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Everything You Need to Know about Electric Bikes in 2021
If you’ve walked around any major city in the world during the last few months, you’ve probably noticed an uptick in people who ride bikes – but somehow, it doesn’t look like they’re pedaling.
At the very least, it doesn’t look like they’re pedaling as much as you’d expect them to.
We have electric bikes (also known as ebikes) to thank for that.
So today, we’re going to show you everything you need to know about electric bikes. From benefits and features, to things you should look out for before whipping out your credit card, we’ve got you covered.
Let’s take a look!
What Is an Electric Bike?
When we talk about electric bikes, people normally imagine something between a moped and a bike.
In reality, electric bikes look like regular bikes. They just have an integrated electric motor that assists propulsion (forward movement), and rechargeable batteries.
On the outside, ebikes are very similar to actual bicycles.
They have handles, pedals – the whole works. They don’t completely replace your activity, they just make it much easier to cross longer distances and scale hills (even if you’re not in the best shape).
There are all kinds of electric bikes, but you’ll normally see them separated into two categories:
- Pedelecs (ebikes that assist your pedal power)
- Power-on-demand bikes (ebikes that add a throttle)
You can keep on pedaling with both!
What Are Pedelecs?
Pedelecs (pedal electric cycle bikes) are the most popular ebikes since they have low-powered electric motors and they essentially help you pedal.
They’re perfect for cyclists who love old-school bikes but want to travel longer distancesWhat Are Power-on-Demand Ebikes?
Power-on-demand ebikes have a throttle which you can use to power the bike, so you don’t have to pedal unless you want to. You can get by on motor power alone.
Power-on-demand ebikes are normally a suitable choice for people who want a better alternative to a motorcycle or a car. However, the range can vary depending on the model.
Are Ebikes Legal?
Ebikes’ legal status depends on your country.
Pedelecs (ebikes that only help you pedal, but can’t completely replace your activity) are normally classified as regular bikes in most countries.
Power-on-demand ebikes are sometimes classified as a category of mopeds, and they’re subject to different regulations.
A Brief History of Electric Bikes
Electric bikes were first patented in 1890s, but they didn’t really take off.
Instead, the first time they became commercially available was in the 1990s, when Vector Services Limited started selling an ebike called Zike. This new bike incorporated torque sensors and power controls.
Lee Iacocca, who founded EV Global Motors in 1997, is to thank for ebikes’ rising popularity in the US. Sales of ebikes steadily grew until they made up for 10-20% of all two-wheeled vehicles in China’s major cities.
Yamaha and Panasonic also started producing their very own ebikes in Japan in the early 2000s.
Since electric bikes have no carbon footprint, they’ve been becoming even more popular in the last ten years.
In 2018, ebike sales surpassed traditional bike sales in the Netherlands. Since the Dutch are famous for their cycling traditions, this was a major step forward.
It might be the right time to hop on board!
The Benefits of Electronic Bikes
Ebikes have plenty of benefits for both new cyclists and seasoned cyclists alike:
Health Benefits of Ebikes
Physical activity contributes to both physical and mental health, and there’s nothing like hopping on an ebike to really experience all the benefits. Studies have shown that cycling around 30 miles per week lowered the risk of heart disease.
Similarly, cycling is one of the best cardio exercises and it strengthens your cardiovascular system.
It helps you stay fit, build stamina, and increase your overall strength.
A study published in Diabetic Medicine showed that electric bicycles significantly reduce risks associated with type-2 diabetes. Participants in the study didn’t ride vigorously – instead, they used their ebikes to run errands and get around their cities. Plenty of participants also bought ebikes when the study concluded.
Just like other types of exercise, cycling improves your immune system. Researchers found that moderate exercise like regularly riding a bike can lower your risk of contracting respiratory infections by 29%.
Of course, all this exercise will help you lose weight and stay fit.
Unlike high-intensity workouts, riding your ebike isn’t overwhelming. It’s easy to commit since you can simply get around on your ebike.
This is what makes it such a perfect fit for all age groups.
Electric Bikes Make Cycling Easier
If regular cycling seems too taxing (or if you have health conditions preventing you from cycling), electric bikes are a great replacement.
Battery-assisted pedaling makes it much easier to cross longer distances, and power-on-demand ebikes even allow you to get by using bike power alone. We recommend using power only to go faster when necessary or climb that hill.
And if your legs get tired, you can give yourself a bit of a break.
If you go mountain biking, there are ebikes for that, as well, so you can cross tough terrains with more ease.
All of this allows you to stay active without having to worry about sore muscles later.
Keep in mind that, due to regulations, most ebikes only go up to 20-28 miles per hour. This is perfectly suitable for getting to your workplace faster without losing out on all the benefits of traditional cycling.
You might even find yourself cycling more!
According to a survey of electric bike owners, 91% of ebike owners found themselves cycling more often than before. Even non-cyclists who bought an ebike started riding it daily and weekly.
Can Ebikes Replace Cars?
For some people, yes, ebikes can certainly replace cars. A lot of new electric bicycle owners actually get them to stop using cars. At the very least, an ebike can help you use your car less frequently which isn’t just good for your health, but for the general health of the planet.
Since more than 50% of all driving trips are shorter than 10 miles, using an ebike to cross that distance is a great alternative. You don’t even have to worry about parking!
Consider gas costs, too! It’s much cheaper to recharge an electric bike than it is to fill up your car’s tank.
Electric Bikes Are Eco-Friendly
Finally, let’s not forget about the planet. Cars have incredibly detrimental emissions that contribute to global warming and poor air quality.
Electric bikes, on the other hand, run on clean energy. You can even recycle their batteries.
All in all, ebikes are an incredible way to stay happy, healthy, and contribute to a much greener future!
Electric Bike Features
If you want to peek under the hood, here’s what you need to know about the inner workings of electric bikes:
Ebike motor power normally ranges between 200 and 1000W. Regular cruisers average at about 250W.
However, this depends on your country or your US state( since every state can impose its limitations).
Your range will also depend on your battery power. If you have a 750W battery and you use the electric features of your bike often, it will drain your battery faster, so this is something to keep in mind, as well.
Ebikes normally use hub motors, and there are two distinct types: brushed and brushless motors.
Brushless motors are definitely better for durability since there’s no wear and tear from different parts of the motor interacting with each other. However, they are more expensive and require complex controllers.
Finally, your ebike motor’s location matters! There are mid-drive (center-drive) motors, as well as rear-hub drive motors.
Electric Bike Batteries
Ebike batteries are rechargeable.
Their lifespans normally allow you to charge them up to 1,000 times until you have to buy replacement batteries.
However, the batteries and the range also vary, depending on your ebike’s power and your use case.
Controllers for Ebikes
Controllers depend on your ebike motor type.
If your ebike has a brushed motor, you won’t need a complex controller (and this factors into your ebike price).
But if you get an ebike with a brushless motor, you’ll need a controller with hall-sensor feedback.
If you’re opting for an assisted-pedaling ebike, you’ll have a very simple controller. But if you need throttle and want a power-on-demand ebike, your controller will be somewhat more complicated. Still, it’s very intuitive!
Electric Bike Buyer’s Guide
What’s your story?
Do you want an ebike to get around town faster and eco-friendlier?
Do you want to scale mountaintops?
The perfect bike depends on your unique needs:
What Do You Need an Ebike for?
Before you pick an ebike, think about your needs: how do you plan on using your electric bike?
If you plan on using it for your commute and to run errands, pick a cruiser.
This type offers maximum comfort with perfect performance for this use case. If you want to carry heavier loads or if you need to climb steep hills, opt for an ebike with a geared hub rear-drive motor.
On the other hand, if you have a relatively long commute, you’ll need an ebike with significant range and power capabilities so you get to your destination faster (and need to charge it less).
Pick a bike that reaches the maximum speed (around 28 mph) and has significant battery power so you don’t have to worry about recharging it until you get home.
Keep your country’s ebike speed limits in mind, as well!
Finally, if you’re into mountain biking, you’ll need a more powerful ebike. Off-road ebikes normally have motors placed around the center of the bike so you get stability and acceleration.
How Far Can You Go on One Charge?
The second consideration is range.
Like we said, if your ebike’s battery is very powerful, it will drain your battery faster. These days, there are hybrid solutions, but the range normally varies 15-60 miles (depending on the ebike model).
So before you get your electric bike, make sure you know just how many miles you want to cross. You can extend your battery life by pedaling on your own.
While we recommend consulting the experts before you pick an ebike, an average 10AH battery will last around 25-35 miles.
Electric Bike Add-ons
Finally, think about what you plan to do while using your ebike.
Do you want to take your toddler with you? You might want a child seat.
Do you plan on doing grocery shopping? Pick a bike that offers different luggage storage options so you don’t have to get your car for a simple shopping trip.
Ebikes offer a plethora of add-ons, so make sure you pick the right model for your needs.
Should You Get an Electric Bike?
Ultimately, ebikes are becoming more and more popular, and they’re not going anywhere.
They’re easier to use than traditional bikes, require less energy, and offer incredible health and lifestyle benefits.
You can pick from a variety of models, perfect for different use cases – from cruisers, to off-road bikes that will help you cross as many as 200 miles.
So check your local regulations, grab a helmet, and get ready for an adventure. Ebikes make even the most mundane errands more fun!