Just like everyone has a preferred fashion, the same goes for selecting the right bike. How far do your have to travel? Is it by road? Offroad? Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so the bike must accommodate the requirements of the rider and his or her environment.
If you live in the city, a bike with smooth tread for the least amount of resistance and maximum speed is ideal. Riding off road or in the bush will demand a thick frame with shocks and big tires to handle the mud and rough terrain.
Some bikes are heavy and good for beating up on the trail, while others are light and agile. The personality of the rider usually judges the selection process. Someone that wants to get from point A to point B without breaking a sweat should get a fully powered scooter or motorcycle.
One who loves to pedal until the lactic acid is burning like an inferno will pick a super light and tight cyclocross bike for maximum speed. Are your a chill cruiser or a speeding bullet? This should paint the picture in your head clearly of what your are looking for. I am going to run through all the variables and possibilities which should give your more insight on getting the best electric bike.
More speed, or better Range?
Depending on the combined weight of you and the bike, your battery’s lifespan will be different from another person who is lighter or heavier. Most power assisted bikes come with a lithium battery that puts out power efficiently and lasts longer than a traditional lead acid battery, so your can be assured that the power settings will be consistent with the output.
A lead acid battery is still powerful but looses its charge faster than a lithium battery. It also weighs more, so factoring that into the weight to power ratio should also be considered.
It does not matter what type of battery your use if your crank the throttle up to maximum power the entire time your use the bike. This will drain the battery quicker, and if your fully deplete the battery its lifespan will be greatly affected. I had my batteries replaced once because of this.
If your gradually use power and maintain a constant speed, this will increase the battery’s range and prevent over-draining of power. Feeling out the limits of your electric bike is a good idea, but do not excessively crank it up or your will be facing a replacement for the battery and any other parts that were fried sooner than later. Taking care of your battery and proper maintenance will prolong its life and the bike as well.
Safety and Design
A small and lightweight bike will fair just fine with regular caliper brakes, lines and levers. While a heavier, larger bike will require an upgrade in stopping power.
Good quality brakes are just as important as the power plant whirring the bike down the road. Scooters and motorcycles have signals and lights that illuminate the surroundings, so if your commute at night one of these options may be better than the regular bike with smaller lights and reflectors. It makes sense to get a bike that comes with these features to maximize visibility and overall safety for all users sharing the road.
Some electric bikes come with a built in alarm system. I highly recommend these since they will attract attention to anyone trying to steal your bike. While the bike may also have a steering lock, it would be wise to invest in a good wheel or U lock to make it harder for criminals to succeed in making off with your wheels. My bike was saved thanks to this combination and I was able to call the police from a safe distance to apprehend the thief.
Maintenance and Upgrades
As your use your bike, odd are that parts will need to be replaced if not completely upgraded. Riders that like to go fast tend to burn through a battery faster than one who takes it easy and keeps the throttle down. Your bike may start off with a lead acid battery and your want more power, a lithium battery upgrade is the choice to make to achieve higher output and range.
Here is my checklist for proper upkeep of your electric bike and to improve performance:
- Keep your tires filled to their pressure specifications.
- Test braking power every 10 rides, the more your ride the more often your should do this, adjust as needed.
- Charge up only as long as it needs to. Most lead acid batteries take 3 – 8 hours, lithium 2 – 5 hours.
- Keep your power level at normal when going up hills, your bike works harder as the incline increases.
- Reset your tripometer to keep note of your remaining range. Knowing how much range your have saves a lot of stress!
Do more powerful Bikes require a License?
Yes. If your are looking for a bike, scooter or motorcycle that goes faster than 50kms per hour, you will be required to display a license plate and carry a regular drivers license. But your do not need a license if your bike has:
- Visible bike pedals.
- Must be limited to speeds up to 35 kms per hour.
- A visible electric bike or vehicle plate with the above features.
These specs reflect what is legally a bicycle versus what a motorized vehicle is. Laws can change, is wise to know your local laws in regard to these bikes. It never hurts to be too careful. This may determine whether your have a smooth ride, or an annoying ticket to deal with at the end of the day.
The laws where I live may be different from yours, so make sure to know the facts before ripping down the street.
Go Green – Ride the Lightning!
As electric vehicles grow in popularity, the choices are endless. Every day people are experiencing the freedom and enjoyment of clean and efficient technology. As your get used to not worrying about the old problems of steep hills anymore, the pleasure and peace of mind from the pedal assist takes over as your ride towards your destination. There is a bike for everyone!