The two most common electric motor styles used in today’s e-bikes are hub motors and mid-drive motors. The Freedom uses a hub motor, which was located in the center of the rear wheel. Hub motors typically don’t offer the same natural maneuverability as the increasingly more common (and more expensive) mid-drive motors because their weight is concentrated in the rear of the bike. It can be jarring when the motor prevents you from going faster than the allotted speed, especially when cruising downhill, but 20 mph is the legal maximum for e-bikes in the US. (In the EU, it’s even lower: 25 km/h, or 15.5 mph.)
From what we could tell from the launch photos, the bikes have 16x1 3/8-inch wheels, chain drive, an internally geared hub, and hydraulic disc brakes. They’re rounded out by full-coverage fenders, reflective-sidewall tires, ergonomic grips, a kickstand, and a bell. The company says the sleek, single-size aluminum frame fits riders between 5 feet and 6 feet tall.
But two other concerns are also front and center when it comes to biking: cost and convenience. Not many people have showers at their places of employment, and who wants to show up to work coated in sweat and stinky for the rest of the day? Electric bikes solve the convenience problem by making the process almost effortless; you can bike for miles—even up and down hills—without breaking a sweat.
Faster e-bikes usually run at higher voltage. But higher voltage reduces range as well, because lower speeds are more efficient. So e-bikes running higher voltage will have less range unless significantly more battery capacity is added to compensate. This causes higher speed builds to be increasingly expensive for the same range that could be gotten from a slower e-bike. Therefore deciding on a build requires balancing several factors: Range, Speed, Cost, and Quality.
The other shout-out goes to Paul Bogaert who decided to close the Bike Doctor after 27 years and instead cycle tour the world with his wife. Paul had an early role in Vancouver bicycle advocacy and at bringing cycle riding to a less elitist/athletic and more everyday commuter crowd through their shop. They were among the early shops to embrace family friendly cargo bikes and appreciated the role that electric would play in making cycling more broadly appealing.