Electric Bikes FAQs
Let’s Talk E-Bikes
Electric bikes are a great form of transportation and recreation. They provide all the advantages of a regular bicycle: exercise, free parking, zero emissions, and freedom from gridlock. All this while eliminating one of the bicycle’s more serious drawbacks: a lack of power.
Imagine pedaling up a hill as easy as you would while riding downhill; that's what the e-bike experience is all about. In the city, riding an electric bike could be faster and cheaper than either a car or public transit. An e-bike is essentially a regular bicycle with an electric motor to provide additional assistance. You can pedal normally and just use the motor to help out on hills and headwinds, or use the motor all the time just to make riding easier.
The experience is entirely different from riding a gas scooter or motorbike. Here the electric assistance is smooth and silent; it complements, rather than replaces, human power.
Learn more about all things e-bike and visit us today for a demo.
How fast can an e-bike go?By law, an e-bike cannot exceed 20 mph under motor power alone. All e-bikes conform to this regulation. Some e-bike can get up to 28 mph with rider's pedaling using pedal assist, but will not continue to assist above 28 MPH. The bottom line is you can pedal an e-bike and make it go as fast as any other bike.
How far can an e-bike go?That depends on terrain (flat or hilly), rider weight, tire pressure, rider input, and the wind. Under normal conditions, you can expect 20 to 40 miles per charge for the average e-bike. Some models even offer external battery range extenders.
How long does it take to charge an e-bike battery?Depending on battery capacity and charger output, batteries will take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to charge. Li-Ion batteries take 70% of their charge in the first 1 to 2 hours.
How much do electric bikes weigh?The average cruiser or mountain bike weighs approximately 25 pounds. An e-bike, with the addition of a lightweight motor, battery, controls, and wiring, typically weighs about 40 pounds. Some newer models such as the S-Works Turbo Creo come in even as light as 27 pounds! But, even at 40 pounds, the pedal assist system makes the ride seem effortless and smooth, negating the effort that would be required to manually power a heavier bike without the assistance of a motor.
Does an electric bike need to be maintained?The batteries should not be stored in extreme temperatures and if inactive, the batteries should be charged every 90 days. You can ride in all conditions that you would ride a bike in (but we don't recommend riding under water).
Can you ride an e-bike in the rain?Most e-bike motors and batteries are made to withstand moderate moisture. Conditions like rain and puddles should pose no problems. However, we do not suggest submerging your electric bike’s motor or battery in water as this could cause serious damage.
Who are e-bikes for?
- Maturing riders who would like a little extra boost on every ride
- Cyclists who would ride to work but don't due to lack of showers or changing facilities
- Urban commuters
- Families who want to ride together
- RV and camping enthusiasts
Do e-bikes need insurance?For most states, no. Since laws regarding licensing and registration differ from state to state, the requirements for insurance differs as well. Check your state laws and transportation requirements to be sure.
Do e-bikes have throttles?Some models do have throttles. Throttles can help to get you moving and can keep you going. Throttles cut out at a maximum of 20 MPH. Most models we carry will be pedal assist, providing smoother engagement and more control.
How important is e-bike motor wattage?Motor wattage is only part of the story. What you are looking for is the proper engineering to give you the appropriate balance of battery and motor power for the bike you choose.
Which e-bike should I get?There are almost as many types of e-bike options as there are conventional bike options. This allows you to pick the model that fits your preferred riding style and activity level. These include cruisers, commuter/urban, and mountain bikes. Our knowledgeable staff can help you pick the right one for you.
Which e-bike motor is best for me?
To best address this question, it helps to look at your riding needs and the type of drive system; hub or mid drive. You will benefit from a 500W motor if:
- You live in a hilly/mountainous area and you wish to have a lot of torque and power to glide up hills
- You plan to do little or no pedaling, instead relying more on the electric-only throttle
- You would like to have the ability to increase the top speed up to 25 mph (in off-road mode only!)
- Rider weight is over 200 lbs.
You should find the 250W motor enough for your needs if:
- You live in a hilly area
- You plan to use the motor to complement your own power when you need a boost or feel tired
- You still plan to pedal the bulk of the time
- Rider weight is under 200 lbs
As you’d expect, 500W offers more power but generally costs more. A 250W configuration works great for most people. Coupled with a mid drive system, it can deliver more torque than a hub motor.
People looking to use “throttle-only” mode more frequently, looking to go faster on hills and simply looking for more acceleration should consider the 500W option.
The assisted top speed of both bikes is limited to 20 mph–per Federal regulations–and the 500w versions are able to meet this speed with little pedaling effort. Keep in mind that actual speeds depend on conditions such as terrain and rider weight.
What is the difference between e-bike mid drive and hub drive motors?
HUB MOTORS: Most wheel-mounted motors are hub-type motors. These motors sit in the center of the rear wheel and drive that wheel directly. The hub motor’s axle is held in the rear dropouts, and its shell is spun by the internal motor.
A hub motor is independent of any bicycle drivetrain components (cranks, derailleur, or cassette). This configuration is usually less expensive.
Hub motors are further classified by whether they are direct drive or geared. Geared motors have internal planetary reduction gearing. They give high torque at low speeds and free-wheel without any drag.
Direct drive motors generally reach higher speeds than geared motors. They are also quieter and can be rated for higher wattage. They also produce less torque, especially at low speeds. They also have some inherent drag when freewheeling.
MID-DRIVE MOTORS: Centrally mounted motors add power to the bike’s normal drivetrain by driving the chainwheel. These “mid drive” systems are ideal for off-road applications because of their high torque, and lower overall weight compared to a hub motor. Since they integrate with the bicycle’s standard drivetrain, center drive motors require more interaction from the rider than a hub motor does. The rider must shift the bicycle’s chain into the proper gear for a given situation: high gear for speed, low gear for torque. This extra rider effort is paid back by a system that is able to excel in a wide variety of terrain.
What impact do e-bikes have on trails?
As electric mountain bikes, EMTB, are beginning to gain more frequent use, studies are being done on their impact on trail and land usage. The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is a great resource for this continuing research. https://www.imba.com/resources/emtb-management
Are electric bikes street legal?
DISCLAIMER: We do not offer the following information as legal advice. Since legislation is always changing, please refer to federal, state, and local laws in regards to electric bicycle usage.
Federal e-bike legislation was signed into effect in December 2002. Succinctly it:
- Amends the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) to provide that low-speed electric bicycles are consumer products and shall be subject to Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations.
- Declares that this Act supersedes any State law or requirement regarding such vehicles more stringent than Federal law or requirements.
- States that, for purposes of Federal motor vehicle safety standards, a low-speed electric bicycle as defined by CPSA shall not be considered to be a motor vehicle within the ambit of Federal transportation law. Full text is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-bill/727 Federal Definition refined by the CPSC
- ‘low speed electric bicycle’ means a two or three wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph. PeopleForBikes is working with the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (BPSA) and International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) to develop model legislation for state use. Currently the focus is on California and New York since they have the largest concentration of users. IMBA is also studying the effects of e-mountain bikes on trails and environment comparative to non-electric mountain bikes and should have a draft report and recommendations complete by winter 2015.
For a full listing of states legislation as of November 2016, click http://e-bike.research.pdx.edu/content/e-bike-laws-state-and-province