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.
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"What? That’s an e-bike?" tended to be the first reaction we got to the Cooper. There’s very little (bar the oversized rear hub) that says e-bike on the ‘E’ at all. Cooper have taken a traditional gauge Reynolds 520 steel frame and dressed it with a practical mix of (surprisingly effective) Tektro caliper brakes, Sturmey Archer crank and chainring and topped it off with Brooks Cambium C17 All-weather saddle. They’ve then paired it with a Zehus All-in -One electric hub, so there’s no leads, no external battery, not even an on and off switch.
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.
Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes, have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains. The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines created 18650 battery packs are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.
“I can go on Alibaba, buy parts, set up shipments, and get people to buy these things,” she says. “The question comes on the support side. Will they have spare parts? Will they have tech support? Do they carry insurance? Real manufacturers of e-bikes have serious insurance in case something goes haywire or someone has an accident. That’s $20,000 to $30,000 a year.”
“Built to be portable and highly customizable, the Stark Drive Mini e-bike will provide you with everything that you desire for your commute and everyday use. The Stark Drive Mini can easily be folded after you’ve arrived at your destination and conveniently carried into the office or classroom. The Stark Drive is also compact enough to be taken on a plane (adhering to FAA & TSA guidelines), giving you increased mobility wherever your travels take you.”
Controllers for brushed motors: Brushed motors are also used in e-bikes but are becoming less common due to their intrinsic lower efficiency. Controllers for brushed motors however are much simpler and cheaper due to the fact they don't require hall sensor feedback and are typically designed to be open-loop controllers. Some controllers can handle multiple voltages.
Sometimes space comes at the most premium of commodities and the Tern Vektron offers a space-saving folding option. At about $3,400, the sturdy folding joints include a magnet and rubber strap to keep the bike folded. The quick-release pedals (wheels release too) help with storage of a bike that doesn’t give up power with a 20-mph speed that can range over 60 miles. But the best part is placing two in the trunk of a car.
Everyone seems to know a lot about Haibike’s e-MTBs, but I think their commuting and touring bikes are just as good, if a little bit underrated by the e-bike community. Another bike with the Bosch speed motor, this bike is quick and powerful. I really like the spec upgrades on this bike from the Trekking speed model in 2017. You’ve got Magura MT4 hydraulic disc brakes, a Shimano Deore XT M8000 Shadow Plus drivetrain, and the headlight and taillight run off a dynamo.
Is it worth $1700? I’ll let you be the judge. I don’t have a lot of experience with commuter ebikes so I don’t know how it compares. I do know that most of the ebike conversions I’ve seen look like science experiments. The Buffalo could pass for a normal bike, and look a little more accessible to a first time ebike user. So, although I’m not planning on riding this, I am planning on using it. So I’ll keep it around for a while and let you guys know what I think long term.
Designed for the same maneuverability as a non-electric bike, this roughly $3,000 model designed for the city can handle hills and distance. Using a Bosch motor for 100-mile cycling on flat or hilly terrain and a lightweight aluminum frame, the Dutch-made Gazelle model aims for a “sporty posture” and “precise cycling performance” in a robust offering.
Once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or, I dunno, an inflatable sumo wrestler costume. Whatever you like.
Another reason I chose the Lacuba Evo E8 is because of its overall geometry. First, check out the upright position you’ll be riding in. This positioning is ideal for bike touring because you’ll be traveling long distances. You’ll be much more comfortable in this position than you probably would be hunched over a road or hybrid bike. I also love how the Brose battery integrates completely into the downtube. Not only does this hide the fact that you’re getting a little extra help (if you’re self-conscious about that), but it also leaves you space to mount water bottle cages, a frame pump, or even a frame-mounted bag. These are sometimes crucial items during a bicycle tour, and many electric bikes cannot accommodate these due to the protrusion caused by a battery.
E-bikes can be a useful part of cardiac rehabilitation programmes, since health professionals will often recommend a stationary bike be used in the early stages of these. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation programmes can reduce deaths in people with coronary heart disease by around 27%; and a patient may feel safer progressing from stationary bikes to e-bikes. They require less cardiac exertion for those who have experienced heart problems.
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 are quieter. But generally all four make good options. Look for motor output (in watts) which will give you an idea of total power. But watt hours (Wh) is perhaps a better figure to use—it takes into account battery output and life to give a truer reflection of power.