The environmental credentials of e-bikes, and electric / human powered hybrids generally, have led some municipal authorities to use them, such as Little Rock, Arkansas with their Wavecrest electric power-assisted bicycles or Cloverdale, California police with Zap e-bikes. China’s e-bike manufacturers, such as Xinri, are now partnering with universities in a bid to improve their technology in line with international environmental standards, backed by the Chinese government who is keen to improve the export potential of the Chinese manufactured e-bikes.
It’s impressive just how traditional a finish they’ve achieved for a pedal-assist bike, especially considering the motor uses Kinetic Energy Recovery to charge itself (like F1 Cars). Firing up the motor is achieved by back-pedaling three times (while travelling over 8mph). It’s a neat idea, and a clever way of doing away with those cables and switches, but in reality it’s fiddly. Riding in the city we occasionally felt ridiculous on a busy street pedaling backward rather than forward to kick off the assist. It’s also a chore getting the bike to speed and going through the motion to activate in tight spaces such as underground garages or on an incline.
In the year 1885, a British man named J.K. Stanley introduced what can fairly be described as the first modern bicycle. His Rover bike had wheels of equal size in the front and back and used a chain connecting the pedals and the rear wheel as a propulsion system. It was often marketed as a safety bike in contrast with the unstable Penny Farthing, and was a smashing success. The company went on to develop motorcycles and automobiles, remaining in business until the year 2005.
With its chunky, plus-sized tires, at first sight, the E3 Peak Plus seems like a cross between a hardtail mountain bike and a fat bike. It’s good looking: the mid-drive motor and removable, lightweight battery fit in nicely with the lines of the bike, making it look more like a standard mountain bike than other models. Unlike many mid-range e-bikes, it also comes in three sizes — handy if the usual one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit you.
But with increased demand and production, as well as technology improvements thanks to advances in the electric car industry, the cost of components like lithium-ion batteries comes down, Weinert explains. Now, e-bikes are on the market as low as around $1,200 (like the Monroe 250 from Schwinn, available in November 2017). Plus, the competition is stiff. “There are more brands producing than there were five years ago, and they all have to be competitive," LaLonde says.
Electric Motor. Having a battery that will last long is just one piece of the puzzle. The electric motor should be powerful enough to move the bike on flat surfaces without any problems and to overcome some low-steep slopes. It will help you out on steeper slopes, it won’t let you down. If the motor or “the engine” is more powerful you’ll be able to accelerate faster and to reach a higher momentum. This will allow you to reach your destination faster and without you getting tired.
The Patriot DreamE results from the combination of the popular Day 6 bicycle with the Kinetic8-Fun mid-drive motor kit. The unique Day 6 styling eliminates leaning forward, so you sit perfectly upright. That means there is no more stress on wrists, neck, back, and crotch. It also means a superior breathing position and a better way to enjoy the scenery. The step-through design makes for easy mounts and dismounts, while the low seat allows the rider to reach the ground with both feet for stability and safety.
Because they’re electrically powered, e-bikes sit in a bit of a gray area between bicycles and motorcycles. While some states have enacted specific legislation to state where electric bikes can and can’t be ridden, in other states outdated laws mean they’re regulated as a moped or motor vehicle which can cause confusion over registration requirements, access to cycling infrastructure and how old you have to be before you can ride one.
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).