Electric bikes and E-bike kits (bikes with electric conversion kits) are part of a wide range of Light Electric Vehicles (LEVs) that provide convenient local transportation. Generally designed for one person and small cargo capacity, electric bike range, speed, and cost are moderate. For most of us, the majority of our trips are less than 20 miles - within the range of most e-bikes considering the latest advances in affordable lithium batteries. Clean, quiet, and efficient LEVs offer the advantages of an extra car without the burdens.
The other thing to consider is that this is a Kickstarter project, so you aren’t directly purchasing from the company, but rather “backing the project” in exchange for a bike. Technically, Stark Drive, or any Kickstarter creator, could cut and run with the money, leaving their backers without legal recourse. In this case though, Stark Drive has already run a successful crowdfunding campaign for their previous bike and demonstrated their ability to deliver, so this is probably at least somewhat safer than a brand new Kickstarter start-up.
The second type of electric bike is a much smaller, often foldable unit designed for convenient urban (or suburban) commuting and for easy storage in minimal space. These compact electric bikes are perfect for trips of a few miles, and many are small and lightweight enough to be carried onto trains or buses, allowing their rider to make use of multiple types of transportation in a single trip, and to store their bike in a closet or even under a desk at work, at school, or at home.
If the bike is in fact similar to the EB-5, then it is probably a great around-the-city or campus electric bike, but perhaps not the best long distance commuter for rough roads. Though considering the bike won’t ship for at least another 4 months and the US shipping cost will bring the total price of the Spark Drive Mini to $499, impatient riders might be better off with the equally priced and Amazon-shipped EB-5 anyways.
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.
If you are a regular bicyclist who wants to add some excitement to your rides or wants some help with those hills, a full sized electric bike is the way to go. If you are considering a bike as a means of transportation more than an outlet for amusement, then a smaller, folding electric bike is the convenient choice. In each category, consider the speed and range you want, as these factors impact price.
Because e-bikes are capable of greater speeds for longer periods of time than standard bikes, you want extra control. Wider tires provide traction and some bump absorption with little penalty. You also want strong brakes to slow you (and all that extra weight) easily. It's worth looking at the quality of the brakes and investing in bikes with better ones if you can.
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