No Sweat! - An Introduction To E-bikes

Can you imagine yourself on a vehicle that gets you from your town to the next in short order and without breaking a sweat? No, it’s not a bird, a plane or a car, but an electric bicycle. So what is an electric bicycle and what do I need to consider if I am thinking about getting one? Here are some things to think about:

Bolton Biktrix Stunner

1) Most e-bikes provide an assist based on how hard you pedal, making you go faster but certainly not at motorcycle speeds. The harder one pedals the greater the amount of assist. The amount of assist can usually be set by a power control from an “economy or eco mode” to “ turbo”. Bike brands may have their own names for assist control. Speeds are typically from 20-28 mph. Some have a throttle that allows the rider to press a button to engage the motor and go along for the ride without pedaling. these types are not always legal in some municipalities.

2) E-bikes come in all types, road, mountain, commuter, and bikes that can be used to haul large items; almost like mini delivery vehicles.

3)  If you commute regularly to a place you work, go to school, or volunteer, an e-bike can get you there negating the need to use a car for those purposes. It is even possible to not own a car in a city if one has an electric bike to get around, the Dutch do it all the time! 

4)  Batteries are getting more and more capacity. Batteries can typically provide power assist for between 35 and about 50 miles on a charge. Of course, if the power is set to “turbo” or maximum boost for long periods, range will be shorter. In addition, mileage is based on terrain factors; e.g. hills will limit range. Batteries are often found in the down tube, though some manufacturer’s put them in the top tube. An important point to consider is the ease of connecting the battery for charging. There are two motor types used by most manufacturers; Geared and Direct Drive Hub Motors are part of the rear wheel assembly, and a Mid Drive motor is usually found at the Crank. Where the motor is located is very important for the type of riding one does and more can be learned in the video below. 

5)  They’re weighty matey: E-bikes can weigh as much as 20 lbs or more than comparable bikes of any type. That is not usually a deterrent to owning one unless it has to be hefted onto a car rack or taken up or down. 

6)  Can I still lose weight? Yes, you can, in fact you can still gain improved cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and lower blood sugar even if you only go out for short rides of about 40-60 minutes. Even a reasonably fit person can get enough exercise on an electric bike.

7)  What about cost? E-bikes have been available for many years and improvements in frame engineering, battery capacity and other components make pricing dependent on ones needs and intended use. For example, the Bolton Biktrix Stunner pictured above is $2299 with about 37 miles of battery powered range, while Giant’s Road E+ Pro shown below costs $4500 for the 2020 model, and $200 more for the 2021 version.

Giant Road E+ Pro

Many electric bikes are in the range of $2000-$5000 and can cost upwards of $12,000 for a high end electric road bike. You can also find them for $1000, so if you are in the market for an E-bike, the video included with this article will be of help in deciding what to consider before you buy!

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