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How to Buy an Electric Bicycle

Updated on July 22, 2012

Electric cars, electric bicycles, all have a similar purpose: using them for short distances and commuter around town, no long trips that consist of hundreds of miles. You would think that owning an electric bicycle would be better than just a human powered one. But what plaques the the electric car, plaques the electric bicycle- endurance of the electric charge and the weight of the battery.

In a car, half the weight of the car usually is attributed to the batteries, The same is for the bicycle. Unlike Vespa scooters and mopeds, an electric bike requires no licensing because by Federal standards they still are considered bicycles.

The two most critical considerations when buying an electric car or bicycle is the amperage rating, which is how big the batteries are (bigger is better, but heavier) and charging them, the second is, wattage output. This measures how much torque or pushing power the motor produces. For instance, 750 watts produces 1 hp.

Most electric bikes zip along anywhere from 10-20 mph and depending on the the terrain and length of the ride, should last many hours. These bicycles are 50 pounds heavier than a standard bike because of the batteries, so because of this, carrying them upstairs is not really a solution when not in use. Nearly all electric bikes insert the battery into the frame of the bike and can be detached. Most have a small dash panel telling how much electric charge is left. Some bikes have up to 27 gears and most have the electric motor on the rear wheel and can detect as you pedal, which engages the motor. Other bikes simply use a throttle or push button to activate the motor.

The one thing they all have in common, besides the obvious, are costs. The better electric bikes are pricey, starting at $1800 and can reach $4000. Bikes at the low end run around $500. Like the car, the cost is high because of the batteries.


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