Duke Eco-Marathon Team using an Electric Bike Technologies hub motor for the 2014 Shell Eco-marathon. The E-BikeKit motor provides optimal space saving because it does not require a chain (this makes it great for converting road bicycles to electric bicycles, which is what it is designed to do) but we hope to determine if it provides us with a better overall vehicle efficiency than our outboard motor.
“Second, even if you do make bikes in the US, they will be multiple times more expensive than their overseas counterparts and 99.9% of consumers won’t pay that price. When my shop tried selling a US-made bike next to a Chinese bike, with signage that explained why the US-made bike was more expensive, we couldn’t even sell one. Customers would stand there and talk about how they want American-made goods, then they would buy the Chinese bike.”
Prices have rarely been this low, with perhaps only the Xiaomi Himo electric bike that we covered costing less, at $261. Of course that e-bike is only available in China for now, unlike the Stark Drive Mini that can ship to the US, albeit for an extra $200 shipping fee. (Spoiler alert: I was able to procure a Xiaomi Himo via a friend in China, and assuming I can get it into the country, we’ll have that review coming up.)
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you're pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).