What is an Ebike, Why are they so awesome, and Where can I ride them?
What is an Electric Bicycle?
An electric bicycle, or E-bike, is a bicycle with an electric motor integrated into the frame or wheel. They ride like bicycles, not motorbikes, and they ride where bicycles ride without need for license, registration or insurance. Electric bicycles come in all styles and sizes just as regular bicycles do.
Many E-bikes have small motors, having less than 300 watts (3 old light bulbs!) of power, yet they have the ability to help power you up the steepest of hills. You can get fit and lose weight riding an e-bike (see our health benefits section).
An electric bicycle can change the way you commute, taking away both the stress of cycling and the excuses you would normally create not to ride! Furthermore, the level of your assist can be changed on the go so you can put as much effort in, or get as much power out as you like!
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles. This allows E-bike riders to use bike paths, bike lanes, and shared use pathways.
Whats the big deal?
50% of all trips in the US are less than 3 miles, and Currently 1% of all trips are by bicycle. If we could increase this by 0.5% (one out of every 200 trips!) across the country, we would save 462,000,000 gallons of gasoline annually.
Whether you are bicycling, or E-bicycling, getting your car off the road has enormous benefits for your health, your wallet, and the world around you.
The weekend of Los Angeles' "Carmageddon", air quality improved 83%. Air pollution in the region dropped 25%. That was one weekend of 20-30% less traffic.
Check out some of the research on how E-bikes help in the fight against climate change.
As long as your E-bike has a motor less than 1000w and is limited to 20mph (28mph with PAS!), then it is legally considered a bicycle by Oregon state statute 814.405.
This means as an E-bike rider you have all the same rights as other cyclists.
Unless specifically prohibited by signage or local statute, you can ride your E-bike anywhere you could ride a bicycle barring pedestrian sidewalks not on shared use paths.
Suprisingly, E-bikes are as beneficial as regular bicycles for maintaining health. Even though an E-bike has electric assist, E-bike owners generally travel further and more often by bicycle. Owning an E-bike, you will find that there are less excuses for not using your bike; hills and wind no longer have you at their mercy!
Here's a great article dismissing all those haters who claim e-bikers are cheaters:
Many rides can be accomplished on an electric bike as quickly as in a car. Charging an electric bike costs only pennies a day, and parking, fuel and car insurance costs are eliminated. An electric bike allows you to travel farther than a conventional bike and requires no special training. One charge of the battery will let you ride for at least 20 miles on most bikes without pedaling and much further when you do, with some E-bikes touting ranges over 100miles!
Check out some of the research and projects involving E-bikes and their health benefits around the world
I have trouble cycling. Why are electric bicycles a better option?
As long as you find an E-bike that fits you, and can balance while moving, an Electric Bicycle is an amazing way to get you moving. The extra power provided can be as little or as much as you need. If you are unsteady on 2 wheels, any trike or recumbent bicycle can be converted as well!
The average cyclist generates about 150w of power consistently, compare that to the available power of a 250w, 350w, or even 750w electric motor. This means that anyone can ride up a hill, through headwinds, or long distance, the electric assist allows you to travel where you want undeterred by physical limitations.
Additionally, electric assist allows the stress of a bicycle commute to fade away. If you're tired, turn up your PAS, if you're feeling frisky, turn it off and ride your bike normally!
I'm already into Bicycling, why do I need an E-bike?
An electric bicycle opens up possibilities you might not consider on your bicycle, such as groceries, going out to a movie, picking up the kids, or an extra 5 mile detour on the ride home.
E-bikes level the playing field, allowing people of all cycling levels to ride together. Be careful though, if you put your friend on an E-bike and you don't have one, you're in for a hard ride!
Lastly, E-bikes are just fun. Watching someone get on an E-bike for the first time is always a joy. E-bikes are not a replacement for your road bike or touring bike. They are bicycles that are practical enough to replace cars. An electric bicycle puts the human experience back into your commute.
We are a proud supporter of GEARS: http://eugenegears.org/
History of Electric Bicycles
Dec 31, 1895, the E-bike is born.
It may have been heavy, but at 1000 watts It had power to spare!
Electric bikes are nothing new. In fact, the first electric bicycle was patented at the U.S. Patent Office on Dec 31, 1895. This patent involved a rear hub motor rated at 1000w. While the design was good, weight and battery capacities held the idea back from widespread use.
Over 100 years later, electric bicycles are only just beginning to reach their full potential.
Pedal Assist is Born
Pedal Assist Systems (PAS) change the E-bike market forever.
It wasn't until the early 90's that E-bikes started becoming what they are today. With the addition of Cadence and Torque sensors, Electric bicycles became practical. Cadence sensors allow the motor to know how fast you are pedaling, whereas Torque sensors measure how much power you are putting into the pedals. These systems allow the motor to provide the proportional assist which makes your e-bike feel alive!
100 years of advancement.
Modern E-bike motors follow many of the same principles as the first patent, though many features have been added. As you can see in this cutaway of the Brose mid drive system many electrical components have been added such as a circuit board and motor controller which increase efficiency and power capabilities. Modern 250w mid drive motors like the Bosch, Brose, or STEPS systems contain more than enough power to climb the south hills.
The Modern Commuter
Form. Function, Embodied.
E-bikes are quickly becoming the most energy efficient, climate friendly method of commuting. With the health benefits of a bicycle, shocking range capabilities, and low space requirements, a modern E-bike can easily replace a car for 90% of your journeys.
Come ride an E-bike and see why we're so excited about them!
Adventures, FAQ by the owners, Media appearances, and E-bike musings.