Why an Electric Bike?
Much of the world uses electric bikes to get around. As the US is a car country, many people here do not know what an electric bike is or who might use it.
Electric bikes are a sub set of a class referred to as ‘Light Electric Vehicles ‘ or LEV’s. The other vehicles in this class include kick type electric scooters, ‘Vespa’ type electric scooters, electric motorcycles, and in some surveys, small electric cars.
Specifically talking about electric bicycles, there are three things at the federal level that define an electric bike.
1) It must have pedals that make it go, if the motor is not used.
2) It must have an electric motor that is 750 watts or less.
3) It may not go over 20 MPH
There are two basic types of electric bikes. First, there are electric bikes that are built as electric bikes. Second, there are electric bikes that are made adding an electric motor (in the wheel hub) to a non-motorized bike. I call this making a bike electric.
It is my opinion that making a bike electric is the best option, as it allows the rider to have exactly the fit and function they need for what they are doing. In other words, the choice becomes infinite.
There are three groups of people that I see using an electric bike in the US. The first are those who want to commute to work by bike and do not want to worry about the terrain on the way or changing their clothes when they get to work.
The second are children in the household who do not yet have a driver’s license and have a daily need to travel short distances to school, sports practice, or a friend’s house. Being able to travel by themselves would free up a parent or other household member who would otherwise drive them.
The third are people who live 2-4 miles from the nearest convenience store. At the end of the day one might find them selves needing some small thing that they forgot. Most would not take a bike, but they would take an electric bike. I conservatively feel that every family in this group has between 50 and 100 ‘little trips’ per year that could be done by electric bike instead of by car. Besides these groups, there are of course many other uses, some not even thought up yet.
Some of the things that an electric bike will not do:
· It will not go forever
· It will not take the place of a car
· It will not protect you from the weather
· It will not take more than one person (although a trailer is a great option)
· It will not use gasoline
Closeup of e-trike front hub motor
Converted Magic Bike
Nor'easter Off Road