Should an e-bike actually look like an e-bike? Vanmoof think so. With a design and engineering sensibility that’s more Silicon Valley startup than heritage bike brand, Vanmoof is probably the most WIRED of the bikes on test. And the Electrified S has a host of features to prove it. The Bluetooth/proximity activated e-lock (with tamper sensor) that’s built into the frame is a clever innovation, although we're not sure this would be enough theft protection for inner city areas, (where the Vanmoof’s striking design stands out like a jewel on the bike rack). However, for €7 a month, if your bike is stolen, Vanmoof will track down your bike – or replace your bike with a model of the same age if they can’t retrieve it.
In full-electric mode, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is capable of moving at up to 20 mph for anywhere from 15 to 30 miles. There are two further options: power-assisted pedaling or fully "unplugged” riding. Renowned Shimano gears are easy to select. Seldom do we come across a product so universally praised by owners. It's not cheap, but comments like "Everything I hoped for!" and "Outstanding!" tell us that it's money well spent.
E-bikes are zero-emissions vehicles, as they emit no combustion by-products. However, the environmental effects of electricity generation and power distribution and of manufacturing and disposing of (limited life) high storage density batteries must be taken into account. Even with these issues considered, e-bikes are claimed to have a significantly lower environmental impact than conventional automobiles, and are generally seen as environmentally desirable in an urban environment.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
To help the rider find the perfect fit, the stem is adjustable. The bike also boasts dynamo powered lights alongside hydraulic disc brakes. The bike will suit riders from 4 ft 10 to 6 ft 5, and also integrates with a child seat. The total weight is 21.8kg, making it admittedly a fairly hefty folder – but that’s fairly uniform across electric versions.
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.