Electric bike range
Electric pedal-assisted bikes, also known as E-bikes or electric bikes, offer a spectrum of benefits for different kinds of rides and riders, and aim to break down barriers that prevent us from taking longer, faster rides. Each E-bike in our lineup has a pedal assist motor that runs on a frame-integrated, rechargeable battery. One question we get all the time is: how long will my E-bike battery last on one charge? The not-so simple answer: It depends. We know, WE KNOW: that’s not that helpful, but hear us out. There are a lot of factors that affect just how far your battery will last, and once you understand them, you’ll be better at estimating how many miles you have before you need to recharge.
But, before you can get a clear picture of how to maximize your E-bike battery life, you’ll need a quick run-down of the technology that goes into making your E-bike… well… go. For everyone’s sanity, we tried to put our tech jargon into simple terms here. Read on for detailed descriptions of each model of battery and motor, and how they interact on your bike.
Liv’s Four Battery Options
Our E-bikes are built with one of three batteries that power the motor: the EnergyPak Smart, the EnergyPak Smart Compact, or the EnergyPak Side Release. Also available is the EnergyPak Plus, a small backup battery. All four rechargeable batteries detach from the frame and can be plugged in either on or off the bike, depending on how accessible your outlet is.
The strength of each battery is measured in watt hours (Wh)—a unit totally different from watts, which many cyclists use to measure their own power output at any given moment as they ride. But mainly: The higher the watt hour of your bike’s battery, the more power it can hold.
The EnergyPak Smart is the highest-capacity battery available for our E-bikes, ideal for long, intense rides where you’ll be using a large amount of pedal assistance or encountering a lot of loose gravel, snow, mud, or other unpaved terrain. The slim, streamlined battery is integrated right into the frame of the bike for a clean look and feel. It comes in three different watt hour (Wh) versions: 625, 500, and 400 (if the bike you buy comes with the 400 or 500 Wh battery, it’s compatible for an upgrade). All three Wh levels of the battery charge from dead to 80 percent in under three hours.
The EnergyPak Smart Compact is our 500 Wh electric road bike battery, which has the sleekest profile designed to help your E-bike blend in with a fleet of non-electric road bikes. Both the EnergyPak Smart and EnergyPak Smart Compact have aluminum casing to help prevent overheating, for both safety and battery-life extension purposes.
The EnergyPak Side Release comes on many of our commuter E-bikes and entry-level electric mountain bikes, shaped specifically to fit into step-through models. It’s available in 500 Wh and 400 Wh and slides into the side of the downtube, rather than removing from the bottom the previous two batteries listed. EnergyPak side release’s waterproof rating is IPX5, slightly less than the rest of Liv’s batteries (IPX6, which can withstand a bit more pressure).
If you’re taking an extra-long trip where you might need extra battery life before you reach a place you can recharge, the EnergyPak Plus, a 250 Wh backup battery, is available. It’s small, lightweight, and can be mounted directly to your downtube to add more miles to your ride. It charges relatively quickly, up to about 80 percent capacity in just two hours, so you can change up your main battery and this one in a single evening.
Liv’s Three Motor Options
Our E-bikes have a motor located near the bottom-bracket that gives you assistance in turning the pedals, also called pedal assist. The three motors were developed in cooperation with Yamaha, and includes the SyncDrive Pro, the SyncDrive Sport, and the SyncDrive Core. All three motors are equipped with multiple sensors that detect even the slightest change in your cadence, power input, and speed. This allows the motor to blend the assistance it’s giving you into your pedal stroke in the most natural way possible; it engages smoothly and gradually, increasing input to match yours. Our E-bikes are designed to emphasize and support your own power and fitness, so there is no throttle you can push to make it go. You have to pedal—but how hard you pedal is up to you.
Our top-end E-bike come with the SyncDrive Pro. It’s the most powerful motor with the fastest engagement, meaning it feels the most touchy of the three, so it’s great for intense bursts of power to get through tricky uphill sections or steep punchy climbs on a mountain bike. The highly sensitive motor engages even if you’re pedaling super lightly and quickly (up to 170 rpm).
The SyncDrive Sport motor comes on most of our mid-priced bikes, and offers a less-punchy engagement than the Pro. Since it’s more conservative with its power, it tends to use less battery over time than the high-powered Pro as well.
The SyncDrive Core is the lightest-duty motor that comes on many of our E-commuter, and entry-level E-mountain bikes. It offers the smoothest engagement with the most gradual increase of assistance, so it is the most battery-conserving option of the three. And—bonus—it’s also the quietest.
Calculating Range on Electric Bikes: How To Find The Long-hauler For You
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Long Range E-Bikes: Intro
The electric bike world has plenty of sprinters, heavy lifters and high jumpers, but what about marathon runners?
There’s lots of options for long range electric bikes on the market today, from dual-battery eMTBs to sleek super commuters and everything in between. But, with batteries being the most expensive part of an e-bike, the question quickly changes from how far you’d like to go to how much money you’re willing to spend.
Herein lies the trick of long-range e-bikes: You’ve got to balance your distance needs with practicality and budget.
That balancing act is tougher than you might think, but armed with some basic information about a bike’s electrical specs, a little knowledge of your own pedaling abilities and (as always) a realistic grasp of what you’d like to do with the bike, you can confidently choose a long-distance e-bike that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
How To Calculate Distance on E-bikes
Humans ruin everything: Why our pedaling (or lack thereof) makes it tough to calculate e-bike range
This is the part that can get a little confusing if not downright frustrating, especially if you’re a new e-biker.
There is no way to know for sure exactly how far a particular bike, motor and battery setup will take you. You can make a pretty good educated guess, but unfortunately there’s a variable in the e-bike range equation that’s just too erratic and unpredictable to accurately measure.
At the end of the day, e-bikes are still human-powered machines. Your pedaling — whether it’s just a little or a lot — will have an outsized effect on how far your e-bike will go. Considering each person is different, it’s enormously difficult to try and accurately capture how much the average person’s pedaling will help or hamper the bike’s performance. Which is why e-bike range is, at best, an educated guess.
Manufacturers take their best shot at accounting for the human variable when they calculate the range estimations they list for e-bikes, but know they’re using averages for rider weight, pedaling and the type of terrain. To the manufacturers’ credit, it’s not often we test bikes that dramatically overperform or underperform those published range estimations so they’re clearly doing something right.
But, for a more accurate picture about how a e-bike will perform specifically to you, I’m going to show you how the reviewers at Electric Bike Report estimate the range of e-bikes we test using some basic math, e-bike specs and a little information about ourselves.
Napkin math: How many miles can you get on your electric bike?
The Electric Bike Report team often estimates range before embarking on our real-world range tests because we’d prefer to not get stuck far from home with a dead e-bike, and I’ve found success with the calculation I’ll detain below. It’s an imperfect method that takes a little e-bike know-how, but hopefully it helps you.
To illustrate this range estimation method, I’m going to use my own personal hunt for a long-range commuter e-bike as an example.
I live in a small-ish town called Hurricane (pronounced Hurkin — say it right you city-slickers) and commute by car to the Electric Bike Report offices in St. George, a round trip of about 40 miles every weekday. That’s a total of 200 miles a week in a car that I’d rather spend pedaling an e-bike.
Now that I know the distance I need to cover (40 miles plus some breathing room, so let’s round it up to 50), we arrive at step one in our hunt for the perfect long-range e-bike.
Step 1: What do you want this bike to do aside from going far?
This is the toughest part of the equation: Listing out what we want from the bike without being unreasonable. Below is an example of what I’m looking for in my future long-range commuter.
There’s some other things to consider here like weight, cargo capacity or budget concerns, but distance and average speed are the two most important for our purposes. Remember, be reasonable and utilitarian with your desired range. The further you want to go on a single charge, the more you’ll likely pay.
Step 2: Start shopping
Long-range e-bikes are typically marketed as such, so I’d suggest you start with some good Google searches or visits to your local bike shop. This is also where you want to consider other factors like the type of long range e-bike you want and other features.
Again, here’s what my criteria are:
- I want the option to go Class 3 as there’s lots of open roads (and even some dirt road) on my route.
- I don’t mind charging the e-bike every night, but I don’t want to have to carry a charger with me to work or buy an extra one to keep at my desk.
- I also don’t want to carry a spare battery.
- Weight isn’t a huge concern of mine, but I don’t want a motorcycle.
- I don’t want an extraordinarily expensive e-bike. I’m a writer not an investment banker; even if I had a house to take a second mortgage on it probably wouldn’t cover the cost of some high-end super commuters.
Use your criteria to choose a short list of your favorite long-range contenders. Don’t make it too long, because the next part requires math.
Step 3: How to calculate e-bike range (semi-accurately)
For the final step, we’re going to use the Trek Allant 8S as an example — an e-bike that’s on my personal short list for a new long-range commuter.
We’re going to need the battery voltage and amp hour rating, as well as its motor’s nominal wattage rating. If your chosen bike lists only the motor’s “peak” or “max” output, that won’t work.
Here’s all the specs from the Allant:
All the above specs are typically easy to find on a manufacturer’s website.
We additionally need the battery’s watt hour (Wh) rating, but not all manufacturers publish that. Luckily, that’s easy to solve for. Simply multiply the volts by amp hours and you’ve got the battery’s watt hour rating.
In the case of the Allant:
A bike’s watt hour rating is key to understanding its range. This metric describes how many watts are available for consumption per hour. So, continuing to use the Allant as an example, it’s battery could theoretically power a 601.2W motor at maximum output for one continuous hour before it runs out. But the Allant doesn’t have a 601.2W motor, it’s got a 250W motor.
By dividing the battery’s watt hour rating by the motor wattage, you can determine how long that battery will power a motor in hours.
So in summary of what we’ve figured out so far, the Trek Allant 8S can theoretically power its 250W mid-drive motor at full power for 2:24 before the battery would run dead.
Before we move on, here’s an important thing to know about using watt hours to calculate range. This method ONLY tells you the approximate battery life when the bike is being used at full power and in lab-controlled conditions where factors like terrain and weather conditions have no bearing on the result. It’s an imperfect estimation of range, but it does give you a good idea of the minimum amount of time a battery will power a motor. In the real world, factors such as coasting, your pedaling and using lower pedal assist settings will likely extend your range.
Now, to take the battery’s range in time and use it to estimate range in distance. For this, we’re going to need to know a little about our own abilities.
Specifically, we’re going to need a good idea of our average speed on an e-bike.
For me, since the Trek Allant we’re using as an example is a Class 3 e-bike, I know that my real world average speed on a bike like this is conservatively around 19 or 20 mph including stopping at lights and navigating traffic on the bike path.
Be conservative when coming up with your average speed. Even on Class 3 e-bikes capable of 28 mph, things like terrain, traffic and stopping slow you down quite a lot. Note that the higher the average speed, the more likely you’re going to have to pedal on top of the motor’s assistance.
If you don’t know your average speed, I’d highly suggest choosing a number around 15 to 16 mph. It may seem low, but it’s a likely speed for new riders or for those who may be uncomfortable carrying high rates of speed in tight or congested areas (always follow your local e-bike laws and speed limits, which even exist on most bike paths).
Back to our example with the Trek Allant: Here’s how I convert the bike’s range in time to an estimated range in distance.
You multiply your chosen average speed by the bike’s range in time we calculated above.
- 19 mph2.41 hrs = 45.79 miles
- Note: be sure to use the decimal version of the range in time, not the one you may have converted to hours and minutes.
So for that Trek Allant, I’d conservatively estimate a 45.79 mile range, which mostly fits the range needs I listed above.
Always remember that this is an estimation. Knowing a little about the Allant and its Bosch motor and battery system, I wouldn’t really expect the bike to last 45.79 miles on its maximum assist mode — especially on the hilly terrain where I live. I think that mileage is far more likely if I toggled between different assist modes and saved the high power settings for hills, which is really how most people ride e-bikes anyway.
In short, e-bike range is an imperfect science. But with a little knowledge of yourself and e-bike motor and battery specs, you can make an educated guess at how a specific bike will perform.
What electric bike has the longest range?
We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on the Trek Allant 8S, but it is absolutely not the only long-range e-bike on the market.
You can find long haulers in every category of e-bike, from fat bikes to small folding e-bikes.
Need some help getting started? The Electric Bike Report team has tested more than a few e-bikes with stellar battery life. Those include:
Electric Bike Range Explained
Electric bike range is a maximum distance an electric bike can travel on a single charge. The size of the battery and the surface you’ll be riding on will determine how far.
Electric bike range is a maximum distance an electric bike can travel on a single charge. The size of the battery and the surface you’ll be riding on will determine how far you can travel. Electric bicycles can currently travel 350–400 kilometers on a single charge, which is their maximum range. Typically, 3kW batteries are used to power these e-bikes. Standard e-bikes could travel up to 100–120 km on a single charge with batteries that were 400–500W. Simple e-bikes typically have a range of 50 to 60 kilometers per charge. The longer an e-bike can be used between charges, the better the battery. In addition, a variety of outside circumstances influence the riding range. You will understand why occasionally your battery could deplete considerably more quickly after reading this article. If you don’t already own an electric bike, you probably want one now. Because at the moment, e-bikes are one of the fastest and safest forms of mobility. With them, you can also enjoy the scenery and get some exercise on your way.
How far can an electric bike go?
Electric bikes typically range from 25 to 45 miles (40 to 72 kilometers) on a single charge. The size of the bike’s battery, the surface, and the weight of the rider will all affect this.
External factors affecting the electric bike range
Weight of objects
It takes more force to move an object the heavier it is. As a result, as the weight on the e-bike increases, the motor needs to work harder and utilize more power. As a result, the distance traveled on an electric bike is reduced. It is based on the rider’s weight and any load they may be hauling.
energy is needed when moving upwards because the motor is fighting gravity and friction, as opposed to conflict when moving uphill on flat terrain. The weight aspect mentioned above worsens this situation because moving more weight uphill requires more effort. The landscape doesn’t simply refer to hills but less-grippy surfaces like dirt and gravel. These surfaces require more power than smooth pavements do.
Effects of weather
A headwind does the reverse, making you and your e-bike work harder and lowering your range. A tailwind can aid in buoying you along, assisting you, and boosting your capacity. Wet surfaces, including paved roads and mud, are likewise less gripping, requiring the e-bike to use more force to propel the rider forward.
Ebikes use much more energy to accelerate to their highest speed than it does to maintain that pace. The motor will have to work rigid to accelerate off the line and return to the desired speed once you’ve stopped and lost momentum.
The energy the e-bike needs is directly related to how hard you pedal. The power the e-bike must put in decreases as you put more into the system. Your range is expanded as a result. Alternatively, the e-bike compensates by increasing its energy input and decreasing your content the lazier you are with your energy intake.
Internal factors affecting the electric bike range
Capacity of battery
An e-bike’s battery capacity, or how much power it can contain, is the first and most evident range factor, and we can use this to determine an e-bike’s range. Your battery is a lithium-ion battery, the same as in your phone or laptop, unless you’re riding one of the first electric bicycles introduced in the modern age, which is highly doubtful.
You’ll notice that the battery won’t fully charge after roughly 1000 charge cycles, or around the 2-year mark for a daily e-bike user and up to the 5-year mark for infrequent users or “weekend warriors.” All lithium-ion batteries experience this naturally as part of their lifecycle. The capacity of the electric bike battery won’t decrease significantly, but a smaller capacity means less power is available, which results in a shorter range. When this occurs, it’s time to consider getting a new battery.
However, if the battery is relatively new, we can estimate how many miles it can travel on a single charge. The average e-bike battery has a reported and tested range of around 1 mile per 20-watt hour, with all other elements being neutral or moderate.
Huh? Sure, we do. Some high school physics needs to be dug up from the memory banks here. But the physics is simple; you must enter a few quickly-found integers into the equation below:
Vx AH = WH
The above equation v indicates the voltage, and ah means amp hours. Wh stands for watt-hour
All e-bike manufacturers currently in existence supply the first two numbers. We’ll use the Aventon Level Commuter as an illustration. The Level Commuter e-bike has a 48V, 14Ah battery, as seen in the Technical Specifications under Battery.
48 voltage x 14 amp hours = 672 watt-hours
With all other variables being neutral or average, our general e-bike average provides us with 1 mile per 20Wh. Divide 672 wh by 20, and the result will be 33.6 miles.
We may therefore anticipate getting 33.6 miles from a single charge on our Aventon Level Commuter if everything else is average. You might obtain an even more accurate approximation of your range if you take this information and add those above “External Factors.” You have just become an e-bike range estimator!
The amount you decide to rely on the electric component of your e-bike to power or support you while directly riding affects your range. Use the throttle to maneuver, and you’ll swiftly consume all the available power. However, you will have a more comprehensive range if you employ your pedal assist. You can increase your capacity even further if you learn how to use pedal-assist as efficiently as possible with the right gearing; we’ll cover this in the next section and our final list of advice on e-bike range expansion.
Now let’s discuss some mechanical factors
Gear is an essential part that profoundly affects the battery life. Your motor will have to work harder and burn more watt-hours if your gear is too high for the conditions. You, your engine, and your range will benefit if the gearing is adjusted with your amount of pedal assistance!
Tires and Pressure
Compared to their off-road siblings, commuter tires, which are smoother and slimmer, are far better at converting energy into movement. Additionally, tire pressure is crucial, and underinflated tires might lower your e-bike range score.
How to increase the range of your ebike?
A range extension for an electric bike is possible in several ways. The primary ones are to use less assistance, fully inflate the tires, change the batteries, cycle more slowly, and reduce weight. Following are some valuable tips to increase the range.
Reduce the level of support
Electric bikes with pedal assistance help you pedal. Contribution can be adjusted in both directions. Your electric bike’s battery will deplete more quickly the more aid you are using. It means that you should utilize one of the lesser degrees of assistance if you wish to enlarge the range of an electric bike.
Recharge battery after usage
Battery University data demonstrates that lithium-ion batteries perform at their peak when charged from 50%. Avoid your battery running utterly flat before setting it if you want to get the most life out of it as it ages.
The power needed to maintain speed grows as you bike faster. Use the calculator on this website to find out how much more energy is required to maintain momentum as you accelerate. You might consider cycling more slowly to extend the battery’s range. Although you’ll arrive at your destination later, it will be more comfortable, and there’s less danger that your battery will die before you do.
Use soft tires
Another method to reduce the drag produced by your wheels is to use thinner tires. Thin tires are always present on racing motorcycles for a reason. Because mountain bike tires make it simpler to cycle at high speeds on the road, it would be impossible for them to move as quickly. Despite this, thicker tires have gained popularity because electric bikes let you pedal more forcefully. Examples of these tires are the fat tires used on electric bikes. You may pedal on more challenging terrain like the sand by employing thicker tires like these, but your motor will need to work rigid to keep you moving.
The maximum weight you have to move with the help of an electric motor, the more energy it will consume. It means you should take steps to lessen your weight to maximize how far you can travel on your bike. Maybe you may leave something in your bag that you don’t need behind.
Hope this article will give you a thorough knowledge about electric bike range and how to increase electric bike range.
The Marin Bikes Guide to eBikes and eMountain Bikes.
Wondering how eBikes work? Here’s the Marin Bikes guide to everything you need to know about electric bikes, eBikes, electric mountain bikes and eMTB.
eBikes: Here to Stay.
Here at Marin we think eBikes and eMTB bikes are great and we have a range of models that can take you anywhere from the mountains to the coffee shop.
Considering going electric? Read on.
eBikes have a motor to assist you when pedaling
Batteries are on the downtube
A display is featured on the handlebar to give you speed, distance and remaining battery life
What Is An eBike?
Wondering how do electric bikes work, and how to ride an electric bike?
An electric bicycle is essentially a regular bicycle with an integrated electric motor and an eBike battery. You ride them like a normal bike, and the motor activates when you pedal. The eBike motor helps you out but it doesn’t replace your leg power completely.
Many people ask “does an eBike have a throttle?” and the answer is, no. When you stop pedalling, the motor stops.
How fast do eBikes and eMTB bikes go? The power assistance cuts out above a certain speed which is 25 km/h in the EU, 20 MPH in the US.
Do You Need a License For An Electric Bike?
One of the main mix-ups is whether eBikes are legal to ride on the roads or on the trails and whether or not you need a license to ride one.
In Europe and the UK, eBikes are known as “Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles” and are considered to be the same as regular bicycles. Anyone over the age of 14 is allowed to ride an eBike with no special training or insurance.
In most US states, they’re categorized as “Class 1 eBikes”, and they’re treated more or less the same as bikes. We’d recommend double-checking what laws apply in your local area, as there are differences from state to state.
Are you allowed to ride eMTB bikes off-road and on mountain bike trails? Most countries don’t restrict access but certain landowners may so always check before you ride. In the US, many landowners such as the National Park Service or Bureau of Land Management class eMTB’s as motorized vehicles and only allow their use where motorized vehicles are permitted.
We’d recommend asking your local Marin dealer for help with what the law says about eBikes in your home country. You can find a list of Marin ebike stores in your area here.
How Much Is An Electric Bike?
It’s true, eBikes do cost a little more than ‘normal’ bikes due to the added technology.
eBikes vary a lot in price, depending on their level of componentry and what they’re designed to do, but they’re typically 2-10,000 USD and are usually more expensive than the equivalent non-eBike.
There’s a good reason for this: modern eBikes pack in a huge amount of technology. They have systems that are designed to perform faultlessly in all conditions for mile after mile, high-capacity lightweight batteries, and Smart features like Bluetooth connectivity and customisable power levels.
Are eBikes worth the extra cost? For a lot of riders, the benefits of an eBike more than make up for that higher up-front investment.
As eBike tech becomes more established, we’re starting to see more and more affordable ebikes and value ebikes enter the fray. The Marin Bikes Alpine Trail E1 is currently one of the best-value eMTBs available.
Who Are eBikes For?
There are eBikes for almost any type of rider nowadays from eCommute to eMtb to eGravel to eCargo Bikes and everything in between.
On a punchy, hilly off-road route, using all the assist levels, you might get 30 miles out of an eBike’s charge. Cruising on roads with shallower gradients and 50-60 miles should be achievable.
It all depends on your route, your speed, and how much of the work you’re happy to take on yourself. Either way, you’ll find all of Marin’s eBikes have plenty of capacity for big days in the saddle and plenty of motorized assistance!
Other Things To Know About eBikes
And how much do electric bikes weigh? eBikes have become a lot more refined in the past few years, but they’re still several kilos heavier than an equivalent non-eBike.
It’s worth remembering that added weight if you live in a first-floor flat, you need to lift one onto the roof of your car, get it up the stairs to the office or over a gate on the trails. This is especially true if you’re considering an eBike to help overcome an issue that stops you from riding a lighter, human-powered bike.
Lots of you asked us can you ride an electric bike in the rain? Yes, absolutely. They’re weather sealed and can stand up to normal use in wet weather. Full submersion, salt water or heavy pressure washing should be avoided though.
Marin eBikes. Commuter Bike, Urban Explorer and Cafe Cruiser
Marin’s Sausalito range of urban eBikes feature Shimano STEPS assist systems, comfortable “road plus” WTB Horizon tyres, powerful disc brakes and flat bars for relaxed city and cycle path cruising.
The Sausalito E1 has a light alloy frame with a practical steel fork and rack, mudguard and kickstand mounts. An easy to live with 1×10 drivetrain and Tektro brakes complete the bike.
The Sausalito E2 has some choice upgrades over the E1, including a Shimano STEPS E6100 assist, wide-range gearing and a Suntour suspension fork that takes the sting out of unsurfaced trails.
Many of our markets also include the Marin Stinson Electric and Stinson Electric ST, a thoroughbred family of urban eBikes that are perfect for shopping or commuting to work. They are equipped with an easy-to-ride frame, comfortable and fast-rolling tires and a reliable 250W hub motor with a 309Wh battery.
Marin eMTBs: Trail Fun Machines
The Alpine Trail E family is Marin’s award-winning full-suspension eMTB, taking the winning formula of the Alpine Trail enduro bikes and adding some serious self-uplift potential.
All the models have bombproof alloy frames with 160mm front, 150mm rear suspension, Marin’s Multitrac suspension design, and coil shocks for smoothing out the roughest trails.
The Alpine Trail E1 has a Shimano E7000 motor, Shimano drivetrain and a Rockshox Vivid rear shock. From the RockShox Gold 35 fork to the Maxxis tyres, every part of the bike is ready to hit the hill. This one is a killer affordable eMTB and one of the best value eMTBs available.
The Alpine Trail E2 is a dream build for a real-world budget, with Fox suspension, a 12-speed Shimano drivetrain and Raceface finishing kit. Shimano’s next-generation EP8 motor is lighter, quieter and more powerful, and a 630Wh battery means it’s no problem to head up the hill for one more run.
Smooth assist, light weight, and great brakes at an impressive price.
CycleVolta.com’s excellent First Ride Review of the Sausalito E1
When price, performance and Marin’s dealer network are considered, we’d definitely buy this bike.
Vital MTB’s Perfect Five Star Review of the Alpine Trail E2
It is a bike that instills confidence and wants you to push harder
The crew at The Loam Wolf took one of our Alpine Trail E2s to Utah for their 2021 eMTB test sessions.
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Pros and Cons of Electric Bikes
These days, electric bikes are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation around cities. They are fast, efficient, environmentally friendly, and fun to ride. Of course, there are some drawbacks as well. Ebikes can be expensive and heavy and the range can be poor. This guide lists the pros and cons of electric bikes. We’ll cover range, cost, speed, weight, maintenance, and much more. We’ll also outline a few important considerations when buying an electric bike. Hopefully, this guide helps you decide whether or not an electric bike or standard bike is right for you.
What is an Electric Bicycle?
Electric bicycles, also known as e-bikes, are bicycles with integrated electric motors and batteries which are used for propulsion. The motor is mounted either in the middle of the bike near the crank (mid-drive) or in one of the hubs (hub motor). The battery mounts on the downtube, seat tube, in the frame, or on the rear bike rack.
Electric bikes come in different classes. Most electric bikes have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour (32 km/h). powerful models with a maximum speed of 28 mph are also available. Electric bikes can come with a pedal assist system (pedelec), a throttle, or both. Electric bikes can have a range of anywhere fro 20-100 miles (32-160 km) per charge.
A wide range of electric bike designs are available. Some only offer pedal assist. This means you must pedal while you ride. The motor helps you along. Some models are more like mopeds where you can use the motor to power you along without pedaling if you prefer. Some ebikes have a mid-drive motor that powers the wheel through the chain while others have a hub motor that directly powers the wheel. Battery capacity and motor size vary as well.
Cons of Electric Bikes
Cycling Pros and Cons Analyses from Where The Road Forks
Electric Bike Designs
Electric bikes come in a wide variety of designs. Major design differences include the motor type and placement, battery size and placement, and the way the power is controlled. Each electric bicycle design has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.
In this section, I’ll outline the two main design choices you’ll need to make when buying an e-bike. I’ll also talk about the most important and expensive component, the battery.
For more in-depth info, check out my guide: Types of Electric Bikes
Pedal Assist (Pedelec) Vs Throttle Controlled Electric Bicycles
These systems allow you to control the power on the bike. There are three classes of e-bike:
- Pedal assist e-bikes (class 1)- With this system, the motor only provides propulsion when you pedal. When the electric assist system is engaged, the motor starts working when you start pedaling. When you stop pedaling, the power cuts off. The pedal assist system makes pedaling easier. This is the most common class of electric bike. They are usually limited to a 20 mph top speed
- Throttle-controlled e-bikes (class 2)- These work like a motorcycle or scooter. A twist-grip or button mounted on the handlebars allows you to control the power. You don’t have to pedal if you don’t want to. Many e-bikes have a throttle system in addition to electric assist. This type of system is common in the US and Asia but is prohibited in much of Europe.
- Speed pedelec e-bikes (class 3)- These work exactly the same as regular class 1 pedal assist electric bikes. The only difference is the top speed. Class 3 e-bikes usually reach a top speed of about 28 mph or 45 kph. These e-bikes have large motors to achieve the higher speed.
For more in-depth info, check out my guide to pedal assist Vs throttle controlled ebikes.
A Note About Pedal Assist Systems (PAS or Pedelec)
There are two different pedal assist systems (PAS) available for electric bikes: torque sensors and cadence sensors.
Torque sensor pedal assist measures the amount of power you’re putting into the pedals and adjusts the electric assist based on this measurement. When you pedal harder, the motor provides more power.
Cadence sensor pedal assist provides a constant amount of power when you pedal. It doesn’t matter how hard you pedal. Some e-bikes allow you to adjust the level of assistance. For more in-depth info, check out my guide to torque sensor vs cadence sensor pedal assist.
Hub Motor Vs Mid Drive Electric Bikes
This design choice refers to the location where the electric motor is mounted on the bike. In this section, I’ll outline the main differences. Also, check out my mid-drive vs hub motor ebike guide for more info.
Hub motors are mounted in either the front or rear hub in the center of the wheel. These motors are used instead of a regular bike hub. Hub motors work independently from the rest of the bike’s drive system. Most hub drive electric bikes use a cadence sensor for pedal-assist or just a throttle.
Hub drives are common on lower-end e-bikes because they are cheaper and less mechanically complex than mid-drive motors. They often require less maintenance as well. They are also compatible with most bikes if you plan to convert your existing bike into an electric bike.
The biggest drawback to hub motors is that they usually only offer one speed. This makes them less efficient. They are also heavy which makes changing tires or repairing flats a bit more difficult. Hub motors can also limit your wheel component choices due to the size of the motor. Hub motors come in direct drive and geared variations.
Mid Drive Motors
Mid drive motors are mounted in the center of the bike near the crank. The motor unit is integrated with the bottom bracket and crankset. Sometimes the frame and motor are integrated as well. Most mid-drive motors use torque sensors for the pedal assist system.
The main benefit of this design is that you can take advantage of the bike’s gears because the motor powers the rear wheel through the chain. This improves efficiency by allowing you to run the motor at the ideal rpm. This can also help the motor last longer because you can gear down so the motor doesn’t have to work as hard. In addition, mid-drive motors offer more torque and better weight distribution. They are also smaller and lighter than hub drive motors.
The main drawback to mid-drive motors is that they are hard on drive components. The reason is that the motor puts out more power and has more torque than a human can. Cheap chains can’t put up with the stress. Mid-drive motors are also more complex and more expensive.
A Note About Electric Bike Motor Sizes
Electric bicycle motors are measured in watts. The more watts, the more powerful the motor. Sizes range from 200w to around 1500w. The larger the motor, the larger battery you’ll need to achieve a reasonable range.
The most common electri bike motor size around the world is 250w. With electric assist, these bikes can usually achieve a top speed of 20 mph and have a range of 10-20 miles per charge. They often do not have throttle control. These bikes work great for short commutes and casual riding but can feel a bit underpowered in hilly areas.
powerful electric bikes in the 500-1000 watt range work great for longer rides where you might expect some hills. They also work well for off-road riding. The powerful motor allows you to ride without pedaling if your bike comes with a throttle. The main drawback is that more powerful motors require larger and more expensive batteries. These e-bikes can often reach a top speed of 28 mph.
Before buying an electric bike, you’ll want to check your local laws regarding e-bikes to see if there is a motor size limit. For example, in most of Europe, China, and Japan, the max electric bike motor size is 250w. In most of the US, the max motor size is 750w. In some places, there is no regulation. Some places require a license to ride an e-bike above a certain motor size.
Electric Bike Batteries
The battery is maybe the most expensive, most fragile, and heaviest component on the e-bike. In many cases, the battery alone costs as much as the rest of the bike. When selecting a battery, you want to consider the range you require, your budget, charge time, weight, and the expected lifespan of the battery. There are two main battery technologies to choose from: lithium or lead-acid.
Lithium e-bike batteries weigh 5-7 pounds, cost 500-800, and take 4-6 hours to charge. These batteries can cycle 500-2000 times before they need to be replaced. There are two different types of lithium e-bike batteries: lithium-ion (Li-Ion) or Lithium Polymer (LiPo). Both perform similarly. Lithium batteries are the most common these days.
Lead-acid batteries use older technology that are still common on Chinese e-bikes. This is the same battery technology used in car batteries. Lead-acid batteries are heavy at 30-40 pounds. They cost much less at around 150. Charge times take around 5-8 hours. Lead-acid batteries usually need to be replaced after 200-300 cycles.
On most electric bikes, the battery is mounted in the triangle either on the down tube or seat tube. In this case, the battery mounts to the water bottle attachment points. Sometimes the battery simply sits in a frame bag in the triangle. On lower-end electric bikes, the battery often mounts to a rear bike rack. On higher-end e-bikes, the battery may be integrated into the frame.
Electric Bike Battery Capacity
When choosing a battery, maybe the most important specification to look at is the capacity. This plays the biggest role in the range you can expect out of your e-bike. The best way to measure battery capacity is in watt-hours (Wh). A battery with more watt-hours will generally offer a longer range.
Sometimes watt-hours isn’t listed in the bike’s specifications. To calculate your battery’s watt-hours, multiply the battery’s voltage (V) by Amp-hours (Ah). Once you know the watt-hours, you can easily compare the capacity of different e-bike batteries.
I like to think of watt-hours as the number of watts that a battery can run at continuously for one hour. For example, if a battery has 500 watt-hours, it can run at 500 watts for one hour. The same battery could also run at 250 watts for 2 hours. This gives you an idea of how long your battery will last with your e bike’s motor size.
Of course, there are a number of factors that determine your electric bike’s range including the weight of you and your luggage, wind, terrain, hills, battery age, speed, temperature, riding position, tire pressure, and more.
Electric Bicycle Conversion Kits
If you already have a bike that you like or you’re on a tight budget, you can save a chunk of money by installing an electric bike conversion kit. A multitude of options are available including hub drive and mid-drive as well as throttle controlled and pedal assist.
The basic kits usually cost around 200-300 and include everything you need including the motor, controller, handlebar-mounted display, throttle, pedal-assist sensor, brake levers with safety switches, torque arm, installation hardware, and a manual.
The only part that isn’t included in the e-bike conversion kit is the battery. These usually run 200-400 depending on the size and quality. All in, you should be able to convert your bike to electric for around 500. When choosing an e-bike battery, you’ll need to make sure that the voltage matches the voltage range that your motor is designed for.
For more info check out this great guide to converting a bike to electric from Instructables.
Final Thoughts About the Pros and Cons of Electric Bikes
These days electric bikes are more popular than ever. Electric biking is an excellent choice for commuters, casual riders, and even those who ride for exercise. When compared to a car or motorcycle, e-bikes are cleaner and better for the environment. They are also significantly cheaper to operate and maintain.
Having said this, electric bikes have some drawbacks that must be taken into consideration. When compared to a regular bike, electric bikes are more expensive and are slightly harder to maintain. They must also be charged frequently as the range is still relatively short on most models.
Personally, I love electric bikes and can’t wait to see how the industry develops in the future. I’m looking forward to quicker charging and longer range as battery technology improves. I expect to see more and more e-bikes on the road in the coming years. For many cyclists, they just make sense. Of course, a standard bike is still the best choice for some cyclists.
Do you ride an electric bike? Share your experience and tips in the Комментарии и мнения владельцев below!
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