Last year, U.S. sales of e-bikes climbed a whopping 240 percent compared to pre-pandemic figures. Unit sales outpaced those of electric and hybrid vehicles combined, reports the Light Electric Vehicle Association.
Last year, U.S. sales of e-bikes
climbed a whopping 240 percent.
Traditional bicycle marketers like Schwinn as well as luxury motorcycle maker Harley-Davidson are among the myriad manufacturers that have jumped on the electric-charged bandwagon. New electric bike brands are hitting the market almost weekly, each offering something new and innovative. There are options at many price points and for every type of cycling.
Here are some things to know before you hop onto this two-wheeled trend.
It looks like a regular bike. An e-bike, also called a pedal-assist bike, mostly looks like a conventional bicycle. The key difference is that it is equipped with a battery-assisted electric motor to provide an extra boost while riding, especially when riding uphill.
There are plenty of options. Whether you enjoy challenging off-road bike trails or a leisurely cruise around the neighborhood, there’s an e-bike for you. Top-end models feature a larger frame and tires, and as many as 40 gears, to handle the rougher trails. Bikes with smaller tires and fewer gears are fine for cruisers. Well-rated, adult-sized cruiser bikes start at about $1,000.
There are three classes of e-bikes.
Class 1: The motor only operates when you pedal and it turns off at 20 mph. Most new riders start with this class bike. It is the most affordable.
Class 2: Is the same as class 1 but adds a throttle.
Class 3: Also like class 1 but the motor continues to help up to 28 mph.
Riding range will vary. Riding range differs depending on the class of bike, size of battery and how much unmotorized pedaling you’re willing to do. On average, you can expect an electric bike to go anywhere between 25 to 50 miles on a single charge. A mounted monitor on the bike’s handlebar will let you know when the power is running low. For long rides, be sure to take along additional charged batteries to replace exhausted ones. Bosch’s E-Bike Range Assistant (https://www.bosch-ebike.com/us/service/range-assistant/) can help you estimate a bike’s range.
Recharging is easy. Most e-bikes feature a removable battery that can be quickly recharged using a standard household outlet. Charging typically takes three to five hours from empty. Large-capacity batteries will take longer.
It’s a good source of exercise. A study from Brigham Young University public health professors found pedal-assist bikes can provide essentially the same level of workout as conventional bikes. The study revealed that participants didn’t feel riding the e-bikes was physically taxing, even though they were exercising at nearly the exact same physical intensity. According to recorded heart-rate data, the average heart rate on an e-mountain bike was 94 percent of the average heart rate for a conventional mountain bike.
Georgia state law regulates e-bikes like bicycles. The same rules of the road apply to both e-bikes and non-motorized bicycles. E-bikes are not subject to the registration, licensing or insurance requirements that apply to motor vehicles.
Will 2022 be the year you get a bike that’s boosted with electric pedal assist? Before you shop, read this rundown of the best electric bikes from the staff at outdoor recreation cooperative REI.