E-bikes are typically offered in 24V, 36V and 48V configurations. Higher voltage generally means higher top speed – but that may not always be the case. Since the efficiency of a motor and drive system can have an effect on power and speed, a 24V setup could have the same top speed as a 36V setup. Generally you can expect 15-18 mph on a 24v setup, 16-20 mph on a 36V setup and 24-28 mph on a 48V setup. Although it far exceeds Federal laws, some conversion kits can even be run at 72V for speeds of 35+ mph! However, this puts significant stress on bicycle components. Consider that even the fastest athletes only travel 17-18 mph on a conventional bicycle, so 20 mph feels very fast to most riders. Anything over this speed can be unsafe and exceeds law regulations.
For years, riders have been making fun of others who mount mudguards, a rack and a fixed headlight on their bikes. Admittedly, these home-built creations usually aren’t very attractive, but there is a reason why many riders do it anyway. For them, their bike is more than just a piece of sports equipment or a status symbol. They use it in their day-to-day lives and for that, above all else, it has to be practical. Ever more manufacturers are catching on and offering complete, everyday eMTBs, which, compared to trekking bikes, are well suited for light off-road use too. On top of that, the wider tyres and longer travel of the new breed of SUV bikes offer additional safety in urban environments e.g. on kerbs, railway tracks or on wet, dirty roads. Oh, and they look really good too, as proven by the SCOTT Axis eRide we recently reviewed! The most prominent representative of this new breed is Haibike’s new FLYON series.

A response to an inquiry made to the Mass DOT/RMV indicates that Massachusetts does recognize the federal low speed electric bicycle Federal Law (15 U.S.C. § 2085) and interprets that to mean these ebikes do not require license or registration. However, some of the materials available on the RMV website do not distinguish between "Motorized Bicycle" and low power ebikes. One form, Bicycle Conversion to Motorized Bike, does document the exemption of low power ebikes.[100]
Some US companies, notably in the tech sector, are developing both innovative cycle designs and cycle-friendliness in the workplace. Foursquare, whose CEO Dennis Crowley "pedaled to pitch meetings ... [when he] was raising money from venture capitalists" on a two-wheeler, chose a new location for its New York headquarters "based on where biking would be easy". Parking in the office was also integral to HQ planning. Mitchell Moss, who runs the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy & Management at New York University, said in 2012: "Biking has become the mode of choice for the educated high tech worker".[66]

Even with cheaper or heavier bikes, once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or a winter coat.
Bicycles can be categorized in many different ways: by function, by number of riders, by general construction, by gearing or by means of propulsion. The more common types include utility bicycles, mountain bicycles, racing bicycles, touring bicycles, hybrid bicycles, cruiser bicycles, and BMX bikes. Less common are tandems, low riders, tall bikes, fixed gear, folding models, amphibious bicycles, cargo bikes, recumbents and electric bicycles.

Several bills have been sponsored to legalize electric bicycles for use on NYS roads, and several have overwhelmingly passed at the committee level, but none of these initiatives has been able to be heard and then passed in the New York State Senate, until 2015. The latest bill S3997, "An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycle. Clarifying the vehicle and traffic law to define electric assisted bicycles; establish that electric assisted bicycles, as defined, are bicycles, not motor vehicles; and establish safety and operational criteria for their use." has passed in the Senate for the first time ever in 2015.[116] The related Assembly bill A233 was not brought to a vote in the assembly even though it had passed with little issue in prior years.[117]
These are, unfortunately, small steps forward, however, as the majority of city streets in America aren’t bike-friendly, and new legislation is rarely enforced. Then, if you take a look at the fitness (or lack thereof) of the average American, a connection begins to develop. This connection becomes even stronger when you compare the biking system here with that of a country like Norway, which has devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to its biking infrastructure, building highways dedicated to the mode of transportation. As a result, Norway is one of the most physically active countries in the world, significantly lowering their incidences of heart disease and obesity.
The first mechanically-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle may have been built by Kirkpatrick MacMillan, a Scottish blacksmith, in 1839, although the claim is often disputed.[20] He is also associated with the first recorded instance of a cycling traffic offense, when a Glasgow newspaper in 1842 reported an accident in which an anonymous "gentleman from Dumfries-shire... bestride a velocipede... of ingenious design" knocked over a little girl in Glasgow and was fined five shillings.[21]

In the 1870s many cycling clubs flourished. They were popular in a time when there were not cars on the market and the principal mode of transportation was horse-drawn vehicles, such the horse and buggy or the horsecar. Among the earliest clubs was The Bicycle Touring Club, which has operated since 1878. By the turn of the century, cycling clubs flourished on both sides of the Atlantic, and touring and racing became widely popular. The Raleigh Bicycle Company was founded in Nottingham, England in 1888. It became the biggest bicycle manufacturing company in the world, making over two million bikes per year.[31]
"Moped" means a device upon which a person may ride which has two or three wheels in contact with the ground, a motor having a maximum power output capability measured at the motor output shaft, in accordance with the Society of Automotive Engineers standards, of two horsepower (one thousand four hundred ninety -two watts) or less and, if it is a combustion engine, a maximum piston or rotor displacement of 3.05 cubic inches (fifty cubic centimeters) and which will propel the moped, unassisted, on a level surface at a maximum speed no greater than thirty miles per hour; and a direct or automatic power drive system which requires no clutch or gear shift operation by the moped driver after the drive system is engaged with the power unit.
Gearless (Direct-Drive) Hub Motors – Some conversion kits (and bikes) use gearless, direct-drive motors. On this type of motor, the axle that passes through the center of the motor is actually the axle of the motor itself, with the copper windings fixed to the axle. The magnets are mounted to the outer shell of the hub motor. When electricity is applied to the stator a magnetic field is induced that causes the magnets to move. This in turn makes the whole shell of the motor turn and propels the e-bike forward. Even though corrosion will eventually have an impact, this type of motor should last for years since there’s no gearing and no contact between moving parts. They’re also capable of higher top speeds. But since there’s no gears, they have less torque and it requires more power to get the motor up to speed. Most direct-drive hub motors are 350w-500w and reach speeds of 18-25 mph. But more powerful motors can reach speeds of 35+ 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.

Further innovations increased comfort and ushered in a second bicycle craze, the 1890s Golden Age of Bicycles. In 1888, Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop introduced the first practical pneumatic tire, which soon became universal. Willie Hume demonstrated the supremacy of Dunlop's tyres in 1889, winning the tyre's first-ever races in Ireland and then England.[28][29] Soon after, the rear freewheel was developed, enabling the rider to coast. This refinement led to the 1890s invention[30] of coaster brakes. Dérailleur gears and hand-operated Bowden cable-pull brakes were also developed during these years, but were only slowly adopted by casual riders.
Mid-mounted system means that the electric motor is not built into the wheel but is usually mounted near (often under) the bottom bracket shell. Mid-drive systems tend to feel more like a normal bike, since they drive the pedals, just like your legs, and those who frequently climb long, steep hills tend to prefer mid-drive systems for their ability to handle long climbs. As they can leverage the bicycles lowest gears for climbs, mid drive systems can also leverage the high gears to reach higher speeds on flat areas than a hub system. The mid-drive motor drives the crank, instead of the wheel itself, which multiplies its power and allows it to better take advantage of the bike’s existing gears. If the rider changes the gears appropriately, the motor can turn closer to its ideal rotations per minute which makes a huge difference while climbing hills, so this is a perfect option for those who love mountain biking.
Electric powered bicycles slower than 20 km/h without pedaling are legally recognized as a non-mechanically operated vehicle in China.[32] According to "TECHNOLOGY WATCH", this should help promote its widespread use.[33] Electric bicycles were banned in some areas of Beijing from August 2002 to January 2006 due to concerns over environmental, safety and city image issues. Beijing has re-allowed use of approved electric bicycles as of January 4, 2006.[34] Some cities in China still ban electric bikes.
On a trip to Palo Alto last year, we had the chance to ride Specialized’s pedal-assisted Turbo Vado and the model is still our favorite ebike on the market. Utilizing a 350-watt motor and 604-watt-hour lithium-ion battery, the Turbo Vado is capable of traveling a whopping 80 miles on a single charge, which should be more than enough for any daily commute with plenty of miles left over.

Even with cheaper or heavier bikes, once you accept that you are really meant to pedal gently and let the motor do the work, non-speed freaks will get into it. E-bikes are great for commuting and for places that aren't pancake flat. They'll pull you away from the lights quickly, iron out hills and stop you getting sweaty, so you can bin the Lycra and ride in jeans, a suit, or a winter coat.


In China, e-bikes currently come under the same classification as bicycles and hence don't require a driver's license to operate. Previously it was required that users registered their bike in order to be recovered if stolen, although this has recently been abolished. Due to a recent rise in electric-bicycle-related accidents, caused mostly by inexperienced riders who ride on the wrong side of the road, run red lights, don't use headlights at night etc., the Chinese government plans to change the legal status of illegal bicycles so that vehicles with an unladen weight of 20 kg (44 lb) or more and a top speed of 30 km/h (19 mph) or more will require a motorcycle license to operate, while vehicles lighter than 20 kg (44 lb) and slower than 30 km/h can be ridden unlicensed. In the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shenzhen, e-bikes, like all motorcycles, are banned from certain downtown districts. There are also bans in place in small areas of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. Bans of "Scooter-Style Electric Bikes" (SSEB) were however cancelled and in Shenzhen e-bikes may be seen on the streets nowadays (2010–11).


But in Great Britain, the European Union definition is applicable, and the tighter restrictions of the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle Regulations 1983 (including a 200 kg weight limit on solo bicycles) were removed on 6 April 2015 by the Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles (Amendment) Regulations 2015.[48][49] Riders must be at least 14 years of age, but no driving licence is required.

FuroSystems is a London-based startup that is launching two new full carbon fiber electric bikes, a folding e-bike and a mountain e-bike. FuroSystems’ ambition was to design very stylish, ultra-light electric bicycles with strong carbon fiber frames that encase all electronic parts and cables – and to sell them at a very competitive price. Both of these e-bikes feature high quality, mid-drive motors and offer great range.
More powerful pedelecs which are not legally classed as bicycles are dubbed S-Pedelecs (short for Schnell-Pedelecs, i.e. Speedy-Pedelecs) in Germany. These have a motor more powerful than 250 watts and less limited, or unlimited, pedal-assist, i.e. the motor does not stop assisting the rider once 25 km/h has been reached. S-Pedelec class e-bikes are therefore usually classified as mopeds or motorcycles rather than as bicycles and therefore may (depending on the jurisdiction) need to be registered and insured, the rider may need some sort of driver's license (either car or motorcycle) and motorcycle helmets may have to be worn.[14] In the United States, many states have adopted S-Pedelecs into the Class 3 category. Class 3 ebikes are limited to <=750 watts of power and 28 mph.[15]
There is however still confusion over the various legislations involving Electric Bicycles. This stems from the fact that while places like the US and Canada offer some Federal regulation, the legality of road use is left to the various States or Provinces and then complicated further by municipal laws and restrictions. Further more there are a range of classifications and terms describing them, "Power-assisted bicycle" (Canada) or "Power assisted cycle" (United Kingdom) or ”Electric pedal assisted cycles” (European Union) or simply "electric bicycles", and as such in some cases have varying laws according to their respective classifications in some places.
On February 4, 2014, SB997 was introduced by Senator Matt Smith, which seeks to amend PA Vehicle Code to include "Pedalcycle with Electric Assist". In a memo addressed to all senate members, Smith said the definition shall include "bicycles equipped with an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts, weighing not more than 100 pounds, are capable of a maximum speed of not more than 20 mph, and have operable pedals."[128][129]
Some argue, that an ebike should have some kind of front suspension, i.e. be able to cope with potholes at higher speed or off-road conditions. However, in countries with flat roads (e.g. Switzerland, Germany or Holland) you don't need that extra weight for extra price if you stay on roads and/or drive slowly in difficult terrain. Some makes (like the Stromer) let you choose.

In Manitoba Electric Bikes can be classified as a scooter or a moped/mobility vehicle depending on the power of the engine used and its top speed. If the engine on the Electric Bike is less than 50cc and it cannot exceed 50 km per hour the rider is not required to have a motorcycle licence or any specific training.[26] Electric Bikes can be driven by anyone with a Class 5 driver's licence in any stage of the graduated licensing process.[27] A Class 5 Learners Licence requires one to be age 16 (parents consent if under 18) and a visit to a licensing office to pass a vision test and a written knowledge test about the rules of the road and traffic signs.[28] 
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