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.)
In our view, e-bikes are approaching a crossroads in concept and design. Heading off in one direction are longer travel, enduro-style e-bikes, which are largely designed for cruising up and then blasting back down. Plotting a slightly different course is the idea of a lightweight model that rides much more like a normal mountain bike, but requires more work from the rider. Of the two approaches, both have their benefits, but it’s the latter that gets us the most excited. Once the overall weight falls into the 16-17kg range (the lightest bikes are currently19-20kg) it’s going to be really hard to tell the difference between an e-bike and a regular trail bike on the descents and the flat, but you get the benefit of a gentle push up the climbs.
Probably the only readily available, mass-production downhill-specific e-MTBs on the market… well, downhill preferred anyway. Don't be afraid to test the limits on this one! Haibike’s xDuro Downhill’s intention is to assist with the pedal back to the top so riders can self-shuttle, instead of taking chairlifts or vans to the top. If you are Haibike pro rider Sam Pilgrim, you could also use this bike to go upside down over enormous jumps. The e-DH bike is a good idea – who can argue that fewer shuttle buses needed to ferry gravity fiends is a bad thing?
After you decide which style of e-bike you want, consider the class. In the US, there are three classes defined by the type of assist and how fast the motor will propel you. Most electric bikes sold are class 1 or 3. Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you're pedaling, up to 20 mph. Class 3, also known as “speed pedelec” can also have up to a 750w motor, but it can assist you up to 28mph. Both of those are allowed in most states and cities without license. Class 2 have throttles that don't require you to pedal to get a boost. They're allowed on most streets, bike lanes, and paths, but less popular than the other classes and not covered much here (because we still love to pedal and the greater distances pedal assist bikes can cover).
Assembly was pretty simple and straightforward, there are some videos online explaining it. Definitely important to know how to switch it on, though -- pressing the "M" button for two seconds with the key in the "on" position. Despite being a heavy bike, it's very quick and nimble. I ride about 15 miles per day and was able to get two trips out of it before charging, riding fast. My only complaints are the squeaky brakes, and the front fender. Said fender is a bit too close to the tire on the front wheel and doesn't mount very securely, so it kept making very loud noises as it would catch the tire whenever I went over a bump or had to brake hard. I just took it off for the time being.
The two most common types of hub motors used in electric bicycles are brushed and brushless. Many configurations are available, varying in cost and complexity; direct-drive and geared motor units are both used. An electric power-assist system may be added to almost any pedal cycle using chain drive, belt drive, hub motors or friction drive. BLDC hub motors are a common modern design. The motor is built into the wheel hub itself, and the stator fixed solidly to the axle, and the magnets attached to and rotating with the wheel. The bicycle wheel hub is the motor. The power levels of motors used are influenced by available legal categories and are often, but not always limited to under 750 watts.
My second e-bike, and it is amazing. 40 miles range on full assist, 4 levels of torque sensor assist, one level cadence sensor assist, one level throttle only, 20 speed, forks have 120mm of range, and the 500 watt battery is very powerful. The seat was too hard, so I replaced it with a gel seat and installed a BodyFloat under the seat. Also installed a rack.
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.