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E-bikes have become popular in recent years as technology has improved. They are now more affordable, offer longer range and are generally a lot of fun to drive.
E-bikes make it easy for people to cover greater distances and climb steep hills without exerting too much effort. Most e-bikes generally offer pedal assistance, where the motor kicks in as you pedal. This means that you use less energy when driving in demanding terrain. However, there are some important things you need to know before you saddle up.
1. Find the right e-bike for your purpose
When choosing an e-bike, it is important to consider your riding style. For example, do you plan to use your e-bike primarily for commuting? In this case, look for models with good battery life and comfortable seating options such as an integrated suspension system or an adjustable seat post.
Are you more of a recreational driver? In that case, look for e-bikes with powerful motors that can handle hilly terrain or off-road trails. If you’re serious about speed, then focus on finding an e-bike with a motor and battery combo that offers plenty of horsepower but still has good range and battery life.
For example, commuter bicycles are generally designed to travel long distances on flat surfaces. On the other hand, mountain e-bikes are designed to give you that extra kick you need when you’re going up a steep hill but still hitting the trails and jumps on the way back down. Therefore, the first thing to do is to find an e-bike that suits your purpose.
2. Understand different e-bike classes
Not all e-bikes may be ridden on bike lanes or general roads. Most cities have specific restrictions on speed and maximum motor wattage, so it’s important that you buy a bike that you can take anywhere, which is why there are different classes of e-bikes.
Class 1 e-bikes
Class 1 e-bikes have a maximum speed of 32 km/h and only offer pedal assistance. The electric motor only kicks in when you pedal, so there’s no dedicated accelerator pedal. However, riders have the freedom to choose the available pedal assistance and change gears.
You can ride class 1 e-bikes on all cycle paths and cycle paths without restrictions like conventional bicycles. These are also relatively cheaper and are designed primarily to help drivers commute.
Class 2 e-bikes
The main difference between class 1 and class 2 e-bikes is a dedicated throttle mode in addition to standard pedal assistance. Even if you stop pedaling, the motor helps maintain forward motion.
Of course, that uses more battery. Class 2 e-bikes have a maximum top speed of 32 km/h and there are no particular restrictions on where you can ride these bikes.
Class 3 e-bikes
Class 3 e-bikes are generally pretty fast, with a top speed of 28 mph. However, some e-bikes can go very fast, which is why a speedometer is a necessary requirement in most states.
However, state regulations vary regarding Class 3 e-bikes with throttle bodies. For example, certain states such as California do not allow throttle bodies on Class 3 e-bikes (since it can result in speeding).
Some manufacturers circumvent these limitations by adding a mode that allows up to 20 km/h of throttling, after which the motor only provides pedal assistance. In general, you can take class 3 e-bikes on street lanes or even ride them on a bike lane, although there are often restrictions on riding a class 3 e-bike on a shared bike lane with pedestrians.
3. The engine type makes a big difference
There are two common types of motors you’ll find on modern e-bikes: hub motors and mid-drive motors. Mid-drive motors mount to the bottom bracket of your bike frame, usually near the crank. This means power is sent through your regular chainring and cassette, giving you more control over your speed when pedaling.
If you’re looking to convert a standard bike with an e-bike conversion kit, installing a mid-mounted motor can be tricky. First, it’s quite expensive as it requires a special bottom bracket. Additionally, mid-drive motors can add a significant amount of weight to your bike, which can affect its maneuverability.
Wheel hub motors, on the other hand, are installed either in the wheel hub of the front or rear wheel. This type of motor offers more power than a mid-mounted motor and is easier to install as it does not require modifications to the bike frame or components.
However, since power is transferred directly from the hub motor to the wheel, using a hub motor reduces your control over pedaling speed. In addition, the location of your hub motor (front or rear) can also affect the handling of your bike as it only adds extra weight on one side of your bike.
4. Understand e-bike braking
Modern e-bikes feature many technological advances, with some e-bikes also offering ABS brakes. This prevents your bike from locking up if you brake too hard at high speed and gives you more control over the steering.
E-bikes are generally heavier, so brake early. It is generally recommended to spin the bike for a lap to better accommodate the weight of the bike. If you brake hard too frequently, you’re also likely to chew through your brake pads a lot quicker, meaning you’ll spend more on replacements.
5. Managing battery life
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly e-bike or you need something for rough terrain, learning how to manage battery life is important. You don’t want to go out halfway and have to pedal the whole way, especially when there’s still hilly terrain left.
Most e-bikes offer different settings ranging from “eco” to “intermediate” to “turbo”. This is pretty self-explanatory and generally refers to the level of support you get. As you might expect, Turbo mode causes the battery to drain much faster.
Many e-bikes have an indicator on the handle that shows you how much battery is left. Some bikes also offer features like automatic shifting to better manage battery life. Ideally you want to use the lowest assist setting or keep it under 30% to maximize battery life. If you hit hilly terrain, you can always upshift.
6. Be extra careful on the road
It goes without saying that you should always wear the correct safety equipment, especially a helmet, before setting off on your e-bike. It is also recommended that you wear reflective clothing and lights so drivers can see you clearly at night or in poor visibility.
When driving on the road, it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Watch out for pedestrians crossing the street, other cyclists, and cars turning left or right at intersections.
Always leave enough space between your bike and nearby vehicles – this gives you time to react if something unexpected happens. Make sure you obey all traffic laws so drivers know what to expect from you. Never drive into traffic or weave between lanes without first blinking!
A good e-bike can make all the difference
E-bikes make it incredibly easy (and fun) to get around town and get a decent workout. They are much better for the environment and offer excellent health benefits. If you compare a regular bike to an e-bike, the latter could give you more options, allowing you to go further and faster.
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