As the CleanTechnica series has been showing, electric bikes are an increasingly big business, and becoming the dominant form of motorized two-wheel transportation globally. The innovation, design, and money is flowing to electric bicycles much more than motorcycles. This is part and parcel of our increasing urbanization and demographic shifts globally. Electric bikes just make sense. They shorten commutes, they flatten hills, they make groceries and children light, they are fun, and they are clean, silent, and convenient.
Range is a key consideration with e-bikes, and is affected by factors such as motor efficiency, battery capacity, efficiency of the driving electronics, aerodynamics, hills and weight of the bike and rider. Some manufacturers, such as the Canadian BionX or American Vintage Electric Bikes, have the option of using regenerative braking, the motor acts as a generator to slow the bike down prior to the brake pads engaging. This is useful for extending the range and the life of brake pads and wheel rims. There are also experiments using fuel cells. e.g. the PHB. Some experiments have also been undertaken with super capacitors to supplement or replace batteries for cars and some SUVS. E-bikes developed in Switzerland in the late 1980s for the Tour de Sol solar vehicle race came with solar charging stations but these were later fixed on roofs and connected so as to feed into the electric mains. The bicycles were then charged from the mains, as is common today. While ebike batteries were produced mainly by bigger companies in past, many small to medium companies have started using innovative new methods for creating more durable batteries. State of the art, custom built automated precision CNC spot welding machines created 18650 battery packs are commonly used among Do-it-yourself ebike makers.
If you haven’t ridden or even seen a modern eMTB, here is what I have discovered. They are sturdy rigs that come standard with quality mountain bike components including beefy forks and rear suspension systems, strong disk brakes, and a reliable drivetrain. They are heavy but not that far out of the old downhill bike weight class. The distinguishing “e” features are the electric motor at the bottom bracket (some have hub motors), the battery pack, and the handlebar-mounted computer that controls the system. They have adjustable assist modes: off, low (barely helps), medium, and the battery-draining high mode. When everything is put together, they are something to behold.
The Riese & Müller Load Touring HS is billed as “the ultimate minivan of e-bikes,” and it holds up to that claim. With a low center of gravity (aided by the 20-inch front and 26-inch rear wheels) the Load is easy to handle. Tektro hydraulic disc brakes add control, and front and rear suspension provide comfort. The Bosch motor offers an assist up to 275 percent of your effort until you hit 28mph, when it cuts out. The massive cargo space (with side walls) can carry and the two 500Wh batteries give you 12 hours or more of range at full power. It’s capable of toting up to 220 pounds of pets, people, and less-animate cargo. R&M also sells a double child seat for kids up to age 6 and a child-seat fastener for your youngest passengers.
The first step in deciding which Electric Bike is for you is to determine the right style for your type of riding. Want to take things off road? We have a full range of Mountain Electric Bikes, Hunting Electric bikes, and Fat Tire Ebikes that’ll have you going on and off trails with ease. Looking for a low impact but super fun ride? Our line of Comfort E-bikes, Commuting E-bikes, and even folding bikes will have you zipping around town, on the beach, or anywhere you can ride- no problem.