Having spent some quality time with Wing’s e-bike, I understand why so many people are excited about the growing popularity of electric-powered vehicles like bikes and scooters. They take a lot of the work out of getting from point A to point B, while retaining all of the joy. They can give you more confidence when navigating a treacherous city terrain that prioritizes cars over people. And let’s face it: bikes are cool, and always will be.
Despite the illegal status in the state of New York, enforcement of this law varies at the local level. New York City enforces the bike ban with fines and vehicle confiscation for throttle activated electric bikes. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio has recently changed the city's official policy to legalize pedal-assist electric bikes that have a maximum speed limited to 20 mph.  Contrarily, Tompkins County supports electric bike usage, even providing grant money to fund electric bike share/rental projects.
Electric bicycles are considered as "bicycles" under Montana law as the law defines bicycles in a two part definition where the first part of the definition describes a conventional bicycle propelled solely by human power and the second part of the definition describes a bicycle equipped with an independent power source for propulsion in addition to foot pedals to permit muscular propulsion. (Montana Code 61-8-102).
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.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque, and others, like Bosch’s Active Line, are nearly silent. But, generally, all four make good options. Look for motor output (in torque), which will give you an idea of total power. Just like car engines, more torque equals more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a more important figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a more accurate reflection of power (higher Wh equals bigger range).
It’s a topic that many eMTBers are interested in: fast charging. What has long been a reality with electric cars is now also being partly improved for ebikes with high amperage chargers. Bosch has presented a 6A charger this year that can charge a 500 Wh battery in 3 hours, more than a third faster than the standard charger. The new benchmark next year, however, will probably be the 10A charger presented by Haibike and BMZ. It is claimed to be capable of charging a 630 Wh battery in just 1.5 hours.
The first mechanically-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle may have been built by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839, although the claim is often disputed. He is also associated with the first recorded instance of a cycling traffic offense, when a Glasgow newspaper in 1842 reported an accident in which an anonymous "gentleman from Dumfries-shire... bestride a velocipede... of ingenious design" knocked over a little girl in Glasgow and was fined five shillings.