Having a motor bolted to the bottom of a mountain bike that provides pedal assistance is an amazing leveller. The constant torque it applies to the chain rounds out the squarest of pedalling actions, which in turn helps stabilizes the rear suspension and counter pedal induced bob, seamlessly shifting your focus from pedalling efficiency to battery life.
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As with all these bikes, the assisted speed is capped at 15mph, but unlike some of them, the Gtech eBike City or its identical (spec-wise) sibling the eBike Sport (this just has a standard frame rather than a step-through one) is light and agile enough for you to be able pedal harder without feeling like the weight is fighting you back down to 15mph. You can even, at a push, use it without the motor on flatter roads.
Before this test we thought more travel on an e-bike would obviously be better. After all, with the motor flattening out the climbs, why not have the extra suspension firepower to smooth out the descents? Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But in the case of the Specialized Turbo Kenevo Expert, the extra travel and weight make the bike less effective and less engaging on all but full-on downhill tracks. And if that’s your bread and butter, the Kenevo could well be the perfect topping. Here in the UK though, the Vitus proved more versatile, just as capable and way better value.
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The major reason I want a lightweight e-bike is so that I can largely ride it as a regular bike and only occasionally use the assist and so that I won’t notice quite so much when the battery runs out of juice going up a hill. Other reasons I want a lightweight e-bike: so that I can easily lift it onto the bus bike rack; so that I can hang the front tire on the bike hooks in our light rail trains; so that I can put it on a car rack; so that I can occasionally carry it up stairs.
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Sharonerd- it depends really on what electric kit you are looking at. At my shop, we encourage customers to invest in the more expensive and higher quality products that will and do last longer than lower quality lower priced products because they are simply made with better materials. The comments above that talk about 3 years on kit do tend to be the lower quality kit's life spans and even if you maintain them, the sad truth is that after 3 years, the company's reselling the lower quality product tend to not be around any more to enable you to invest in a new battery. Or the product itself has been sunseted and no spare parts are around. This can be true of the higher priced products too, but more so on the lower end.
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The F1-trained engineers at William Advanced Engineering assisted with the electrical parts and the result is a 250W motor that provides pedal assistance via the front hub – which is still a very unusual approach. It draws power from a 300Wh battery pack that sits in a bag and goes on the front where the Brompton luggage rack would normally sit. You can also opt for a larger bag that holds both the battery and your spare suit or laptop or whatever.
There are various kinds and classifications of electric bikes on the market, but the most common type is the Class 1, or pedal assist, bikes which have motor units that are activated by pedaling and are limited to lower speeds. In the US, Class 1 electric bikes, the type tested and reviewed here, are limited to a top speed of 20 mph, and their motors are designed with a speed governor to regulate this. These types of e-bikes resemble modern mountain bikes, but they have significant battery packs, and small motor units integrated onto and into the frame design. The e-MTB pedal-assist motor is typically built around the bottom bracket and provides varying levels of pedaling "support" directly into the drivetrain while the cranks are turning. Most drive unit systems offer several support settings that provide pedal assistance between 25% and 100% of the user's pedaling input.
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