Electric bikes have been around for years. In their early days, they started as crude modifications to an ordinary bike with clunky motors and heavy batteries. Innovations and improvements to both design and efficiency has led the electric bike industry to be both practical and desirable.
Electric bikes are just like ordinary bikes in the fact they have two wheels, are pedaled and driven from a seat using handle bars. They are set a part by their batteries, motors, controller, and User Interface(UI). Electric bikes use two systems to engage the motor: Pedal Assist System or PAS and Throttle. The pedal assist system or PAS work typically in levels ranging from 0-5. As you pedal, a sensor will detect the pedal rotation and signal to the motor for power depending on the PAS level that it is set at. Level 0 is just like pedaling an ordinary bike with no electric power. Level 1 is the lowest setting and 4 or 5 are the highest setting for power. The throttle system is variable; the amount you push the button or twist the handle is equivocal to the amount the motor will output.
Classes of Electric Bikes
Class 1 electric bike is Pedal Assist only. Class 2 is Pedal Assist and Throttle. Class 3 is Throttle Only.
One of the most often asked questions is "do we have to pedal?" The answer is yes and no. There are a few variable that go into the question. Throttle only will decrease your battery range as the motor is doing all the work compared to using a pedal assist level 1 or 2. So depending on how far your journey, commute, or group rides travel this might steer you in one direction or the other.
Batteries are one of the most important components of an electric bike. They are rated by Voltage: Typically 24Volts, 36 Volts, 48 Volts. They also have an Amp Hour (AH Rating): Typically 10ah - 21ah. The higher the Voltage and AH Rating equals higher motor outputs and longer ranges. Batteries also come from many sources, and some can be unreliable in manufacturing. Sticking with well known brands such as LG, Panasonic, and Samsung is the best choice.
There are two types of electric bike motor. 1)Hub Drive motors: Located in the rear or front wheel hub. 2) Mid Drive Motors: Located mid frame at the pedal location and drives the chain. Motors are rated by wattage. Typically 350Watts, 500 Watts, and 750 Watts. The same rule of thumb goes for motors as it does for batteries; Sticking with well-known brands is the best bet to ensure quality manufacturing and longer use life. Bafang, Das Kit, and Bosch are a few to name.
User Interface (UI) Display:
The UI Display is how the bike displays information like Speed, PAS Levels, Remaining Battery, Odometer, and Time.
The type of bike frame depends on your planned use for the bike. Are you taking quick trips to the store and to run errands? You may want something with more cargo space, say an integrated rear rack, front rack, add on basket, etc. These are things to keep in mind. Folding bikes are also a popular type of frame, as they enable the rider(s) to fold the bike in half and load it into a car trunk. Step Thru frames are also very popular, as they allow the rider an easy on and off bike transition without kicking your leg into in the air.
Wheels & Tires:
Most electric bike wheels are laced with heavy gauge spokes to endure the extra weight and torque of the motor.
Tires typically range in size from 20" to 26", and 2" to 4" wide. The size depends on the riders needs and comfort. We have found that the wider tires tend to be more comfortable for stops with better riding stability.
As unhip, not cool, or dumb helmets can be, remember they are protecting your #1 asset (your brain). Electric bikes are more than likely new to you and sometimes mistakes happen. The helmet pictured above, and available in our store, is a great way to stay connected with partners or groups via walkie talkie functions/Bluetooth. Front and rear reflectors, as well as lights are recommended, as they not only help you see but they help others to see you too.
There is no such thing as a "guaranteed" bike lock. Locks are either deterrents or help to slow the thief down. All locks can be broken/cut. With that being said, the best theft deterrent lock for your money is a steel u-lock such as the Kryptonite or Abus. Alarm locks are also great deterrents and can help scare the thief off, as a loud alarm sounds if the lock/bike is tampered with.