from Yamaha’s PWSeries SE motor that comes with four levels of support: ECO+, ECO, STANDARD, and HIGH. The mid-drive motor supplies a maximum of 70 Nm (52 ft-lbs) of torque and cadence support up to 110 rpm. The motors are designed to provide assistance up to 20 mph (32 km/h). Any faster, and it’s all you providing the power.
You know the saying, “What you see is what you get?” That’s pretty much the case here: An e-bike or "pedal-assist" bike is a pedal bike with an integrated electric motor that adds power when you pedal. It's not like a motorcycle, moped, or motorbike, because it doesn't have a throttle or engine. Think of it like when you get the rocket boost in Mario Kart (except it lasts for more than three seconds).
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.
Certainly not for the entry-level e-bike buyer, those who need to strap cargo to their back now have a new option with the Riese & Muller Load option, with full cargo space on the front of the bike. While over $6,000, the full-suspension bike has adjustability to allow for differing loads. Safety features include LED headlights and premium components abound.
As the weather begins to drop and the snow starts to fall, it is increasingly important to know how to properly care for your electric bike and its Lithium-ion battery. It may be possible for some people to ride their bikes during the winter months, while others must pack them away until the warmer weather returns. Whether you plan to ride in the cold and snow or if you decide to...
Instead, ebikes offer a “gateway” to exercise, says Thomas Whitaker, director of marketing for Faraday Bikes, a San Francisco-based ebike manufacturer. He notes than in their market research, 10 percent of customers use ebikes to recover from an illness or injury. “I think it’s a familiar and fun way to exercise without being hard on the body. People recover and then continue to do more and bike more.”
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.
Electric Bike Conversion Kits are prepackaged sets of components designed to fit on a normal bike and convert it into an Electric Bike. These kits make it easier for end-users to find compatible, functioning parts and purchase them all together. A kit can range from a complete system that includes all the small parts you need, to DIY kits that include only a few parts and leave the rest up to the user.
Patriot DreamE has motor cut-off brake levers and lighted battery indicator on the throttle. Some electric bikes have small tires which perform best on smooth streets. The DreamE has full size, 26" wheels for a safe and comfortable ride. Patriot customers have a choice of color, frame size (standard or small), seat style (contour or velo), motor power (350 / 500 / 750 watts), and battery chemistry (LFP).
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 21.8kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
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.
If you’re interested in an ebike, you have a couple of options: converting your existing bike or buying an electric version. Abadie says a bike suitable for conversion will have a powerful brake system, wider tires and a strong frame that can hold the motor and battery. He charges $800 to $1,200 to find the right parts and motors for a particular bike.
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 rank you up to 28mph 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. Don't expect it to feel like a 16lb 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 the it nimble and agile at high speed.