How to Purchase an Electrically Assisted Bicycles – Tips and FAQs
Electrically assisted bicycles is a great way to save money while burning off some extra calories! When you take a stroll down the street mums riding electrically assisted bicycles are bound to soar by. The number of people purchasing electrically assisted bicycles escalated after the March 11 earthquake in 2011; as people sought alternative transportation methods from metro and train. After trying one recently honestly I can’t imagine anyone would go back to a regular bicycle after the experience. The bicycles are super convenient for commuting to work, shopping or transporting up children. However purchasing electrically assisted bicycles can cost as much as a second handed car. So if you are looking to make the investment, here are some tips to consider when purchasing. If you would like to rent a bike for a day to see how it feels, try renting one of the Tokyo community electric bikes.
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Purchasing electrically assisted bicycles : Tips
Top questions to ask when buying electrically assisted bicycles.
- What is the Ah (amps per hour)?
- How far a distance can a full battery cover?
- How long it takes to recharge the battery?
- How much weight the bike can hold?
Which brand electrically assisted bicycles is best
There are three main companies that sell electrically assisted bicycles in Japan; Yamaha, Panasonic, and Bridgestone. Bridgestone and Yamaha have partnered with each other. Bridgestone specializes in the bike frame, while Yamaha specializes in the bike battery. This is why a large number of the bikes have similar designs as well as features. Panasonic makes their own battery and frame. As competition is fierce, the quality of the bikes is pretty much the same. Therefore, you can choose the bike seat along with the frame you fancy without worrying much about the quality.
Salespeople do recommend Bridgestone or Yamaha for non-native Japanese speakers. This is because the remote is easier to channel without knowing the language.
Where to buy and the prices
We recommend you buy from an authorised dealer of electrically assisted bikes to assure proper warranty and aftercare. Buying the cheapest from an unknown retailer or used can result in unexpected expenses later.
We recommend Aeon bike store (Shinagawa Seaside Station), BIC CAMERA (Yurakucho), Daikanyama T-site (Daikayama) and Don Quijote (Roppongi). The salespeople are typically friendly, but their English skills are limited, so we recommend bringing a Japanese-speaking-friend along. Additionally, we recommend you to visit a store which allows test rides such as the Aeon bike store at Shinagawa Seaside Station and Daikanyama T-site. After test riding, you can always buy online or at another store if the price is better.
The price of electrically assisted bicycles ranges from around 110,000 JPY (1,000 USD dollars) to 160,000 JPY (1,500 USD). The main price difference factor is the Ah, ampere hour of the battery. Typically a bike with a lower Ah will cost less while a bike with a higher Ah will cost more. Ah range from 4.0 to 16.0 Ah. Read more about what level Ah you should purchase below.
Tip: In Don Quijote, you can purchase electrically assisted bicycles for less than 90,000 JPY (tax inc.). The bike is made by the three main companies as well however, the battery is around 6.6 Ah. If you are looking for a bike for occasional use, check them out! Note: Not all Don Quijote stores have electrically assisted bicycles in stock.
Purchasing electrically assisted bicycles : Tips
High Ah vs. low Ah (Amp hours)
Think of Ah as the storage tank for electricity. The higher the Ah, the more space the battery has to store the electricity. Vice versa, the lower the Ah, the less space there is. A high Ah battery will be able to sustain usage for a longer time before you have to recharge it, while the opposite is true for the lower Ah battery.
If you are using the bike occasionally, for example, to buy groceries a few times a week, an 8.0 to 9.0 Ah battery would be enough. If you are going to commute to work or send children to school for daily use, the bike technician recommends a 12.0 to 16.0 Ah battery. In Japan, customers normally buy 8.7 Ah (Batteries normally go up to 16.0 Ah at regular bike stores).
Big wheels or small wheels
Smaller wheel bikes have a lower gravity; they are more stable hence better suited for mothers who carry little ones. Normally a smaller wheel means you have to peddle more to cover the same distance as a larger wheel. However since we are talking about purchasing electrically assisted bicycles, you don’t have to take this into consideration.
Larger wheels are a better fit for taller people as the height between the paddle and the handlebars is larger. There is an option to purchase a bike with a smaller front wheel and a larger rear wheel which could accommodate both needs. If you are over 170 cms, we recommend taking a trial ride before buying to assess fit.
One or two children seats
There are two kinds of children seats; a smaller kind for children up to one-year-old (15 kg), the other for older children from 2 to 6 years old (22kg). Many bikes can adjust to one, two or no children seats. Talk to the salesman to buy a bike which is suited for the number of children seats you need – not all bikes can accommodate two child seats. It is highly recommended that you buy children seats with the bike, making sure you buy the same brand. You may also avoid legal issues by doing so too.
For taller people
It can be difficult to purchase electrically assisted bicycles for taller people in Japan since Japanese are normally petite. The technician mentioned that the distance between the handle and seat is the same. So if you are tall and looking to purchase a larger wheeled bike (27 inches) would more comfortable. Adjusting the seat height always helps too.
Purchasing electrically assisted bicycles: Our recommendations
The following are five best-selling electrically assisted bicycles sold in Japan:
Yamaha Kiss Mini – For one child under the age of one, or two children, or no children. The wheel in the front is 20 inches, the rear is 24 inches. The bike has wide handles, which makes it easier to ride on your own or with children.
YAMAHA 2019 PAS With SP PA26WSP 26 – This eclectic mamachari is a larger model. You will need to buy a baby seat to attach to the back. Great for kids up to age six.
Panasonic 2020 Model DX 26 inch – A great Panasonic choice for parents with one child, ver solid 26 inch tire for taller parents.
BRIDGESTONE 26 inch A6FC19 – A Bridgestone mamachari that can handle a front and back child seat.
Purchasing electrically assisted bicycles: FAQ
How do I charge the battery?
To charge the battery you remove the battery from the bicycle, then charge in the standalone charge station which plugs into any standard wall socket.
How often does the battery have to be charged?
This depends on how often you use the bike. If you use it on a daily basis, the battery may need to be charged every day. A fully depleted battery takes approximately 5 hours to recharge.
How long will the battery last before it has to be replaced?
A battery can be charged around 700 to 900 times. If you use, in addition to charging the battery daily, it lasts around 2.5 to 3 years. If you use while charging it every other day it can last up to 5 or 6 years if well looked after.
What to look out for when I replace my battery?
If your battery runs out, you can replace the battery by buying a new one. Batteries are expensive ranging from 20,000 JPY (200 USD) to 40,000 JPY (400 USD) some even more. (The price of the battery is also based on Ah, lower Ah costing less while higher Ah costing more)
You can replace the new battery with the number, Ah, you desire as long as the battery is the same brand as before. Even if your bike was 12.7Ah Yamaha battery, you can replace it with an 8.7Ah battery from Yamaha. If your bike is from Panasonic, the battery will show “LI8.7N.C.” for a 8.7Ah battery.
How can I prolong the life of my battery?
To increase life span, charge the battery when there is around 20% battery left. If you charge is when the percentage is too high or too low, the battery will get exhausted thus shortening its life.
If the weather gets too hot or too cold (more than 27 degrees Celsius or lower than 20 Celsius) it is recommended to take the battery home with you.
If it rains or snows, park you bike indoors or under a covered space. The water would rust the metal.
In places like Tokyo where humidity in summer is high, taking the battery home would not help as the spot connecting the battery to the bike will rust and can’t be reattached. In this case, buy a cover and leave your battery inside the bike.
How much does the battery assist me?
There are three assistance levels, High, Normal, and Low. The higher the level, the more assistance, and the less length your battery can cover. The lower the level, the less assistance and the more length your battery can cover.
What can I see on the screen?
There is an on/off button, light switch, assistance levels, numbers of KM left and percentage of battery left.
Will riding in the rain damage my bike?
Riding in the rain will not damage the bike. If you are really concerned, you can purchase a cover for the front of your bike. However, after riding it is always a good idea to dry your bike, especially the battery.
When you press the buttons on the screen, use fingers instead of nails. Often the plastic protection cover breaks allowing rain or water in the atmosphere to seep inside and damage the machine.
Please see our top-rated posts on Japanese products and how-to guides:
Powering the Tokyo 2020 Keirin Cycling Track with Panasonic Electric-Assisted Bicycles
For the first time in its history as an Olympic and Paralympic partner, Panasonic supplied the pacers of the Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track competition this August with its brand-new electric-assisted sports bicycles. With an innovative design achieved through countless hours of trial and error, Panasonic hopes its successful showcase in the nail-biting Tokyo 2020 keirin cycling track will usher in a new era of environmentally friendly, efficient transport and enhanced recreation through the power of electric sports bicycles. Let’s take a look under the hood and discover exactly what makes this new technology so fascinating.
Delivering the Latest Innovations in Electric-Assisted Sports Biking
Helping one ascend hills and easily carry shopping, electric bicycles are often viewed as an essential part of daily life. As one of the leading electronics makers in Japan, Panasonic offers a wide selection of electric bicycles, including the “sports” type which accounts for approximately 10% of its total electric bicycle sales.
For Tokyo 2020, Panasonic took its electric-assisted sports bicycle technology to the keirin cycling track competition. They were ridden by “pacers,” people who lead and set the pace for several laps before allowing the competing cyclists an unrestricted race. Panasonic was delighted to have been selected to ensure these pacers a comfortable ride in line with the company’s vision of easing environmental impact by developing and popularizing energy-efficient vehicles and devices. In doing so, the company introduced an array of groundbreaking electric bicycle innovations to the world.
Powerful, Balanced, and Sturdy
At the forefront is the dynamic electric motor, which was specially designed for the bike to comfortably reach a maximum speed of 55 km/h. This firmly surpasses the 50 km/h required for the pacer’s final circuit and is more than twice the power of current commercial brands. Unlike most electric bike motors, which kick in to provide a quick boost before dropping off, Panasonic’s sports-type motor works continuously to help accelerate and maintain speed while diminishing the effects of wind resistance.
To top it all off, the motor also boasts 1.4 times more acceleration and battery power than competing counterparts and seamless gear-shifting technology for a smooth ride. This hefty power is supported by a specially designed frame with a low center of gravity, granting precise control even at high speeds. The electric assistance is incredibly sensitive and highly responsive to the inputs of the rider, ensuring a stable and steady course.
The bikes were also decorated to symbolize Tokyo 2020, with a sleek pattern inspired by the movement and the flow of athletes enhanced by electrifying graphics on the tires to convey speed.
Overcoming Development Difficulties
Playing an essential role in the intense yet delicate sport of keirin, every element of these new bicycles had to be meticulously crafted to meet and exceed stringent, unwavering criteria. Unsurprisingly, the riding style of a professional pacer is completely different to the everyday cyclists of Panasonic’s customer base, meaning that Panasonic had to essentially start from scratch to fulfill the needs of an entirely different market.
To do this, Panasonic had employees dressed as athletes test and evaluate each prototype while the development team studied their movements and riding styles. This provided the team a plethora of resources to tweak the look and feel of the bike to meet the athletes’ needs. While development was located at the Panasonic Cycle Technology headquarters in Kashiwara, Osaka, the team would often go the extra mile by bringing their models out to places like the Kansai Cycle Sports Center and the Nara Keirin to test their progress under genuine racing conditions.
According to the team, there were three main difficulties encountered during development: building a motor that could reach a speed of at least 50 km/h, ensuring the bicycle offered reliable, easy-to-follow acceleration, and creating a frame able to steadily run on the track at high speed. The third difficulty was particularly noteworthy. With a speed range more than double that of regular electric bikes, the team were required to undertake rigorous testing while accepting feedback to redesign the frame again and again until it could perfectly support the engine’s immense power.
Despite the difficulties, Panasonic’s head of development for the project had this to say after Tokyo 2020: “While there were numerous setbacks and difficulties during development, being able to contribute to such an important event and hearing how easy the bikes were to ride directly from the pacers themselves reassured me that our work wasn’t for naught.”
Panasonic GX 0 in Review
With a torque of 90 Nm the Panasonic is one of the strongest motors in this group test. With this much grunt, the GX 0 blasts up the steepest of climbs without breaking a sweat, provided your cadence is high enough. At lower cadences of around 60 RPM and below you’ll notice a sudden and substantial loss of power. In direct comparison with the two Brose motors and despite having the same nominal torque, the GX 0 feels much weaker. This could be due to the individual tuning of the motor that provides a maximum support of 300%. In contrast the Brose Drive S Mag provides 410% support.
The motor responds quickly but works sensitively across all modes. We were particularly impressed with the automatic mode. This regulates the support stage between the weakest ECO and the strongest HIGH mode depending on the scenario. Compared to Bosch’s eMTB mode, Panasonic’s automatic mode is a lot more efficient in detecting the riding scenario, especially on less challenging terrain. This also makes it more energy-efficient! The Panasonic GX 0 is a true cruiser on the flats and reduces the support at the 25 km/h threshold very smoothly.
The Panasonic GX 0 feels very natural and inconspicuous, but despite its strength it struggles to keep up with the other motors.
Flyer and Panasonic have come up with a number of external battery solutions with a maximum capacity of 630 Wh. There are 2 displays on offer, where the D0-Display is suitable for Flyer eMTBs with a central position and an additional handlebar-remote. This might be Panasonic’s most compact solution, but the cockpit still looks untidy.
The Panasonic GX 0 offers tons of torque combined with a natural riding experience — the intelligent automatic mode is particularly smooth. Having said that, other motors in our test are much stronger and faster uphill.
Torque 90 Nm Motor weight 2.90 kg Riding modes 4
App management no Walk-assist yes System open
information at panasonic.com
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Words: Felix Stix Photos: E-MOUNTAINBIKE team
New E Bike standard for North America published in early 2020
Panasonic announced that its e-bike system is the first in North America to receive the new e-bike safety certification – UL 2849 from Underwriters Laboratory aka UL.
According to Panasonic, they worked very closely with UL to develop this certification.
The systems’ battery packs and motors met the rigorous testing conducted by UL that encompassed mechanical, electrical and functional safety tests.
This bi-national standard is published by Underwriters Laboratories.
Panasonic E Bikes
About Panasonic: Panasonic is an eBike manufacturer for over 23 years.
Panasonic has been at the forefront of mobility, powering electric-assist bicycles with compact batteries, high-performance motors, and inspired and innovative engineering.
About Underwriter Laboratories (UL)
UL evaluated the Panasonic e-bike’s product design and tested per the test requirements of ANSI/CAN/UL 2849, which addresses the battery system, charging system, electric motors and other electrical parts. Evaluation, testing and certification to UL 2849 by UL aims to minimize risks from e-bike system fires or explosions, such as lithium battery thermal runaway, as well as electric shock hazards. The program certification program includes:
- Product design review requires robust evaluations of the battery system, charger system, battery protective circuitry, system protective circuitry, electrical drive train system and variations in the system combinations per the consensus requirements of UL 2849.
- Electrical, environmental, functional and mechanical safety testing per the test clauses of UL 2849 in order to minimize the risk of fire and electric shock of the e-bike product.
- The UL 2849 certification program does not evaluate for the operator’s ability to maintain control while riding and remains focused on system safety for fire, explosions and electric shock.