The market is flooded with different types of electric bikes, each one better than the next, all having incredible extras and additional gadgets to make you feel as comfortable as possible. But should you really go for one? This question is especially relevant because the prices are quite steep.
Now, I am a true believer that pedaling is the way to go. The advantages are numerous, from protecting the environment and reducing pollution, all the way to incredible health benefits and super stamina. Having said that, however, I am lucky to have the comfort of living in the Netherlands where everything is flat, the bike lanes are more than perfect, and the only nuisance that I come across is the terrible winter wind, which is always against me when I’m tired and want to go home fast.
But I do understand that not many can say the same, and just a little bit of electrical push up that hill, can really make the difference when it comes to choosing between a two wheeler, and a car. Therefore, it is best to consult a real expert, and see what he has to say about the technology. Court Rye, e-bike guru and person behind the electricbikereview.com, gives his opinion, and key tips, on e-bikes.
1. When should you go for an e-bike?
E-bikes are particularly useful on hilly terrains, during strong winds or at high summer temperatures. They are also perfect for people, who suffer from asthma, or have pain in joints, or elderly citizens, who would still like to be able to use a two-wheeler.
An e-bike would also be extremely useful if a person is trying to convince a slightly less sport-enthusiastic partner to join the riding adventure.
One thing to remember though, the e-bikes are much heavier than regular bikes, and can be quite troublesome if you suddenly end up having no charge.
2. What type of e-bike is best?
By all means, if you have decided to go electric, your best bet is to invest in a purpose built e-bike, meaning an e-bike that has never been a different one. These are typically the lightest, toughest and more capable than any DIY model. The market these days offers everything, from folding bikes, to tandem bikes, even mountain bike models- you only have to be prepared to pay.
Be aware, though. If your ebike gets stolen, your loss would be quite substantial. So, a piece of advise- go for an insurance and you will feel a lot more comfortable.
3. What is the typical price range?
Price depends a lot on what you would like to have, of course, but in general it is determined by their weight, mile range capabilities, speed and regenerative breaking. These are the traditional e-bikes, not the fancy smart bikes that go up to 5 digits in price. The cheapest e-bikes come at around $1,000, although according to our expert, the lowest price worth investing is $1,500.
Anything below that is bound to cause you some kind of trouble or frustration. With bikes from the lower price range, people have to be particularly aware of cheap batteries setting on fire. Safety should always come first.
High quality bikes start at around $4,000. These come with great extras such as intuitive controls, integrated dynamo lights, beauty aesthetic, and smart phone control apps.
The premium quality, professional e-bikes come at around $7,000.
4. How far can you go before you need to recharge?
Typical battery packs in the US have 36 volts of power with 10 amp hours of capacity for 360 watt hours total. To get the mile range, the rule is to divide the watt hours by 20, so for 360 watt hours, you will b able to cover 18 mile stretch. Of course, this is if no pedaling assistance by the rider is provided.
5. Will you get there faster?
That depends on who you compare yourself to. In general, there are few e-bikes that go beyond 20 miles per hour. With pedal assistance, the rider can go faster, however what needs to be kept in mind here is that the efficiency drops as the speed goes up (rule of physics).
In simple terms, if you go faster than 15 miles per hour, the air drag will come into play and will cost you battery charge.
6. Can you maintain it on your own?
General maintenance can be done at home, just like with ordinary pedal bikes, however if something goes wrong with the battery, the computer systems or the throttles, you better go to a specialized repairs place.
The advise here is to buy local. Firstly, your store can assemble the bike components according to your desires and comfort, but more importantly, you will have a place, which you can reach conveniently as soon as needed.
7. What do the specialist recommend?
Here is the Top 10 e-bikes of last year, a list compiled by Court Rye himself. But do follow the GreenOptimistic, we always tell you about the latest and the coolest inventions, and we keep you up to speed with the best deals.
Image (c) Court Rye