What are Electric Bikes?
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E bikes are rapidly becoming a viable form of transportation for anyone who lives in a city and for a fraction of the cost can compete with vehicles for ease of use and speed of getting from place to place.
But what precisely are e bikes and what should you be looking for when thinking about buying a e bike? I will endeavour to answer those questions without going to far into the details because trust me the details are many and well detailed.
Cars vs E bikes
So we all have to get around and for most of us the car is the way we do it. But the car comes with
that are too numerous to go into with this particular post. What I want to talk about is a great alternative/supplement to your car that’s isn’t public transit or walking. What I am talking about of course is the humble bicycle but with an upgrade.
A bicycle is a great tool for getting around to run close errands and having fun in your free time but for most people the thought of using a bicycle to commute to a from work is just not on the table. The reasons are many for why people feel this way but probably the biggest ones are that they,
· Don’t want to get to work sweaty
· Are not physically fit enough to do it.
Those are two perfectly valid reasons especially for those of you out there who have office jobs or jobs that require a certain form of dress. I am lucky enough in my day job that it doesn’t matter if I get to work a bit sweaty since I will most likely will be getting more so because of work.
But if these reasons are why you don’t want to bike to work then what you need is an E-bike. An E- bike combines the mobility of using a bike with most of the ease of using a car. Getting an E- Bike these days can be cheaper and easier than ever depending on how you go about it.
Types of E Bike Kits
There are three types of kits that can be purchased, or you can build our own from scratch. The three types of kits you can buy are the following,
· Front Hub
· Rear Hub
· Mid Drive
All three types have different advantages and disadvantages which I will go over briefly next.
This type of motor is housed in the front wheel of the bicycle and will come pre-wired and installed in the wheel for you. The biggest advantage to a front hub motor is ease of installation. You literally just swap out the front tire on your bike with the tire containing the motor. One of the main downsides to a front hub motor is that since the power is in the front of the bike where the least weight is traction can be an issue.
Like the front hub motor this one is already installed on the tire of the bike but since it is going on the rear wheel it could be more complicated to install is you have gears that need to be removed. The main advantage to a rear hub is traction this is big deal if you use the bike for more aggressive riding and not just easy commuting.
Like the name implies this motor is installed in the pedal crankshaft area of the bike. The nicest thing about this style of motor is very balanced and delivers power than can be indistinguishable from the power you are generating with your pedaling. These are also typically the most expensive of the three types, but they can be more powerful.
WHere to buy an E bike kit?
When I built my bike I chose to go with a front hub motor from a company called Bike Berry. They are not the cheapest provider of components, but they are based in the USA and they have a good customer service record. One of the main issues you will run into in the e bike world is lots of cheap kits and batteries out there for sale. While it may be tempting to go with the cheapest possible option I would seriously consider spending a bit more money to buy name brand parts from good reputable companies.
Power isn’t everything
E-Bike kits come in many different levels of power that they can generate.
· 250 watts
· 500 watts
· 750 watts
· 1000 watts
I have found in my experience that unless you live far from your job i.e. 10 miles + or you have a lot of hills to contend with that anything over 250 watts is just overkill. Now I know that other e bike enthusiasts will disagree with me on this but for our average work commuter I just don’t see it.
Power Storage is Everything
While the power of the motor isn’t everything at least in my opinion the power capacity of your battery is what is most important. The capacity or amp hours of your battery systems determines how far you can go and how fast you can get there on a charge. For the average bike commuter who travels around 10 miles or less round trip something in the 9-11 amps hours would be sufficient. For a 250 watt kit this would give you around 20 miles of power depending on how much you pedal and the topography.
Moral of the Story
Riding an e- bike for my commute has changed for the better how I get to live my life. When I rode a regular bike I could only ride a couple days a week before my knee started to swell up and make its displeasure known. Now I can ride all week and adjust the level of effort depending on how my legs/knee is feeling that day. This has pretty much allowed me to ditch the car for the work week and brought a daily exercise into my day. This along with the cost savings I have found by not having to drive a car have made the expense of buying the kit more than worth it.
If you want to take a closer look at some e bike kits I would check out Bike Berry. They have kits in a wide range of styles and power and a good customer reputation.