At Volt, when we sell an ebike, we like to keep in touch with our customers. This is not only to find out how their electric bike is performing and if they are happy with it, but also to learn how they use it. Many have impressive stories to tell. We have heard from people using Volt bikes in the most diverse ways and places, from the Scottish Highlands to central London.
The two most common electric motor styles used in today’s e-bikes are hub motors and mid-drive motors. The Freedom uses a hub motor, which was located in the center of the rear wheel. Hub motors typically don’t offer the same natural maneuverability as the increasingly more common (and more expensive) mid-drive motors because their weight is concentrated in the rear of the bike. It can be jarring when the motor prevents you from going faster than the allotted speed, especially when cruising downhill, but 20 mph is the legal maximum for e-bikes in the US. (In the EU, it’s even lower: 25 km/h, or 15.5 mph.)
State and Local Laws dictate your use, but cannot constitutionally supersede the federal law – Any ebike purchased within the 750W/20mph limits has no fear of being under federal motor vehicle classification, nor can any state classify them a motor vehicle. The ebike is considered a ‘bicycle’ for consumer purposes. However, the State Laws on local bike paths and local thruways may prohibit or limit ebike access. When bike path signs use word such as ‘motor vehicles’ and ‘motorbikes’ , the laws are likely referring to gas-ICE motorbikes/dirt bikes/scooters, and not ebikes. Other references to ‘motorized bicycles’ or ‘motorized vehicles’ sound more inclusive and probably are intended for either ebikes or gas mopeds. If in doubt, you always have the option to pedal unassisted by completely powering your bike down. Even though Federal law grant ebikes a bicycle status, the common consensus found in my research allows local and state law to add additional regulation to pathway and road access, just because “it has a motor”. So the Federal laws protects the consumer from the burden of motor vehicle requirements, but not the restrictions to local and state right of ways enjoyed by all non-motored bicycles.
Mid-mounted system means that the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. Mid-drive systems tend to feel more like a normal bike, since they drive the pedals, just like your legs, and those who frequently climb long, steep hills tend to prefer mid-drive systems for their ability to handle long climbs. As they can leverage the bicycles lowest gears for climbs, mid drive systems can also leverage the high gears to reach higher speeds on flat areas than a hub system. The mid-drive motor drives the crank, instead of the wheel itself, which multiplies its power and allows it to better take advantage of the bike’s existing gears. If the rider changes the gears appropriately, the motor can turn closer to its ideal rotations per minute which makes a huge difference while climbing hills, so this is a perfect option for those who love mountain biking.
The other motor is the G311, a front equivalent to the wonderfully silent G310 rear motors we introduced late last year. This motor will be replacing the G01 hub for our front mini geared kits. It's a tad lighter (2.3kg), much quieter (spiral gears!), but still has the features from the G01 that we loved. That means a side cable exit, ISO disk rotor compatibility, and 10mm round axle.
Pedelec is a European term that generally referred to an electric bicycle that incorporated a torque and/or a speed sensor and/or a power controller that delivered a proportionate level of assist and only ran when the rider pedaled. On the opposite side, a Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for similar type vehicles which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorized bicycle. Finally, Assist Bicycle is the technical term used to describe such a vehicle and Power-Assisted Bicycle is used in the Canadian Federal Legislation, but is carefully defined to only apply to electric motor assist, and specifically excludes internal combustion engines (though this is not the case in the United States).
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.