Electric powered bikes, bicycles with motors Stories about electric bikes, powered bicycles

6May/107

buying an eBike – doing the research first

I (Joe) recently became interested in ebikes, have done some extensive research, and finally bought a commercial model on which I’ve put a few hundred miles in the last two weeks. I’ll provide a review of that bike shortly, but first wanted to collect some more general thoughts on ebikes which I’ve consolidated from my research, personal experience, and a good dose of engineering basics. I’m certain almost everything I discuss here has been stated better and more thoughtfully elsewhere, so please forgive my repetition and perhaps naive thoughts. I will say, I think I would have found this type of write-up helpful to me early-on, and hope this discussion may help other potential new ebike riders as well.

So, if you’re like me, the idea of an ebike is appealing. Gas prices are up, “green” transportation is in, and bike commuting has a number of distinct advantages over other forms. Personally, I’ve been a bike commuter for about 3 years now. My regular job is outside Santa Fe, NM, and I have a decent enough means to bike commute about 10 months out of the year, with snow and weather leaving a few weeks for the car. Of course, bike commuting entails other compromises, such as the difficulty in accommodating “business” clothes, “helmet” hair, inclement weather, and of course, safety. As experienced bike commuters known, there’s pretty good solutions to most of these issues, with equipment, planning, and setting realistic expectations all playing a role.

eZee Cadence

eBike, bicycle with electric assist motor

The appeal of an ebike to me is the ability to commute a bit farther, to eliminate the more difficult portions of my commute and arrive “sweat free”, to perhaps save a bit of time, and to allow farther in-day trips from my main work site to various other locales at my employer (which is spread over 43 square miles, I often need to travel to more remote sites where I work). As important, is what an ebike for me wasn’t. It’s not a replacement for a motorcycle. I didn’t want to travel long distances just punching a throttle. I wanted this to be mostly bike with the added benefit of power assist. Taking my bike on public transport, into my office via an elevator, parking with other bikes, etc. are all important.

So, how does this lengthy preamble relate to choosing an ebike? If you read the ebike forums, there’s a near-obsession with specific characteristics of these bikes such as top speed, weight, and perhaps most prominent, range and battery capacity. Naturally, everyone has a list of requirements and desires that they want their bike to meet. At the top of many lists are reliability, range, light weight, top speed, and of course, low cost and maintenance. This wish list quickly runs head-on into the reality of engineering and design. You quickly discover there’s no one perfect bike that does it all. Some of the better ebike retailers start with a very good list of questions to help determine a customers desires. Given this, they can direct you toward a particular system, design, or model.

I stated many of my desires above. Considering my criteria, it was clear that a pedal-assist application is the way to go. The engineering analysis of pedal assist is itself a fascinating topic. In order to appreciate the benefits of pedal-assist, and of ebikes more generally, I found it enormously helpful to discuss and understand some specific characteristics of the most important motor on the ebike. No, not the electric hub, but YOU. Your power output and contribution to propulsion, and understanding the highly non-linear nature of that power output, is actually the key to understanding why pedal-assist is such an attractive option. So, if you’ll forgive my diversion here, I’d like to discuss a few elements of human power output.

You and I consume energy just by living. A resting person weighing 150 pounds has a metabolic rate of about 70 Watts (W). Light activity such as walking and just doing your day to day thing without exertion bumps this up to about 100-125 W. That’s just how our bodies have evolved in our environment. As you start to exert yourself, you spend more energy. This relationship is highly nonlinear. A moderate workout, in which you get your heart rate up and sweat quite a bit, has a total power output of about 200 to 250 W. Tour de France riders with years of special training, nutrition, and conditioning can sustain power outputs of 400 to 500 W for hours on end. You and I, not so much. Over about 300 W, and we’ll tire pretty quickly. So, 100 W is literally “no sweat”, while that next 100 W isn’t nearly as easy. It’s this nonlinear relation between exertion and power output that makes a pedal-assist ebike so attractive.

The goal is to transmit efficient power into the bike. As a rider, you can contribute a nice, healthy 50-100 W (on top of your metabolic 70-90 W) for a very long time, and you won’t notice this as much exertion. These should be the “first Watts” that the bike sees. It just so happens, that pedaling a bike on level ground in no wind requires roughly 100 W to sustain a speed of roughly 25 km/hr. This is the level that most folks would see as “easy” without much exertion. Of course, add a headwind, or hills, or a higher speed, and things quickly turn against you. Further, starts and stops require quite a bit of extra energy, too. Nearly every rider knows this intuitively without the engineering degree, and this helps to explain why bikers don’t particularly like to stop if they can help it, safety be damned.

Now, let’s consider a throttle-only, no pedal ebike versus a pedal assist. If your goal is to get long range with much less exertion on your part, the numbers quickly tell the story of why pedal-assist is so attractive. Remember that 100W figure for sustained 25 km/hr on level ground? At the theoretical limit, a throttle-only vehicle would last about 3 hours with a typical 36V, 10 Amp-hr battery pack (360 W-Hr), whereas a pedal-assist wouldn’t be contributing at all, and would have infinite range, since the rider is providing that first 100 W. Now, this is all theoretical. In practice, hills, starts/stops, the efficiency of your bike and motor, etc. quickly degrade these numbers. More typically, that throttle-only bike with a 360 W-hr battery may have a range of 30-40 km in total. Conversely, a good pedal-assist system in practical use on level ground driven in a way so that you don’t exert can have a range on order 80-90 km or even more.

And it’s the deviations from this ideal ride where pedal assist becomes so appealing. Take hills, for example. The added power to crest that hill can be contributed by the battery, so you don’t have to exert. You’re not constantly climbing during your ride (well, for most rides that is), and the addition of power assist as the last Watts added is what provides that marvelous ability to extend range, open up a whole-new way of biking, and achieve the near-nirvana of long-range, reliability, ease, and (relatively) low cost for an ebike. (And BTW, some studies have shown that the more constant exertion of steady, light exercise may be as beneficial as other forms. Pedal assist hybrid on ebike indeed may be a have-your-cake and eat-it-too proposition when it comes to fitness.)
Ok, so the previous is basically an engineering discussion of ebike propulsion. How does it work in practice and how can you use this understanding to maximize your ebike experience? A couple of things are important right up front, namely, speed and acceleration. Most folks want more speed, its only natural. Unfortunately, things quickly turn against you as you go faster from an energy management standpoint. Top of the list is drag. Drag increases as the square of your speed. Given that most of your energy (on flat ground) goes to moving the air out of the way, this gets ugly quick. If you’re willing to go a little slower, you have the enormous payoff of greatly extending your range. From a practical standpoint, 30 km/hr or so (19 mph) feels about right to me as a nice compromise between speed and efficiency. Others will balance this differently. It just so happens that 32 km/hr is codified in US law as well. At first, I wanted that super-fast ebike that did it all. After spending some time on my current bike, I’ve come to the conclusion that a moderate speed really is best, not only for efficiency, but for safety as well.

Ditto acceleration. My ebike (Trek Valencia+ with the Bionx system) has a 27-speed drive-train which I thought was ridiculous at first, since I could easily keep this in the lowest gear, and just let the motor pull me away from stops. It turns out, this is really bad energy management practice. Hard acceleration is inefficient and sucks tons of precious amps from your battery (just look at the meter on a Bionx system). I’ve come to realize that those extra low gears on the Valencia are actually very useful. Now, I down-shift at stops most of the time, and take just a bit longer to get up to speed, with the Bionx system providing more of a gentle nudge than full-on zippiness. Of course, that zippiness is there is you want it, or when time or safety require. The payoff in backing away from jack-rabbit starts is greatly extended range.

I rode the Critical Mass ride this Friday in San Francisco on the ebike, including some substantial distance to/from the event (yes, I mentioned my job was in New Mexico; I’m spending the year in the Bay Area on another assignment). I got about 50 miles out of the Trek/Bionx system, and had a grand time. Trek worked with Bionx and changed a number of factors in the Bionx system, some of which I think are not well-understood by the ebike crowd, including a change in battery voltage and capacity.

So, I’ve written a tome as a first post. Please forgive this. My goal was to pass along some of the things I learned in my research leading up to my first ebike kit purchase. More experienced folks here will no-doubt correct errors or offer additional points, which I look forward to.

Joe M.

25Feb/092

Electric bicycles, alternative to cars?

Second and third cars for a family are becoming obsolete with the skyrocketing costs of auto insurance and gasoline.  Many families are looking for alternatives to having a second or third car and electric bicycles are being viewed as a great alternative.

Electric bicycles offer you the ability to get to where you need to go quickly, safely and economically - a winning combination!  Electric bicycles are much more efficient and cost-effective as compared to cars and even motorcycles.

Electric super bikes as some would call them can either assist you with your trip by offering 50% of the legwork (power assist models) or can whisk you to wherever you need to go as you steer (power-on-demand models).  Electric bike kits can even turn an existing bike into an electric bicycle by adding a conversion kit for an electric bike.

Electric bicycles have improved in terms of technology to the point where they are far more economical than even the hybrid vehicles on the market.  The long-life of electric bicycles and the mere pennies it costs to recharge the battery make electric bicycles a far more economical choice for anyone commuting to work, school or anywhere else you need to go.

A commuter bicycle made in commuter heaven - electric bicycles are a great choice for people in small or large cities around the globe.  It is easy to travel into work on electric bicycles and you can even buy a folding electric bicycle so you can be assured to be able to take your bicycle into the office, gym, house or anywhere you want to store it rather than leaving it outside.

Electric bicycles are also safer for the environment than any car or hybrid vehicle.  Electric bicycles have become very popular with many families looking for alternatives to second or third vehicles.  In fact there are likely more electric bicycles on the road than you may realize.

Electric bicycles do not necessarily stick out any more than traditional bicycles.  With electric bike kits, for example, you can convert almost any bike into an electric bike.  But, before you rush out to order a conversion kit for an electric bike you want to make sure that your bike can be converted - there are some models that may not be able to be converted for one reason or another.

Most bike shops will let you know if your bike can become an electric bike or not and some will even do the conversion for you and test it so you know your electric bike kit was set up right.

Today's economy almost demands that people find alternative means of transportation other than buying 2nd or 3rd cars.  Electric bicycles have been seen as one of the safest and most economical alternatives to traditional cars and even hybrid cars.

Rather than spend thousands of dollars per year on insurance and skyrocketing gas prices you can get where you need to go by selecting on of the electric bicycles on the market.

12Oct/080

Alternative to Mass Transportation

Mass transit is wonderful and horrible all at the same time.  Every major city and many smaller cities have elaborate mass transit systems.  Though some cities boast terrific mass transit systems they are still not the ultimate form of transportation.

Many commuters complain of long lines, over-crowded buses, trains and subway, as well as long waits for a bus, subway or train to come.  These same commuters feel compelled to use mass transit because they need an economic means of transportation that is quick enough to get through the traffic found in most cities.

Electric bikes are a great way to get around any city or metro-area.  Electric bikes can make mass transportation a thing of the past for you.

Whether you are looking for new forms of transportation that are faster, or because you want a safer means of transportation or a more economical one - electric bikes may be the answer to your prayers.

Anyone living in a major city knows that traffic is always a nightmare.  Subways usually provide the fasted transportation.  Smelly, steamy, over-crowded subway platforms are sometimes unsafe, unsanitary and unwelcome.  The option for many people is either take a car, cab or walk.

A car in a major city is usually more of a liability than an assistance.  Cab fares are expensive and walking is not always an option.  An electric powered bike is a great alternative that many people do not even realize exists.

Electric bikes are efficient and cost-effective making them a great means of transportation.  Rather than waiting for a bus or subway you can be on your way quickly and easily to wherever you need to go.

If you live in the suburbs you may consider electric mountain bikes - or perhaps that is your best option because the streets in your city are not all that you wish them to be.  Electric motor bikes are a great alternative to expensive, crowded trains and subways.

Electric bikes come in various types and styles and this website explains them all.  For those looking for an alternate to mass transit but are concerned with leaving their bicycle unattended to, folding electric bikes may be the perfect solution because you can take them in with you and easily store them virtually anywhere.

People in major cities around the world have been looking for ways to avoid mass transportation.  Some feel mass transportation is not convenient enough, others feel mass transportation is not safe enough, while others think mass transportation is not economical enough.

Electric bikes are a great way to solve any and all of these problems.  People across the world who live or work in major cities, or commute moderate distances to and from work or school have found that electric bikes offer greater flexibility, more dependability, safer and more economical transportation than mass transit systems.

Rather than complain about buses, subways and trains you can put all those problems behind you by buying a reliable electric bike.

"What if I only have a mile or two to travel, and I'm looking for something electric that is light-weight and portable, something that's smaller than a bike?" Then it sounds like you should think about choosing an electric scooter. An electric motorized scooter is no electric bike, but more than suitable for basic travel needs. "What if I don't even need it to be electric? I just want something very small and light!" Then it sounds like you're in the market for a kick scooter (check out the Xootr kick scooter, as seen in 'Little Manhattan.')

25Jul/071

How to Fit Electric Bikes into Your Lifestyle

Do you have a lifestyle of always being on the go or do you have a passion for the outdoors? If you answered yes to either of these questions, owning an electric bike would bring you a feeling of contentment.

Advantages of Owning an Electric Bicycle

Electric powered bikes are a sure way to maneuver around a crowded area. Sitting in traffic jams can be eliminated by riding an electric bicycle because you will have access to routes that cars and motorcycles can not reach. You would also have extra spending money from the savings you will acquire on gasoline, car maintenance, and insurance.

Owning an electric bike enables you to run errands in a shorter period of time and less cost. An electric bike is ideal for the person who has no license. One great factor of the electric bike is that it reduces air pollution. The bikes are one of the most cost effective and convenient ways of transportation today.

Electric Motor Bike for Exercising

You are probably saying, How can I get exercise by riding an electric bicycle?

An electric powered bicycle enables the rider to pedal, but with little effort. The rider can climb hills more easily and travel a longer distance. Riding in the fresh air will make you feel invigorating and will strengthen your muscles without making them ache.

Electric Bicycles for Work

Using your electric bike for commuting back and forth to work will help to clear your mind and make you feel good all day. If you are riding your electric bike to work, you will not have to worry about the issue of sweating like you did on a regular bike. You will be going faster on the electric bike and this keeps the wind chill effect greater, thus keeping you cool. When the weather is hot, you can maintain a normal speed by letting the electric motor take over. In cold weather, you can turn the motor off.

Once you have arrived at work, you will have a few minutes to relax because of the time saved by not having to ride the bus or go through the hassle of searching for a parking space.

Electric Bikes are Great for Any Lifestyle

Remember, riding an electric bike gives you the freedom to wave at your neighbors, find a convenient parking place, and enjoy the special moments in life such as rain drops hitting your face or the wind blowing your hair. Choose an electric bike to suit your lifestyle and enjoy

To learn more about the electric bike please visit the web site at: http://www.nycewheels.com/

21Apr/072

eBike

The ebike is a specific electric bike manufactured by EV Global motors. The ebike is a name brand for an electric bike that is very popular. Though the ebike is a 5 year old design, it still is one of the best performing ebikes.

Since there is some confusion about the ebike, or e-bike, or electric bike, etc., it is important to clarify some of that.
An e-bike is a short term used for an electric bike. There are a number of different manufacturers and many different models of e-bikes or electric bikes. If you are specifically looking for an ebike or eBike from EV Global Motors give the folks at NYCeWheels a ring. They stock the eBike SX and the new Enviro - both using the Heinzmann motors.

If you are looking for ebike reviews, or ebike parts than you can look through our resources page to find appropriate links for these.
In terms of the eBike (the company that makes electric bikes), these German made electric bicycles are well designed and well made. The powerful ebike electric bikes are popular because they offer powerful, reliable and efficient transportation.

There is a 36 volt eBike SX which is a high performance machine that many electric bike fans consider one of the finest electric bicycles made.

Today, the term "ebike"; or "e-bike" is more commonly used as a short-hand for an electric bike. It is a good idea to make sure you understand this so you are not confused.

If you are specifically looking for an eBike model, rather than a different make or model of electric bike than you will want to clarify that with the retailer.

The better retailers will obviously know the difference between an "eBike" (manufacturer) and an "e-bike" or "ebike" a generic term used to define electric bikes, so finding a reputable and knowledgeable retailer is always your best bet to ensure you are getting the right ebike.

11Jan/074

A healthy choice, the electric bike

Electric bicycles are excellent ideas to help you improve your health, lose weight and get in shape.  Exercise is the key to improving your health and losing weight according to many leading publications. Electric bikes are a fun way to do so. Electric bikes are easy to use and easy to pedal: electric bikes are easy bikes, which means that you can ease yourself into your workout routine in a non-intimidating way. If you're just looking for something to ride like a motorcycle, however, you need to ask yourself if an electric bike is appropriate for your needs. Electric bikes are about augmenting human power, not replacing it, which is what makes them great exercise tools.

Almost every diet program includes an exercise program and bike riding is a great form of exercise.  Riding your bike to and from work, to and from school, to and from the grocery store, or just around town can provide great healthy benefits.

Since many people are not in the shape they would like to be in it is always a good idea to start your exercise program slowly and build up stamina.  Electric bicycles are a great way to build up your stamina and improve your health.

There are two schools of thought about how electric bicycles can improve your health, and help you get into shape and lose weight.

You can either buy a power-on-demand (gear activated electric bike) or a power-assist (pedal-activated electric bike) to help you lose weight - each of these types of electric bicycles have their pluses and minuses.

Some people prefer the power-on-demand electric bicycles because it gives them the confidence to start riding their bike and getting into shape because they know at any point if they begin to struggle they can click on the power and be brought back to their home or other starting point.

By using these gear activated electric bicycles you can be assured that even if you lose steam and are at the tail-end of your stamina you will be able to get back to where you need to go because the bicycle can do the work for you.

Other people prefer the power-assist electric bicycles.  These electric bikes do about 50% of the work for you so you can lose weight and build up stamina by gradually building up the distances you travel, knowing that the electric bike is doing about half of the work for you - this is great for people who are not as concerned with stamina but still need that extra assistance as they work towards getting into better shape.

As you build up your stamina you can start traveling longer distances in order to improve your health, get into better shape and lose weight.

Many diets, including every leading diet in the industry will include some form of exercise.  Many doctors and medical experts agree that riding a bike is a great form of exercise.  It is always a good idea to consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

You may even want to discuss electric bicycles with your doctor so they understand how the electric bike can help you, especially for those just starting an exercise program.

Electric bicycles are a great way to have fun while getting into better shape, losing weight and improving your overall health.