The Riese & Müller Load Touring HS is billed as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” and it holds up to that claim. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels) the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28mph, when it cuts out. The massive cargo space (with side walls) can carry and the two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.
Simplicity powers the Gtech model, available in either a 20-inch “sports” crossbar frame or a 17-inch “city” step-through option. From using a carbon belt drive to a gearless system that allows a computer to adjust speed while pedaling, not only has Gtech streamlined the e-bike process, but they’ve also dropped the price to just north of $1,000. At a range of about 30 miles, this 35-pound bike offers a humble introduction to e-bikes.
Cost: Good e-bikes are not cheap, and unlike most bikes, the costs associated with owning an e-bike don’t end when you hand over your credit card in exchange for a shiny new steed. The average cost of operating an electric bike is around $390 a year, including maintenance and charging. You’re also likely to need to change the batteries every 3-5 years so factor that into your costs.
While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
Electric bikes are here in a big way. Liberated from some of the normal constraints of standard bike design like weight and gearing, e-bike design has exploded; if you can imagine it, someone has built it. From cargo bikes to city bikes, messenger bikes to mountain bikes, road bikes, and even beach cruisers, there is something for everyone. The beauty of e-bikes is they make the joy of cycling accessible to so many people in so many ways.