When we think about technologies that have changed the world, and how we function and exist in it, there are certain ones that come to mind. The automobile, the computer, and most recently, the smartphone. There is, however, another technology that is quietly flourishing and spreading around us without getting nearly as much attention. One that has the world-changing potential – the Electric Bicycle.
In fact, the technology is so popular that in Asia, the world’s largest e-bike market, there are two hundred million of them in use. They account for over a quarter of all the bicycles in the country. In the United States, the numbers are smaller for now. Yet, more and more people are becoming aware of them, and adoption rates are increasing.
20 years from now, as we reflect back on our search for the personal mobility solution, we are likely not going to remember the world before e-bikes just as it is becoming harder to remember it before the smartphones came along. E bikes are very different from the Regular bikes that we see, here’s how.
Appearance and mechanics.
The first thing you’ll notice about electric bikes is that they look a lot like normal bikes. There’s a common myth that e-bikes are like scooters, but they’re actually just bicycles with added electric motors. Electric bikes have the same wheels, handlebars, and body geometry as regular mechanical bikes.
The mechanical elements also all function in the same way, including the pedals and brakes.
The only difference in appearance is the addition of the electrical drive system. This includes an electric motor, a battery and a display screen or controller. The battery powers the motor, which provides assistance as you pedal, helping to propel the bike forward. Read our post on how e-bikes work for more information on their electric system.
Maintenance and repairs.
As we’ve noted, all the standard components of an e-bike are the same as a regular bike. This means that looking after the bike is pretty much the same too. This includes maintenance, servicing, and repairs.
If anything goes wrong with parts like wheels or brakes, you can take an electric bike to the same repair shop as a regular bike and they will be able to fix it. And the cost of these repairs should be the same too. The only time this changes’ is if something goes wrong with the electric components – then you will need an e-bike specialist to look at it. But faults with the electrical system are very rare, and it comes with a warranty.
With all that electrical assistance, does it mean e-bikes are faster for getting around than regular bikes? That question depends on how fast you usually ride. In line with EU regulation, the e-bike motor will help you get up to 25 km/h (15.5 mph). If you want to go faster than this, the motor will cut out and you’ll need pure pedal power from your own legs.
This means if you want to go very fast, the electric motor will not help you. For example, electric bikes provide no assistance in a race, which is one of the many reasons why riding an e-bike is not “cheating”. But if you’re not racing, e-bikes might make your ride faster. This is because they make pedaling feel effortless so you don’t get tired as quickly. And they make it easier to maintain a constant speed and get back up to speed after stopping, which may cut down your journey time. But essentially, e-bikes are built for easy cycling, not breaking speed records.