Ebikes 101 - Learn a bit more

Ebikes 101 - Learn a bit more

Thanks for stopping by. 
Our original and amazing website was lost and we had an Ebikes 101 page on there.  Just by happenstance, I came across someone else's "101" page while checking our store's search engine results and they actually quoted our old "101" page. So giving credit to the author, I am pasting it here temporarily till I have time to make an up-to-date version of our own. Enjoy!
Green Revs Ebikes 101 pre-notes (while I find time to do this right)

  1. You get what you pay for (Most of the time) - When it comes to quality, you get what you pay for unless what you're paying for is a highly marketed and overpriced ebike. An ebike's most costly component is the battery. We have found that bikes with Samsung cells outperform all other bikes in range and lifespan of the battery pack. This is usually one of the biggest reasons that a bike will cost more than another. Secondly, the battery capacity will determine the cost of that battery. entry level bikes have batteries rated 6ah, 8ah, and 10ah. Typically, bikes with smaller batteries will cost under $1500 unless that bike has a fancy brand name on the front which will earn a few extra $$ on the tag. The next few pricing determinators are the voltage of the battery, the Wattage and Model/Brand of the motor, type/brand of brakes (drum, rim, coaster, disc, hydraulic), shocks, tires, and frame material (aluminum or steel). At the end of the day it will still come down to one big thing though; BRANDING
  2. Branding matters - Lets only consider brands that Green Revs carries in-store for now. We've recently added Raleigh Electric Bikes to our line-up. Why did we go looking for them? BRANDING! Raleigh is a well known brand and a nice big company that is likely to stay in the game for a long time. Their products are well made, quality paint jobs, and each model is purpose built for its' intended application. With Raleigh, you're buying a Raleigh. Let's look at our other best selling brand, Magnum. Magnum has very high quality, purpose built ebikes with good paint jobs also. They are likely the absolute best brand being sold in the USA as of this writing; however a smaller company which is poised to continue to grow and eventually dominate. With Magnum, you're buying value. Both companies produce bikes that we, at Green Revs, can be confident will be solid performers with minimal issues for an owner for decades upon decades. A person comparing similarly purposed ebikes by each brand will have a striking awareness that the Magnum will provide much more power, range, speed, technical ability, and comfort at a lower price than the Raleigh bike. Then why Raleigh? For some, because it's a Raleigh. For others, the paint color, shape, or fit of the bike is tailored more specifically to them. Magnums have a one size fits most frame while Raleigh offers 2-4 different sizes of the same model which means if you are 4'9" Raleigh has a Sprite for you and if you're 6'2" Raleigh has a Sprite which fits you also. In Magnum, the shorter rider may switch from a Ui6 to a Premium Folding bike to get something that works well. And the taller rider may just need to customize a handlebar, seatpost, or switch from a Ui6 to a Magnum Cruiser for that proper fit. Both brands are excellent but have different platforms in their offerings.
    Now, the controversial part: Brands we do not carry... for good reason. We often have people asking why we don't carry something like "Rad" or "Pedego" or "insert name of hottest, fastest, cheapest ebike popping up on banner ads". The answer is simple: We carry only brands we feel are from companies with good ethical practices, high quality standards, and ability to sustain for many years. Lets think of the Yugo car; I hear they were cheap... but not for long. Lets think of the Fisker car brand; there was lots of hype! Oh, too bad they folded up so fast along with people's deposits. The truth of the matter is this and I will name names - Rad's philosophy was to sell direct to internet buyers and alienate dealers... well now you know why I don't really like them. But that wasn't all. They knowingly chose to mislead people by advertising the "peak" output of their motors/systems as 750w when the honest rating is the nominal output of around 400-450w. A company that lies to sell products is not a company I want to deal with. I've assembled a few and repaired a couple so I can see plainly on their included display that the wattage output doesn't even get in to the 500w range unless I hit a little hill. The "peak" output can only sustain for at most 10 seconds before the motor will shut off to self-protect the system. So, we have an over-hyped, low quality bike which is actually priced correctly for what it is. I can't fault them for that. 
    Next, we'll go to Pedego. Their philosophy is to target early retirees to open a fun and exciting store where they will meet people and make money. Pedego pays to have top rankings on search engines and sets up everything (store, displays, advertising, financial systems, rentals, etc) for the unsuspecting entrepreneurs. Well, soon they find that repairs are kind of hard and they don't really get the technology, it's really hard to sell bikes that cost $3000+ when people can pay much less for way better quality almost anywhere else, and the stress of having to do high pressure sales tactics using proven manipulation techniques can take a toll on one's psyche in a short time... did we mention sales quotas and quadruple priced replacement parts? But the main reason why people buy Pedego is that this brand has DEEP pockets and keeps their name out in front, produces very nice booklets and brochures, and makes sure the negative press stays hidden (like about how long one of their franchise stores stays in business - 1-2 yrs) They promote that they are selling bikes to consumers but the reality is that they are selling bikes to franchisees who end up losing everything and those owners liquidate the stock on their way out. Now those new owners of the $3k-$5k bikes have to travel an hour to the closest Pedego dealer to get service. 
    Conversely, another brand with a quite similar business model- X-treme will let just about anyone become a dealer with no assistance but they have some of the cheapest ebikes available... They like Pedego charge 3x the normal prices for replacement parts. "Sell em cheap, flood the market, make the money on replacement parts" seems to be their motto. We are still technically dealers for Xtreme but you'll have to listen to my list of warning before I'll place an order for one. 
    All of this to say: Branding is important because with an ebike, there will come a day where it just doesn't turn on anymore- maybe on day one or maybe on day 5000. When that day comes, is there a company that will support it? Did the engineers of that bike use open source parts that can be retrofitted or are you stuck with a system that used proprietary technology from that company and it alone it/was your source for parts - and they're gone... Look up Polaris Electric Bikes, Prodecotech Batteries (or why 90% of prodeco dealers dropped them), and BionX for some recent horror stories. 
    With Ebikes, the company standing behind the bike is as important as the bike itself because anything could happen at any time and eventually will. I'll just add that at Green Revs, we do our best to filter through the garbage brands and the unethical brands to promote only products that will provide a lifetime of enjoyment. Even within some brands, we may omit a certain model which may be lacking in an area of concern.
  3. Details matter-  Mid-Drive or Hub Motor? Double Suspension  or Front Suspension? Fat Tire or normal? Rim Brake or Disc Brake? 36v, 48v, or 52v? How many Amps can the controller put out continuously? Who designed the system? Is this for pavement, trail, or mixed use? How many Amp Hours are in the battery and how does that compare to the Controller and motor specs? What's the difference between a motor's power and top speed? How does this frame help or hinder my special needs or riding purpose? Insert more questions here...
  4. Don't overthink this! -  Alot of people come in to our store very confused after hours of internet searches and conflicting info from each brand claiming they are the best... For those in locality of Green Revs Delray Beach, your best bet is to stop doing online research, come in to our store for a test ride or three and have your questions answered in person. After that, you can do your online research and you will have a starting base of knowledge AND experience to help understand what you are reading. If you're not close to us, we encourage you to visit a local E-Bike shop (Ebike specialty shops have more knowledge on real ebikes than regular bike shops that have a couple ebike models in their store) near you and start there. If they have something that meets your needs and price point, then it's best to shop local and have that relationship with them for future support. If they don't have what you need, give us a call or shop on our site and we will provide you with the next best thing to a local bike shop. 
  5. Where to start -  How Fast? How Far? How Much?  That's usually where people start. Yes, there is a bit more too. My main question that I ask people after selling well over 1000 ebikes, is "what are you planning to use the bike for?" I have a lot of people asking for Mid-Drive bikes but after inquiring as to their needs or style of riding, we find out that a mid-drive bike is the last thing they really want. They read about it or watched a video but it doesn't fit their use or activity level. I have people asking for a Hybrid only to find out that they are really uncomfortable on a hybrid and would prefer a City Bike or Cruiser... So, first we determine what they are going to do with the bike and then we find a bike that does that well and fits their body or limitations.
    After that, it is about price, color, and features. 
    Again, we recommend for those just looking in to ebikes, that you go to where the ebikes are and start there before turning to the many points of view on the internet. There is a little shop in Delray Beach called Green Revs which carries almost every type of ebike in stock and allows short test rides of as many as you may need to narrow your field of view. If we don't have it, you likely don't need it!



Electric Bikes 101

Electric bikes are bicycles that have added features that boost their power, range, and radius. They can make commutes far less sweat-inducing than standard bicycles. As demand for these e-bikes is growing worldwide, now is a great time to learn a little more about them and what they may have to offer you, your family, and your commute.

What are Electric Bicycles?

Electric bicycles are typically standard bicycles that have a few added features. The motor is one of those added features. It is commonly mounted on the side or the hub, though there are also friction and mid-drive motors available as well. Power ratings for electric bikes can be found anywhere between 200W to 700W.

The battery is a very important feature of the electric bike. According to NYCeWheels, batteries are typically one of the following three types:

  1. Lead Acid
  2. Nickel Metal Hydride
  3. Lithium Ion

With modern e-bikes using one of the latter two.

The controller is the tool that allows you to select the mode, and is generally located on the handlebar of the bicycle to make it easy to use while on the go.

Some will include extras like baskets to make them more useful, and others may come equipped with digital tools to determine speed and available battery charge.

Most states classify these as bicycles, so you won’t need an endorsement on your driver’s license – or a driver’s license at all. While electric bikes have motors that are incredibly useful, they can also operate as a standard bicycle, powered by the pedal. Many of the modern e-bikes allow you the option of riding completely powered, by pedal alone, or with pedal assist.

They are easy to operate with most electric bikes offering you a choice of three operating modes:

  • Pedal Only – in this mode, you’re the power behind the bicycle. It’s just like riding any other bike, and a great way to get a good workout in before or after work.
  • Pedal Assist – with the push of a button located on the handle bars you can switch to this mode that allows the bicycle to provide power as you are pedaling. You can choose the amount of power you’d like to use as assistance in this mode.
  • Electric Only – the motor does all the work for you in this mode so that you can ride along and enjoy the scenery.

Benefits of Electric Bicycles

Some people prefer electric bikes when riding in areas that have a lot of hills as it can help them more easily power up the hills or for longer distances when they may be tired towards the end of their trips. These are just a few benefits e-bikes have to offer.

Environmentally-Friendly Transportation Options

The fact that these bicycles do not consume fossil fuels or create emissions makes them a very earth-friendly choice for transportation.

Versatility

Some really do appreciate the versatility. Others appreciate the speed. According to College Magazine, electric bicycles can travel at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour (please remember to wear your helmets), while traditional bicycles can typically only travel up to 10 miles per hour in cities.

Costs

The price is another factor, especially among young professionals just getting started. Not only is the upfront cost much lower than buying a car, moped, or even paying for public transportation, the costs of ownership are substantially less.

You don’t have to buy gas, pay taxes, buy tags, purchase insurance, etc., though Evelo reports that electric bicycles must travel at top speeds lower than 20 miles per hour when operating in electric only mode AND a motor power maximum of 750 watts to be maintain classification as  bicycle. Electric bikes may go faster than 20 mph when you’re using pedal assist mode.

The savings may look small, but they really add up fast. If you’re working in the city, you know how difficult and expensive parking can be. Yet many buildings allow special bicycle parking free of charge.

Ease of Commute

There are many ways that electric-assist bikes reign supreme when it comes to the daily commute. While cars are stalled in traffic and reduced to frustrated horn blasts, bicycle riders can cruise on by in the bicycle lane avoiding the snarls and snares of rush hour traffic.

Riding along in electric mode means you’re not working up a sweat, though you can switch to pedal assist or full pedal powered mode if you’re interested in getting a good workout in on your way to work. With many businesses offering shower facilities, this is becoming a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

For those who live near the office, this can eliminate the need for a car at all, provided you’re willing to do with a few weather-related hiccups along the way. Many people find it to be a relaxing way to begin their work days, and arrive feeling far more refreshed than those who commute to the office in cars and pay for parking.

Popularity of Electric Bicycles

While embraced whole-heartedly in many cultures around the world, like Europe and especially China, electric bicycles are just now gaining traction in the U.S. — particularly in some cities, like San Francisco.

In fact, Green Revs reported that in February of 2013 there was a meeting of e-bike industry leaders from around the world, and one of the projections to come out of that meeting was that by 2020, 40 percent of all bikes manufactured around the world will be e-bikes. (Note from Green Revs: They did and it looks like we are on track for sure!)

This is great news because it means these electric bicycles are growing in popularity, becoming more common, and new business means there will be increases in availability, advancing technology, and lower prices to correspond with more electric bikes on the roads.

Across the world, much of Europe consider bikes as a mode of transportation, in addition to a fitness, sports, and recreational device. On the other hand, in the U.S.,  bikes are typically considered as primarily for fitness, sports, and recreation, rather than a transportation source. In the U.S., the car is the primary transportation source. As the population ages though, to active seniors, the electric bike seems like a natural application.

Why Buy Electric Bicycles?

Different people will buy electric bikes for many different reasons. These are some of the more common, and some surprising reasons, people make the investment.

  • Faster Commute – for those living in areas with substantial traffic congestion, electric bikes offer a sensible solution to decrease commute time and get to work even faster.
  • Commitment to Living Green – for some this is the primary motivation to buy electric bicycles. When used as a mode of transportation, they help reduce traffic and smog.
  • College Commutes – with many campuses banning cars for underclassmen, or other students living on campus, electric bicycles provide a cost effective manner of transportation – especially in college towns with many resources located near the campus. The University of Washington is even considering a vending program that allows students, faculty, and staff to rent electric bikes by the hour, according to Inside Higher Ed.
  • Novelty – some people just like toys and gadgets. The bigger the better, and this is one amazing one that is sure to bring its own share of toy joy to all who own it. Don’t knock the fun factor. It can be a powerful motivator for buying and using an electric bike.
  • Traveling around Town– while most people will not find this to be the best choice for long distance or family travel, riding around town to take care of errands, visit the local farmer’s market, visit the library, grab a cup of coffee, or support your local businesses is a great way to maximize the potential and usefulness of electric bicycles.
  • Getting Fit – the great thing about e-bikes is that you’re able to choose the amount of effort you put into operating it. This means you can go all in with your efforts to get a workout on your commute or increase your effort over time as your body becomes accustomed to the routine of your ride.
  • Touring – visiting a new city? You’ll be able to cover more ground sightseeing and without getting tuckered out if using an electric bike to check out the sights of another city.
  • Medical condition – for people who have knee pain or other physical challenges, electric bikes offer the ability to still get out there and enjoy the outdoors with their family.

These are many reasons to consider electric bicycles for people from all walks of life. Understanding basic facts about these bicycles will help you make informed decisions about whether or not this is a good choice for you. As their popularity and availability grows, you can expect to see them more widely used and get more ideas about how you can use them yourself to do great things for the planet, your household budget, and your own physical fitness.


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