The bicycle is one of humankind’s greatest inventions. Save for a few tweaks, the introduction of some incidental technology here and there, it has remained unchanged for decades. Eventually though, evolution is inevitable and here we find ourselves: at a fork in the road.
Electric bikes are no majorly new thing at this point, but as more and more manufacturers have come on board the technology involved has matured. The focus of design has altered too, and e-bikes are becoming an entirely new entity. Sure, they have two wheels and a saddle – but when it comes to real-world use, the differences now outweigh the similarities. Whether it’s transport or a tech-lover’s toy, electric bikes are bringing the world of two wheels to more people than analog bikes ever could. In our book, that is a wonderful thing.
So, What Makes An E-Bike An E-Bike?
At the most basic level, electric bicycles function in the same way as a normal bicycle – pedals on cranks are used to turn the rear wheel – but they are fitted with an additional battery-powered motor. While the pedals are turning, the motor assists the rider up to a maximum speed of 15.5 mph. Be warned: anything that looks like a bicycle but uses a throttle or has unlimited power output is classed as an electric motorcycle and has to comply with very different legislation!
That speed limit is plenty for most people’s riding purposes, and here’s the key point: an e-bike can be pushing for that speed on any gradient, any surface, and while carrying any load. The only limit is the power output of the motor, and this opens up a whole world of possibilities.
Take A Load Off
The assistance of that electric motor means an e-bike can be a real, practical alternative to a car for many journeys. Taking some heavy paperwork into the office? With a traditional bicycle, that extra weight would be very noticeable and, for many people, enough to make cycling that journey out of the question. Not so on an e-bike.
This has permeated the design of commute- and transport-focused electric bikes, with many featuring substantial luggage racks as standard and even passenger seats are becoming commonplace from some brands! Frame designs that prioritise stability while loaded are coming to the fore, with silhouettes that sometimes have more in common with mopeds than the bicycles we’re more familiar with.
More For Less
Off the asphalt, a pedal-assisted bike allows a rider to ride further, or for longer, on the same number of sandwiches. Pushed for time at your local trail centre? Fire up that motor, and zip up the dragging fire road climbs. You’ll not only fit more laps in before life and responsibilities demand your attention again, but you’ll have stamina and concentration aplenty to really engage with the descents.
A Helping Hand
Lightweight motors tucked away in road bikes are a wonderful way to level the playing field on group rides. Whether you’re at the start of your riding career and need a nudge to keep up with your veteran roadie mates, or you’re a pillar of the local club run and the younger riders are starting to pull away, e-bikes are here for you. Electric road bikes feature less powerful motors and smaller capacity batteries to keep the overall weight down, but there’s plenty of juice to take the sting out of longer climbs and energy-sapping headwinds.