One of the profound economic implications of bicycle use is that it liberates the user from oil consumption.(Ballantine, 1972) The bicycle is an inexpensive, fast, healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transport. Ivan Illich stated that bicycle use extended the usable physical environment for people, while alternatives such as cars and motorways degraded and confined people's environment and mobility. Currently, two billion bicycles are in use around the world. Children, students, professionals, laborers, civil servants and seniors are pedaling around their communities. They all experience the freedom and the natural opportunity for exercise that the bicycle easily provides. Bicycle also has lowest carbon intensity of travel.
Electric bicycles have two main methods of operation: pedal-assist and/or throttle-control. As the name implies, pedal-assist “assists” your pedaling and requires some input. With this method, a torque sensor picks up movement or stress to determine the power requirements of the rider. Everything is automated so there’s nothing to think about, just jump on and start riding. Some bikes have multiple settings, while others have just one setting with the addition of a throttle control. Depending on the setting, pedal-assistance can help a little – or a lot. At lower settings, pedal-assist is barely noticeable but helps extend your range. At higher settings, the power is quite obvious and feels like a strong wind at your back with the motor doing most of the work while you pedal along.
"Electric power-assisted bicycle" means a vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground and is equipped with (i) pedals that allow propulsion by human power and (ii) an electric motor with an input of no more than 1,000 watts that reduces the pedal effort required of the rider. For the purposes of Chapter 8 of this title, an electric power-assisted bicycle shall be a vehicle when operated on a highway.
E-bikes mostly use motors and battery options from a few major suppliers: Bosch, Yamaha, Shimano, and Brose. A few other brands exist, but are less reliable or powerful. Some, like the Yamaha system, have more torque, and others, like Bosch’s Active Line, are nearly silent. But, generally, all four make good options. Look for motor output (in torque), which will give you an idea of total power. Just like car engines, more torque equals more power off the line and more boost to your pedaling. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a more important figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a more accurate reflection of power (higher Wh equals bigger range).
For those who missed seeing it live, we've also uploaded a youtube video of our live demonstration of a regular bike being converted over to electric assist. We hope that this helps demystify the process for some considering their first kit purchase. It was a fun opportunity as the owner of the bike was at the show and could ride it away the next day.
A lot has happened since we founded the very first eMTB specific magazine in 2013. In the beginning, manufacturers simply mounted electric motors on regular mountain bikes, more or more often than not, rather less successfully. Last year a lot of brands focused on the topic of battery integration. There are some exciting new trends and developments headed our way next season, which we take a closer look at below.
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...
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.
"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.