Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.
The riding position is racy, and we suffered a numb left hand after 45 minutes of riding due to a combination of the Bullhorn bars and the narrow position adopted to cover the ‘sissy’ brakes in traffic (picking a flat bar model would be more practical for city commuting). The biggest drawback to the Soho is that on a single-speed the 15.5mph cut-off (for all e-bike motors in Europe) left us feeling like we’d been "deserted". Over the cut-off speed we found ourselves dragging that heavy back wheel with no alternate gears to reach for.
DRIVE MOTOR The EcoBike is powered by an innovative hub-mounted, brushless permanent magnet motor with a triple planetary gear drive system and proprietary heat resistant materials. The propulsion system delivers the highest torque and is the quietest in its class. The drive motor is nominally rated for continuous output at 360 watts (Elegance & Adventure) and 290 watts (Vatavio).
"What? That’s an e-bike?" tended to be the first reaction we got to the Cooper. There’s very little (bar the oversized rear hub) that says e-bike on the ‘E’ at all. Cooper have taken a traditional gauge Reynolds 520 steel frame and dressed it with a practical mix of (surprisingly effective) Tektro caliper brakes, Sturmey Archer crank and chainring and topped it off with Brooks Cambium C17 All-weather saddle. They’ve then paired it with a Zehus All-in -One electric hub, so there’s no leads, no external battery, not even an on and off switch.
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, 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 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).