I'm one of the hardcore cyclists at Ars, along with Jay Timmer and his new-as-of-last-fall road bike as well as copyeditor Kerry Staurseth. I love cycling, and it was a major factor in my dropping 120lb over a 12-month period starting in the summer of 2009. My daily rider/errand-runner is a 1998 Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike. For longer rides, I use my 2009 Trek XO2 cyclecross bike. I've made a few modifications to it, including removing the bumpy cyclecross tires and swapping out the front 46-tooth chainring for a 50-tooth one. I went with a cross bike over a road bike because I'm still a Clydesdale, and I like the slightly longer wheelbase of a cross bike. I've also briefly owned a 2011 Trek Madone 5.9, which I sold not long after I bought it due to severely screwing up my right knee.
Simple, convenient, cheap, and economical—bicycles are one of the world's favorite forms of transportation. But they're not for everyone. They can be hard to pedal up and down hills or with heavy loads, and elderly or disabled people may find them impossible to manage. In the last few years, a new generation of electric bicycles has begun to revolutionize our idea of environmentally friendly transportation. These new cycles have all the convenience of cars with all the simple economy of ordinary cycles. Let's take a closer look at how they work.

Geared Hub Motors – Most pre-built e-bikes use brushless geared hub motors. These motors have internal planetary gears that help transfer power from the motor to the wheel. Because of the internal gearing, these motors provide excellent torque but are limited in top speed. On the plus side, the improved torque means better take-off power and hill climbing ability. Plus, less wattage is required to get the motor turning and they’re typically small and lightweight. On pre-built e-bikes, these motors range from 200w-500w and go up to 20mph. But some aftermarket kits can be as powerful as 1000w, with increased top speeds and huge amounts of torque (ideal for extremely hilly terrain). Besides lower top speeds, these motors tend to be expensive and it’s possible the gears will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (this is highly unlikely, they las quite a long time). Good examples are Ancheer bikes.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Act defines a "low speed electric bicycle" as a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals, a top speed when powered solely by the motor under 20 mph (32 km/h) and an electric motor that produces less than 750 W (1.01 hp). The Act authorizes the Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect people who ride low-speed electric vehicles by issuing necessary safety regulations.[63] The rules for e-bikes on public roads, sidewalks, and pathways are under state jurisdiction, and vary.

In summary, federal law trumps all States’ laws. That is true with bicycle law, too. States cannot constitutionally pass legislation that reduces or eliminates Federal laws, they can only pass legislation that enacts additional (tighter) restrictions on its people. States can’t define an ebike a bicycle if greater than 750W/20mph, nor can they define an ebike a motor vehicle if less than the Federal Government’s limit of 750 Watts and a top electric-powered speed of 20 MPH.3This is the Federal definition of a low speed electric bike, which equates it to a bicycle.


We take a look at the phenomenon sweeping the trails across Europe – Electric Mountain Bikes. After extensive research and a visit to Eurobike, our team hand-picked what we feel to be the best electric mountain bikes in 2018 using Yamaha, Shimano and Bosch eBike systems. Following the visit to Eurobike, it was clear that … Continue reading Best Electric Mountain Bikes 2018 – The Fully Charged Picks
Thanks for your excellent article. I’ve been riding ebike for about 16 years. My first electric bike was a Meridian pedal assist bike. I just up graded to a new bike. I’m 73, so I wanted a pedal assist bike that had a throttle. I researched for several months and bought what I think is the best bike for the money. It’s a Rad Rover 2017 fat bike. It has a 750 watt mother with a 48 volt 11.6 amp battery. It’s a fantastic bike, that is a lot of fun to ride. You might want to check it out and add it to your list of bikes. Rad Rover also make a city commuter bike, a cargo bike and a folding bike. You can’t beat their price for a quality bike. Thanks again for both of your articles. They were very informative.

In Nova Scotia power-assisted bicycles are classified similarly to standard pedal bicycles. The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with an electric motor of 500 watts or less, with two wheels (one of which is at least 350 mm) or four wheels (two of which are at least 350mm). PABs are permitted on the road in the province of Nova Scotia as long as you wear an approved bicycle helmet with the chinstrap engaged. They do not have to meet the conditions defined within the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations for a motorcycle (they are not classed as "motor vehicles"), but they do have to comply with federal regulations that define Power Assisted Bicycles.
To be honest, this bike is really designed for city commuters or kids riding around the suburbs. The fact that it’s foldable will let you carry it on the bus, on the train or even on the plane. It’s just not designed for heavy riding, long distances or tough terrains. If you want something sleek and fabulous at a fraction of the cost of most other e-bikes, this baby’s for you.
Electric bicycles use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. This can be a simple as an on-off switch but is more usually an electronic pulse width modulation control. Electric bicycles 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.[13] The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. Battery systems in use include lead-acid, NiCd, NiMH and Li-ion batteries.

We've also released our first native 72V battery pack in a conventional downtube battery casing, assembled using the high power Samsung 27100 40T cells so that even with the small 8Ah capacity it is able to deliver 40-50A continuous currents. This is an ideal battery for fast and sporty offroad ebike builds, allowing powerful performance without the weight or complexity of most 72V setups (either two 36V packs in series or a large triangle frame battery).
Since 2000, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs) as a separate category, and which require no license to operate. PABs are currently defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars and operable pedals, an attached electric motor of 500W or less, and a maximum speed capability of 32 km/h from the motor over level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed label from the manufacturer in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle under the statutory requirements in force at the time of manufacture.[14][15] All power-assisted bicycles must utilize an electric motor for assisted propulsion.
An electric bicycle also known as an e-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.
Hmm, I think it depends on the forest. My experience has been that if you have a Class 1 ebike and are riding respectfully, most places allow it. I have a sensitive knee and carry a doctor’s note citing disability laws in Colorado and have never been approached or asked by a ranger or fellow rider about the legality of my bike. That said, I have been using the really quiet and hidden Brose motor and I ride carefully and am friendly with everyone

In some countries mixed systems, i.e. pedaling and/or using a throttle is legal. In EU countries and Switzerland this is not the case. I.e. you can buy an electric scooter, but this is not considered to be an e-bike in the moped / light scooter category. That kind of hack is probably more difficult, unless the original design has been modified to fit with (s)Pedelec specs. E.g. The Ezee models are of that kind and modifications to revert to the original does not seem to be too difficult...


The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
Would an e-bike that used a trailing generator to power the electric motor still be considered an e-bike? The purpose of the generator is allow greater distances to be traveled and all day riding. The gen-set that I am looking at uses a 49 cc gas engine with a 12 volt generator, this would be from the ground up build using a 1 hp electric motor. This seems to stay within the state laws of AZ. where I reside. Thanks for your thoughts.
The recommendation depends a lot on what you plan to use the bike for and how you plan to ride. That said, I would recommend at least a 750 (if not 1,000) watt motor, and, if you want reasonable range, 48 or 52v cells with a minimum rating of 19ah. For shorter rides, you can use a smaller battery. Multiply battery voltage by amp hour rating to get battery watt hours. Divide the watt hours by the motors power rating to get a general idea of how many hours of heavy use you might get. I’d also recommend a mid drive as opposed to a hub drive, or to find a hub drive wheel rated to take your and the bicycle's combined weight.

"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.[66]


E-bikes are typically offered in 24V, 36V and 48V configurations. Higher voltage generally means higher top speed – but that may not always be the case. Since the efficiency of a motor and drive system can have an effect on power and speed, a 24V setup could have the same top speed as a 36V setup. Generally you can expect 15-18 mph on a 24v setup, 16-20 mph on a 36V setup and 24-28 mph on a 48V setup. Although it far exceeds Federal laws, some conversion kits can even be run at 72V for speeds of 35+ mph! However, this puts significant stress on bicycle components. Consider that even the fastest athletes only travel 17-18 mph on a conventional bicycle, so 20 mph feels very fast to most riders. Anything over this speed can be unsafe and exceeds law regulations.

This 150mm-travel e-mtb tackles big descents, shines on flowy trails, and provides the boost you need for the trip back. Pedal assist comes from Shimano’s 6.2-pound STePS E8000 motor with a 20mph boost. Shifting is motorized too, with Shimano’s exemplary XT Di2 drivetrain providing the most precise and consistent shifts a mountain bike can have. The fun comes from the E-Core’s 150mm of front and rear travel courtesy of a RockShox Yari fork and Deluxe RT shock. Both can be locked out for long, fire-road type climbs, though on an e-bike that feature feels less necessary.
To qualify as an electric-assisted bicycle under state law they need to have a seat and fully operable pedals for human propulsion, meet federal motor vehicle safety standards, an electric motor that has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts, maximum speed of not more than 20 mph (electric motor and human power combined), disengages or ceases to function when the vehicle’s brakes are applied, two or three wheels
The Pivot Shuttle breaks the mold when it comes to e-mountain bikes. This ballsy, carbon-frame bike, with Shimano Di2, has 140mm of rear travel, 150mm up front, and a 150mm dropper post. A Shimano STePS e8000 drive unit, paired with a 500Wh battery, provides 20 mph of pedal assist, so you can skip the lift line when you hit the bike park and zip right to the good stuff. The 27.5-inch wheels are nimble and eat up nearly anything in their path, and the massive 2.8-inch tires have huge knobs that grip the trail like Velcro.
Electric bikes (also known as e bikes) are perfect for long-distance riding, or when you just don’t feel like giving your full effort. What differentiates them from electric motorcycles is the ability for the rider to pedal the bike at any time, so if you’re riding along and your battery dies, you’re not going to stranded. These are often very valuable bikes, but some models can be more affordable than you might expect, especially when you treat them as a form of transportation as opposed to thinking of the price in terms of regular bicycles.
An e-bike is identified as a "motor assisted cycle" (MAC) in British Columbia, which differs from electric mopeds and scooters, which are "limited-speed motorcycles." Motor assisted cycles must: have an electric motor of no more than 500 W; have fully operable pedals; not be capable of propelling the device at a speed greater than 32 km/hr [19.9 mph]. The engine must disengage when (a) the operator stops pedaling, (b) an accelerator controller is released, OR (c) a brake is applied. A driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance are all not required. A bike helmet must be worn.[22]
The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.
×