There are two basic categories of electric bike, and their uses don't offer equal crossover value. The first category is essentially a normal bicycle that has been outfitted with an electric motor. These bikes are the same size as a standard bicycle, and handle almost identically, save for the obvious benefit of added motive power thanks to a motor and battery.
On the road, it takes only a few turns of the pedals to activate the Vado’s motor and get it up to speed. In Turbo mode — the bike’s highest level of pedal-assist — the Vado reaches speeds of up to 28 miles per hour, after which the electric drive system automatically shuts off to conserve power (and abide by local law). A built-in LED readout on the handlebars allows riders to monitor battery life, check current speed, and track calories burned while also being able to glance at distance traveled. The Turbo Vado Mission Control app (iOS/Android) also connects to the bike via Bluetooth and allows riders to further tune their ride and adjust the bike’s settings.
The first regularly produced device resembling the modern bicycle was unveiled in 1818. It was called the Dandy Horse. The two-wheeled ride-on Dandy Horse was the brainchild of German inventor Baron Karl Drais, and it featured a handle bar, a padded seat, and two inline wheels of nearly equal size. What it did not feature were pedals; this was a "running machine," thus its name in German, Laufmachine. The Dandy Horse saw only a flicker of popularity, and was largely an historical footnote within a handful of years, though its design is nearly mimicked in the child's balance bike of today.
The seat is a long, tapering bench-style saddle common to this genre of e-bike. The design allows the same size frame to fit multiple sized riders. While it’s not quite the same as having a fully adjustable frame, e-bikes don’t require the same precision fitment due to their electric assist. When you’re using the bike like a motorcycle, you just kind of sit wherever is comfortable.
In addition to the pedal-assist feature, some e-bikes come with a throttle that engages the motor with the press of a button. These belong to a separate class of e-bike that, obviously, doesn’t offer a pure cycling experience; they’re also illegal in some municipalities. Interestingly, Benjamin says, people who aren’t already “cyclists” tend to gravitate toward throttle bikes at first, but then turn around and choose a pedal-assist for their next purchase.
Generally speaking, e-bikes are bicycles with a battery-powered “assist” that comes via pedaling or, in some cases, a throttle. When you push the pedals on a pedal-assist e-bike, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can zip up hills and cruise over tough terrain without gassing yourself. Called “pedalecs,” they feel just like conventional bikes—but better, says Ed Benjamin, senior managing director at the consulting firm eCycleElectric. “You control your speed with your feet, like with a regular bike,” he says. “You just feel really powerful and accelerate easily.”
Hikers on Mt. Tam used to say we're crazy. Roadies called it a fad. Clunkers, tension discs— we left our eyes open, heads down, and kept designing. We kept evolving, and today, the Men's Turbo Levo FSR embodies a design unimaginable 40 years ago—a trail bike with pedal-assisted power on the climbs. A trail bike that gives you the power to ride more trails.
It’s always good news to hear a gasoline carmaker is continuing its electric mobility adventure, and what better way to do this than to stray from low-hanging fruits such as SUVs and pickup trucks. GM is no stranger to bold moves and we hope it will continue with the same determination to bring us more Volts, Bolts, and why not electric folding Jolts? (No, Jolts is not my personal entry for the $10,000 prize.)
Riding a pedal-assisted road bike may seem counterintuitive but during longer training sessions, the minimal addition of power helps prevent overall muscle fatigue and injury. Similarly, those looking to enjoy longer scenic routes will appreciate the general boost an electric drive provides. With a top speed of 28 mph, the Road E+1 uses three power modes to give you ultimate control over your ride and assistance level. A four-point sensory system monitors the pedaling force allowing the motor to amplify your movements seamlessly.
If you are a regular bicyclist who wants to add some excitement to your rides or wants some help with those hills, a full sized electric bike is the way to go. If you are considering a bike as a means of transportation more than an outlet for amusement, then a smaller, folding electric bike is the convenient choice. In each category, consider the speed and range you want, as these factors impact price.
Finally, if you’ve been waiting for the electric mountain bike to come of age, we’re happy to report that just happened. The combination of the 27.5+ platform with long-lasting batteries, and the remarkably smooth and elegant motor, all integrated into one sharp-looking design, and augmented by user-friendly software has finally delivered a slick, no-compromises product that you’ll want to own. I know we do, the entire IndefinitelyWild team is fighting over who gets to borrow it next.
Last year, the Trek Powerfly 9 LT was one of the only ebikes with geometry and handling that came close to a modern enduro bike. For 2018, Trek has built on that winning formula with new frame. It’s lowered the battery in the downtube, while adding a stiffer Fox 36 fork, more powerful SRAM RE brakes and a stronger Bontrager wheelset. All welcome improvements to a really capable bike. The price has also crept up to reflect the changes. The biggest transformation however, is that Rocky Mountain has raised the ebike bar to a new high with the Altitude Powerplay.
In a friction drive motor, a small, solid wheel rotates against the side of the tire in order to drive it. The first motorcycles used the same concept, with a motor mounted above the front wheel. The problem is that the drive rubs at the side of the tire. It's inefficient, and it quickly wears the sidewall away. Tires need to be replaced every couple hundred miles. For this reason, you'll seldom see electric bikes with this type of drive anymore.
Come for the price, stay for the awesome. The August Live! LS is one of the lower-cost e-bikes you’ll find. What it lacks is gadgets it makes up for in flare and retains just what you need. You won't find a digital display or integrated lights, Instead you get trendy, chopper-style handlebars, a sweet paint job, and a 250 watt motor that is more than capable of tackling steep hills without a second thought. That said, this bike just begs to be ridden on casual cruises down the boardwalk or bike path.
The Ancheer folding electric mountain bike does have a few weird quirks. The first is the handlebar mounted battery. It saves space for the folding mechanism, but looks odd. Fortunately it has very little effect on handling because it is mounted so close the head tube’s pivot point. It does raise the center of gravity of the bike a bit, but the difference is small compared to how much you raise the bike’s center of gravity.