Electric bikes aren’t just a practical and environmentally conscious solution to gridlock, they also are really fun to ride. On top of all of the persuasive arguments to get an electric bike, I think the Rad Wagon’s best-selling point comes down to enjoyment. Zooming down the street each morning I wasn’t angrily yelling at fellow drivers or rushing not to be late. The bike commute was part of the journey each day, and not just the means I used to get around. There’s a reason so many people loved biking as a kid, and it can be just as fun as an adult.
Oregon Law (ORS 801.258) defines an electric assisted bicycle as an electric motor-driven vehicle equipped with operable pedals, a seat or saddle for the rider, no more than three wheels in contact during travel. In addition, the vehicle must be equipped with an electric motor that is capable of applying a power output of no greater than 1,000 watts, and that is incapable of propelling the vehicle at a speed no greater than 20 miles per hour on level ground.
Photo: Could solar power be the future of electric bicycles? The large solar panel mounted over the back wheel of this experimental bike powers an electric motor connected by a chain drive to the back wheel, helping the rider when he doesn't feel like pedaling. Using clean, green solar power would remove the problem of having to charge electric bikes with electricity generated from fossil fuels—and help to extend their range significantly. Photo by Warren Gretz courtesy of US DOE/NREL.
Powered by a 250-watt Brose Centerdrive system, the Redux is capable of reaching speeds of up to 28 mph, which comes in handy when dodging traffic. The lithium-ion battery provides enough juice to give the bike a range of up to 80 miles between recharges, making it a great option for daily commuters. Raleigh even outfitted the bike with wide tires which provide stability and traction, even when the road gets wet. Other key features include a 10-speed Shimano crankset and shifters and a built-in LCD screen that displays all the usual information.
The Alpha has a 36V Brose 50W motor which is fueled by a “bridging” lithium-ion battery with 150 Wh of capacity, which is charged by the onboard 150 W PEM Hydrogen fuel cell. The fuel cell is fueled by a 2 litre compressed hydrogen gas cylinder, which can be refilled in about 2 minutes at a filling station. In terms of cost per charge, this is likely to be more than a standard electric bike, however, the convenience of faster recharging may make it suitable for some riders, particularly commercial fleet operators using ebikes on shifts for several riders.
Cargo bikes and city bikes are common in the e-bike space, but until recently we haven’t seen that many performance road bikes. The Giant Road E+1 is a pedal-assist performance road bike that’s made for more than just commuting; the powerful motor can crank you up to 28 mph very quickly on the highest setting so you can rip the flats, join your local group ride, or blast through the mountains with far less effort than a traditional road bike. It won’t feel like a 16-pound race bike when you lean it into high-speed turns, but the endurance-oriented geometry allows for an aggressive position on the bike and keeps it nimble and agile at high speed.
The rest of the bike is equally impressive. Integrated lights in the front and the rear run directly off the main battery, so you’re never replacing coin cells or AAA batteries. And the disc brakes give you plenty of stopping power. The 36-volt battery attaches to the down tube and is designed to be easily removed for recharging. A key-lock at the top of the mount ensures that no one can steal your battery if your bike is left in a public place. And a built-in alarm system, activated with a car-like key fob, is ear-splitting enough to keep thieves away altogether. (Miller promises the alarm’s sensitivity is tuned so it shouldn’t go off if the bike is jostled at a public bike rack, but I didn’t have the bike long enough to test this out.)
This 150mm-travel e-mtb tackles big descents, shines on flowy trails, and provides the boost you need for the trip back. Pedal assist comes from Shimano’s 6.2-pound STePS E8000 motor with a 20mph boost. Shifting is motorized too, with Shimano’s exemplary XT Di2 drivetrain providing the most precise and consistent shifts a mountain bike can have. The fun comes from the E-Core’s 150mm of front and rear travel courtesy of a RockShox Yari fork and Deluxe RT shock. Both can be locked out for long, fire-road type climbs, though on an e-bike that feature feels less necessary.
For those who may be unfamiliar, Burning Man is an annual gathering in the Black Rock Desert of Black Rock City, Nevada. The event, which began in 1986, spans from the last Sunday in August to the first Monday in September. There are no corporate sponsorships, advertisements, or entertainment at the event. Individual participation is what's key to making the event special and memorable. Although the participants are given a large amount of freedom, the Burning Man Project asks that 10 core principles be followed: Radical Inclusion Gifting Decommodification Radical Self-Reliance Radical Self-Expression Communal Effort Civic Responsibility Leaving No Trace...
But electric bicycles—e-bikes—are new territory for me. Broadly speaking, there are two basic options in e-bike land: power-on-demand and pedal-assist. With the former, the rider can control the speed with a throttle instead of just pedaling. Think moped but with an electric motor instead of internal combustion. Pedal-assist, by contrast, requires the rider to do some of the work. The electric motor won't engage unless the rider is pedaling.