Electric bikes have been around for years, but are just now gaining wide acceptance with the public. Brand names include Schwinn, Ancheer, Nakto, Swagtron, X-treme Ebike, Merax and many more. This market is forecasted to hit $23,831 million by the year 2025.(R) In some areas, these vehicles are even taking money away from the Taxi industry.(R) Proof that the number of E-bikes on the road will only increase.
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It is not a off-road motorbike with an electric engine and a throttle. Electric mountain bikes have motors that only work when you’re pedalling. The motor tops-up your pedalling input. It’s called ‘pedal assist’. There are differing levels of assistance (called things like ‘eco’ and ‘turbo’) that you select via a handlebar-mounted control unit. The motor also cuts out once you reach 25km/ph (or faster). There are strict limits on the power of electric mountain bikes; 250w is the maximum nominal power. More powerful than that and the bike requires tax and insurance (like a car/motorbike) and is also not allowed on bridleways at all.
With different degrees of assistance at your fingertips, riders of varying fitness levels are easily accommodated on the same ride too. Which, depending on who’s setting the pace, can bring a social aspect back to big days out, because you can all ride together and the assistance from the motor makes it that much easier to string a coherent sentence together even on the steepest climbs.
Not sure if there’s any in Southampton but there’s a couple of specialist electric bike shops in the Brighton area that sell them and they seem happy to let people do test rides. Probably the best way to decide if they’re the right thing for you and what you want to do. Would happily accompany you for a ride round Stanmer if you came over this way for a test.
My wife has a Scott, essentially a Contessa with a Bosch crank motor. Very heavy thing, bloody hard work with no assistance, but even with assist on progress surely depends on your effort. We don’t do a lot of trail centres, but it’s been fine round Rothie, up to Einich, in Inshriach and up the Corbett behind Kingussie, as well as onroad. Lets us ride together, which would be harder without assist, and is heling her recover from skiing injuries.
What i’d really like is the ability to custom tune the standard speed settings with regard to the torque curve/output and perhaps have a top speed of 18mph or thereabouts, back when i could ride a normal bike under my own steam there were some sections of my local trails where i could easily maintain 20mph+ through the single track (allowing for acceleration out of the corners) as it was on a slight fall line. It’s all brain-farts at the moment so the tuning kit is still in my toolbox and it may stay in there.