Bicycles are a great way to get around, whether popping up to the shop to buy some things, beating the traffic in the commute to work or as a way to site see. The theory often falters at the first minor hill and fails at a major hill.
This is where electric bikes come the rescue. If you have seen electric bikes in the past, they were either electric mopeds with pedals for emergencies or converted bicycles that resulted in much the same thing. This has all changed with the growing popularity of power assisted electric bikes.
Power assist bikes are designed and build like regular bicycles except there is a motor that provides assistance when you pedal. You can't just sit back and let the motor do all the work, but you will receive an extra push as you pedal. It is a great way to cover longer distances for minimum effort or take on hills with ease.
Older models used to just simply kick in with the power when you started pedaling. Modern eBikes use torque sensors to measure your pedaling and provide power in proportion to your effort. This provide a smooth and easy ride fully under your control. Electric bicycles usually have several power settings and a full range of gears to assist your cycling.
Uses of electric bicycles
There are bicycles for all occasions. The most popular reason to buy an electric bicycle is as a car replacement. Many households are selling the second car and using a bicycle instead. They definitely be a great to get to work and around town.
A popular reason to get on an electric bicycle is tourism. I love touring an area on two wheels. However it can make for a very tiring day even if you are fairly fit. An electric bicycle can take you around much more easily.
There are even fold up ones that are perfect if you work in an office where there is little room to park a bicycle. However there are other uses for folding bicycles. One person in Perth runs a car hire business, so he delivers the car and then pulls the bicycle out of the boot and ride back to the yard.
One of the main hassles of electric bicycles is that they are still a little heavy. Weights range from 15 kg for the lightest and up to 30 for some models, but typically most electric bikes weigh around 20 to 22 kg. They can be a challenge if you have to carry them up stairs or lift them into a car.
Another limitation is speed. Power assisted bicycles are required to have a limit on the speed. So the fastest you can go with power is 25 km an hour. When you go faster the power will cut off and you will need to maintain the speed under your own power. Of course this is a nice cruising speed and what you really want anyways is help accelerating or taking on hills.
Another issue is range. Most eBikes have a range of around 100 km, though smaller bikes have a much shorter range while the tourers are designed to go further. How far you can go will depend on the power settings you use and then terrain. Mountainous areas are likely to reduce to 60 km for less, while my own testing has shown that if you are riding on flat paths you might even be able to double that distance. Of course you can always carry spare batteries and a full recharge takes only 3 to 4 hours..
Get on an electric bicycle today
A typical mid prices electric bicycle is between $2,000 and $3,000. There are cheaper models, conversion kits and bicycles heading up in the direction of $10,000. While these prices might seem excessive, your total savings in terms of registration, insurance, fuel and parking costs put you way ahead.
Personal Experience on eBikes
I recently had a chance to put an electric bike to the test, doing a 50 km loop with my friend on 2 eBikes from Electric Bikes Brisbane.
Now I have done this journey on my regular bicycle and the hills at the start and end of the journey are real killers (especially at the end). On the eBikes it was like there really weren't any hills at all. While I am not in the market for commuting to work on a bicycle at the moment, myself and my friend enjoyed riding the bicycles so much, we are thinking now about which city we can tour next on electric bikes.