Last Updated on September 12, 2023 by FAB Jim The Cyclist
E-bikes are becoming more and more popular. It’s becoming very common for me to see somebody riding by at a fast rate without pedaling. When I was in Door County WI it seemed like half the rental bikes I saw were e-bikes. I’m a little surprised by their popularity based on their prices, but there are some affordable options out there.
What is an e-bike?
A bicycle with an electric motor that assists with pedaling and sometimes has a throttle like a motorcycle. The motor will assist you up to a certain speed, usually 20 mph or 28 mph. The bike has a rechargeable battery which powers the motor.
While I mostly see hybrid/cruiser style bikes, they can also be mountain and road bikes, and you can even get cargo bikes to carry a lot.
E-bikes generally have a maximum speed of 20 mph or 28 mph dependent on class.
Class 1 bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph and only assist when you are pedaling.
Class 2 has a throttle which operates the motor without having to pedal and has a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Class 3 assists when pedaling up to 28 mph.
How long does the battery last?
20-100 miles seems to be the range for electric bikes. More expensive bikes tend to have a longer range.
How long to charge an e-bike?
It will take 3-6 hours to fully charge the battery depending on which charger you have and the charge state of the battery.
Who would benefit from an e-bike?
If you have some physical issues which make pedaling a regular bike difficult, an electric bike can be a great option. Also, great if you love riding but there are just too many hills in your area, some pedal assist will be very helpful to keep you out there. Another benefit is speed if the bike is a main form of transportation for you. You can get to your destination faster if you have to get to work or have an appointment.
Most of the bike paths around here state no motorized vehicles. This would lead one to believe e-bikes aren’t welcome on those trails. The rules are different based on your state and even the individual trail. In Wisconsin e-bikes aren’t welcome on most mountain bike trails. On other trails they are welcome, but you can only go 15 miles per hour. If your electric motor isn’t engaged, you’re allowed on all trails. I think the rules will continue to change as they become more popular and what class you buy may affect legality on trails.
Recognizing an e-bike
They are generally pretty easy to pick out because the battery is on the downtube. If it’s not a super visible battery, the downtube will just be abnormally big.
Most e-bikes at the bike shop are $1,400 up to $14,000. On Amazon you can find them for as low as around $400. There are also conversion kits for regular bikes which start around $300 after buying the battery and everything you will need.
E-bikes are significantly heavier than regular bikes. The weight range is from around 27lbs for a road bike to 77lbs for a fat bike. Most hybrid versions are around 55lbs and mountain bikes around 38lbs.
As somebody who gets a lot of rides in, I’m a little concerned about safety out there with all these e-bikes. I see a lot of people who aren’t following the rules of the roads and trails on their bikes. Regularly I see people riding on the wrong side of the road which would be a much bigger problem if they were going 20-28 mph. Right now, when I see them, they are generally going slower giving me time to react to what they are doing. Would be really dangerous if I made a right turn into somebody going 28 mph riding on the wrong side of the road. You just don’t look for fast moving vehicles going against traffic when you turn. Many trails around here are winding, and you can’t see too far ahead, not good for fast speeds. Now even unexperienced riders can easily go very fast now. So, this could become another limitation if accidents start to happen, and more rules are put in place.
Mid drive vs hub drive
The motor is either where the crank is, or it is a hub in the wheel. Conversion kits are always hub driven. Mid drive bikes tend to be more expensive, but many think provide a better feel and more consistent power. Hub drives often have a throttle and can be in the front or rear wheel.
Cannondale Adventure Neo Allroad starting at $1,675
Electra Cruiser Go! starting at $1,399.99
Electra Townie Go! starting at $1,699.99
Giant Roam E+ starting at $2,475
Specialized Turbo Como starting at $1,999.99
Trek Allant+ starting at $3,799.99
Trek Dual Sport+ starting at $2,399.99
Trek Verve+ starting at $2,849.99
Cannondale Moterra Neo starting at $4,550
Giant Talon E+ starting at $2,300
Specialized Turbo Levo starting at $4,499.99
Trek Powerfly starting at $3,649.99
Cannondale Topstone Neo starting at $3,625
Giant Fastroad E+ starting at $3,870
Specialized Turbo Creo starting at $4,499.99
Trek Domane+ starting at $3,499.99
I recently had an opportunity to ride my neighbors Velotric Discover e-bike. He really likes it and is happy with his purchase. It is the step-thru model which fits riders 5′,1″ to 6′,4″. It is a class 2 with pedal assist and a throttle. It has quite a bit of boost when you get going, pretty fun to ride and easy to go fast. Top speed is 20 mph with up to 25 unlockable. I think he must have it unlocked as going over 20 mph was pretty easy. Suggested retail price for these is $1599, so a more budget friendly option.
A friend of mine recently bought a Wing e-bike. He ordered it online, so it was shipped to him. Worked briefly for him and then had some battery issue. I guess they sent him something to fix it, but he hasn’t gotten in fixed yet. Buying online can be a bit risky.