Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
Electric motorized bicycles can be power-on-demand, where the motor is activated by a handlebar mounted throttle, and/or a pedelec (from pedal electric), also known as electric assist, where the electric motor is regulated by pedaling. These have a sensor to detect the pedaling speed, the pedaling force, or both. An electronic controller provides assistance as a function of the sensor inputs, the vehicle speed and the required force. Most controllers also provide for manual adjustment.
In 2012, two e-bike advocates completed the first 4,000-mile (6,400 km) transcontinental e-bike tour from New York to San Francisco to advocate for e-bikes in major cities across the U.S.[81] Pedego Electric Bikes is the best selling brand in the U.S. Many e-bikes in the United States are standard bicycles converted using a kit. In general, the kits include the motor (the majority of which are hub motors built into the front or rear wheel), a speed controller, throttle (usually twist-grip or thumb throttle), necessary wiring and connectors, and a battery. Several U.S. companies offer conversion kits which also offer advanced lithium battery packs. Major manufacturers also offer complete e-bikes. Trek offers a line of e-bikes using the Bionx system in which the rider programs the controller to determine how much effort the motor will give in response to rider effort, from 25% up to 200% of the rider's power. This system ensures a minimum level of rider participation and is also used to comply with many European laws mandating partial human effort before the motor engages.

Electric bikes aren’t just a practical and environmentally conscious solution to gridlock, they also are really fun to ride. On top of all of the persuasive arguments to get an electric bike, I think the Rad Wagon’s best-selling point comes down to enjoyment. Zooming down the street each morning I wasn’t angrily yelling at fellow drivers or rushing not to be late. The bike commute was part of the journey each day, and not just the means I used to get around. There’s a reason so many people loved biking as a kid, and it can be just as fun as an adult.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) stipulates that commercially manufactured low-speed electric bicycles, or tricycles, must have fully operable pedals, an electric motor not exceeding 750W of power and a top motor-powered speed not in excess of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h).[22] An electric bike remaining within these specifications will be regarded simply as a bicycle for purposes of safety standards. This supersedes any state law that is more stringent, but only regarding safety equipment required on electric bicycles and the standard of manufacture they must meet.[23]. The legislation enacting this amendment to the CPSC is also known as HR 727[24].
The bicycle is extraordinarily efficient in both biological and mechanical terms. The bicycle is the most efficient human-powered means of transportation in terms of energy a person must expend to travel a given distance.[38] From a mechanical viewpoint, up to 99% of the energy delivered by the rider into the pedals is transmitted to the wheels, although the use of gearing mechanisms may reduce this by 10–15%.[39][40] In terms of the ratio of cargo weight a bicycle can carry to total weight, it is also an efficient means of cargo transportation.
For many bikes, battery range is more important than total power (because they’re all pretty powerful). You want a bike that delivers a range long enough for your rides at the power levels you want. Most e-bikes will have three to five levels of assist that kick in anywhere from 25 percent of your pedal power to 200 percent. Consider how fast the battery takes to recharge, especially if you’ll be using your bike for long commutes.
The newest entrant in this lower price category is Wing Bikes, a New York City-based company that launched in 2018. Wing wants to be the affordable e-bike for city residents who are sick of shady ride-hailing services and stalled subways. And if you don’t live in a city, that’s fine too: Wing’s e-bikes could be a realistic alternative to owning a car.

Different gears and ranges of gears are appropriate for different people and styles of cycling. Multi-speed bicycles allow gear selection to suit the circumstances: a cyclist could use a high gear when cycling downhill, a medium gear when cycling on a flat road, and a low gear when cycling uphill. In a lower gear every turn of the pedals leads to fewer rotations of the rear wheel. This allows the energy required to move the same distance to be distributed over more pedal turns, reducing fatigue when riding uphill, with a heavy load, or against strong winds. A higher gear allows a cyclist to make fewer pedal turns to maintain a given speed, but with more effort per turn of the pedals.

"Electric-assisted bicycle" means a bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle's electric motor must have a power output of no more than one thousand watts, be incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour on level ground, and be incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power alone is used to propel the device beyond twenty miles per hour.[66]
EU: EN15194 (EPAC – Electrically Power Assisted Cycles) defines the use pedal-assisted less than 25k/h bikes: "Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h or if the cyclist stops pedaling.”
Available products (motors, senors, batteries, control systems. etc.) change fast since the e-bike market shows a strong growth. In principle, get a rear motor if you want a lot of raw power and acceleration (e.g. for a 500W motor). Middle motors are more energy efficient and less subject to problems (e.g. overheating). Middle motors usually are combined with integrated rear hub gears, and rear motors with derailleurs. Both have advantages and disadvantages. E.g. the former require less maintenance, are easy to use in go-and-stop traffic, but require taking off weight on pedals when shifting. Therefore the latter (derailleurs) are better for speedy overland and hills cycling.
And let’s not forget the economic advantages of owning an e-bike. The annual cost of running a new family car is, on average, about $9,000 per year. Running an electric bike costs around $400 per year. And while filling a gas tank costs around $30, recharging an electric bike battery costs only about 50 cents. A tank of gas may get you further, but not 60 times further!
An e-bike is identified as a "motor assisted cycle" (MAC) in British Columbia, which differs from electric mopeds and scooters, which are "limited-speed motorcycles." Motor assisted cycles must: have an electric motor of no more than 500 W; have fully operable pedals; not be capable of propelling the device at a speed greater than 32 km/hr [19.9 mph]. The engine must disengage when (a) the operator stops pedaling, (b) an accelerator controller is released, OR (c) a brake is applied. A driver's license, vehicle registration, and insurance are all not required. A bike helmet must be worn.[22]
Electric bikes are considered motorcycles in Hong Kong, and therefore need type approval from the Transport Department, just as automobiles. All electric bikes available in Hong Kong fail to meet the type approval requirement, and the Transport Department has never granted any type approval for an electric bike, making all electric bikes effectively illegal in Hong Kong. Even if they got type approval, the driver would need a motorcycle driving license to ride.[35] As a side note, Hong Kong doesn't have a moped vehicle class (and therefore no moped driving license), and mopeds are considered motorcycles too.
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Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500.
Beginning January 1, 2017, manufacturers and distributors of electric bicycles will be required to apply a label that is permanently affixed, in a prominent location, to each electric bicycle, indicating its class. Should a user "tamper with or modify" an electric bicycle, changing the speed capability, they must replace the label indicating the classification.
Parliament has decided to approve the speed pedelec – a type of super electric bike that can reach speeds of up to 45 km/hour – for riding on cycle paths. Danish Parliament has decided that as of July 1 2018 those operating the super bikes only need to have turned 15 and wear a helmet, while the licence and number-plate demands will no longer be in play. [38]
As electric bike options continue to expand, more brands are integrating the battery more seamlessly. That makes them look sleeker (and more like a real bike). Batteries are expensive, so make sure there’s a good way to lock the battery to your bike if you’ll be keeping it outside. Overall weight is important. Some battery and motors can add 15 pounds or more to the bike. With assist, you won’t feel that much when you’re riding, but you will if you have to carry your bike up stairs or lift it onto a bike rack.
The body is made from light and durable aluminum. The handlebar comes with simple controls to let you accelerate, brake, monitor battery life, operate headlights and of course…sound the horn. There’s even an USB point that will let you charge your iPhone or Android on the go. The bike can reach a top speed of 10mph. Feel the wind in your hair as you zoom up and down hills and past all that city traffic…

Urban riding will never be the same, and cars will be in your way when you climb aboard the Specialized Turbo Vado 3.0. The zippy 28mph pedal-assist motor will leave you feeling invincible as you’re ripping along in turbo mode (which adds up to 320 percent of your power output). Although designed with female riders in mind—it comes with a women-specific saddle and grips, and a lower standover—the step-through frame is extremely convenient for anyone who doesn’t want to swing their leg over the back of a saddle while wearing street clothes. Slick, integrated lights, as well as fenders and a rear rack, add to the already-awesome features of this bike to make it the ideal combination of value, performance, and pep.
In Nova Scotia power-assisted bicycles are classified similarly to standard pedal bicycles. The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with an electric motor of 500 watts or less, with two wheels (one of which is at least 350 mm) or four wheels (two of which are at least 350mm). PABs are permitted on the road in the province of Nova Scotia as long as you wear an approved bicycle helmet with the chinstrap engaged. They do not have to meet the conditions defined within the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations for a motorcycle(they are not classed as "motor vehicles"), but they do have to comply with federal regulations that define Power Assisted Bicycles.
A local unit of government having jurisdiction over a road or bikeway (including the Department of Natural Resources in the case of state bike trails) is authorized to restrict e-bike use if: the use is not consistent with the safety or general welfare of others; or the restriction is necessary to meet the terms of any legal agreements concerning the land on which a bikeway has been established.
What we especially love is how quiet this e bicycle is. If you’re riding down the street or through the park, the gentle hum of the motor is unnoticeable. This is because it’s hidden by the sound of your smooth pedaling. If you’re not into flashy gadgets, any ordinary person would assume you’re riding a conventional peddle bike. This is a great commuter bike.
The battery is the pedelec’s power source. It supplies the motor with the electrical energy that is required to provide power assistance when cycling. So it is hardly surprising that there is frequent discussion and “talking shop” about the eBike’s battery in particular. What is the difference between batteries? How far can you go on a fully charged battery? What do you have to remember about storage? Thomas Raica, head of technical customer application, here provides information and advice.

In my research about ebikes and the law, I cannot begin to justify how often articles about the laws evolved into the various ways and techniques to sneak around public notice and be stealth with the your ebike. The goal is to ride fast and fun, stay away from public awareness, and ‘Fly under the Radar’. I have been there and I get the drift. Sales and production are up. Electric bike kits, DIY enthusiast, long distance commuters, and a general drive for value is raising the desire for more options for consumers, wanting speed for fun and function, while developing amnesia for the law. People want to ride their new ebikes, and have the same access to safe pathways as they did the week before on their 100% human bike. Rather than deal with the inevitable conflicts over access, behavior and perception within the general public, the typical user will try to blend in with the normal cycling community.


Riding a pedal-assisted road bike may seem counterintuitive but during longer training sessions, the minimal addition of power helps prevent overall muscle fatigue and injury. Similarly, those looking to enjoy longer scenic routes will appreciate the general boost an electric drive provides. With a top speed of 28 mph, the Road E+1 uses three power modes to give you ultimate control over your ride and assistance level. A four-point sensory system monitors the pedaling force allowing the motor to amplify your movements seamlessly.
E-bikes can also provide a source of exercise for individuals who have trouble exercising for an extended time (due to injury or excessive weight, for example) as the bike can allow the rider to take short breaks from pedaling and also provide confidence to the rider that they'll be able to complete the selected path without becoming too fatigued[58] or without having forced their knee joints too hard (people who need to use their knee joints without wearing them out unnecessarily may in some electric bikes adjust the level of motor assistance according to the terrain). A University of Tennessee study provides evidence that energy expenditure (EE) and oxygen consumption (VO2) for e-bikes are 24% lower than that for conventional bicycles, and 64% lower than for walking. Further, the study notes that the difference between e-bikes and bicycles are most pronounced on the uphill segments.[59] Reaching VO2 Max, can really help your body as a whole[60]. Professor Janet Lord of Birmingham University in the UK published a study that looked at older cyclists, ““The study looked at muscle mass, blood cholesterol, their VO2 Max, lung function, and in many of those measures we found they didn’t age! No loss of muscle, their bones were a little thin (but nothing like the general population), their blood pressure didn’t go up.[61]

Under Title 23, Chapter 316 of the code, bicycles and motorized bicycles are defined as follows: Bicycle—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels. The term does not include such a vehicle with a seat height of no more than 25 inches from the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position or a scooter or similar device. No person under the age of 16 may operate or ride upon a motorized bicycle. Motorized Scooter—Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.[90]

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.
Since 30 May 2012, Australia has an additional new e-bike category using the European Union model of a pedelec as per the CE EN15194 standard. This means the e-bike can have a motor of 250W of continuous rated power which can only be activated by pedalling (if above 6 km/h) and must cut out over 25 km/h – if so it is classed as a normal bicycle. The state of Victoria is the first to amend their local road rules, see below.
Bosch eBike Systems – eBikes 101 What is an eBike? The eBike is one of the most agile, comfortable vehicles of our time. With the positive impacts on health, environment and society, electric bikes bring a new meaning to smart mobility. Their modern components and simple yet innovative design allow for a variety of eBiking adventures, from trekking through the …
As often preached, eBikes are arguably the most efficient, enjoyable and clean way to travel around the city. Here at Fully Charged, we have an eBike for all, from the eMTBs, to folding electric bikes. But certainly our most popular are urban commuter eBikes. For those bored of playing sardines on the tube, or taking … Continue reading Commuter eBike riding: The Fully Charged Picks
In New Zealand, the regulations read: "AB (Power-assisted pedal cycle) A pedal cycle to which is attached one or more auxiliary propulsion motors having a combined maximum power output not exceeding 300 watts."[56] This is explained by NZTA as "A power-assisted cycle is a cycle that has a motor of up to 300 watts. The law treats these as ordinary cycles rather than motorcycles. This means that it is not necessary to register or license them.[57] Note that the phrase "maximum power output" that is found in the regulation (but omitted in the explanation) may create confusion because some e-bike motor manufacturers advertise and print on the motor their "maximum input power" because that number is larger (typically motors run at about 80% efficiency [58]) thus give the impression the buyer is getting a more powerful motor. This can cause misunderstandings with law enforcement officers who do not necessarily understand the difference, and when stopping a rider on an e-bike in a traffic stop, look at the number on the motor to determine if the e-bike is legal or not.
Hi Levi, I’m not super familiar with Minnesota or the age limits on ebikes but Pedego just launched one specifically for younger riders (it goes a little slower). Many ebikes let you program a top speed and I feel like this is one area where you can decide as a parent. When I was 13 I had a moped and fixed up a goped with my Grandpa on his farm so… I guess it might be a family decision?
The legal definition/description of an electric bicycle is most closely described in the code as a "motorized scooter" in that it is powered by an electric motor and/or human power [45]. It may be also be described as a "Motorized bicycle". However, that description does not include electric powered motor specifically. And it appears that the legal definition "Motorized Bicycle" and "Motorized Scooter" are in conflict. Motorized bicycle is a pedal bicycle which has a helper motor, or a non-pedal bicycle which has a motor, with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated upon any way, as defined in section one within the commonwealth by any person under sixteen years of age, nor at a speed in excess of twenty-five miles per hour. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated on any way by any person not possessing a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. Every person operating a motorized bicycle upon a way shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the regulations contained in this section, except that the motorized bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way, and the motorized bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop or turn. Motorized bicycles may be operated on bicycle lanes adjacent to the various ways, but shall be excluded from off-street recreational bicycle paths. Every person operating a motorized bicycle or riding as a passenger on a motorized bicycle shall wear protective headgear conforming with such minimum standards of construction and performance as the registrar may prescribe, and no person operating a motorized bicycle shall permit any other person to ride a passenger on such motorized bicycle unless such passenger is wearing such protective headgear.
The legal definition/description of an electric bicycle is most closely described in the code as a "motorized scooter" in that it is powered by an electric motor and/or human power [45]. It may be also be described as a "Motorized bicycle". However, that description does not include electric powered motor specifically. And it appears that the legal definition "Motorized Bicycle" and "Motorized Scooter" are in conflict. Motorized bicycle is a pedal bicycle which has a helper motor, or a non-pedal bicycle which has a motor, with a cylinder capacity not exceeding fifty cubic centimeters, an automatic transmission, and which is capable of a maximum speed of no more than thirty miles per hour. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated upon any way, as defined in section one within the commonwealth by any person under sixteen years of age, nor at a speed in excess of twenty-five miles per hour. A motorized bicycle shall not be operated on any way by any person not possessing a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. Every person operating a motorized bicycle upon a way shall have the right to use all public ways in the commonwealth except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted, and shall be subject to the traffic laws and regulations of the commonwealth and the regulations contained in this section, except that the motorized bicycle operator may keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle which is moving in the travel lane of the way, and the motorized bicycle operator shall signal by either hand his intention to stop or turn. Motorized bicycles may be operated on bicycle lanes adjacent to the various ways, but shall be excluded from off-street recreational bicycle paths. Every person operating a motorized bicycle or riding as a passenger on a motorized bicycle shall wear protective headgear conforming with such minimum standards of construction and performance as the registrar may prescribe, and no person operating a motorized bicycle shall permit any other person to ride a passenger on such motorized bicycle unless such passenger is wearing such protective headgear.
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.

All classes of electric-assisted bicycles may be operated on a fully controlled limited access highway. Class 1 and 2 electric bicycles can be used on sidewalks, but Class 3 bicycles "may not be used on a sidewalk unless there is no alternative to travel over a sidewalk as part of a bicycle or pedestrian path."[143] Generally a person may not operate an electric-assisted bicycle on a trail that is designated as non-motorized and that has a natural surface, unless otherwise authorized.
Electric bikes are becoming a convenient and fun way to commute around a city, but they can be pricey. The average e-bike can cost $3,000, with some models getting up to $5,000 or more. But these prices are dropping, as new models come onto the market — and if you don’t mind giving up some of the glossier, high-tech features like embedded digital displays, retractable cable locks, and and theft tracking and recovery, you can find a really good quality e-bike for under $1,500. 
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