In most jurisdictions, bicycles must have functioning front and rear lights when ridden after dark. As some generator or dynamo-driven lamps only operate while moving, rear reflectors are frequently also mandatory. Since a moving bicycle makes little noise, some countries insist that bicycles have a warning bell for use when approaching pedestrians, equestrians, and other cyclists, though sometimes a car horn can be used when a 12 volt battery is available.
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.
When you have the electric motor turned on, it engages with your first push of the pedals. The difference in acceleration is startling compared to any other bike I've ridden. In Eco mode, I could sprint from 0 to 20mph in about 200 feet/65m. Switch to Turbo, and it's about 150/30m feet. As I mentioned above, you still have to pedal. The difference with an electric bike is the feeling of getting more bang for the buck. And if you want to be lazy, you can. Stay in third or fourth gear and you'll be able to stay around 18-19mph with minimal effort. But if you want to go much faster than 20mph, you'll need to work.
E-bikes are typically offered in 24V, 36V and 48V configurations. Higher voltage generally means higher top speed – but that may not always be the case. Since the efficiency of a motor and drive system can have an effect on power and speed, a 24V setup could have the same top speed as a 36V setup. Generally you can expect 15-18 mph on a 24v setup, 16-20 mph on a 36V setup and 24-28 mph on a 48V setup. Although it far exceeds Federal laws, some conversion kits can even be run at 72V for speeds of 35+ mph! However, this puts significant stress on bicycle components. Consider that even the fastest athletes only travel 17-18 mph on a conventional bicycle, so 20 mph feels very fast to most riders. Anything over this speed can be unsafe and exceeds law regulations.
The Surly Big Easy is the Cadillac of the bike lane. The company’s new longtail e-cargo bike exudes a “they don’t make ’em like this anymore” stature, thanks to a beefed-up chromoly steel frame rolling on tough 26x2.5-inch tires. And because it’s a class 1 e-bike, you can actually ride it in the bike lane, too. The 7-foot-long, 67-pound bike won’t play well with your third-floor walk-up, so it’s best to think of it as a car supplement or replacement—that’s what Surly intended, anyway, as evidenced by the $5,000 price tag. However, if you’re ready to commit to the cargo bike life, you’ll struggle to find a stronger platform for achieving bike commuter nirvana.
Electric bicycles are not allowed in any public area, meaning an area where there is full or partial public access. Any kind of pedal assist, electric bike, scooter, moped or vehicle which has any form of propulsion, whether in full or as assist, other than human power, must be approved as either a car, motorcycle, van, truck, bus or similar. This makes pedelecs and tilt-controlled two-wheel personal vehicles illegal in all practical ways, as they cannot be registered as a motor cycle.
If you're taking your bike inside, consider one that folds up. The Cyclotricity Wallet has a motor in the front wheel, which takes you up to speed either by assisting your pedalling, or you can sit back and use the throttle by itself. Its folding design makes it slightly easier to get in and out of a building, but its hefty weight means you still won't find it easy to carry onto public transport.
I purchased version 2.0 of this device and the manufacturer has been listening to comments from users and making running changes such as the three speeds and the rear suspension. I am an XL size user (6'2", 230lbs) and recently returned from a 26 day cruise around Europe. I rode this little scooter on cobblestones, miles and miles through the Vatican, inside ancient cities and all over the streets of San Juan upon our return stateside. There was only one time it was less than ideal and that was going uphill, on slick tile that was wet from a drizzle. It still make it, just had to lean way forward to get weight on the front wheel.
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.