Artwork: Hub motors aren't the only way to power electric bicycle wheels. If you've ever watched a mouse scampering around inside an exercise wheel, you might have wondered if you could drive a wheel electrically, in a similar way, with something that pushes against the inside of the rim. A company called GeoOrbital has been developing an ingenious mechanical equivalent that can be used to power conventional bikes—and here's a simplified illustration of how it works. It has a motorized drive roller (red) that presses against the inner rim, powered by a battery pack (orange) that sits snugly inside the wheel. Two guide rollers (blue) mounted on a tensioned framework (green) take the place of the conventional arrangement of spokes. According to GeoOrbital, you can fit one of its wheels to a normal bike in just 60 seconds.

But electric bicycles—e-bikes—are new territory for me. Broadly speaking, there are two basic options in e-bike land: power-on-demand and pedal-assist. With the former, the rider can control the speed with a throttle instead of just pedaling. Think moped but with an electric motor instead of internal combustion. Pedal-assist, by contrast, requires the rider to do some of the work. The electric motor won't engage unless the rider is pedaling.


State law defines a motorized pedalcycle as a motor-driven cycle equipped with operable pedals, a motor rated at no more than 1.5 brake horsepower, a cylinder capacity not exceeding 50 cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and a maximum design speed of no more than 25 miles per hour.[55] Subchapter J of Publication 45 spells out the vehicle requirements in full.
Maintenance of adequate tire inflation is the most frequent and troublesome concern for cyclists and many means and methods are employed to preserve pneumatic integrity. Thicker tires, thicker tubes, tire liners (of a number of rather impenetrable devices installed between the tire and tube), liquid sealing compounds squeezed into the tube, and automotive-style patch kits are all used to reliably contain the typical tire pressures of 40 to 60 pounds per square inch that are required for bicycle operation. Thin, light bicycle tires are particularly vulnerable to penetration and subsequent deflation caused by goat's heads and other burs, colloquially known as stickers. Inflation of bicycle tires to pressures higher than typical for automotive use requires special pumps. The complexity of bicycle tire maintenance and repair may cause many to not consider the bicycle for transport or leisure.
Legislative changes in 2012 significantly altered the classification and regulatory structure for e-bikes. The general effect was to establish electric-assisted bicycles as a subset of bicycles and regulate e-bikes in roughly the same manner as bicycles instead of other motorized devices with two (or three) wheels. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 3, §§ 15-17, 21, 23-26, 30, 32-33, and 41. The 2012 Legislature also modified and clarified regulation of e-bikes on bike paths and trails. Laws 2012, ch. 287, art. 4, §§ 1-4, 20.

The Riese & Müller Load Touring HS is billed as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” and it holds up to that claim. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels), the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28 mph, when it cuts out. Two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.

A KS LEV Integra dropper post, 130mm of front and rear travel, 27.5-inch wheels, and trail-grabbing 2.8-inch tires make this pedal-assist mountain bike a great option if you want to climb farther to shred longer, but don’t want to lug your bike uphill for ages. The 250-watt motor, placed slightly farther forward than most other bikes to optimize weight distribution and handling, provides a nice boost so you can enjoy the ride up and not be too gassed when you get to the top.
Electric-assisted bicycles, also referred to as "e-bikes," are a subset of bicycles that are equipped with a small attached motor. To be classified as an "electric-assisted bicycle" in Minnesota, the bicycle must have a saddle and operable pedals, two or three wheels, and an electric motor of up to 1,000 watts, as well as meet certain federal motor vehicle safety standards. The motor must disengage during braking and have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour (whether assisted by human power or not). Minn. Stat. §169.011, subd. 27.
Built by a company that’s made cycling equipment for more than four decades, the Vado feels more like a traditional bicycle than almost any other ebike. Its frame and components have been tuned to provide a familiar experience, making it easy for new and long-time cyclists to jump on and start pedaling. Specialized’s heritage shines through nicely, helping separate itself from the competition in an increasingly crowded ebike market.
The Footloose has no chain, however -- it's entirely electrically driven. It takes very little effort to get to your destination, meaning you arrive at work without having broken a sweat. The downside is that when you run out of power, you're not going anywhere. And pedalling from a standstill, waiting for the motor to kick in, is an odd sensation that takes some getting used to.
October 5, 2009 — Ontario is bringing in some new safety requirements for electric bikes. 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 will be able to decide where e-bikes may be used on their streets, bike lanes and trails. E-bikes will not be 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 carries fines ranging from $60 to $500. For all other traffic offences, e-bike riders will be subject to the same penalties as cyclists.
In built up cities around the world, urban planning uses cycling infrastructure like bikeways to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.[59] A number of cities around the world have implemented schemes known as bicycle sharing systems or community bicycle programs.[60][61] The first of these was the White Bicycle plan in Amsterdam in 1965. It was followed by yellow bicycles in La Rochelle and green bicycles in Cambridge. These initiatives complement public transport systems and offer an alternative to motorized traffic to help reduce congestion and pollution.[62] In Europe, especially in the Netherlands and parts of Germany and Denmark, bicycle commuting is common. In Copenhagen, a cyclists' organization runs a Cycling Embassy that promotes biking for commuting and sightseeing. The United Kingdom has a tax break scheme (IR 176) that allows employees to buy a new bicycle tax free to use for commuting.[63]
China's experience, as the leading e-bike world market, has raised concerns about road traffic safety and several cities have considered banning them from bicycle lanes.[2] As the number of e-bikes increased and more powerful motors are used, capable of reaching up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h), the number of traffic accidents have risen significantly in China. E-bike riders are more likely than a car driver to be killed or injured in a collision, and because e-bikers use conventional bicycle lanes they mix with slower-moving bicycles and pedestrians, increasing the risk of traffic collisions.[2]
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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]


The recommendation depends a lot on what you plan to use the bike for and how you plan to ride. That said, I would recommend at least a 750 (if not 1,000) watt motor, and, if you want reasonable range, 48 or 52v cells with a minimum rating of 19ah. For shorter rides, you can use a smaller battery. Multiply battery voltage by amp hour rating to get battery watt hours. Divide the watt hours by the motors power rating to get a general idea of how many hours of heavy use you might get. I’d also recommend a mid drive as opposed to a hub drive, or to find a hub drive wheel rated to take your and the bicycle's combined weight.
Built by a company that’s made cycling equipment for more than four decades, the Vado feels more like a traditional bicycle than almost any other ebike. Its frame and components have been tuned to provide a familiar experience, making it easy for new and long-time cyclists to jump on and start pedaling. Specialized’s heritage shines through nicely, helping separate itself from the competition in an increasingly crowded ebike market.
On the other hand, the battery doesn’t lock into the bike, which means you can’t just leave it on your bike when you park at the bike rack. Anyone could walk by and simply remove your battery. That seems like an oversight to me, though perhaps the designers assumed that such a small battery would just be easy to take with you. And it is. My wife could probably lose this battery in her purse.
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