As the managing editor of Ars Technica, one of my duties is to monitor the daily torrent of news tips and PR emails. The overwhelming majority of them is deleted after a glance, and the news tips and story ideas are passed along to the appropriate writer. Sometimes a product announcement will catch my eye, and I will follow up. Once in a blue moon, I'll say, "please send me one so that I may review it." And that's how I ended up riding an electric bike around the Chicago suburbs for two weeks.
This thing is also kitted out with a full SRAM groupset, RockShox Yari RC front shocks, Custom Fox Float suspension at the rear and enormously punchy SRAM disc brakes at the front and rear. Fundamentally, it's a mighty off-road machine with pro-spec kit that introduces a new style of trail riding, allowing adrenaline junkies to ride further, climb harder and descend faster than ever before.
E-Bikes are the perfect way to ride across any city: stress-free, easy and fast travel, fun exercise, riding in style and ability to carry heavier loads than a normal bike. Practicing what we preach, this Valentine’s Volt partnered with leading London florist Rebel Rebel to deliver flowers all across London. Every hour on the hour 1 lucky person received a beautiful bouquet for free, just because we wanted to share the love!
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.
In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various U.S. patents. For example, on 31 December 1895 Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted Template:US Patent for a battery-powered bicycle with “6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel.” There were no gears and the motor could draw up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-V battery.[3]
They also served to teach the industrial models later adopted, including mechanization and mass production (later copied and adopted by Ford and General Motors),[76][77][78] vertical integration[77] (also later copied and adopted by Ford), aggressive advertising[79] (as much as 10% of all advertising in U.S. periodicals in 1898 was by bicycle makers),[80] lobbying for better roads (which had the side benefit of acting as advertising, and of improving sales by providing more places to ride),[78] all first practiced by Pope.[78] In addition, bicycle makers adopted the annual model change[76][81] (later derided as planned obsolescence, and usually credited to General Motors), which proved very successful.[82]
Ontario is one of the last provinces in Canada to move toward legalizing power-assisted bicycles (PABs) for use on roads, even though they have been federally defined and legal in Canada since early 2001. In November 2005, "Bill 169" received royal assent allowing the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) to place any vehicle on road. On October 4, 2006, the Minister of Transportation for Ontario Donna Cansfield announced the Pilot Project allowing PABs which meet the federal standards definition for operation on road. PAB riders must follow the rules and regulations of a regular bicycles, wear an approved bicycle helmet and be at least 16 years or older. There are still a number of legal considerations for operating any bicycle in Ontario.[23][24][25]
“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).
The environmental effects involved in recharging the batteries can of course be reduced. The small size of the battery pack on an e-bike, relative to the larger pack used in an electric car, makes them very good candidates for charging via solar power or other renewable energy resources. Sanyo capitalized on this benefit when it set up "solar parking lots", in which e-bike riders can charge their vehicles while parked under photovoltaic panels.[66]
Torque sensors and power controls were developed in the late 1990s. For example, Takada Yutky of Japan filed a patent in 1997 for such a device. In 1992 Vector Services Limited offered and sold an electric bicycle dubbed Zike.[7] The bicycle included Nickel-cadmium batteries that were built into a frame member and included an 850 g permanent-magnet motor. Despite the Zike, in 1992 hardly any commercial electric bicycles were available. It wasn’t until 1998 when there were at least 49 different bikes. Production grew from 1993 to 2004 by an estimated 35%. By Contrast, according to Gardner, in 1995 regular bicycle production decreased from its peak 107 million units. Some of the less expensive electric bicycles used bulky lead acid batteries, whereas newer models generally used NiMH, NiCd and/or Li-ion batteries which offered lighter, denser capacity batteries. The end benefits usually varied from manufacturer; however, in general there was an increase in range and speed. By 2004 electric bicycles where manufactured by Currie Technologies, EV Global, Optibike, Giante Lite, Merida, ZAP.
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.

So first off, it isn’t fair to compare the power of a Chinese rear hub motor watt for watt with a 250W Bosch or Brose or even a Shimano or Yamaha mid-drive motor. There just isn’t even close to the amount of torque or power on a per watt basis and that’s before we get to controllers. However, comparing the Rattan’s 350W motor to the Ancheer’s 250W motor seems more proportionally correct. Where as I could make it about a third of the way up my driveway hill from a cold start on Ancheer throttle, I made it about 2/3rds of the way with the Rattan, or another 100 feet. On a flat surface, again with throttle only, I hit 20 mph in about 10 seconds with the Rattan. It takes me another 5+ seconds to get there on the Ancheer. One note, the battery gauge does bounce around a bit depending on how much it is working. At full throttle you might lose a bar or 2 only to get it back once you coast.
A new electric cyclist will likely experience two conflicts of thought: 1). Will the general public accept my use of this power assist technology, or Will they ridicule and reject me as being lazy? 2). Will I stand out to law enforcement by the look of my bike or riding a bit faster than other cyclist on hills and roads? Grappling with these two thoughts will tempt most folks to try and remain unnoticed and ride more responsibly. After I became an advocate of e-transportation on two wheels, enjoying the benefits of power assist commuting, I eventually was a bit put off by this federal law, especially the 20mph limitation. Is 20 mph really practical and justified? Is it not true that many active young people on typical road bicycles are able to actively ride in the 20-25mph range? I discovered that ebikes, with larger tires and disk brakes, can comfortably and safety cruise in that range of speed. The standard 2001 Federal law of 20mph, eventually became a practical limitation for an ebike commuter of over 20 miles a day, and caused me to get a bike beyond the federal limits, making me more alert and sensitive when riding in the presence of the police.
There are dozens of good 25Km/h pedelecs. Our advice is to go the nearest good e-bike store and get it from there, because e-bikes may need good support. Only if you like servicing a bike yourself is buying from the Internet a good option. As of Spring 2013, a good benchmark to compare with is the Austrian KTM Amparo also called KTM Severo 8M or the German Kalkhoff Impuls or Agattu series. It has a reliable Panasonic middle motor and a good battery. If you want a more sexy design, try the SMART from the urban car maker of the same name.

I bought this bike from a dealer after extensive research on ebikes. The Elby is on par with European commuter ebikes at a better price point, you get a lot for your $ here. Elby is the complete package commuter: lights & a USB charger (for a phone or whatever) are integrated into the motor’s power supply and wired inside the frame. Rugged fenders have heavy-duty cross braces to attach baskets and whatnot. Thick Continental tires make for a comfy ride. The step-through frame is very convenient, built stout enough to carry me (200#) and two loaded baskets down hills and around curves with perfect stability. The motor on this bike is in the rear hub, and having it behind me makes it virtually soundless. The motor (BionX 500 watt) kicks in as soon as you start pedaling, but there is a
As long as you can do without some of the perks that pricier models offer—like a detailed display unit, integrated lights, and a torque-sensor motor—the August Live! LS is a solid, stable, comfortable, and really freakin’ cute (have you see those polka-dot fenders?) e-bike. Its 8-speed twist shifter, chopper-style handlebar, Touch Down Geometry (for a more laid-back ride), and three levels of assist keep this bike within the realm of “cruiser.” But with a 250-watt Bafang rear-hub motor, a top pedal-assisted speed of 20 mph, and reliable disc brakes, the August is no joke. It’ll get you to the top of relatively steep climbs without forcing you out of the saddle, and it feels super stable on the way back down. It has a battery range of 20 miles, but that’s enough to take it where it’s happiest: tootling along at the beach, around town, and through the park.

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.
What's the Centros like? Big and heavy, but with enough power to overcome that, it really reminded me of a more upmarket Volt Pulse. You do tend to find that the weightier e-bikes give more of a feeling of speed, even though you're only doing 20mph or so at the absolute most (only up to 15mph with electrical assistance so you'll need leg muscles or a downward incline to get to that outlandish velocity).
Because the power is applied through the chain and sprocket, power is typically limited to around 250–500 watts to protect against fast wear on the drivetrain. An electric mid-drive combined with an internal gear hub at the back hub may require care due to the lack of a clutch mechanism to soften the shock to the gears at the moment of re-engagement. A continuously variable transmission or a fully automatic internal gear hub may reduce the shocks due to the viscosity of oils used for liquid coupling instead of the mechanical couplings of the conventional internal gear hubs.

I do not recommend hacking a bike into s-pedelec, i.e. make a 25km/h bike go at 45 or faster. If you have an accident you will be in trouble. Just get a legal version. In addition you will have good insurance. Of course, in countries like France or the UK that so far do not know S-Pedelecs, you will have to make a difficult moral choice.... At least, make sure that your rig is safe...
In the United States electric bikes have seen slow but steady growth since the late 90’s and as a result, in 2001 congress was lobbied and passed the first and only bill to define ebikes in federal law. This law, 107-319, exempts electrified bicycles with operating pedals using motors under 750 watts limited to 20 mph from the legal definition of a motor vehicle.2.
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.
Nevada Electric Bicycle (NRS 482.0287) Bicycle 20 (motor only on the flat with 170LB rider, undefined if pedal assist is allowed to go faster) 750W (it is undefined as to whether this is input or output power, but in the USA, motors are rated on output power at the shaft) No none (use caution here because of "reckless endangerment" laws) no (not a "motor vehicle")
What's the Centros like? Big and heavy, but with enough power to overcome that, it really reminded me of a more upmarket Volt Pulse. You do tend to find that the weightier e-bikes give more of a feeling of speed, even though you're only doing 20mph or so at the absolute most (only up to 15mph with electrical assistance so you'll need leg muscles or a downward incline to get to that outlandish velocity).
Both land management regulators and mountain bike trail access advocates have argued for bans of electric bicycles on outdoor trails that are accessible to mountain bikes, citing potential safety hazards as well as the potential for electric bikes to damage trails. A study conducted by the International Mountain Bicycling Association, however, found that the physical impacts of low-powered pedal-assist electric mountain bikes may be similar to traditional mountain bikes.[68]

"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.

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