E-bikes are one of the latest ways technology is infiltrating the fitness market. Although they may seem techy and confusing at first, they really are just regular bicycles with a little extra boost. To test one, ask your local bike shop to demo a model they have available (pro tip: If a bike shop won't let you demo, don't shop there). Just getting on one will definitely help you understand how an e-bike works and how one might work for your lifestyle and goals.
For those looking to hit the trails instead of the pavement, Yamaha has you covered with their new YDX-TORC electric-assist bicycle, which is powered by a souped-up version of their mid drive known as the Yamaha PW-X center drive motor system, which the company claims offers the extra power needed for more adventure and exploration on the trails, including a fifth power assist setting. As a more powerful e-bike, the YDX-TORC also demands a higher price of $3,499.
Like the Currie, the Rayos has a lot of torque, independent human and electric drive systems, and a drive system that freewheels when not in use. The electronics shut the motor off at 80% battery discharge to avoid a full discharge (which really shortens the life of lead-acid batteries). The Rayos is an 8-speed bike that uses standard bike parts. Seats, handlebars, brakes and other non-electric parts can be found at a supercenter or bike store. Electric parts can be obtained from Rayos dealers.
“First, Taiwan and China have been building almost all the bikes for the entire world for the past 30-40 years. They have ecosystems and two generations of tradesmen that result in the best bikes in the world. Look at all the top brands—Giant, Specialized, Cannondale— they all make their top end bikes in China and Taiwan. Even look at the Italian brands and you’ll see they build their frames in China and Taiwan and paint them in Italy.”
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).