Because they’re electrically powered, e-bikes sit in a bit of a gray area between bicycles and motorcycles. While some states have enacted specific legislation to state where electric bikes can and can’t be ridden, in other states outdated laws mean they’re regulated as a moped or motor vehicle which can cause confusion over registration requirements, access to cycling infrastructure and how old you have to be before you can ride one.
The Super Commuter is very aptly named. The 350w Bosch motor will help you sustain speeds of up to 28mph, and the burly, 2.4-inch wide, Schwalbe Super Moto-X 650b tires will keep you secure on even the roughest city streets, and Shimano Deore hydraulic brakes provide ample stopping power. Fenders provide welcome protection from road spray so you arrive at your destination fresh, integrated lights are critical for post-sunset riding, and a side-view mirror hanging on the left side of the handlebar gives a great view of traffic around you. After all, you can ride at the speed of urban traffic on the Super Commuter.
This is the Freway Buffalo. It’s an ebike. I couldn’t say no to a free ebike to play around on, so we’re gonna have some fun with this thing for sure. It’s not a high end ebike like the Specialized Turbo Levo, but it only costs 1700 bucks whereas the Turbo Levo costs as much as a car. Although it’s marketed as a mountain bike, I’d put it in the commuter category. It’s got a big cushy seat, a really long stem, and those antler things on the handlebars. I’m not obligated to give you guys anything but the truth, so let’s put this thing together and take an objective look at it. First, let’s cruise on over to Freway’s website.
The Moterra is Cannondale’s biggest and baddest e-mtb and just looking at this thing you can see that it’s built to withstand some wicked downhills and big drops. With 130mm of front and rear travel, paired up with 27.5-inch wheels and trail-grabbing 2.8-inch tires, along with a KS LEV Integra Dropper Post make this pedal-assist mountain bike a great option if you want to climb farther to shred longer, but don’t want to lug your bike uphill for ages. The 250w motor, placed slightly farther forward than most other bikes to optimize weight distribution and handling, will give you a nice boost so you can enjoy the ride up and not be too gassed when you get to the top. After all, it’s all about the ride down, right?
The Brose motor is definitely the most quiet ebike motor that I’ve used. The 28mph model is no different. I also find it to be pretty solid in terms of power. Generally speaking, Bosch motors are considered the most powerful, but with the Brose I actually think you get a lot of power with a more “real” feeling cycling experience. They also give you a 675 watt hour battery pack, which is still unrivaled in terms of a single battery system.
As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.
Glenn has over 15 years of experience building bicycle wheels and has worked for and with the local cycling community in the Philadelphia area for the past 20 years. Glenn is in charge of all wheel building activities at E-BikeKit and oversees quality control on wheels built in the Newportville, PA location. Since joining E-BikeKit in early 2010 Glenn has had a huge impact on the success of the company...
Electric bikes or ebikes, widely popular in Europe and China, are steadily making their ascent in the U.S. bike market. Erik Saltvold, founder and owner of ERIK’s Bike Shop, a Midwest-based chain for bike sales and repairs, says the ebike is the fastest-growing specialty bike in the industry. Last October, market research company NPD Group reported that electric bike sales had grown 95 percent in the 12 months ending in July 2017, with sales totaling nearly $65 million.
Electric trikes have also been produced that conform to the e-bike legislation. These have the benefit of additional low speed stability and are often favored by people with disabilities. Cargo carrying tricycles are also gaining acceptance, with a small but growing number of couriers using them for package deliveries in city centres. Latest designs of these trikes resemble a cross-between a pedal cycle and a small van.
The entire drive system is neatly incorporated into the bike's design for optimal weight distribution and the ultimate in sexy design, while users control torque and power output, which peaks at a surprisingly punchy 530W, via a cool Mission Control App that can also be programmed to a time or distance parameter to ensure there's enough power to get you home.
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you're pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).