Cost: Good e-bikes are not cheap, and unlike most bikes, the costs associated with owning an e-bike don’t end when you hand over your credit card in exchange for a shiny new steed. The average cost of operating an electric bike is around $390 a year, including maintenance and charging. You’re also likely to need to change the batteries every 3-5 years so factor that into your costs.
Electric bikes are categorized by classes: Class 1 ebikes are pedal-assist cycles with a top speed of 20 mph. (Some localities have banned Class 2 and Class 3 ebikes, which are throttle on demand.) The trick to using a Class 1 bike is to, well, pedal. “If the pedals stop, the bike doesn’t go,” says Saltvold, who describes using an ebike as akin to running on a moving walkway in an airport terminal. Whitaker notes that customers say they switch off the pedal-assist to get more exercise, then turn it back on when going up a hill or wanting to increase their speed.
The electric bike revolution has officially crossed into the arena of off-road motorbikes. For those who prefer riding in nature, Cake introduced a product which not only respects the environment but other riders, as well. Cake’s Kalk is a silent off-road motorbike that releases no emissions into the atmosphere. Additionally, its electric motor means no gear changing or clutching — a silent motorbike that won’t detract from the experience of others. Perhaps the best part is Cake avoided any sacrifice in performance. The Kalk reaches speeds of fifty miles per hour and features three distinct driving modes: Discover, Explore, and Excite.
Thankfully, the Pendleton Somerby is an affordable option which, though not as high performing as some pricier e-bikes, offers a chance for a beginner or less serious cyclist to venture into the electric bike world. With a classic, elegant, low step through frame, getting on is as easy as possible. This is to all intents and purposes a city bike, from its look to the mudguards and chainguards that keep your clothes pristine, and the space for a luggage rack.
ELECTRONIC CONTROL The Zero-Smart-Start speed controller delivers ease of use and smooth drive control and offers a multi-function variable speed output. It is state of the art, producing consistent efficient power. The automatic Pedal Assist mode produces a power burst that dramatically assists the pedaling effort. The Zero-Smart-Start electronic throttle control allows the rider to relax and not pedal at all.
Duke Eco-Marathon Team using an Electric Bike Technologies hub motor for the 2014 Shell Eco-marathon. The E-BikeKit motor provides optimal space saving because it does not require a chain (this makes it great for converting road bicycles to electric bicycles, which is what it is designed to do) but we hope to determine if it provides us with a better overall vehicle efficiency than our outboard motor.
The Focus comes with lots of extras: front and rear lights, bell, fenders, chain guard and rack. The Panasonic drive system that powers it is the same unit that was on the Kalkhoff bike that climbed to the top of the Pikes Peak bicycle race, one of only 3 types of bikes to survive this 8000 foot 20-mile climb in 2012. The Panasonic drive system is a well built piece of E-bike engineering which drives the bottom bracket and powers the rear wheel through the same drive chain as the rider. It is only available on OEM bikes which have been-purpose built using it. It stands as one of the most refined mid-drive systems ever built.
“At $500 apiece,” he says, “the company would be selling e-bikes at a loss, once they factored in product liability insurance, quality control, regulatory compliance, safety testing, and post-sales service and support. Chinese e-bikes could certainly ‘leak’ into the U.S. market near that cost, be sold as a loss leader, or be marketed directly on eBay, but a fully costed business model could potentially lose up to $250 per bike.”
Instead, ebikes offer a “gateway” to exercise, says Thomas Whitaker, director of marketing for Faraday Bikes, a San Francisco-based ebike manufacturer. He notes than in their market research, 10 percent of customers use ebikes to recover from an illness or injury. “I think it’s a familiar and fun way to exercise without being hard on the body. People recover and then continue to do more and bike more.”
“Even if you deal with the tubing supply chain and consumer retail price tolerance, there is no supply chain here for the cables, shifters, crank sets, chains, saddles, and every other part. It would take decades to set all of this up, but you would first have to get consumers to the point where they will pay $1,800 for the bike that they could get for $400.”
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.
The final major consideration is what type of riding you will be doing. Are you going on an off-road adventure through the mountains? You’ll want a very different electric bike than you would need if you’re riding on paved roads the whole time. Most bike tours are going to be on paved roads, but you should always research the area in detail during your planning process.
Electric bikes are here in a big way. Liberated from some of the normal constraints of standard bike design like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded; if you can imagine it, someone has built it. From cargo bikes to city bikes, messenger bikes to mountain bikes, road bikes, and even beach cruisers, there is something for everyone. The beauty of e-bikes is they make the joy of cycling accessible to so many people in so many ways.