While we're still fairly new to the solar ebike game, Mark is among the (suprisingly numerous) Grin customers who've been thinking about and experimenting with solar bikes for many years. After he shared pictures of his latest project and mentioned his round the world touring ambitions, we thought we had to do a small feature on this guy. A quick last minute trip to Maker Faire was arranged to meet up, and here we present, Mark Havran:
While I would have loved to see some higher end components such as disc brakes or built-in lights, the bike still works well for what you get and is a pretty good value for the price. One missing component that I feel would make a big difference is a kickstand. I’ve never seen an e-bike that didn’t come with one, outside of ultra premium multi-thousand dollar road and downhill e-bikes that try to save every gram of weight. But for a commuter, a kickstand is pretty important. You can always add a cheap $7 kickstand from Amazon, but I would have preferred they save us the step and include their own cheap kickstand.
In some countries mixed systems, i.e. pedaling and/or using a throttle is legal. In EU countries and Switzerland this is not the case. I.e. you can buy an electric scooter, but this is not considered to be an e-bike in the moped / light scooter category. That kind of hack is probably more difficult, unless the original design has been modified to fit with (s)Pedelec specs. E.g. The Ezee models are of that kind and modifications to revert to the original does not seem to be too difficult...
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.
Federal law defines the limits of a low speed electric bike, equating it to a bicycle, and bypassing the definition of a motor vehicle only “For purposes of motor vehicle safety standards…” which means that the manufacturers of these bicycles don’t have to meet federal equipment requirements, and are instead governed by the manufacturing requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Act. There is no mention of exemption from other federal, state, and local traffic laws, or exemption from the definition of a motor vehicle for other purposes.3 This means the law applies to the manufacturer’s product and sale, avoiding federal safety requirements applying to a motor vehicle such as brake lights, turn signals and braking specifications. The goal of the law was to give businesses a legal framework to define and sell low speed electric bikes without the more stringent Federal classification of a motor vehicle. Ebikes that meet the criteria are considered a “bicycle”, do not meet the definition of a motor vehicle, and will be regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The law also grants the commission authority to add safety requirements to this product. The Federal law supersedes all state laws that equate bicycles to ebikes where the state law is more stringent (lower limits) on power and speed.
My homeowners (State Farm) covers bikes , but assumes $500 per bike. They will add the bikes as personal property, but the premium is excessive (about $300/year per bike, and we have four bikes). I did increase our personal umbrella liability coverage, and it covers us if family members any sort of accident on our e-bikes that injures us or others or others' property, though only covers $500 each for our own bikes (under the homeowners coverage). It was not very expensive to increase the umbrella policy (as it resulted also in a reduced rate on our car insurance).
Range is a key consideration with electric bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. The range of an electric bike is usually stated as somewhere between 7 km (uphill on electric power only) to 70 km (minimum assistance) and is highly dependent on whether or not the bike is tested on flat roads or hills. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American E+ (manufactured by Electric Motion Systems), have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS.
There is a lot of information on the internet about electric bikes. Hopefully you have found lots of useful information right here, on this website. Based on this information, you may already have a preference for a specific electric bicycle and / or (technical) components. Your friends that ride e-bikes can also advise you based on their own experiences. But there is only one way you will know if you really make the right choice: take a test drive. During a test drive you will discover how close the riding experience is to your expectations.
So first off, it isn’t fair to compare the power of a Chinese rear hub motor watt for watt with a 250W Bosch or Brose or even a Shimano or Yamaha mid-drive motor. There just isn’t even close to the amount of torque or power on a per watt basis and that’s before we get to controllers. However, comparing the Rattan’s 350W motor to the Ancheer’s 250W motor seems more proportionally correct. Where as I could make it about a third of the way up my driveway hill from a cold start on Ancheer throttle, I made it about 2/3rds of the way with the Rattan, or another 100 feet. On a flat surface, again with throttle only, I hit 20 mph in about 10 seconds with the Rattan. It takes me another 5+ seconds to get there on the Ancheer. One note, the battery gauge does bounce around a bit depending on how much it is working. At full throttle you might lose a bar or 2 only to get it back once you coast.
How do the State Laws relate to the 2001 Federal Law? This is a difficult question to answer and know how they apply to you individually. From the Federal Law, one would hope that your purchased ebike is simply classified as a bicycle, with all the rights and privileges allotted to a normal cyclist. However, State Laws are confusing because they may be more restrictive in parts and add other requirements. About 30 U.S. states still have confusing regulations around them. Either the bikes are technically classified as mopeds or motor vehicles, or they have equipment, licensing or registration requirements that cause problems for riders. Thanks to the People-For-Bikes/Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) partnership with local advocacy groups, they have been able to make the case for streamlining state regulations so that e-bikes are essentially treated like regular bicycles.4
However, laws and terminology are diverse. Some countries have national regulations but leave the legality of road use for states and provinces to decide. Municipal laws and restrictions add further complications. Systems of classification and nomenclature also vary. Jurisdictions may address "power-assisted bicycle" (Canada) or "power-assisted cycle" (United Kingdom) or "electric pedal-assisted cycles" (European Union) or simply "electric bicycles". Some classify pedelecs as distinct from other bikes using electric power. Thus, the same hardware may be subject to many different classifications and regulations.
This is a cool eBike fits in your car's trunk or back seat! It's well made. And it only has one rear disc brake, you dont really need the front brake. It's simple to operate and fun to use - just put one foot on one foot attachment while turning the throttle slightly, then as soon as you start to move add the other foot...and let the joy ride begin!