So the nice weather and sunshine will soon be in upon us. Your thoughts go towards your bicycle that you enjoyed last year – the bike path by the water, the fun ride to work (the highlight of the workday, right?), the weekend in the country, even the quick spin to the market. But you also remember being passed by other cyclists on the bike path and the ride to work, by someone who’s speed and lack of effort defied reason. Yes, you remember being passed by an electric bicycle, or “E-Bike” for short.
Now have you thought of the advantages of owning an E-bike? They are fun, they are quickly addictive, fast, convenient, practical, and just like your old bicycle – but enhanced.
An electric motor and single battery can allow a range of assistance up to 125 kilometers. This will make possible rides that are out of the ability of an average cyclist. Some bicycles have two batteries. This can get you a range up to 250 kilometers, and will make for epic rides or much longer distances before the thought of recharging them has to enter your mind. Most e-bikes have between 3 and 5 levels of assistance to boost your effort in pedaling. This means that you can put in most of the effort and the motor kicks in a little bit more, and with higher levels of assistance you can put in a little effort and the motor tops up the rest – propelling you to 32 kilometers (20 miles) an hour. However please realize that e-bikes are not motorcycles or even scooters, and that you must pedal to receive assistance from the motor – and there lies the fun and convenience of an e-bike. You have the quietness of a bicycle with the speed of a scooter while, in most cities and municipalities, being allowed on bicycle paths and without the need to be licensed.
The need not to be licensed like a motor vehicle means an e-bike becomes a viable alternative to ditch the car, give up your bus pass, and ride your bike to and from work. What it doesn’t let you do is arrive a sweaty mess and then struggle to find a parking space. Many eBikes already come equipped with racks so adding panniers for your dress shoes, lunch, and laptop is a snap. Bicycle riding certainly beats downtown stop-and-go traffic in your car or waiting for ‘the next bus because the last two were full’ and don’t even get me started on the price of gas. E-bikes recharge for pennies, and how you chose to spend the amount you save on gasoline is up to you. Maybe a pair of new shoes, a nice night out, both, and more?
What goes down must go up again. Sir Issac Newton may not agree with that statement it is very true about hills that you encounter. There is an inverse correlation about hills with how much fun they are to ride down vs. how daunting they are to ride up. This is where an eBike really puts a smile on your face – to put in a fraction of the effort and find yourself at the top faster than you have ever done it on your own. There really are no words for this. Simply take an e-bike for a test ride and find the nearest hill and you will see for yourself how it just seems to disappear behind you. You will wonder how does such a small motor does so much work.
The new technological advancements with bicycles with options such as replacing chains with no oil, no mess belt drive systems, ultra-wide range internal gear hubs for smooth shifting and also forgoing derailed chains has just been outpaced by electric motor and battery technology. Current motors (no pun intended) are quieter, smoother, more powerful, smaller (this means lighter too) and better companies have opted for ‘mid-drive motors in the crank area instead of in the wheel. Batteries are also more powerful in capacity and better engineered for longer life. The computers that regulate the motor and battery are also much more sophisticated today to give a smoother transition of power and to optimize how you use your stored energy. Many eBike displays have phone-like touch screens or large displays with minimal buttons and easy selections that make them very user-friendly.
All of this, bicycle frames with hidden wiring, the latest in components, smaller motors, batteries integrated inside the frame, and controller, is now engineered to work together instead of being added to a bicycle like an afterthought making for a very pleasant riding experience. Give it a try. See if you are not extremely surprised with the selection of e-bikes today. And whatever you ride – stay safe and have fun.