Which Electric bicycle - The best E-bike's for your commute to Work.
Electric Bicycles are ideal for getting to work through rush-hour traffic.
Electric bikes for Commuting.
With good weather just around the corner (hopefully in the UK) we can look forward to dusting down our electric bike or our electric powered e-bike and getting a little fitter.
For some this sounds a bit too much like hard work, but the idea of cycling is difficult to throw off when you see your friends and work mates using them. One answer that a lot of people are now turning to is buying an electric bike or E-bike or city bike as it is now becoming known.
So what is an electric bike and how does it differ from a standard mountain bike or road racing bike. An electric bike has a motor, a battery and a controller.
The motor drives the bike forward, you can't go in reverse. The battery stores the energy when it is charged up and this gives the motor the power to move. The controller, sometimes called the regulator lets you (the rider) adjust the amount of power going to the motor and this either increases or decreases your speed.
E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular with city workers. The cost of going into some cities is now regulated, the cost of parking your car is expensive and people don't like to rely on public transport for a variety of reasons.
Electric bikes were a bit of a novelty when they first came out, they didn't work properly, the battery wasn't holding the charge, and basically they were a bit of a let down. Since then electric bike conversion kits have started coming out and these have made a fantastic difference. Manufacturers of E-bikes have improved them now to a lighter, smarter looking bike that many commuters see as their transport to work and also for getting some fresh air at the weekends with shopping or having fun with the kids.
Some people are using them to regularly commute into town or work, you can get folding electric bikes and some people are either taking the e-bike on the train then using the bike to get into work or they carry them in their car trunk, park up out of town and use the bike for the last part of the journey.
A Folding Electric Bike.
Electric Bike Conversion.
The most commonly asked question when you meet someone on a E-bike is how fast will it go.
Well the speed limit has been regulated in the UK for all electric bikes to a have a top speed of 15mph or 25 kph. this is reasonable because the average speed of any normal road cyclist is only 12 mph or 18kph. So this speed is good, well sufficient for commuting in traffic on your way to work.
But that is the top speed of the motor before it cuts out, your actual speed may be much more on flat, level or downhill ground if you keep pedaling!
It is worth stating that you can still pedal with an electric bike, and this not only saves you your battery power but will assist you getting uphill a lot quicker. Although batteries have improved (see below) pedaling to assist you will get you to your destination quicker. This is particularly important when cycling up hill for any length of time.
The second most common question is do I have to wear a bike helmet?. The answer is no you don't, the same rules apply to electric bikes as they do to ordinary ones. So you can ride pretty much the same places you can with a normal bike.
In the US children under 16 have to wear a bike helmet but electric bikes shouldn't be sold to under 16's so there is no necessity to wear a helmet if that is your wish.
What you should take into account is traffic and if you are using yours for commuting purposes then it makes sense to listen to CPSC ( Consumer Product Safety Commission) in the US, or PBSR ( Pedal Bicycle Safety Regulations) in the UK who recommend that people use bike helmets when on city or urban roads where there is a lot of traffic or congestion.
The third most common question is how far can I travel before the battery runs out? This is where technology has improved the performance of electric bikes over the past few years.
Most modern electric bikes can now travel 45 km (30 miles) on one charge of the battery. This will be affected by the road conditions, how many times you stop/start and how many hills you have to go up.
But for most commuters this is enough for the journey to get them home where they can recharge the battery ready for tomorrow.
What are you looking for from your E-bike? Does it have to fold up or are you happy with a straight forward electric bike that has had an electric bike conversion?
Most of the electric bike conversion kits fit the non folding type.
This depends on what you want your bike for. Does the frame have to fold? Do you prefer large wheels or smaller ones. Does the bike have to rugged and very stable, tough and durable or lightweight?
Will you be using it just to tag along with the kids at the weekends or will you be using it to go to the shops, do you need a bike rack to carry stuff like an attache case or are you wanting to do long journey's on a fast and lightweight bike?
Pedal Assist and the different types of Electric bike.
Electric bikes can assist you when you ride, by this it means the motor cuts in when the pedalling becomes harder to push down. Do you need a lot of assistance?, maximum assistance or assistance only when your going up hills?
You can choose to have what is called "variable assistance" where you select how much assistance the bike gives you. Pedal assist is a term used to express the amount of effort needed, when your pedaling the motor measures how much effort you are using and brings in the motor automatically to assist you. When you stop pedaling the motor stops.
Rotation Sensor – this senses when the pedals are turning and switches the motor on at a predetermined speed. This type of system is available with a single speed or variable speed models.
Advantages – You don’t have to push too hard on the pedals to get the maximum assistance.
Disadvantages – Single speed model travels at maximum speed all the time.
Torque Sensor – this type will additionally sense how hard you are pressing the pedals and varies the assistance level accordingly. If you press gently it just gives a little help, press a little harder and it helps more.
This system can have pre- determined selectable power levels.
Advantages – Slows down and speeds up as the bike speed varies. This model will use the battery more economically for longer distances.
Disadvantages – To get maximum assistance full pressure must be put on the pedals.
Twist Grip Throttle - Some motors are not operated by the pedals but by a twist grip throttle on the handlebars that must be turned whilst you are pedalling and held in position. There is a distinct disadvantage with this when you want to use hand signals.
Combination, Pedal Assist and Throttle
Some bikes with pedal assist also have a twist grip . This will let the rider to take a quick break to gather themselves without having to stop. On a torque sensor bike this allows the rider to select the extra’ power option which is very useful when going up hill.
Easy Start and Launch Assist
This type of assist is applicable to all models, what it means is that you often first need assistance the first few seconds when you set off, if you have stopped on a slope or hill, or in commuter traffic you may want to get your speed up as quickly as possible and keep up with the flow of traffic.
Electric bike Video
Electric bike Batteries
With most bike batteries you have to charge them overnight or for 6-8 hours to get the maximum benefit from them. It is possible to give some types of battery a quick top up charge, but is best if this is kept to the minimum.
It is best if the battery is run down before recharging, this will make it last longer, than constantly topping it up. Electric bike batteries are expensive to replace so it is worth while looking after yours and maintaining it to the manufacturers recommendations.
Electric bikes have the battery fitted in a variety of places, under the seat, inside the frame work or on a rear rack. When you test your bike from new make sure the battery doesn't make it feel unstable or pulling one side more than the other.
Lighter batteries have reduced this effect so if your buying a new model it will not be such a problem.
The Different types of battery:- It has often amazed me why there is so many different types of battery that you use on your bike. You would think that manufacturers would make it easy for people by standardising each bike with the same battery.
That way they would be inter-changeable even if you change your bike. It would keep costs down and riders could swap and change without much thought.
I know that some batteries are supposedly better than others, but each battery has a life expectancy, we know this, but it annoys me when a manufacturer makes changes just for the sake of being different.
Below is a list of all the types of battery being used at present, lets hope that some common sense prevails and a united single battery wins out and all manufacturers stick with it, until something better comes along.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) & Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) – Smaller, light weight and gives greater distance, up to 20 miles before recharge.
Advantages – Mid Priced, lasted longer than some batteries.
Disadvantages - very poor at maintaining the charge in cold weather.
Lithium Batteries-lighter weight, variable sizes, cleaner (low pollution) and more efficient. Advantages -longer life cycle, greater distances before recharging, discharge rate is the high. Disadvantages- Expensive to buy.
What's next for Electric bikes.
I think it is pretty safe to say that electric bikes are here to stay. Petrol and diesel prices are constantly rising, the price to park your vehicle is expensive in town so I think electric bike manufacturers are looking good as far as expanding their businesses are concerned.
There will be more bike development, new designs, the making of lighter more economical bikes that travel further. Improved modifications coming with the motor and drive unit, giving an almost seamless acceleration up to top speed and automatic flawless gear changes.
Battery life will be extended even further and battery charging will go from daily to just a once a week in the near future. Folding bikes are here to stay and there will more mind boggling methods of how to split your bike down and put it into a case to carry around.