While the first functional battery was developed in the year 1800 by Italian physicist Alessandro Volta, a practical battery would not be seen for several decades yet. By the end of the 19th century, practical and portable batteries were more widely available, this finally freeing the electric motor to be used in a wide new array of applications. It might come as a surprise, but the electric motor, battery, and a bicycle were first paired as far back as the 1890s. It would be approximately 100 years later that electric bicycle development finally entered the mainstream, but the technology and concept behind the electric bike were all in place generations ago.
With more and more compelling reasons to experience the benefits of e-bikes, we’ve put together this special issue packed with information on how to get the most from an e-bike, a guide to the main motors and batteries and a showcase of the latest models on the market. So read on, watch the accompanying videos on our YouTube channel and book a test ride to try one for yourself. We guarantee you’ll be hooked.
As a counterbalance to the cute utilitarian bikes above, the Specialized Turbo Levo FSR Comp is a big, bad, and burly mountain bike. With 27.5-inch wheels, massive 2.8-inch tires, 150mm of travel in the front and 135mm of travel in the rear this bike is made to shred. The Specialized 1.3 Rx Trail-Tuned motor is designed specifically for off-road riding and features a double freehweel design that disengages the gear box at top speed to reduce friction while ripping downhill. The low center of gravity and stout parts make this one a relatively nimble handler that is ready for the rowdiest downhills.
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.
Update: Well I've had an opportunity to take the bike on some longer trips now 10 miles back and forth a few times, and the bike performed well, so I am raising my rating to 4 stars. I got a larger seat and raised the angle of the handle bars and it is more comfortable to ride than it was, but still a bit awkward for someone of my size. I've been leaving the bike charging all the time I'm not using it and this seemed to make a big difference with the indicator light not coming on as soon, and the biggest difference is made by me riding the bike the way it was meant to be ridden, ie: pedaling, I was treating it more like a scooter and just staying on the throttle before, but if you use it as a peddle assist bike, the way it's meant to be ridden it performs quite well. The bike is not great going up hills and you still have to work but it does make hills a lot easier. It is also frustrating not having more gears, you basically just leave the bike in 6 gear all the time, and peddle when you can ie: when your slow enough you can peddle. I have no problem with the weight of the bike and it is solid and well built and it will work for my purposes, fortunately the town I live in is only about 5 miles end to end so I don't need the bike to be able to go super long distances, and fortunately I don't mind peddling some, so I don't mind the bike being a peddle assist bike and not a more scooter type. One other gripe I do have is the bike does not have the standard holes to mount a back rack to, one of the main reasons I got this bike was to carry groceries and stuff more easily, so I'm disappointed that it will be difficult for me to mount a rack to, but I'm sure a front basket would work. Anyway, 4 stars, I like it, the price is great, it's well constructed, you will have a hard time finding an electric bike of this quality at this price, but it is not without a little sacrifice.
Even if you’re in excellent shape and very fit, you still can get exercise by e-biking. When I did a head-to-head comparison of commuting with my cross bike versus a recreational e-bike, I found that my relative effort was much lower, and I burned about half as many calories, on the e-bike. But I still burned something—up to 200 calories per hour, the equivalent of what you burn by walking. And I opted for quick e-bike rides to town where I would usually drive, which means I was considerably more active overall.
The frame itself incorporates a series of mounts allowing you to easily trick-out the Road E+1 with a rack, fenders, or panniers to more aptly meet your touring requirements. Again, most touring purists will certainly scoff at the mere notion of pedal-assistance, however, individuals looking for more of a guided tour and less of a tour de force will swoon over the Road E+1.
The final appearance of both the FullSeven and the Yamaha PW-X on the countdown. This top notch 27.5″ wheeled shred sled is another perfect fire road rider for the intermediate rider looking to step their game up. One thing I didn’t mention before but I wanted to let you all know is that I think the FullSeven geometry this year allows the bikes to be more accessible to riders of all sizes. Traditionally, most companies offer one or two options for female riders. Haibike does offer the FullLife models, but the FullSeven series by and large offers better components and a very similar geometry. I think that’s great.
X-Treme Scooters Folding Electric Mountain E-Bike offers a comfortable ride with front and rear suspension. It is an ideal bike for the college students, campers, and anyone who wants a portable and lightweight mode of transportation. This E-bike works on a motor of 300 watts. The best thing about this bike is it allows you to fold it after reaching the destination. It gives you a speed of about 20 mph with a 7-speed Shimano tourney gears. You can adjust the seat according to your ease.
One of the primary purposes of an e-bike is transferring power from the motor to the drivetrain to "support" your regular pedal stroke. All of the different motors do this in relatively the same way, although subtle differences in their power output make them all feel slightly different. It is important to note that all of these systems work impressively well, the differences between them are relatively subtle but noticeable. We tested this metric primarily based on feel, as opposed to any sort of scientific measurement, and our testers could all notice the differences between the various models. All of the e-bikes we tested have several support modes offering varying levels of pedal assist support. The Commencal and Specialized models both offer three, the Trek has four, and the HaiBike has five levels of pedal assist support. All four models also have a walk-assist setting which provides up to 3.7 mph of support in the event you have to hike-a-bike to help you push these heavy bikes uphill.
With almost as many awards as technical features, it’s no secret why we opted to include HaiBike’s SDURO HardNice 4.0 in the list. First and foremost, this sleek aerodynamic ride doesn’t even initially come off as an electric mountain bike. That is until you experience first-hand the integrated Yamaha PW Drive Unit offering dynamic support and a top speed of 20 mph. Also, the bike features a shock-resistant skid plate that works to protect the motor from harm, and a Yamaha LED display that’s small yet robust and works to keep you informed on the bike’s status and functionality.
In full-electric mode, the Pedego City Commuter Classic Electric Bike is capable of moving at up to 20 mph for anywhere from 15 to 30 miles. There are two further options: power-assisted pedaling or fully "unplugged” riding. Renowned Shimano gears are easy to select. Seldom do we come across a product so universally praised by owners. It's not cheap, but comments like "Everything I hoped for!" and "Outstanding!" tell us that it's money well spent.
You can’t really get a cheap e-bike just yet. But if you keep the car in the garage more often, you’ll save cash on maintenance and gas money. Not to mention the added health benefits and potentially fewer sick days from getting more exercise. Prices vary widely, but you should expect to pay at least $1,500 for a decent e-bike, and considerably more ($2,500-$5,500) for a quality bike with a motor system from a major manufacturer like Bosch, Shimano, or Yamaha.
“Rather than bolt on a bulky off-the-shelf system, we struck out on our own to redefine the category. The Powerplay system is the result of designing an electric drive for the suspension and geometry needs of proper mountain bikes; in fact, the geometry and pivot points of the Altitude Powerplay are identical to those of the new Altitude. In our opinion this is the first electric bike that actually rides like a mountain bike should.”
Without a doubt, Commencal has a valued reputation in the bike world. And with their newest electric mountain bike slated for release in September of 2018, this 2019 model is surely one we had to highlight while we could. Simply put, it’s one of the best options out there for the price point thanks in part to its E8000 system, lightweight body, and ergonomic feel. Additionally, a reinforced frame ensures uncompromising stiffness and accuracy while atop the saddle, Shimano XT brakes stop the large 29-inch wheels without issue, and a 12-speed SRAM Eagle transmission offers up the perfect gear in just about any off-road situation.
For an overview of Stark Drive Electric Bike, its features and our story click above. Our passion for biking and our determination to take electric bikes mainstream have driven us to create the world’s most affordable electric bike. As technology improves, so will Stark Drive with the caveat that we will always offer the most affordable electric bikes in the world.
Installing an electric bike kit is easy to do, can be done in just an hour or so and can last for many years if done right initially. Deciding on the right electric bike conversion kit, the one that suits your riding style and your bike best, is the most important decision you’ll make during this process. Good news... you’ve come to the right place!