So, An electric bicycle. it isn’t proper cycling. I mean, you don’t get sweaty and exhausted fighting headwinds and hills on an electric bike. At the press of a button you are whisked along by a powerful but silent electric motor. On an electric bike you reach speeds you can only achieve if you are in the running for a yellow jersey on the Tour de France. So not proper then.
Yes, e- bikes are ‘proper’. In fact they sell more electric than non electric bikes in half the countries in Europe. They are a cheap, green and utterly cool way to travel.
However, there are plenty of options so as electric bicycles are relatively new you may want some advice on what to choose.
Which motor assisted pedal bike?
First think about the sort of non-electric bike you would choose. If you would buy a racer, go for an electric racer. If you would have bought a mountain bike, go for an electric mountain bike. Think about how you will use the bike and also storage. The batteries and motors mean electric bike store are a lot heavier than their pedal powered counterparts. So, if you are thinking of lifting the bike to hang from a wall, check your muscles first.
The commuter hasn’t been left out of the electric bike revolution. There are plenty of folding commuter bikes with electric assist, although some have traded weight for a weaker motor than is really useful.
Batteries and motors
The advice regarding motor size is clear. Get the smallest motor that is rated to pull someone of your size along at the speed you want. A 36v 250w motor might be Ok for a teen or smaller person, but most adult males will really need a 48volt 500 watt power train.
Regarding batteries on the other hand, get the biggest most powerful you can afford. A big battery can extend your electric biking pleasure by hours per day. The market is moving at such a fast pace that whatever is ‘best of breed’ this year will undoubtedly be considered old hat next year. Cost are dropping and power is rising at an alarming rate, so be ready for the fact.
This is the constant fate of the early adopter. You will be paying what next year will seem very much over the odds for your electric bike. So, make sure you are happy with the price you pay today and accept the fact the same model will be a lot cheaper in a few months time.
Upgrading your current non-electric bike with a conversion kit can be a great way to go electric for a lot less cash. The cost of these kits has dropped drastically in the last couple of years. So, if you are a naturally handy technically savvy person, you can add a battery pack to the rear pannier frame. Then replace a wheel with a new one that has an integrated motor and away you go.
Scooters are not street legal
Don’t be tempted to forget the pedals and buy an electric scooter instead. They are currently illegal to ride either on the road or pavement in the U.K. whereas electric bicycles are fully legal on the road. The government are looking at the whole issue, but since the covid 19 crisis their focus has of course shifted. Once things are back to some sort of normal there will be truckloads of legislation that was put on the back burner to wade through. I suspect that regulations regarding e bikes and scooters are going to be way down in the pile, which means we shouldn’t expect any changes in the law anytime soon.