So, here at The Gosondors.com, we have a deep appreciation for electric rideables. From hoverboards to skateboards, scooters to motorcycles, mopeds, unicycles, and tricycles – you name it, we’ve ridden it.
However, We are here to share why We believe electric bikes, in particular, transcend being merely a fun tech fad. In our view, they have the potential to shape the future of transportation.
Nonetheless, with a vast array of options available, it’s crucial to stay informed and avoid being misled. Therefore, let’s delve into some essential information about e-bikes.
The Rise of E-Bikes: A Shift in Transportation
First and foremost, e-bikes are not a recent innovation. They have been around for decades. If you reside in China or Europe, chances are e-bikes are already an integral part of your daily life.
In Europe, for instance, e-bikes have long empowered older adults to maintain their independence and are now gaining popularity among younger riders. However, in the United States, e-bikes still occupy a relatively niche market, accounting for only 4% of total bike sales.
In comparison, bike-friendly countries like the Netherlands surpass regular bike sales with their e-bike figures.
Nevertheless, experts predict that worldwide e-bike sales will reach a staggering $23.8 billion by 2025. Slowly but surely, Americans are also embracing this trend.
Electric bike sales in the U.S. have grown over eightfold since 2014, signifying a shifting attitude towards these eco-friendly modes of transportation. It has indeed been a long journey to arrive at this point.
One of the earliest patents for an electric bike dates back to 1895, registered by an inventor named Ogden Bolton. Interestingly, Bolton didn’t proceed to manufacture or sell his bikes.
However, it’s remarkable that some of the design elements from that time can still be found in today’s e-bikes. These include a rear hub motor with a centrally-mounted battery on the frame.
We understand if you’re a bit confused by terms like rear hub motor, amps, and volts. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Before discussing why e-bikes are the future of transportation, let’s start with the basics.
Exploring the Basics: Components and Motor Types
In general, e-bikes are bicycles equipped with a battery-powered assist that activates when you pedal or, in some cases, when you use a throttle.
When you push on the pedals, a small motor kicks in to give you a boost. This means you can effortlessly tackle hills or rough terrains without breaking a sweat.
Alternatively, some e-bikes offer a throttle that provides the same assistance without the need for pedaling.
There are two main types of motors used in e-bikes.
The first is the mid-drive motor, situated between the two pedals in the middle of the bike.
The second is the hub motor, positioned in the center of either the front or rear wheel. Both types have their advantages and disadvantages.
Hub drives have been around for a long time and tend to be more affordable and versatile. They work well for individuals who require a reliable e-bike for mostly flat, long commutes.
On the other hand, mid-drive motors are usually smaller and lighter. They offer greater torque, making them suitable for hilly areas and off-road riding.
Their central placement on the bike also creates a more balanced riding experience.
So, before delving into the reasons why e-bikes are considered the future of transportation, it’s important to understand these fundamental components and motor types.
Consider your intended usage, such as commuting, off-roading, or touring. Reputable e-bike brands usually match the appropriate motor placement with the bike type they offer.
Most mountain bikes feature mid-range motors, while the majority of commuter bikes sold in Amsterdam, where hills are scarce, use hub-based motors.
And changing a tire on a mid-drive bike is usually less troublesome.
Also, read about 15 Key Factors to Consider When Purchasing an Electric Bike.
Sensors and Power Distribution: Optimizing Performance
E-bikes also tend to utilize different types of sensors to determine the optimal power distribution.
There are two types: torque sensors and cadence sensors. Torque sensors adjust the motor output based on the force applied to the pedals, while cadence sensors respond to the pedaling speed.
High-quality bikes employ torque sensors, while lower-end ones rely solely on cadence sensors.
Many bikes incorporate both types. We highly recommend test riding both sensor types before purchasing an e-bike to determine which one suits you best.
Now, let’s discuss power. Manufacturers often provide power ratings for various reasons.
In the past, these ratings were a way for bike companies to navigate Europe’s stringent import laws, which limited motors to 250 watts.
However, the continent now permits the sale of e-bikes with much more powerful motors, a positive development as it positions bikes as a viable alternative to cars.
Nonetheless, power ratings can be subjective, and you can likely disregard them. To gauge the actual perceived maximum power, check if the volts and amps are listed.
Multiply the two values together to calculate the watt hours, which represents the number of watts that can be delivered in an hour. This measurement gives you a good idea of the range you can expect.
Let’s take Rad Power Bikes’ RadWagon cargo bike as an example.
It features a 48-volt battery pack with a capacity of 14 amp hours. When you multiply 48 by 14, you get a total of 672-watt hours.
If you manage your energy usage efficiently, each mile you travel will consume approximately 20 watt-hours.
Therefore, a 672-watt-hour battery pack will provide you with an estimated range of about 34 miles.
Different Classes of Electric Bikes
Now, let’s discuss the different classes of e-bikes. In the United States, there are three classes.
Class one refers to pedal-assist bikes without a throttle.
Class two includes throttle-assisted bikes with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class three consists of pedal-assist-only bikes with no throttle, with a maximum speed of 28 miles per hour.
In Europe, there are two classes. Class one, which is the most popular, has a maximum speed of 25 kilometers per hour and doesn’t require a helmet.
Class two involves 1,000-watt or higher motors capable of reaching 45 kilometers per hour, requiring a helmet and prohibiting riding on bike paths. Essentially, they are categorized as motorcycles.
Where You Purchase an e-Bike
There are several places where you can purchase an e-bike in the United States. Here are some common options:
Local bike shops: Many local bike shops carry e-bikes or can order them for you. It’s a good idea to visit a few shops in your area to see the different models and brands they have available.
Online retailers: There are numerous online retailers that specialize in e-bikes. Some popular ones include Rad Power Bikes, Electric Bike Company, Juiced Bikes, and Trek Bikes. These websites often provide detailed information about the e-bikes, customer reviews, and convenient online ordering.
Large retailers: Stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and REI also sell e-bikes both in-store and online. They may have a limited selection compared to specialized e-bike retailers, but they can be a convenient option if you prefer to purchase from a well-known retailer.
Manufacturer websites: Many e-bike manufacturers sell their products directly through their websites. If you have a specific brand or model in mind, you can visit the manufacturer’s website to find information about authorized dealers or purchase options.
Secondhand marketplaces: Platforms like Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace often have listings for used e-bikes. Buying secondhand can be a more affordable option, but it’s important to thoroughly research the bike’s condition and test it before making a purchase.
Remember to consider factors such as customer reviews, warranty, after-sales support, and test rides when choosing where to purchase your e-bike.
It’s also advisable to check the local regulations and requirements regarding e-bikes in your area before making a purchase.
Why e-Bikes are the Future of Transportation
Now, let’s delve into why we can expect e-bikes are the future of transportation.
1. Breaking Barriers to Biking
Making Cycling Accessible: Overcoming physical challenges or age concerns, e-bikes make it easier for individuals to hop on a bike and ride without hesitation.
Car Alternative: The convenience of reaching your destination without sweating or feeling stressed encourages the transition away from cars or ride-hailing services like Uber.
Fun and Enjoyable: Contrary to the misconception that e-bikes diminish the joy of cycling, a study comparing cognitive and psychological effects reveals similar positive outcomes for both e-bikes and traditional bikes.
2. Sustainable Transportation Option
Climate-Friendly Choice: In the face of climate change, e-bikes offer a significantly more sustainable alternative to electric cars.
Improving City Livability: E-bikes have the potential to create more livable cities by reducing traffic congestion and improving air quality.
3. E-Bikes Revolutionizing Delivery Services
Transforming Delivery: As cities become more congested, businesses are turning to e-bikes for their delivery operations.
Examples of Adoption: Domino’s Pizza utilizing Rad Power Bikes, UPS employing electric cargo bikes, and DPD’s clever use of mini trucks disguised as e-bikes showcase the transformative impact of e-bikes in the delivery industry.
4. Quicker, Stress-Free Commutes
The Office Commute: Sharing a personal experience, We highlight the remarkable advantages of using an e-bike for commuting. Safe and swift travel, beating the subway rush, and arriving at the destination without the typical stress and perspiration.
U.S. Adoption Challenges: The focus on e-bikes primarily for food delivery in the U.S. raises questions about our slow adoption compared to other countries, such as the Netherlands, where bikes are embraced as year-round transportation options.
5. Unlocking New Possibilities
Inclusive Mobility: E-bikes offer opportunities for individuals with diverse abilities, opening up a world of possibilities for accessible transportation.
Overcoming Infrastructure Challenges: Our streets are predominantly designed for cars, making pedestrians and cyclists an afterthought. E-bikes have the potential to challenge this paradigm and reshape urban infrastructure.
E-bikes may not be a panacea for all transportation challenges, but once you experience the joy and practicality they offer, you won’t want to stop riding.
As we contemplate the legitimacy of the term “rideable,” reminiscent of “lunchable,” let’s recognize the transformative potential of these vehicles and their impact on how we navigate our cities.