Even the humble bicycle hasn't escaped the clutches of modern technology. A whole herd of new e-bikes with electric motors are taking to our cities' streets. Adding a motor to a standard cycle does ramp up the price significantly, but it takes much of the effort out of cycling, making your commute to the office a sweat-free experience and allowing you to sit back and enjoy your suburban cruise.
But in Great Britain, the European Union definition is applicable, and the tighter restrictions of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 (including a 200 kg weight limit on solo bicycles) were removed on 6 April 2015 by the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015. Riders must be at least 14 years of age, but no driving licence is required.
It is very important that sensors work well and that they are integrated/tuned for good usability. Although ebikes do need some initial mental adjustment from riders, some model do much better then others, e.g. most testers seem to prefer the TDS Impluse over the Stöckli E.T. over the Stromer (which model?) with respect to reactivity. Of course, usability is subjective and some people may prefer one behavior over an other. However, cheap bikes may be just plain bad and this is why test driving is important.
In New Zealand, the regulations read: "AB (Power-assisted pedal cycle) A pedal cycle to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 300 watts." This is explained by NZTA as "A power-assisted cycle is a cycle that has a motor of up to 300 watts. The law treats these as ordinary cycles rather than motorcycles. This means that it is not necessary to register or license them. Note that the phrase "maximum power output" that is found in the regulation (but omitted in the explanation) may create confusion because some e-bike motor manufacturers advertise and print on the motor their "maximum input power" because that number is larger (typically motors run at about 80% efficiency ) thus give the impression the buyer is getting a more powerful motor. This can cause misunderstandings with law enforcement officers who do not necessarily understand the difference, and when stopping a rider on an e-bike in a traffic stop, look at the number on the motor to determine if the e-bike is legal or not.
“Changes in production and consumption patterns are a crucial element of the sustainability agenda. Communication between product developers and users, and user integration in product development, can serve as a means for organizational as well as individual learning processes, resulting in sustainable product development. [...] Improved methods, such as INNOCOPE (innovating through consumer-integrated product development), tested in this study with a cycle manufacturer and resulting in a new product, a pedelec, are needed for effective communication, activating consumers and enabling them to promote sustainability goals. Through co-operative product development processes key factors facilitating and obstructing the adoption of sustainable innovations may be identified. Such processes can enhance the emergence and diffusion of sustainable product innovations and different forms and bodies of knowledge can be combined. Integrating users' contextual everyday knowledge of the product with the technical knowledge of companies may lead to mutual learning, technical innovations and changes in consumer behaviour.” (Hoffmann, 2007).
In general, more expensive bikes are better. However, this is just a trend. E.g. the "Kassensturz" Consumer program from our state TV found in a 2012 study confined to an engineering school, that "Supermarket" bikes, e.g. the 1400 CHF (1200 Euro) "Leopard" bike from COOP did very well. Evaluation is "good" (almost the same as the three times more expensive 25km/h Stromer). They also pointed out a very bad model from a discounter. In other words, you can find good cheap models, but read the tests first.
By Max Shumpert: This article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information regarding best e-bikes available for those who are interested in new technology combined with traditional bikes. The best 5 available have changed, and information has been added to assist individuals in finding the best electric bicycles currently available on the market. The FAQ has also been updated.
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.
X-Treme is a very well-known distributor of electric scooters and electric bikes with really great customer service. They offer a number of great budget electric bikes, and one of them is Catalina Beach Cruiser. Powered by 500W rear hub motor, this e-bike can conquer almost any terrain. The frame of this bike is 100% hand-welded aluminum, with a step-though design. The top speed on this bike is about 20 mph, with the range of up to 60 miles on pedal-assist mode. The battery pack is 48V LiPo4. This e-bike is an absolute joy to ride. Even more now, with an all new zero resistance rear hub motor with an automatic clutch. This makes riding without power a breeze and you will feel no resistance from the motor. Seat is large and very comfortable, with dual springs for smooth ride. It also comes with a basket, which is a must have if you plan on going for groceries or running errands on this bike.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.