E-bikes are great fun, but they also offer an enjoyable way to exercise, commute and get errands done
“It’s my bike, and I can pedal if I want to,” is the new mantra for e-bike enthusiasts. These pedal-assisted electric bikes offer adventures with a boost.
They differ from human-powered bikes in many ways, starting with speed, as they can hit over 20 mph. And while e-bikes provide an assist, people ride farther and more often on an e-bike than on a regular bike. They are also heavier – the average e-bike weighs about 60 pounds with the battery, compared to 20 or 25 pounds for a pedal-powered bike – so the rider exerts energy and burns calories while pedaling.
They also offer an easy way to get around and save gas – of critical importance in a time of historically high gas prices. Speaking of prices, e-bikes have also become much more affordable. Today, there are companies producing e-bikes for the masses, generally priced between $1,400 and $2,000. Here’s what to consider before you buy:
City or Cargo?
Some popular e-bikes are city/commuter bikes, such as the RadCity made by Rad Power Bikes, and the Charge City made by Schwinn/Cannondale, specifically designed for people who want to ride on city streets in comfort. Rad, the leading North American e-bike manufacturer, previously sold almost exclusively online, but the company has kicked up some dust with recent brick-and-mortar store openings coming in Brooklyn, NY; Huntington Beach, CA and St. Petersburg, FL.
Cargo bikes are popular for people who want to cart along a passenger; they also include space in the back for luggage and groceries and are ideal for short trips around town when you need to lug something back. Popular models include the RadWagon from Rad and XPremium from Lectric.
Throttle or Pedal Assist?
To get the e-bike to deliver power through the motor, you either must use some kind of handlebar device (a.k.a. a throttle) or pedal assist. Each is designed to provide a quick burst of speed, with pedal-assist providing more power. Some brands are offering both throttle and pedal-assist so you don’t have to choose.
Several companies offer foldable bikes to fit easily in the back of your car or SUV. A good example is Rad’s new Radexpand 5.
Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)
An LCD display will measure how fast you’re going with the speedometer, how far you’ve gone with an odometer and how much battery life you have remaining. Look for a built-in USB port to charge your phone.
Bells and Whistles
Some of the pricier bikes have added features like built-in GPS and built-in alarm/anti-theft security; one company making these hip bikes with advanced features is VanMoof.