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Electric Bikes

What is an E-bike?

Electric bikes provide a convenient mode of transportation for busy adults who are towing a buggy full of children or picking up a few grocery items. E-Bikes look and feel just like traditional bicycles, with a key difference (PUN INTENDED) being they include an electric motor and battery for more power & less exertion on the body. That means you can easily ride up hill, keep up with traffic, even increase the haul.

The economic advantages of owning an e-bike. The annual cost of running a new family car is, on average, about $9,000 per year. Running an electric bike costs around $400 per year. A full gas tank costs around $30, recharging an electric bike battery costs only about 50 cents. A tank of gas may get you further, but not 60 times further!

 

 

THE MAIN TYPES

  • Pedal Assist: Pedal assist bikes turn on the motor when the rider pedals.
  • Throttle: Throttles turn on the motor to propel the bike even when the rider does not pedal.
  • Speed: The electric drive system on the ebike can be activated through a pedaling action to reach higher top speeds.
  • Motor: The electric drive system can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle.

ATTRIBUTES

  • Electric motors - Powerful motors, will range from 350 to 500 watts, but there are options up to 4000 watts! (not legally or for bicycles)
  • Charging the battery - Most e-bike batteries are equipped with with Lithium-ion cells and will recharge from any outlet
  • Handlebar controls - turn your bike on and off, choose level of pedal assist; plus throttle
  • Display - shows you how fast you're going, your current level of pedal assist, and much more.

Electric Bike Laws and Regulations

In California, bikes are sorted into three classifications based off of top speeds and whether pedaling is a necessary function of the ride. Our graphic above specifies which attributes determine each class.

Class 1: Pedal Assist  Class 2: Throttle On Demand Class 3: Speed Pedelec Class 4: Moped or Motorcycle
The electric drive system on the ebike can only be activated through a pedaling action and is limited to relatively low speeds. The sensor usually measures pedal movement, pedal torque or bicycle speed and sensors are located in the bottom bracket, rear hub or rear wheel. In parts of Europe this class is limited to 15 mph (25 kph) with motor wattage <= 250 watts. In America, because of our more liberal vehicle definition, this class is limited to a motor powered speed of 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage of <= 750 watts. Due to the low speed of operation and required pedaling action this class should benefit from the same rights and access privileges as non-assist bicycles and should be able to be used on streets, bike lanes, multi-use bike paths and off-road trails. The electric drive system on the ebike can be activated through a throttle element such as a grip-twist, trigger or button and is limited to low speeds. The motor system may also be activated through a pedaling action as with Class 1. The top speed in Europe is limited to 15 mph (25 kph) with motor wattage <= 250 watts as with Class 1. In America this class is currently less restricted and therefore more common. The top speed is limited to 20 mph (32 kph) with motor wattage of <= 750 watts as with Class Due to the low speed of operation without the required pedaling action, this class may be a bit more restricted but still benefit from the same rights and access privileges on paved surfaces as non-assist bicycles and should be able to be used on streets, bike lanes and multi-use bike paths

The electric drive system on the ebike can be activated through a pedaling action to reach higher top speeds. In parts of Europe this class is also considered a motor vehicle and requires special licensing, the use of an identification plate at the rear of the bike may be required and use is limited to roads or private property only with a maximum speed ~28 mph (~45 kph).

In America this class could still be considered a “low-speed electric bicycle” if human power propels the bike above 20 mph and as such, does not require special licensing but may be even more restricted to roads, adjacent bike lanes or on private property with a maximum speed ~28 mph (~45 kph) and motor wattage of <= 750 watts

The electric drive system can be activated through a pedaling action or throttle. The top speed is above 28 mph (45 kph) and/or the motor wattage may be greater than 750 watts. In all major geographies this class would be considered a motor vehicle which requires licensing and registration and is limited to certain motorized off road trails or traditional roads. There has been some confusion in America where machines that resemble bicycles (having pedals) that are capable of high speed and power are used inappropriately without licensing or insurance and on infrastructure reserved for bicycles such as paths and mountain bike trails. This behavior is subject to the same legal action as driving a gas powered motorcycle or car and may result in severe legal ramifications.
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