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.
There are individuals who claim to have lost considerable amounts of weight by using an electric bike. A recent prospective cohort study however found that people using e-bikes have a higher BMI. By making the biking terrain less of an issue, people who wouldn't otherwise consider biking can use the electric assistance when needed and otherwise pedal as they are able. This means people of lower fitness levels or who haven't cycled in many years can start enjoying the many health benefits E-bikes have to offer. 
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.
J. K. Starley's company became the Rover Cycle Company Ltd. in the late 1890s, and then simply the Rover Company when it started making cars. Morris Motors Limited (in Oxford) and Škoda also began in the bicycle business, as did the Wright brothers. Alistair Craig, whose company eventually emerged to become the engine manufacturers Ailsa Craig, also started from manufacturing bicycles, in Glasgow in March 1885.
They also served to teach the industrial models later adopted, including mechanization and mass production (later copied and adopted by Ford and General Motors), vertical integration (also later copied and adopted by Ford), aggressive advertising (as much as 10% of all advertising in U.S. periodicals in 1898 was by bicycle makers), lobbying for better roads (which had the side benefit of acting as advertising, and of improving sales by providing more places to ride), all first practiced by Pope. In addition, bicycle makers adopted the annual model change (later derided as planned obsolescence, and usually credited to General Motors), which proved very successful.
This upgraded model is the best scooter of this type that is currently available on the market. I have permanent mobility issues because of my left leg that do not allow me to walk any long distances. This scooter is allowing me to finally get out of the house to see and do some things again, even if that is just cruising around the neighborhood, but my main reason for purchasing it was so that I can go watch my granddaughters playing softball this spring, they are quite good.
Both the Stromer and the Stoeckli are very nice looking designs and easy to handle. Reliability for both does not seem to be up to Swiss standards, e.g. some of the 2012 Stöcklis seem to have bad contacts. However, as of 2013, most of these problems should be fixed. The Cube got criticized for its battery/saddle system, but this has probably been fixed in more recent edition and it has less "punch" then the other's since the motor is smaller (324W?). I don't know about the BH Neo Nitro. Given the relatively low price of the BH Nitro, it may be the best buy in this category if you plan to cover smaller distances (the battery is limited to 9Ah, and Spain's industry does need some help ;) Anyhow, all of these models come with a variety of motors and country-specific modifications. E.g. in France, the BH Nitro comes with a 350W motor and is electronically limited to 25km/h, whereas in Switzerland you either can get a 500W - 45 km/h version or a 250W? - 25km/h version.
This is an unofficial guide to the laws governing electric bicycles in the United States as of 2016. It was contributed by a guest writer The Smart Ped`aleck who was paid and remains unaffiliated with any electric bicycle company. It may be updated ongoing and is cited throughout with reference links and attributions at the end. It is designed to be an entertaining starting point for understanding the space, digging deeper and in turn choosing the best electric bike platform for your needs.
Bike is awesome, warranty support has so far delivered, but is a hassle to deal with (and hassle is acceptable and better than nightmare, or unresponsive/clueless/unhelpful/not-english-speaking). To be fair, this is the middle of Swag's busy season. Check tire inflation, check and tighten fasteners, seatpost and handlebars and stem out of the box, RTFM, charge the battery and you're out the door riding quickly.
The Domane+ e-road bike is the electric version of Trek’s popular Domane. It’s designed for riders who appreciate that bike’s reliable comfort and IsoSpeed technology but want the added fun and function of e-assist. It’s also the ideal companion for anyone coming back from injury, slower riders who want to mix it up with a speedy group, and couples with different fitness levels. A Bosch Performance Line Speed motor provides a very welcome 28 mph of pedal assist, and the 500Wh Powertube battery sleekly integrates into the down tube. Also integrated: front and rear lights, which are powered by the battery—no charging required.
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.
As is the case with any e-bike assembled from Chinese parts, Wing has its share of clones that can be found for sale on sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. For example, the Danish company Strom Bikes has a model for city biking that also looks incredibly similar to Wing’s Freedom — and is apparently several hundred dollars cheaper too. This is also commonly found with electric scooters, with startups buying Chinese-made models and rebadging them for sale in the US.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
Different gears and ranges of gears are appropriate for different people and styles of cycling. Multi-speed bicycles allow gear selection to suit the circumstances: a cyclist could use a high gear when cycling downhill, a medium gear when cycling on a flat road, and a low gear when cycling uphill. In a lower gear every turn of the pedals leads to fewer rotations of the rear wheel. This allows the energy required to move the same distance to be distributed over more pedal turns, reducing fatigue when riding uphill, with a heavy load, or against strong winds. A higher gear allows a cyclist to make fewer pedal turns to maintain a given speed, but with more effort per turn of the pedals.
E-bikes are classified in three different types: Class 1 and Class 3 bikes are powered proportionally to the “input” a rider gives via pedaling. “It feels natural, and you’re still riding a bike, so all your reflexes, skill and comfort you’ve developed over years of riding bikes apply immediately,” says Fritz Rice, sales manager of Gregg’s Cycles, near Greenlake.
Yes, there are less expensive ebikes on the market but most come with a few serious caveats. The Espin Sport delivers on the full promise of an electric bike, but in a more affordable fashion. This bike isn’t going to tow you around for a 60-mile round-trip endeavor but those seeking their first ebike will get plenty of return on their investment with this model.
The Bosch Performance CX is still one of the most popular motors on the market. It’s synonymous with reliability, but it’s getting on in years. The newly presented Active Line looks like a glimpse into Bosch’s future: it is more compact, lighter, has less internal resistance, and uses a large chainring. It can only be a matter of time before Bosch releases a new performance motor.
Most consumers want an e-bike that will accommodate its motor without being too cumbersome and will remain stable in spite of its electronic components. Some consumers want only the most basic of e-bike features, including lights, a cargo rack/basket, and a water bottle holder. Others are focused more heavily on safety features, such as brake type. And still others are concerned with convenience and portability.
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the U.S., 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 28 mph. Both are allowed in most states and cities without requiring a license. Class 2 models have throttles that don’t require the rider to pedal in order to get a boost. They’re allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but are less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because not only do we still love to pedal, we also prefer the greater distances that pedal-assist bikes can cover).
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.
If a car is at fault in an accident with a bicycle or ebike, their motor vehicle insurance will likely cover your cost for repair and hopefully medical expenses. But what happens if you are at fault, riding an ebike illegally because you did not register it as a Moped? At best, you could be prosecuted under the law. At worst, you could be financially liable for neglect or reckless endangerment via a law suit.
Today I’m looking at the Rattan Challenger 350W ebike. It can be found for under $680 at Amazon (after Electrek coupon code 5AIDO2GB) shipped and includes free assembly at a local bike shop. I assembled mine at home however in about 15 minutes with the graciously supplied in box hex tool and wrenches. It is pretty straight forward – the hardest part was bolting the front light on.
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.
Haibike ships the HardNine with 29-inch tires, 180-millimeter hydraulic disc brakes, a 100-millimeter front suspension fork, and a nine-speed Shimano shifting system. The bike’s LCD readout is affixed to the handlebars and displays the current speed, level of charge, remaining range, and current pedal assist mode. The company says the battery can be completely recharged in just four hours, minimizing downtime between rides.