Forward-thinking parents are giving up thier SUVs and opting for electric cargo bikes for getting the family around. Cargo bikes are seeing a resurgence in popularity with the rise of electric conversion systems that convert these awesome people movers into family toting electric vehicles. One year ago the Wall Street Journal ran a full page article in their weekend edition entitled The New Station Wagon. Since then the trend for...
There are various kinds and classifications of electric bikes on the market, but the more common type is the Class 1, or pedal assist, bikes which have motor units that are activated by pedaling and are limited to lower speeds. In the US, Class 1 electric bikes, the type tested and reviewed here, are limited to a top speed of 20 mph and their motors are designed with a speed governor to regulate this. These types of e-bikes resemble modern mountain bikes, but they have significant battery packs and small motor units integrated onto and into the frame design. The e-MTB pedal-assist motor is typically built around the bottom bracket and provides varying levels of pedaling "support" directly into the drivetrain while the cranks are turning. Most drive unit systems offer several support settings that provide pedal assistance between 25% and 100% of the user's pedaling input.
Getting an e-bike can dramatically increase how often you ride, according to a recent survey of nearly 1,800 e-bike owners in North America. Beforehand, 55 percent of respondents said they rode daily or weekly. After buying an e-bike, that number soared to 91 percent. It makes sense: Even if you’re super fit, you still get tired (likely from training or racing) and remounting your bike can feel like a chore. If you have an e-bike, you can continue riding while giving your knackered legs a bit of a break. You can also go faster, which makes biking for longer trips more attractive, even when you’re pressed for time.
Like the Bolt, the GM bikes are very much urban-oriented, which as the ongoing CleanTechnica series shows is a strong sweet spot for electric two-wheelers. One thing that leaps out of its contest page is part of its vision for the bike: “Zero crashes.” As a recent CleanTechnica article pointed out, there have been a growing number of injuries and some fatalities associated with electric bikes globally. What GM means by ‘zero crashes’ is unknown, but perhaps it’s more than just an interesting throwaway line in marketing.
It’s important to note that because this is an electric bike, not all trails are legally accessible. You’ll need to check with the federal, state, or local land management agency in charge of the trails you want to ride to see if it’s possible. You may also face some resistance from holier-than-though cyclist types. Those guys are best avoided anyway, and the glowing LEDs on the down tube should at least help you identify them quicker.
This is a question the designers and engineers of the FOCUS and BULLS bikes of this group test asked themselves. Instead of speccing them with the standard 500 Wh batteries, both have developed a sophisticated alternative. The idea: instead of riding around with unnecessarily large batteries and unnecessary weight on short tours, they integrated a smaller 375 Wh or 378 Wh battery into the bike. If you don’t have enough power for long loops, you can double the range of both bikes with an additional battery for up to a full 750 Wh. While the second battery is mounted in the front triangle of the FOCUS, it disappears sideways in the downtube of the BULLS. In practice, you’ll need the second battery relatively often with both bikes, and in either case, you should consider the additional € 499 investment in a second battery pack when you buy the bike.
Power delivery is smooth and easy to predict, once you get the hang of it. We’re not sure if integration is better on the Turbo road bike, or if the slow, technical nature of trail riding just highlights some quirks. The motor shuts off less than a second after you stop pedaling, and the onset of power delivery is momentarily delayed once you begin pedaling. And this did mean we had to adapt our riding style a little bit to deal with that slight lag.
In the 1890s, electric bicycles were documented within various U.S. patents. For example, on 31 December 1895, Ogden Bolton Jr. was granted U.S. Patent 552,271 for a battery-powered bicycle with "6-pole brush-and-commutator direct current (DC) hub motor mounted in the rear wheel". There were no gears and the motor could draw up to 100 amperes (A) from a 10-volt battery.