When riding a normal bike through creek crossings, and rock gardens, I typically stop pedaling often to avoid pedal strikes, and to maneuver the bike. This approach is not compatible with the Turbo Levo’s weight. On it, continual pedaling was necessary, but the big tires and well-damped suspension enabled me to roll over obstacles I’d typically try to avoid, with the motor helping me power over them smoothly. To make this constant pedaling possible without pedal strikes, the bottom bracket is moved higher and Specialized has spec’d 170mm cranks that are a tad shorter than normal.
The first thing many cyclists do when checking out a new bike is give it a lift to gauge the weight. You’re in for a little scale shock if you try that with an e-bike. The battery, motor, extra components, and reinforced frame make e-bikes inherently heavier than standard bikes—to the tune of about 20 pounds. Modern geometry and engineering help them handle well despite their weight, and obviously the motor-assist makes the extra pounds disappear when you start to pedal. But you’ll need more muscle to get them on your car rack or up and down stairs.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn. In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.
When all was said and done, the Commencal Meta Power Race 650B+ proved to have everyone's favorite e-bike controls. Commencal uses the Shimano Steps E8000 motor and system which features ergonomic thumb shifters, a small but easy to read digital display and a secure and straightforward charging connection. The ergonomic shifter of the Shimano system is better than the electronic buttons found on both the Specialized, HaiBike and Trek. The Commencal's best-in-the-test digital display also proved to be a favorite for its small size and out of the way mounting location, easy to read at-a-glance information, and color-coded support settings information. The HaiBike's Yamaha PW-X motor and system also featured a digital display, but testers thought it was a little too big, displayed too much information, was more challenging to read, and generally felt a little more clunky and less refined than the Shimano system. That Trek Powerfly's Bosch Purion shifter and display unit was easy to read and had a bright screen, but was in a less visible location on the left side of the handlebar. Our Editor's Choice Award winner, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp 6Fattie scored the lowest in this rating due to the lack of a handlebar mounted display and a less user-friendly charging connection.
The Haibike AllMtn line makes an appearance again with this incredible price-point option. The AllMtn 6.0 is a nice option with entry level components but the same aggressive build as the rest of the AllMtn line. And when I say entry level components, I definitely don’t mean that as a negative. You still get 150mm of travel with a Suntour Aion 35 RC suspension fork, a RockShox Deluxe RT rear shock, Magura MT32 hydraulic disc brakes, and Shimano Deore M6000 drivetrain with 20-speeds.
Some power-on-demand only e-bikes can hardly be confused with, let alone categorised as, bicycles. For example, the Noped is a term used by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario for e-bikes which do not have pedals or in which the pedals have been removed from their motorised bicycle. These are better categorised as electric mopeds or electric motorcycles.
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Consider, too, that more than half of all driving trips are shorter than 10 miles, with some surveys reporting that the average single trip amounts to just 5.95 miles. That’s a no-brainer distance to cover by e-bike. In fact, the survey found that owners replaced 46 percent of their car commutes and 30 percent of their driving errands with e-bike rides. All you need is a great commuter bag to carry your stuff, and you’re set.
Direct-to-consumer Italian brand Thok’s MIG bike has reviewers falling at its feet. Why? It simply offers a superb package – its geometry and construction are as on-the-ball as its choice of Shimano motor, battery placement – giving low centre of gravity – and quality build kit. At under £4k, the MIG is great value too (there is also a pricier MIG R, featuring upgraded components). Thok knows its stuff, which is hardly surprising when you look at its founder. Former champion downhill racer Stefano Migliorini understands what makes a good bike, and he personally leads the charge on bike development at Thok.
China has experienced an explosive growth of sales of non-assisted e-bikes including scooter type, with annual sales jumping from 56,000 units in 1998 to over 21 million in 2008, and reaching an estimated fleet of 120 million e-bikes in early 2010. This boom was triggered by Chinese local governments' efforts to restrict motorcycles in city centers to avoid traffic disruption and accidents. By late 2009 motorcycles are banned or restricted in over ninety major Chinese cities. Users began replacing traditional bicycles and motorcycles and e-bike became an alternative to commuting by car. Nevertheless, road safety concerns continue as around 2,500 e-bike related deaths were registered in 2007. By late 2009 ten cities had also banned or imposed restrictions on e-bikes on the same grounds as motorcycles. Among these cities were Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Changsha, Foshan, Changzhou, and Dongguang.
While GM and Tesla are getting their toes wet, or at least implying that they might, and Ducati is at the table with a serious range of electric bikes, Yamaha is the Japanese entrant to the market. But this isn’t new news. The company has sold over 2 million electric bicycles globally, as well as 4 million drive units. It is a big player in this space and has been since it started. As with Ducati, you can’t buy an electric motorcycle from the motorcycle-heavy brand, but you can power up hills on road and off with one of their motorized products.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter ones can travel up to 25 to 32 km/h (16 to 20 mph), depending on local laws, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 45 km/h (28 mph). In some markets, such as Germany as of 2013, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China as of 2010, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.