Under the doctrine of One Country, Two Systems, Hong Kong has independent traffic law from mainland China. Electric bike are considered as motorcycles in Hong Kong, and therefore needs type approval from the Transport Department as other automobiles. All electric bike availble in Hong Kong fail to meet the type approval requirement, and Transport Department has never granted any type approval for electric bike, making all electric bike effectively illegal in Hong Kong. Even if they got type approved, the driver would need a motorcycle driving license to ride. As a side note, Hong Kong doesn't have a moped vehicle class (and therefore moped driving license), and mopeds are consided as motorcycles too.
I did my commute a few times with the Rattan and while I would never give up my “bike store” e-bike for this, it was a worthy substitute. It never gave out on the big hills, nor did I have to brake because I felt the bike was falling apart. The frame is a little small for 6-foot me but it only comes in one size. I really miss the low rolling drag of having road tires however and this is something that both Rattan and Ancheer could improve upon. I don’t think many people are seriously off-roading with these bikes. Put some Schwalbe Big Bens on there!
Every inch of the bike is thought through, from how the simple, rugged battery connection to the hydraulic disc brakes to the tire choice, to the adorable little bell. The custom battery shape works aesthetically with the frame and is not some obtrusive piece strapped to the down tube of the bike. By putting it down low, it also adds to the stability of the bike, making it handle like a dream, regardless of speed.
The Footloose has no chain, however -- it's entirely electrically driven. It takes very little effort to get to your destination, meaning you arrive at work without having broken a sweat. The downside is that when you run out of power, you're not going anywhere. And pedalling from a standstill, waiting for the motor to kick in, is an odd sensation that takes some getting used to.
When you have the electric motor turned on, it engages with your first push of the pedals. The difference in acceleration is startling compared to any other bike I've ridden. In Eco mode, I could sprint from 0 to 20mph in about 200 feet/65m. Switch to Turbo, and it's about 150/30m feet. As I mentioned above, you still have to pedal. The difference with an electric bike is the feeling of getting more bang for the buck. And if you want to be lazy, you can. Stay in third or fourth gear and you'll be able to stay around 18-19mph with minimal effort. But if you want to go much faster than 20mph, you'll need to work.
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.
The Netherlands has a fleet of 18 million bicycles. E-bikes have reached a market share of 10% by 2009, as e-bikes sales quadrupled from 40,000 units to 153,000 between 2006 and 2009, and the electric-powered models represented 25% of the total bicycle sales revenue in that year. By early 2010 one in every eight bicycles sold in the country is electric-powered despite the fact that on average an e-bike is three times more expensive than a regular bicycle.
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.
First, think about what you need your bike for -- if it's just for a short city commute, in among traffic, then consider a smaller frame that's easy to manoeuvre through cars. The GoCycle G3 (right) is impressively nimble and its electric assistance will help propel you up to 15 mph (24 kph). Better yet, it has built-in lights, automatic gears and you can customise the amount of power the motor provides using a phone app.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depending on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
You turn it on by pressing the green button on the battery once for low power and twice for high, although to be honest, there is not a lot of difference between them. After that, you just pedal. There are no gears, no chain to muck up your trousers (a motorbike-style carbon fibre belt is used instead) and not that much difference in feeling compared to riding a normal bike.
At $799, it is one of the most affordable full-size folding electric bicycles on the market. There are cheaper folding e-bikes out there, but they generally have much smaller wheels and lower top speeds. With 16″ wheels and a max speed of 32 km/h (20 mph), the Shift S1 combines the specs of higher priced e-bikes with the affordability of a budget folder.
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.