The Bulls Cross E8 Step-Thru is an urban bike—a bicycle often used as a primary mode of transportation for those who choose not to own a car. Priced at $3,099, it's solid and durable. The aluminum frame comes in three sizes (45cm, 50cm, and 53cm; I tested the latter). It's got an eight-speed Shimano shifter and a Shimano Deore CS-HG50 cassette. Shimano is a small change for me, as my XO2 uses the SRAM Rival Double Tap shifter, and I really like the action on that. It's got a front suspension with 63mm of travel for a smoother ride, along with Shimano hydraulic disc brakes. Cable runs are all internal, making for a cleaner-looking profile. Rack, fenders, and a headlight all come standard.
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).
On October 5, 2009, the Government of Ontario brought in laws regulating electric bikes in the province. E-bikes, which can reach a speed of 32 kilometres per hour, are allowed to share the road with cars, pedestrians and other traffic throughout the province. The new rules limit the maximum weight of an e-bike to 120 kilograms, require a maximum braking distance of nine metres and prohibit any modifications to the bike's motor that would create speeds greater than 32 kilometres per hour. Also, riders must be at least 16 years of age, wear approved bicycle or motorcycle helmets and follow the same traffic laws as bicyclists. Municipalities are also specifically permitted by the legislation to restrict where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails, as well as restricting certain types of e-bike (e.g. banning "scooter-style" e-bikes from bicycle trails). E-bikes are not permitted on 400-series highways, expressways or other areas where bicycles are not allowed. Riding an e-bike under the age of 16 or riding an e-bike without an approved helmet are new offences in the legislation, carrying fines of between $60 and $500. E-bike riders are subject to the same penalties as other cyclists for all other traffic offences.
If you want an e-bike that positively sprays tech out you, try the Volt Axis on for size. It takes the GoCycle GS's combo of folding, lightweight frame and disk brakes and adds automatic gears, if you please. These react to your speed and pedalling effort. So you automatically gear down when you stop at traffic lights – although what self-respecting cyclist does that? – and then back up as you accelerate.
What we especially love is how quiet this e bicycle is. If you’re riding down the street or through the park, the gentle hum of the motor is unnoticeable. This is because it’s hidden by the sound of your smooth pedaling. If you’re not into flashy gadgets, any ordinary person would assume you’re riding a conventional peddle bike. This is a great commuter bike.
Class 1 makes great inroads to establish set boundaries for off road/natural surface trail access for eMountain bikes. There is fierce resistance from some mountain biking purists to allow ebikes on trails. BPSA and IMBA have done good work to justify the impact of class 1 ebikes on natural surface trails, and eliminate the wear-n-tear argument, though IMBA members are not 100% on board.
Last year we found a very low-priced (under $600 at Amazon) bike made by Ancheer. Overall, it made some good compromises to get down to the $600 price point but I had some issues with the build quality, the power of the motor, lack of display on the controller and size of the battery. This year a new low-cost Amazon ebike from Rattan seems to have answered many of my concerns.
In 2012, two e-bike advocates completed the first 4,000-mile (6,400 km) transcontinental e-bike tour from New York to San Francisco to advocate for e-bikes in major cities across the U.S. Pedego Electric Bikes is the best selling brand in the U.S. Many e-bikes in the United States are standard bicycles converted using a kit. In general, the kits include the motor (the majority of which are hub motors built into the front or rear wheel), a speed controller, throttle (usually twist-grip or thumb throttle), necessary wiring and connectors, and a battery. Several U.S. companies offer conversion kits which also offer advanced lithium battery packs. Major manufacturers also offer complete e-bikes. Trek offers a line of e-bikes using the Bionx system in which the rider programs the controller to determine how much effort the motor will give in response to rider effort, from 25% up to 200% of the rider's power. This system ensures a minimum level of rider participation and is also used to comply with many European laws mandating partial human effort before the motor engages.
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.
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.
Indian law requires that all electric vehicles have ARAI approval. Vehicles with below 250W and speed less than 30 km/h, do not require certification- hence not following full testing process, but needs to get exemption report from ARAI. Whereas more powerful vehicles need to go through a full testing process following CMVR rules. This can take time and cost money but assures safe and reliable design for Electric Vehicles. These regulations are not promulgated by the Regional Transport offices, and riders are not required to obtain a licence to drive, to carry insurance, or to wear a helmet.
Attitudes to electric bikes have changed in recent years. For a long time they were seen by cyclists as 'cheating' and by non-cyclists as being just like a bike, but uglier and far more expensive. This new breed of best-in-class electric bikes feel more natural, look more normal, and people are coming around to the idea that a ride with the convenience of a bike but without all the sweat and effort is a Very Good Thing.
The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.