At the end of the day, it’s probably best to spend as much as you can to get the bike with the most range that folds up the smallest. Once these puppies run out of juice, they tend to be much harder to pedal than their non-electric counterparts, mainly due to their increased weight, so keep an eye out for lighter models if you know you’re the type to overextend a biking trip. Other features to look out for include racks to help you carry important materials, charging time, and, of course, safety implements like lights and reflectors.
The first regularly produced device resembling the modern bicycle was unveiled in 1818. It was called the Dandy Horse. The two-wheeled ride-on Dandy Horse was the brainchild of German inventor Baron Karl Drais, and it featured a handle bar, a padded seat, and two inline wheels of nearly equal size. What it did not feature were pedals; this was a "running machine," thus its name in German, Laufmachine. The Dandy Horse saw only a flicker of popularity, and was largely an historical footnote within a handful of years, though its design is nearly mimicked in the child's balance bike of today.
Since 2000, Canada's Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (MVSR) have defined Power Assisted bicycles (PABs) as a separate category, and which require no license to operate. PABs are currently defined as a two- or three-wheeled bicycle equipped with handlebars and operable pedals, an attached electric motor of 500W or less, and a maximum speed capability of 32 km/h from the motor over level ground. Other requirements include a permanently affixed label from the manufacturer in a conspicuous location stating the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle under the statutory requirements in force at the time of manufacture. All power-assisted bicycles must utilize an electric motor for assisted propulsion.
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.
Conversion kits, on the other hand, are sold and installed separately on traditional bicycles. They are harder to setup and conceal, and require some basic mechanical ability and a little bit of ‘elbow grease’ to install. The advantage of conversion kits is that you can choose almost any standard bicycle, and you have the freedom to change or upgrade components as you go. A conversion kit will also allow you to achieve higher power and speed ratings that are not possible on most pre-built electric bike models. Kits are great for tall or heavy riders because they can opt for a larger bike, with higher power and weight carrying capacity. People living in hilly terrain may require the additional torque to handle extremely large inclines. For people who prefer a specific bike model or just love to go faster, a conversion kit offers enormous flexibility.
Another style is the recumbent bicycle. These are inherently more aerodynamic than upright versions, as the rider may lean back onto a support and operate pedals that are on about the same level as the seat. The world's fastest bicycle is a recumbent bicycle but this type was banned from competition in 1934 by the Union Cycliste Internationale.
But if you're someone who loves riding, commutes to work on a bike, or has a gig that requires you to spend a lot of time in the saddle, you might want to look at electric bikes. You'll be able to go farther, faster, and expend less energy riding one. And if electric bikes are for you, look hard at the Cross E8 Step-Thru. It's an incredibly well-made, well-thought-out electric bike. Strip away the battery, motor, and computer, and you'd still be left with a really good cycle.
The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.
If you are a person who enjoys riding a bike casually at a typical bike path speed (10-15mph), and you like the idea of an ebike push up a hill, against the wind or to relieving a sore knee, then your market for a fully legally defined ebike is very broad and your practical use only has a few limitations. Most ebikes will meet your needs and expectation. I would estimate that 85% of the electric bikes on the market are 100% compliant meeting the federal definition. I encourage you to take the plunge and get a good quality ebike and ride more with assist. Do so with the confidence that electric bikes are here to stay. Coexisting with pedestrians and other cyclist will become a normal part of cycling life.
The BC Bike Show is the premier cycling and outdoors event in Western Canada and is happening in just 2 weeks on March 2nd and 3rd. We'll be there of course, and in addition to our exhibitor booth we'll also be hosting Cycle Stage to give more public presentations. On Saturday at 11:45 am we'll talk on how to navigate the various motor and battery options available for ebike retrofits, and on Sunday at 2pm we'll be doing a live demonstration of a regular bicycle being converted over to electric assist.
Bicycle manufacturing proved to be a training ground for other industries and led to the development of advanced metalworking techniques, both for the frames themselves and for special components such as ball bearings, washers, and sprockets. These techniques later enabled skilled metalworkers and mechanics to develop the components used in early automobiles and aircraft.
There's much less of a sensation of the Electrified S2 'fighting back' once you hit 15.5mph, as well. That's helped by the automatic 2-speed gear box, although this does take some getting used to. Because its cogs are very different sizes you can end up with all sorts of cadence problems as it auto-shifts from high back to low. With practice you can avoid this, or of course you could in theory fit a second cog that's closer in size to the first.