In a world where transportation is central to every day life, getting around in a cost effective, convenient manner that is not detrimental to the environment can be quite the challenge. One new alternative that is gaining popularity is the electric bicycle.
Equipped with a small electric motor to help you up those pesky hills, it is perfect for any commuter who has thought about taking up commuting to work on their bike but is worried their fitness level might not be what is used to.
The electric bicycle is the perfect combination of motorized vehicle and self propulsion. Because is is technically classified as a bicycle, laws surrounding operation are much more lenient than a motorcycle or moped. The small electric motor contains a rechargeable battery so soaring gas prices no longer mean plummeting wallet.
They reach speeds of anywhere from 25 to 45 km/h(15 to 20 mph) depending on the power of the motor with little to no effort on the part of the user. The electric bicycle is gaining popularity and replacing conventional bicycles, mopeds and motorcycles in countries like Germany and China.
There are several classes of electric bikes that are divided based primarily on how much power is delivered by the engine and whether the bike is pedal-assist or power-on-demand. The motor on a pedal-assist bike is regulated by pedaling.
Also called pedelecs, they have a sensor that detects the speed and force of the operator. It also senses braking which is disables the motor. Power-on-demand motors are activated by an actual throttle that is usually found on the handlebars.
Which Electric Bicycle is Right for You?
Pedelecs are divided into two classes: pedelecs proper and S-Pedelecs. Pedelecs proper have a pedal-assist drive system. The motor is low powered with a maximum continuous rated power that will not exceed 250 watts. It will cut out if the bike reaches a speed of 25 km/h (15 mph).
The purpose of the motor is primarily to provide assistance to the rider, in particularly up hills and when riding into a strong headwind. It is the ideal electric bike for someone who wants still wants to get some physical activity out of their daily commute but would rather not show up to work soaked in sweat from the effort if the wind is blowing.
S-Pedelecs are power pedelecs that are not necessarily classified as bicycles depending on the jurisdiction. The motor is over 250 watts and the motor does not stop if the rider exceeds 25 km/h (15 mph). In some places, it is classified as a motorcycle or moped so the rider may need a license and insurance.
Some electric bikes combine the physical exertion of pedal-assist with the speed of power-on-demand and have both pedal sensors and a throttle.
Electric bikes that operate with power-on-demand only usually have a larger motor. A throttle, which is usually on the handgrip operates and controls the motor. This allows the rider a variety of options. They can ride using only pedal power or rely manually on the electric motor with the use of the throttle. Riders also have the option to use both at the same time.
Why Make the Switch to an Electric Bicycle?
There are several advantages to choosing an electric bicycle over other means of transportation. Any type of cardiovascular exercise is highly beneficial for people with heart disease and other medical problems. The electric bicycle is an easier transition than a traditional bicycle because of the added boost of the motor.
Electric bikes are zero-emission vehicles. They do not emit any combustion bi-products into the air. While generating electricity and power distribution along with the manufacturing and disposing of the high storage density batteries does have some environmental impact, it is minimal compared to traditional automobiles.
The electric bicycle is 18 times more efficient than an SUV and 6 times more efficient than rail transit. The battery is so small it can be charged using solar power. In fact, in some places, solar parking lots have been set up where riders can leave their bikes under photvoltaic panels while they are at work or doing errands.
As urban areas around the globe continue to grow, more people are looking for an alternative to crowded public transportation and rising gasoline prices. Electric bicycles are a great alternative that not only saves you money, but also combine your morning workout with your commute. With the option between pedal-assist and power-on-demand only, you can decide exactly what electric bicycle is right for you. Next time your car breaks down or you miss the bus, consider looking for an electric bicycle and changing your morning routine for the better.