An itinerant wordsmith with a broad constellation of interests, Lydia Chipman has turned iconoclasm into a livelihood of sorts. Bearing the scars and stripes of an uncommon diversity of experience -- with the notable exceptions of joining a religious order or becoming an artist -- she still can’t resist the temptation to learn something new. Lydia holds a master of arts in English from Georgia Southern University, and a bachelor of arts cum laude in integrative studies from Clayton College. Her expertise is in the areas of robotics, electronics, toys, and outdoors and computer equipment.
During testing—and unlike some of the other bikes I’ve tried—this range held true, with the Rad Wagon handling a 20-plus mile round trip with ease. This is helped by a regenerative braking system that automatically charges the battery whenever you engage the brake levels. It’s also relatively quick to charge back up—taking around four hours in my garage—although Rad Power reports that average time is five to six hours.
European Union directive 2002/24/EC exempts vehicles with the following definition from type approval: "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 25km/h (15.5mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling." This is the de facto definition of an electrically assisted pedal cycle in the EU. As with all EU directives, individual member countries of the EU are left to implement the requirements in national legislation.
Even the humble bicycle hasn't escaped the clutches of modern technology. A whole herd of new e-bikes with electric motors are taking to our cities' streets. Adding a motor to a standard cycle does ramp up the price significantly, but it takes much of the effort out of cycling, making your commute to the office a sweat-free experience and allowing you to sit back and enjoy your suburban cruise.
Speaking of which, if you're used to non-electric cycles, be aware that e-bikes are heavy and capped at 25kph or 15.5mph. In many cases, that means the bike starts to feel like its actively fighting against you, if you try to push the speed higher than that by pedalling. That's especially true with heavier bikes, for obvious reasons, and can take a while to get used to.
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.
We are kicking off this series with a quick look at Keith Forbes. Keith showed up unannounced at our shop a year and a half ago, asking if there may be any work opportunities as he was considering a move to Vancouver from Trinidad and had something of a personal interest in transportation technology. We'll let the video show what he's been up to since then!
I would advocate you ride legal within the laws of your state. I would also look into some kind of liability rider or umbrella policy with your home owner’s policy, which covers your personal liability and theft. Get your bike registered; wear your helmet, eye protection, whatever is required by state law so that if an accident occurs and you are at fault, there is no legal recourse. Even if you own a 750W/20mph ebike that meets the definition of a bicycle, any at-fault cyclist may still be denied coverage by stingy insurance companies who want to support their clients. Your health insurance will usually cover your medical bills, but the costs of an expensive ebike may be lost.
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.
Besides voltage, batteries are rated by amp hours (AH). Although voltage seems to get the most attention, the amp hour rating of the battery is just as important. It is the measure of a battery’s capacity and provides a good indication of the range you can expect from an electric bike. Although lots of factors come into play in determining range (ie: rider weight, terrain, input, efficiency, etc.), a good rule of thumb is range is equal to AH. So under normal conditions, an average rider can expect 10 miles out of a 10AH battery (with no pedaling). With rider input, this number can be dramatically increased, so most 10AH batteries are rated “up to 20 miles” by the manufacturer which assumes pedaling. On pedal-assist bikes (which require pedaling), the range ratings are much higher because the rider is constantly assisting the motor and reducing the current draw.
Every inch of the bike is thought through, from how the simple, rugged battery connection to the hydraulic disc brakes to the tire choice, to the adorable little bell. The custom battery shape works aesthetically with the frame and is not some obtrusive piece strapped to the down tube of the bike. By putting it down low, it also adds to the stability of the bike, making it handle like a dream, regardless of speed.
Around the turn of the 20th century, bicycles reduced crowding in inner-city tenements by allowing workers to commute from more spacious dwellings in the suburbs. They also reduced dependence on horses. Bicycles allowed people to travel for leisure into the country, since bicycles were three times as energy efficient as walking and three to four times as fast.
Biking is awesome, but biking uphill is not. Commuting by bike is environmentally friendly, fun and good for your health, but presenting your sweaty self to your office coworkers in not fun at all. Fortunately, there is a solution! Electric bicycles offer the same great benefits as traditional bicycles including cost savings, health improving, plus some additional advantages like efficiency in climbing hills, less stress on knees and joints, which is convenient for people of all ages and health.