It was in 2013 we first published an article on e-bikes here, and then again an update in 2016. Now in 2018 the e-bikes have made their presence felt with ever increasing numbers showing up on the bike paths that I pass or cross on my morning walk.
Most interesting is the age group taking up biking, or should that be ‘assisted biking’, certainly not youngsters, although probably the young at heart.
What does it take to get back on the bike you left so many years ago? Apart from fresh air and some exercise and saving a busfare what does it hold for you?
If you already use a pedal bike to take you round town it is an easy switch and the cost of electricity for charging the battery is miniscule. Plus it is great fun.
But if you haven’t been on a push bike for years then it takes a bit more courage and possibly a bit of sweat to get back on. Don’t think it is like you remember, because the bike you used to have was nothing like a modern, quality e-bike. Which by the way is where a lot of the cost of a new e-bike comes from since the electronics is only half the cost, about $1500-1600, the rest is in the quality and comfort build.
You can choose the level of assistance from the motor to your pedalling, even no pedalling, but the price for that is a shorter battery life, so generally the time before you need to recharge is dependant on the amount of pedalling you are willing to do. Charging is easy, as you just plug into a power socket and flip the switch.
Strangely enough I see more women than men on e-bikes, it may be an age thing or any number of reasons, but I noted that in the Netherlands more older men on e-bikes have accidents than women. Speeding perhaps?
Now if you are looking to do some mountain biking then, yes, such e-bikes are available, and there are now ebikes for every taste, folding bikes, light weight or heavy weight, cargo bikes, long distance batteries, all available here in New Zealand. However, if it is a bike for the road only without fat tyres or trail riders, then plenty of good, comfortable e-bikes are on offer. The point here is that just as we recommend you think about what use you wish to put your computing devices to, the same applies to the e-bike.
The “what for?” question needs to be answered.
Top quality bikes may have a top speed of 40km/hr with a basic one capable of 30km/hr, and in Europe they have a speed limit of 25km/h though that is not quite correct, e-bikes have a speed limiter that stop the bike motor from going any faster, assuming you haven’t fiddled with it to make it go faster, but if you are caught…!
In NZ we appear to have a rule that say the motor can only be a max of 300Watts, once again it may be a bit arbitrary because limiting power rather than speed means that for a person less powerful going up a steep hill there may not be enough assisting power to pedal up.
Consequently you may need to do a bit exploration when it comes to select your preferred Ride. Do you need a bike that can go fast really? Bear in mind the hazards you are likely to encounter, sometimes a bit slower makes for a very pleasant, dreamy ride. Or is comfort high on the list? Or is the cost?
About the cost. Hmm, the prices really haven’t come down; you are still looking at around $2500-4000 for a quality machine. Yes, you can buy cheaper, and second hand or ‘recycled’, but in the end you get what you pay for. Buying cheap may mean your warranty or service requirements cannot be provided by the seller and may leave you with an expensive pup. Buying from a small supplier is usually just as good as from a large supplier who may drop a brand and leave you in limbo when you want a new battery.
One more thing, you can usually get service for your standard bike things, but the electronics needs a well trained electronics tech, not the same as a bike mechanic, and not every dealer in e-bikes can necessarily supply that kind of service.
There is still more to ponder and to learn, so if you are serious about going the e-bike way be sure to check out ‘Consumer’ and similar sources, and lastly don’t be scared of what may seem like a ladies’ bike if you are a male, the step through is a boon.
Consider the accessories like pannier bags, and also the kind of tyres you think will fit your planned biking, also mudguards, lights, and importantly [to me as a walker] the bell!
Enjoy our wonderful countryside the easy way.