faraday side

We have shown so many e-bikes on TreeHugger lately. E-bikes can be wonderful things, great for older riders, people with really long commutes or who live in cities with lots of hills. But there are now so many different kinds, and there are a few basic questions that just never seem to get asked or answered. Mike previously asked e-bike expert Court Rye to tell useverything you need to knowto get started on an electric bike, but I think there are larger questions to be asked.




How fast should they be able to go?

Emmo Monster




"Cycles with pedal assistance which are equipped with an auxiliary electric motor having a maximum continuous rated power of 0.25 kW, of which the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25 km/h (16 mph) or if the cyclist stops pedaling."


在哥本哈根化,Mikael笔记that e-bikes are involved in a disproportionate number of crashes and injuries. “11% of cyclist fatalities were caused by the fact that the cyclist was on an e-bike. Going too fast, losing control, motorists surprised by a speed faster than the average cyclist.” Perhaps we should be learning from this and slow them down a bit.


Coolpeds iBike


A lot of the lower end e-bikes,like this Coolpeds iBike, are front hub drive. This makes sense; they are the easiest and cheapest to build. But they scare me; years ago I had a moped, a French Solex with front wheel drive. They were known death machines, with too much weight on the front wheel and a tendency to spin out on corners. Obviously a little hub motor in front is not the same thing, but they can still be problematic on corners and on wet pavement, especially if they are more powerful.



There is also the issue of the forces being applied to the front forks. According to Eric Hicks of Electricbike.com,


This is particularly a problem with aluminum bike forks. Also, electric motors can occasionally seize up; if that happens at high speed on a front hub, you can go flying.

rear hub

Rear hub/ Lloyd Alter/cc by 2.0


mid drive

Lloyd Alter/ Bosch drive/cc by 2.0

Then there is the mid drive像这个博世单位一样,设计入自行车的框架,这变得越来越受欢迎。我喜欢它,因为自行车在它周围设计,重心的重心真的很低,很高兴乘坐。但是Boxybikes的劳伦克斯伯格告诉TreeHugger,它“有自己的问题,如更多的失败点,需要更多的用户技能,并在传动系中佩戴大量的磨损。”

前轮毂电机的共识似乎是基于“增大化现实”技术e the easiest and most economical, but keep them small.


Brad's ebike

Lloyd Alter / Brad的电子自行车/cc by 2.0

I love the look of the Faraday bike up top, or the Maxwell below, where the batteries are built right into the tubes of the bike. It is elegant and it looks like a bike. But it is not necessarily practical; In Seattle, Brad rides this bike to the Bullitt Center every day, and there are no outlets in the bike storage room to charge an e-bike. By having a detachable battery he can carry it up to his desk and charge it there. I suspect that this is a pretty common occurrence.

Pedelec or Throttle?


Lloyd Alter/cc by 2.0


We chose to discontinue the throttle on the new model, though we did use one on our first model. Lloyd enjoyed the ride and thought it was intuitive. We agree and that was our goal. We gained some extra benefits from losing the throttle: a much cleaner cockpit that eliminates 3 wires - 2 for the brake lever power cutoff wires (required in most jurisdictions) and 1 for the throttle.



Lloyd Alter/ Troy Rank with Maxwell Bike in Buffalo/cc by 2.0


But a European style e-bike is really a bike with a boost, an electric assist. This is what is really needed for people to travel farther, to handle steeper hills, to ride later in life, to play nicely in the bike lanes. They should be bikes, or they should be out in the road with the motorcycles.