Buying a conventional bike is easy as you have many options in the market under different price ranges. But when it comes to buying an electric bike, you have limited options, and the complex working mechanism of an electric bike makes it a bit tricky to choose the right e-bike for your needs. A proper understanding of how an electric bike works makes buying an electric bike easy. Read on as this article will shed light on the key points you need to consider before buying an electric bike.
The reason Buy an Electric Bike?
Electric bikes offer the same great benefits as conventional bikes, including cost savings because there is no license or insurance required, increased well-being, and a connection to the community.
In my opinion, the real advantage of an electric bike is the efficiency of going up hills or wind and better range. For example, if you have knee pain or exercise-induced asthma, an electric bike can breathe new life into cycling. They could convince your friends or partner to join you more often, or they could allow you to commute in extreme heat without breaking a sweat. I've had cars and mopeds before, but neither were as safe or refreshing as biking down neighborhood trails away from traffic.
Electric bikes remove many of the obstacles and challenges that people face with traditional pedal bikes, but they are not perfect. They can be expensive, complicated and heavy, which can be a real headache if the battery dies halfway.
How about the speed of an E-bike?
In fact, most low-speed electric bikes don't go over 20 mph on the motor alone. You can always pedal faster than that or go down steep hills, but federal regulations limit this top speed in exchange for being classified as a "bicycle." Some compromises have recently been made, so pedal-assist electric bikes can achieve assists of about 28 miles per hour, but only if the rider pedals strictly. There is a similar electric bicycle in Europe called 'high-speed electric bicycle'and it has become popular among commuters.
Note, however, that the efficiency drops off significantly as the rider accelerates due to drag. That is ‘forces acting opposite to the relative motion of any object moving with respect to a surrounding fluid’ or in this case air. The power required to propel an object through a fluid increases with the cube of its speed, and 'air resistance' is roughly proportional to the square of the speed.
In a word, when you go over 15mph on an electric bike, resistance really starts to drop to the point where you can get it, so speed comes at a high price!
What's the Range on a Charge?
A good rule of thumb is to divide watt hours by 20. So electric bike batteries have voltage and amp hours, and currently in the US, a typical battery has 52 volts of power and 15 amp hours capacity, for a total of 780 watts per hour. If we divide 780 by 20, we get 39 miles. Considering the difference between a throttle-only and pedal-assist e-bike, the 39 is in fact a flat that can be raised as the rider provides pedaling power to the system or uses a different drive system.
For example, rear hub motor electric bikes can benefit from rear-wheel drive and gears, which drive the electric motor for greater efficiency. Just like you want to downshift when you're climbing, the motor and these rear hub systems also provide this flexibility as they pull the bike chain with you. I've seen some fat tire electric bikes that have the same '780 watt-hour' battery capacity and go 50miles per charge. This is amazing to me.
How about the price?For traditional electric bikes, prices vary and can be shocking at first...so get ready for a surprise! Prices start at around $1,000, but a recent crowdfunding campaign garnered a lot of attention by offering a base model for $500 plus $200 for shipping.
My feeling is that $900 is the lowest level worth exploring right now. I've seen too many dissatisfied customers who bought online and are now struggling to fix throttling or looking for a replacement battery pack because the batteries they got were so poor quality. There have even been some fires when cheap batteries were damaged and there was no proper electronic management system to prevent overcharging. In the upper echelons of the e-bike world, there are products that sell for over $50,000, but these are almost like works of art.
Therefore, the recommended price of electric bicycles is around $2000. At the same time, because of the competition among brands in the electric bicycle market, the price and quality of electric bicycles are becoming more and more matched. A rising brand Magicycle at the price of $1589 would be an example. Eager to cut into the line of the market, which has the best price for one e-bike of good quality.
In comments from different media, I often see people upset about the high price of electric bikes, claiming that used cars will be cheaper... permits and parking. Electric cars and bicycles are not investments, they are tools or toys whose value depreciates with use, and their true value depends largely on the environment and the task at hand or the recreational preferences of the owner.
For example, if you live on a highway and commute 30 miles a day to work, an electric bike might not be a great tool. What I am saying is consider renting an apartment close to where you work and get an electric bike!
Basically, from today's fuel cost perspective, an electric bike is about three times less expensive to operate than a car. In addition to user operating expenses, they are also less costly in terms of negative externalities because they do not cause pollution. Electric bikes are great, but so are cars, and even if autonomous electric vehicles replace the cost of ownership and reduce pollution, bikes are still a great value... and why not have assisted bikes?
Of course all options depend on your needs. It's really not a problem, with electric bikes, cars or traditional bikes, we can still ride together and have fun!