Photo: Zap Electric's power-assist kit turns a conventional bike into an electric one. There's a bolt-on DC electric motor (weighing just over 3kg or 7lb) just above the back wheel, behind the police officer's foot, pressing against the tire and driving it by simple friction. The motor's powered by a compact lead-acid battery (weighing about 5.5 kg or 12 lb) inside a protective nylon bag. This kit adds quite bit of weight to the bike, but gives extra range and speed when needed. Photo taken in Santa Rosa, California by Rick Tang courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
Regulations[37] appear to deal with Bicycles with helper motors. No person shall ride a bicycle with a helper motor unless that person holds a valid motor vehicle operator's license. No person shall operate a bicycle with a helper motor at a rate of speed exceeding thirty miles per hour; nor shall any bicycle with a helper motor be operated on any sidewalk, limited access highway or turnpike. Driver's licence is required except if a special permit is obtained by havnig a doctor fill out a certificate and shows they are able to drive the bike with and without the motor assisting.
Bicycle includes all vehicles propelled by the person riding the same by foot or hand power or a helper motor; and (3) "helper motor" means a motor having a capacity of less than fifty cubic centimeters piston displacement, rated not more than two brake horsepower, capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour and equipped with automatic transmission. Local jurisdictions can pass law at variance with the state law.

The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient in both biological and mechanical terms. The bicycle is the most efficient human-powered means of transportation in terms of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance.[38] From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels, although the use of gearing mechanisms may reduce this by 10–15%.[39][40] In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also an efficient means of cargo transportation.
The aluminum, step-through eJoy is the happy medium between traditional-looking townies that don’t transport much more than the rider and often cumbersome cargo models that are sometimes a challenge to store. With 26-inch wheels, full fenders, a Shimano Alivio nine-speed drivetrain and disc brakes, a wheelbase similar to the average townie, and a big, comfy seat, it has the appearance of a practical everyday cruiser. But its oversize rear rack, silent Bosch Active Line motor, heavy-duty head tube with front-tray mounts (the tray is an add-on), integrated Supernova E3 lights, and roll-over-anything balloon tires hurtle it into hmm-this-could-actually-replace-my-car status. It’s one of the quietest, most convenient, most stylish, and easiest-to-operate e-bikes available.

A KS LEV Integra dropper post, 130mm of front and rear travel, 27.5-inch wheels, and trail-grabbing 2.8-inch tires make this pedal-assist mountain bike a great option if you want to climb farther to shred longer, but don’t want to lug your bike uphill for ages. The 250-watt motor, placed slightly farther forward than most other bikes to optimize weight distribution and handling, provides a nice boost so you can enjoy the ride up and not be too gassed when you get to the top.


The newest entrant in this lower price category is Wing Bikes, a New York City-based company that launched in 2018. Wing wants to be the affordable e-bike for city residents who are sick of shady ride-hailing services and stalled subways. And if you don’t live in a city, that’s fine too: Wing’s e-bikes could be a realistic alternative to owning a car.

State law defines a motorized pedalcycle as a motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals, a motor rated at no more than 1.5 brake horsepower, a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and a maximum design speed of no more than 25 miles per hour.[126] Subchapter J of Publication 45 spells out the vehicle requirements in full.
However, Emu sells a little foldable number if that's your bag. The Emu Crossbar is for  town commuters that require a sweet ride that's backed up by solid Shimano Nexus hub gears and Tektro brakes, which are adequate if not the best on the market. Riding is smooth and easy, with the crank moving sensor doing its best to iron out any gaps in power delivery.

This article did a good job of trying to justify the assist speed limits but fell short of detailing how that can ever be effectively enforced. In reality the only enforcement that is going to work is applied speed limits to use of bikes and ebikes. For example, it makes sense that a bike lane on a street that the speed limit of vehicles is the speed limit of the bikes/ebikes. On sidewalks and shared pedestrian paths the speed limit probably does need to be in the 15-20mph range to match traditional bikes speeds on those paths.
The E-bike is everything it was advertised to be. It's big and fast and fun to ride especially when riding uphill with pedal assist you have the superhuman ability to get up those tuff climbs that would normally leave you winded and probably walking the bike. The setup was fairly simple however the frame had a couple of serious deep scratch marks in the otherwise impeccable paint job. And even though it's purely cosmetic it was still very disappointing to receive a brand new bike in this condition. It's not clear to me what if anything I can do about it but I still love the bike.
"Bicycle" means either of the following: (1) A device having two wheels and having at least one saddle or seat for the use of a rider which is propelled by human power. (2) A device having two or three wheels with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (one horsepower), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden, is less than 20 miles per hour.[citation needed],
In addition, we have a new lineup of torque sensors from NCTE to replace the long out-of-stock THUN devices. This restores the option for a true transducer that measures the actual spindle torsion. They provide an accurate human watts readout, and unlike other sensors they can be used in mid-drive setups where the motor is driving the right side chain.
Maybe the most confusing legal issue facing e-bike riders today is the difference between a bike lane and bike path. A bike lane is a marked section of roadway shared with motor vehicles. Bike paths pretty much universally prohibit the use of motorized vehicles. Still, you will need to research your area. As an example: “A path near our office specifically says “no motorized bicycles.” Yet, when we tracked down an employee who claimed to work enforcement on the path, he said that our e-bike was allowed.”8

There is a lot of information on the internet about electric bikes. Hopefully you have found lots of useful information right here, on this website. Based on this information, you may already have a preference for a specific electric bicycle and / or (technical) components. Your friends that ride e-bikes can also advise you based on their own experiences. But there is only one way you will know if you really make the right choice: take a test drive. During a test drive you will discover how close the riding experience is to your expectations.

During nighttime operation, the bicycle must be equipped with a front headlamp, a rear-facing red reflector, and reflectors on the front and rear of pedals, and the bicycle or rider must have reflective surfaces on each side. Minn. Stat. §169.222, subd. 6. An electric-assisted bicycle can be equipped with a front-facing headlamp that emits a flashing white light, a rear-facing lamp that has a flashing red light, or both. The bicycle can carry studded tires designed for traction (such as in snowy or icy conditions).
"Bicycles" and "Electric Bicycles" are legally defined in the Texas Transportation Code Chapter 551., titled "Operation of Bicycles, Mopeds, and Play Vehicles" in Subchapter A, B, C, and D.[58] The following definition of electric bicycle was passed by the Texas legislature in 2001. "Electric bicycle" means a bicycle that is designed to be propelled by an electric motor, exclusively or in combination with the application of human power, cannot attain a speed of more than 20 miles per hour without the application of human power; and does not exceed a weight of 100 pounds. The department or a local authority may not prohibit the use of an electric bicycle[0] on a highway that is used primarily by motor vehicles. The department or a local authority may prohibit the use of an electric bicycle[0] on a highway used primarily by pedestrians. 

Perhaps the cleverest thing of all about the Electric Brompton is that despite all the extra stuff, it folds up exactly the same as the non-powered variety. It's so simple, and unlike certain folding bikes we could mention, what you're left with is a genuinely small thing, rather than something that's about the size of a bike with the front wheel taken off.
Electric motor assisted bicycles have been banned in the State of New York and are not permitted for on-road use.[50][51] It appears the only known allowance of an electric bicycle is if it is an electric powered moped, at this time. There is a proposed bill to allow ebikes. As of May 2009, Bill A2393("Defines the term electric assisted bicycle") has been passed in the NY State Assembly[52] and its corresponding Bill S4014, sponsored by Senator Thomas Morahan, is before the NY State Senate.[53]

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.
Bicycle brakes may be rim brakes, in which friction pads are compressed against the wheel rims; hub brakes, where the mechanism is contained within the wheel hub, or disc brakes, where pads act on a rotor attached to the hub. Most road bicycles use rim brakes, but some use disk brakes.[49] Disc brakes are more common for mountain bikes, tandems and recumbent bicycles than on other types of bicycles, due to their increased power, coupled with an increased weight and complexity.[50]
"Bicycles" and "Electric Bicycles" are legally defined in the Texas Transportation Code Title 7, Chapter 551 entitled "Operation of Bicycles, Mopeds, and Play Vehicles" in Subchapter A, B, C, and D.[131] Under Chapter 541.201 (24), "Electric bicycle" means a bicycle that is (A) designed to be propelled by an electric motor, exclusively or in combination with the application of human power, (B) cannot attain a speed of more than 20 miles per hour without the application of human power, and (C) does not exceed a weight of 100 pounds. The department or a local authority may not prohibit the use of an electric bicycle on a highway[132] that is used primarily by motor vehicles. The department or a local authority may prohibit the use of an electric bicycle on a highway used primarily by pedestrians.
Hmm, that’s unfortunate. I actually have a doctors note that I carry along which recommends the use of an assisted bicycle. I ride thoughtfully and have never been asked to show it. I cannot comment on the federal parks, perhaps they are not aware of the federal law classifying electric assist bikes that perform at or below 20 mph and 750 watts as bicycles. Having a note and this information would be a good response if you were questioned.
Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
I am very pleased with the quality and performance of this electric bike. I find that the twist grip throtle works better for me than the peddle assist low, medium and high settings. It is not necessary to change out of high gear to climb most hills while peddling with the throttle also providing power. The shocks work well on dirt paths and the seat is comfortable. This bike goes maximum speed up to 19 mph on flat ground. I have
We bought 2 of these to go along with our AW 26"x1.75" Front Wheel Electric Bicycle Motor Kits and they work perfectly! The batteries that came with and were recommended by the wheel manufacturer were "clunky", had to be mounted in hanging bags and just didn't work well. These Li-ion Battery with Battery Holders are sleek, fit our Beach Cruisers perfectly, give us a rack to carry our "beach stuff" and one of the best features is how easy they are to charge! They lock in place when we are out and about, but I can unlock them, slide them both out and take them into the RV for charging when we return. Very happy with these and would recommend to anyone looking to convert their current bike into e-bikes!
The headlight/horn is completely frail, and prevents folding the bike. However, the wires broke off within two days (60 miles) of riding, so it wasn't an issue after I removed the light completely. Other than that, it's a great electric bike. I put about 24-40 miles per day on it, and it does the job well. I have steep hills during my ride and it really helps with the effort required to go uphill. The gears only go up to 7, which means that when on flat ground, and pedaling for all that I'm worth, I can only get up to 19 mph before the pedals just spin madly. I pass other cyclists when going uphill at nearly twice their speed, but not so much on flat ground or downhill. The rear has no suspension at all, so I bought a $50
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.
Speed Pedelec ebikes – A new classification of bikes called ‘Speed Pedelecs’ have emerged which technically meet the bicycle definition for a 20 mph ebike. These ebikes are designed to max out at 28 mph. Pedelecs are pedal activated vs throttle activated. The weasel words within the definition says, “20mph on motor alone”. Thus, a person who adds their leg power to the motor assist and happens to cruise at 28mph is NOT doing it by motor alone, and therefore the bike is considered to be compliant with the Federal Law. If the rider stops pedaling, the speed pedelec cannot maintain speed. Speed Pedelecs are becoming more popular in Europe and America, which means more models are being offered.
European Union directive 2002/24/EC exempts vehicles with the following definition from type approval: "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25km/h (15.5mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling." This is the de facto definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle in the EU. As with all EU directives, individual member countries of the EU are left to implement the requirements in national legislation.

Alberta identifies e-bikes as "power bicycles" and is consistent with the federal definition of "power-assisted bicycle" in MVSR CRC, c 1038 s 2.[19] Motor output must not exceed 500 W (0.671 hp) and e-bikes cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph). Fully operable pedals are required. No driver's license, vehicle insurance, or vehicle registration is required. Operators must be 12 years of age or older. All operators are required to wear a motorcycle helmet meeting the standards set in AR 122/2009 s 112(2).[20] A passenger is permitted only if the e-bike is equipped with a seat designated for that passenger.[21]
In Norway, e-bikes are classified as ordinary bicycles, according to the Vehicle Regulation (kjøretøyforskriften) § 4-1, 5g. Hence, e-bikes are not registered in the Vehicle Registry, and there is no demand for a license to drive them. Still, there are constraints on the bicycle construction. The maximum nominal motor power output can be no more than 250 watts and the maximum performance speed of the vehicle when the engine is running is 25 km per hour (15 mph).[40] A function that reduces motor power when vehicle speed exceeds 25 km per hour is mandatory. However, if the motor is not running, the e-bike, or any other bike, answer only to the constraints of the ordinary speed limits.

There are two main categories when choosing an e-bike: a pre-built electric bike or a custom e-bike conversion. Prefab electric bikes come in a wide variety of setups and styles and are designed specifically as electric bicycles. With unique characteristics and design qualities, most meet the law requirements which limit power and speed. There is also a variety of options to choose from equipped with different design and different motor and battery configurations to suit different riding styles and preferences: cruisers, commuters, mountain bikes and more. Pre-built e-bikes are clean and sleek in design with all of the wiring and electrical components built directly into the bike. For most people, production e-bikes work great and there’s no need for a custom conversion.


At Volt, when we sell an ebike, we like to keep in touch with our customers. This is not only to find out how their electric bike is performing and if they are happy with it, but also to learn how they use it. Many have impressive stories to tell. We have heard from people using Volt bikes in the most diverse ways and places, from the Scottish Highlands to central London.
UPDATE (2019-03-15): I've now got more than 110 miles on the bike and still loving it. The longest ride I did was 28.5 miles and the display was still showing about two bars left on the battery. But the battery gauge is not accurate. Even when it went down to two bars it would also jump back up to 4 bars and stay that way for awhile. So it's really hard to tell how much power you have left. On one ride, after 14 miles the pedal assist stopped working all of a sudden. I stopped and re-seated the cadence sensor and it started working again. Even when PAS didn't work the throttle was still working. It hasn't happened since. There was also a lot of rattling noises which I found was the battery rattling around in the mounting bracket.
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.

Electric bikes aren’t just a practical and environmentally conscious solution to gridlock, they also are really fun to ride. On top of all of the persuasive arguments to get an electric bike, I think the Rad Wagon’s best-selling point comes down to enjoyment. Zooming down the street each morning I wasn’t angrily yelling at fellow drivers or rushing not to be late. The bike commute was part of the journey each day, and not just the means I used to get around. There’s a reason so many people loved biking as a kid, and it can be just as fun as an adult.
An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience -- with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist -- she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new. Lydia holds a master of arts in English from Georgia Southern University, and a bachelor of arts cum laude in integrative studies from Clayton College. Her expertise is in the areas of robotics, electronics, toys, and outdoors and computer equipment.

Electric mountain bikes have garnered a lot of attention for their ability to help riders go higher, further, and faster on the trail. As a result, there have been some impressive new eMTB models to hit the market in recent years, making it easier than ever to head off-road. Our favorite is the Haibike SDURO HardNine, which comes equipped with a 350-watt Bosch Performance CX drive and a 500 watt-hour battery. This gives it a range of up to 70 miles, along with a top speed of 20 mph, which is plenty fast on singletrack.


The drivetrain begins with pedals which rotate the cranks, which are held in axis by the bottom bracket. Most bicycles use a chain to transmit power to the rear wheel. A very small number of bicycles use a shaft drive to transmit power, or special belts. Hydraulic bicycle transmissions have been built, but they are currently inefficient and complex.
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.
On February 4, 2014, SB997 was introduced by Senator Matt Smith, which seeks to amend PA Vehicle Code to include "Pedalcycle with Electric Assist". In a memo addressed to all senate members, Smith said the definition shall include "bicycles equipped with an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts, weighing not more than 100 pounds, are capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 mph, and have operable pedals."[128][129]
Firstly there's a magnetically-fired locking pin in the rear wheel, triggered by kicking a button on the hub. This is fairly secure in itself and almost impossible to remove without destroying the bike. In London, we'd pair it with a more traditional bike lock so there's a more obvious visual deterrent, though a LED matrix screen on the frame does issue a warning to would-be tea-leafs.
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