There are many reasons you may prefer an electric bicycle to a purely pedal-powered model:
Electric bikes work by assisting your pedal movement as you’re riding – they cut in when your speed drops below a certain level. You won’t get pedal assist beyond about 27km/h. Some have a throttle, so you don’t have to pedal at all, and some have both throttle and pedal assist.
Costs and limitations
They’re expensive, ranging from $950 for a conversion kit for your existing bike to more than $3000 for a ready-made cycle with all the trimmings such as lights, racks and panniers. They generally come with guards for wheels and the chain, making bike commuting a cleaner prospect.
However, there are limitations. Whether you use a conversion kit to turn your current bike into an electric version or buy one ready-made, it means more weight – up to 27kg for a ready-made bicycle. Also, they only get you so far before needing a recharge. One claims a limit of 30km, while another claims up to a more impressive 100km before needing a recharge. Most give a broad claim because it depends on a number of variables such as whether you use the throttle and the topography of the area. Typical recharge time is two-six hours for those that list them.
How do they run?
All the bikes on test have lithium-ion battery packs with 8Ah-14Ah capacity, and voltage from 24V-37V. All are limited to 200W – you need a licence for anything more powerful. You can expect the batteries to last for about 500 charges, and replacements cost between $650 and $950. If you charge only partially, this does not count as a full recharge but a fraction of a full charge. Check the manual for proper battery charge maintenance.
While these bikes are gaining traction in the cycle market, there are some height limitations. Taller riders may find their choices limited.
EnviroWheels Forest C
Gazelle Orange Pure Innergy
Niubike super light
Power Ped EVO3
Power Ped Mantis Li Delux
Power Ped Sherpa
The Electric Bicycle Co Challenger
The Electric Bicycle Co Commander
The Electric Bicycle Co Hurricane
test using a strict series of criteria, all of which are weighted equally for their overall score.
- Functionality: how well the product does what it’s supposed to do, including ease of setup, operation, usability and maintenance.
- Materials: what the product is made of and how long it will last.
- Construction: how the product is put together and the longevity of construction.
- Appearance: how the product looks.
- Value for money: is the product worth the price?