What is an E-Bike?
An E-Bike is a bicycle that can be powered by both human power and electrical power. The human power is exerted through the pedals like a normal bicycle, and the electrical power is provided by an electric motor. The motor gets its electricity from a rechargeable battery. The battery is charged through a 120 VAC household source connected to a 36-48 DCV charger.
Electric bikes have been around for many years but are only just now gaining acceptance in the US. The motor is controlled by one of two user selected methods: a Pedal Assist Sensor (PAS) that provides power to the bike, or by throttle assist which allows the rider to effortlessly cruise, even without pedaling. Depending on what type of system the bike is equipped with, the rider can tell the bike to assist either by pedaling lightly, twisting a throttle, or even pushing down harder on the pedals. Riding an E-Bike is just like riding a regular bicycle; the motor can only be engaged when the rider chooses. The electronic system acts as a primary means to power the bicycle forward, either on battery power alone or to act as power-assist to help with hill climbs, help fight headwinds, and save the rider energy. Or the rider can use the motor to do all the work. The experience is entirely different from riding a gas scooter or motorbike. On an E-Bike, electric assistance is smooth, silent, and non-polluting. It complements, rather than replaces, human power.
Who are E-Bikes for?
E-Bikes are an excellent “equalizer”! They are perfect for families who want to ride together and for any rider who could use a little extra boost for whatever reason. Persons who are limited by or rehabilitating from something related to their health will find that they can choose the exercise level that works best for them. Those who want to bike to work, school, shopping, and/or other errands can arrive without being sweaty. RV and camping enthusiasts find them to perfectly compliment outdoor leisure activities.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ELECTRIC BICYCLES?
Electric bikes are a great form of transportation and recreation. They provide all the advantages of a regular bicycle: exercise, free parking, zero emissions, and freedom from traffic jams. In many situations, riding an E-Bike can be faster and cheaper than a car or public transit. All this while eliminating one of the bicycle’s more serious drawbacks: lack of energy.
Electric bicycles have many advantages. They take the effort out of hills, they get you there quicker, you can wear whatever you want and not sweat, you can carry more on an e-bike, you can ride further and faster, you’ll have more control and confidence on the road. They are a convenient, cost effective, sustainable transportation solution.
What is pedal assist mode, and why is it necessary?
The Pedal-Assist Mode (PAS) operates when you are pedaling the bike and progressively adds electrical power to the motor. The faster you pedal, the more power is applied. PAS mode significantly increases battery range as compared with using the throttle alone. This mode can be turned on and off by a switch on the handle bars, or turning off the key to the off position.
Pedal assist mode allows you to operate the bicycle’s motor with your feet, leaving your hands free to handle the bicycle, use the brakes, etc. The electric assistance level can be as simple as an on/off switch, or it can have multiple settings so you can choose how much power you would like the motor to give you. Higher settings result in faster speeds, better acceleration, stronger hill climbing, etc. Lower settings maximize range and efficiency. Riders who choose to pedal continually gain more exercise and get a longer range from the battery.
The term “electric-assist” (or “pedelec” ) reminds people that these are bicycles, first of all, and that the electric motor is there to assist the rider, but doesn’t have to take over completely. The electric motor is providing assistance to the rider’s input. The bike is equipped with one or more sensors – usually one measuring wheel speed, one measuring cadence (how fast your legs are going around), and sometimes there is even a third sensor measuring torque (how hard you are pushing on the pedals). The motor responds to input from these sensors to give the rider varying levels of power assistance.
Do E-Bikes have throttles?
Some models do have throttles. The throttle helps you get moving and can keep you going. Throttles cut out at a maximum speed of 20 MPH.
Can I pedal like on a normal bicycle or do I always have to use the electric motor?
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using the PAS (Pedal Assist Sensor) or throttle system, the motor only kicks in when want it to. If you choose not to use the motor, your bike will operate just like a conventional bicycle.
How much do E-Bikes weigh?
The average bike weighs approximately 25 pounds. An E-Bike (with a lightweight motor, battery, controls, and wiring) typically weighs about twice that. However, even at 50 pounds, the pedal assist system makes the ride seem effortless and smooth, negating the effort that would be required to manually power a heavier bike without the assistance of a motor.
Does the extra weight make it harder to pedal without motor power?
The additional weight has very little effect on the ride-ability of the bike. It will require a bit more effort when going uphill, but it is hardly noticeable on flat terrain. The bit of extra weight seems a reasonable trade-off for all the benefits an electric bicycle brings to your riding experience.
How fast can an E-Bike go?
By law, an e-bike cannot exceed certain limits when operating under motor power alone. Class I and II E-Bikes are limited to 20 MPH; the speed limit for Class III bikes is 28 MPH. All E-Bikes must conform to this regulation.
The speed of an E-Bike is the result of the combined efforts of rider and motor. Just like a traditional bike, the rider is free to pedal the bike as fast as they like using just their own power.
How far can I ride on one charge?
Average riders can go between 20-40 miles on a single charge. There are a number of factors that influence the range: weight of the rider, the amount of power they choose to use while riding, the terrain they ride (hills vs flat terrain).
Many factors can reduce range. On battery power alone, a 180 lb person on 26×2.5 tires can travel about 17 miles at moderate speed on flat ground. With a medium level of pedal assist a range of 28 miles can be reached.
Using throttle only from a standing still position, energy flow from the battery is high. Constantly using the throttle to power the bike from a stop will exhaust the battery and reduce range. The rider can counter this by pedaling to reduce the stress and torque put on the electric drive system, and by utilizing lower mechanical gears. With a lesser amount of pedal assist, you can still climb hills and power through the wind, while extending the range of your battery pac
Does the battery recharge while I pedal?
Only a handful of E-Bikes have recharge capabilities. The addition of this feature makes a significant increase in the cost of the bike. Because the amount of electricity that the rider actually generates through braking or pedaling is fairly small, this feature does not effect battery range to nearly the degree of battery voltage or motor style.
How long does it take to charge an E-Bike battery?
Your bike comes with a small charger, which you simply plug into the bike’s battery and into a standard household outlet. A full recharge usually takes 4-6 hours, depending on the rate of the charger supplied by the manufacturer. A 2amp charger will take longer than a 4amp charger. Lithium-Ion batteries do not develop a “memory” so you may charge the battery as frequently as you like without affecting the battery’s longevity.
Most Lithium-Ion batteries are rated between 500 and 1000 full charge cycles. To calculate the number of miles, take into account the bike’s range. If you average about 30 miles per full charge, you should have a battery that will last you between 15,000 and 30,000 miles. This can, of course, be higher if you tend to get more range per charge.
Are the batteries safe?
While it is true that lithium batteries commonly used in E-Bikes can catch fire, it is VERY rare for them to do so! Just as with all portable electronic devices, be aware of how to properly treat the battery and what to do if there is a problem.
- Read the owners manual and any caution stickers, and follow all requirements for safe charging.
- Only charge your E-Bike battery with the charger that was supplied originally with the bike or the battery. Create a process that includes clearly labeling chargers in your home or shop as to what goes with what. If you have chargers with the same connector but for different bikes (not uncommon), zip tie or stick-on a tag to those connectors that states what bike they are to be used with. Consider putting a sticker on the charging port of the bike that tells you (and possible future others) which charger to use.
- Charge only in a dry location. Rain, standing water, etc. is not good for chargers.
- Educate anyone who will use the bike about the safety rules, as well as which charger goes with which bike.
- 5) To maximize the life of your battery, charge only in an environment with moderate temperature. Avoid charging in a room where the temperature is below 50ºF or above 80ºF.
How long will the battery last before it needs replacing?
Most manufacturers indicate a battery life of 500 to 1000 charge cycles.
How much will a replacement battery cost?
Depending on packaging and manufacturer, replacement batteries run between $250 and $800.
Do E-Bikes require a license?
New Mexico does not require a license or insurance. Although that is the case in many states, you should check the laws in your specific area.
E-Bikes cost only pennies to operate! An E-Bike can make the same trip that uses about $5 in gas for approximately 5¢. Plus, calculate the savings in parking, maintenance, and general hassles of traffic. For getting around your community, trade the frustrations of driving a car for fresh air and exercise!
Where can I ride?
With a few exceptions, such as dirt trails in national forests and in some local jurisdictions, E-Bikes can go ANYWHERE a regular bicycle can go!
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