What is an Electric Bike?

 

 

Electric Bikes in simple terms are pedal bikes which are assisted by an electric motor. They can be distinguished from motor cycles by the rider being able to pedal if they want to.

Electric Bikes have been incredibly popular for many years in Europe and Asia. We are now seeing their popularity spread to the UK.

Patents for electric bikes go back as far as the late 1890’s but it was in the early 1990’s that production started to grow particularly in the Far East. By 2001 the terms, E-Bikes, power bike, pedelec, assisted bicycle and power-assisted bicycle where commonly used to describe electric bicycles. E-bike, according to Google, is a term that has increased in trend. This term generally referred to an electric bicycle which used a throttle. The terms Electric Motorbike or E-Motorbike have been used to describe more powerful models.

What is the range of an electric bike?

 

 

The range of a fully charged battery varies. It is usually between 15 to 25 miles with gentle pedalling. Most of the power is drained when moving off and on hills so pedalling at these points will preserve the power. 
Distance varies with the weight and size of the rider and the terrain encountered:
Smooth, clean and dry pavement -
Excellent Range
Rough terrain - Reduced Range
 
Does the battery recharge when I pedal?

 
We are asked the question by almost every customer. The answer that applies to most electric bicycles is no, but you preserve the battery by pedalling.
How long does the battery last?
Again this varies, but a battery that is used correctly should last between 300 and 400 charges. It is very important to look after the battery, especially over the winter period and it is essential to keep it fully charged at all times. Failure to do this will drastically reduce the battery's life. Bear in mind that if the battery runs out, you can always pedal! It is not like running out of petrol.
 
Do I need to pedal?
 

Strictly speaking when on the road the law requires you to pedal with the power assisting your pedalling (PAS); however on most models you have a throttle which can be used without pedalling or in conjunction with the pedals.
Hills slow you down so you need to pedal to maintain speed.

How fast will it go?

 


To gain exemption from road tax, road insurance, MOT tests, vehicle registration, the requirement of a driving licence and wearing a motorcycle helmet, the speed under power is restricted to 15 miles per hour. They can of course be cycled beyond this speed.
Like people, as batteries age, their performance gradually decreases. (Actually, in the first 25 or so charge/discharge cycles, many batteries get better)
 

What are the running costs?

 


Other than charging the batteries at a cost of approximately 10 pence per full charge, there are no other significant running costs. You should carry out basic maintenance as you would with a normal pedal cycle; however the electronic parts of the bikes are designed to be trouble and maintenance free.

Hill Climbing

 


That may sound obvious, but it's the primary advantage. A good electric bike effectively flattens hills, increasing your average speed and eliminating the 'groan' factor when a gradient comes into view. Provided you supply a reasonable amount of effort, you can expect to climb hills of 1 in 10 (10%) on an electric bike with ease, and clear a maximum gradient of 1 in 7 (14%), or much more. In hilly country, the effect is nothing short of miraculous.

Safety


It sounds unlikely, doesn't it? But the mathematics is compelling. Think of a steep and busy road, with cars climbing at 30 mph. If you previously slogged up the hill at 6 mph, but can tackle the same gradient at 12 mph with an electric bike, you will see 33% fewer cars, and they will pass you at 18 mph rather than 24 mph. Or at least we think that's correct.
Whatever the figures, there's no doubt that an electric bike helps keep you out of danger. The same general principle applies to road junctions - the faster your acceleration, the sooner you can get out of trouble. And with no need to rush the hills, you won't be tempted to ride downhill at breakneck speed ... another useful safety feature.

Personal fitness

 

Surely a conventional bike will keep you fitter? That, of course, depends on how much - if at all - you use it. Research has found that 46% of conventional bikes are used only once or twice a week, with a further 30% being used once a fortnight, or even less. By contrast, a recent survey of electric bicycle owners reveals that a third ride their bike at least once a day and 81% use the bike at least once a week.

The figures confirm our experience that an electric bike typically gets used at least twice as often as a conventional machine. Because riding an electric bike is a great deal more enjoyable in hilly country, into strong winds, or when carrying heavy loads, users tend to make better use of them. The motor provides up to half the effort, but more regular use means more exercise for the rider.

No sweat!

 
Sweat may not be a serious issue when you're out for a leisure ride, but it's more important if you're cycling to work. Although some employers are rather grudgingly providing showers and other facilities for cyclists, the great majority have no intention of doing so. An electric bike eliminates the problem at source. In hot weather, it's possible to maintain a normal schedule by transferring a bit more load to the electric motor. In colder weather - or if you feel in need of exercise - just throttle back, or turn the motor off.

Faster travel

 

In theory a car can travel at high speed, but in practice speed often falls below 10 mph in cities. The problem is congestion - motorcycles get around this to some extent, but they're still confined to the road network. An electric bike can maintain a higher average speed than a bicycle but take advantage of the same network of cycle facilities, giving access to routes that cars and motorcycles cannot reach. The result is often a faster door-to-door journey time than any other mode. And by taking advantage of the uncongested cycle network, but eliminating hills and headwinds, electric bikes are often the most consistent mode of travel.

High resale value

 

Electric bikes are new technology, and it's early days yet, but the evidence points to a much better resale value than a conventional bike. True, a typical electric bike costs more to buy, at £500-£1,000, but it seems you'll get most of that back if you sell the machine on.

Motorise, but no Red Tape!

 

You know how it is --- MOT due, log book missing, insurance costs rising year on year. Electric bikes are treated just like ordinary bicycles for legislative purposes, so there's absolutely no registration or legislation to worry about. You are, of course, free to insure the machine if you wish, but there's no compulsion to do anything but enjoy yourself!

 

 

Clean and green

 

Electric bikes obviously consume energy, where a conventional bike does not (provided we ignore the environmental cost of growing and processing food - see below). However the amount of energy used is very small compared to a moped, motorcycle or car. Besides fuel, the only consumables are the batteries, and these can normally be recycled when life-expired. As for the energy use, electric bikes typically consume fuel at an average rate of 100 to 150 watts of electrical energy, against 15,000 or so for a car (admittedly travelling much faster). In terms of fuel consumption, an electric bike achieves about 800-2,000 mpg. No other commercially available vehicle can match figures of this kind.

If it's hard to place these numbers in your own lifestyle, think of a 100 watt electric light bulb burning for an evening - that's enough energy to propel an electrically assisted bike for 20 to 40 miles....

Genuinely sustainable?


There's a lot of nonsense talked about sustainability in transport, but an electric bicycle can be made genuinely sustainable. Purchase electricity from a 'green' supplier, or generate your own with a roof-mounted windmill or solar panel array, and the vehicle's fossil fuel consumption will be zero. Surely a conventional bike does that already? Only if you grow the food you consume whilst riding it. Unfortunately most modern food production and distribution is so fuel-intensive that the consumption of a typical cyclist is not terribly good.

 

 

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My Ebyke.com will be exhibiting electric bikes at various places throughout the Leicestershire in 2013 - Dates and locations will be posted soon. Come and try our demo bikes and see for yourself just how good an electric bike is. We have plenty of off road space for you to try one before heading off on the roads.
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Loughborough
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