A Survey of U. S. Electric Bike Owners and Interested Consumers
Love at first ride.
The EVELO blog
Electric bikes (e-bikes) give riders a motorized boost. This additional power has many significant benefits, including helping riders cycle up steep hills, improving the riding experience for older or relatively slower riders, and allowing commuters to arrive at work neatly and not sweaty. These features have made electric bikes a trend in the United States, and while there have been two important North American electric bike surveys from Portland State University in 2013 and 2017, more research should be done to understand why people ride electric bikes and to identify those people. Our findings begin to answer these questions. first by identifying a clear trend which seems to indicate that older Americans, often older than 55, ride electric bikes for recreation and health.
How Electric Bike Batteries Work
Electric bicycles: at a basic level they’re just a bicycle that’s been electrified with a battery and motor. So, you know that you’re starting out with your regular bike components: pedals, gears, shifters, a chain drive, and of course a bicycle frame.
But if you want to juice up your bike with some electricity, you’re going to need a battery. Let’s take a look at exactly how those ebike batteries work.
How Much Juice Means How Far You’ll Go
If you had to keep your electric bike plugged into the wall, your bike wouldn’t exactly be convenient. So, the capacity and output of your electric bike battery matters a lot.
Typical batteries offer between 250 and 500 watts, meaning they put out about 20 to 50 volts and 10 to 12 amps. To simplify things, think of volts as the potential energy, and amps (or amperes) as how much electricity can flow through at any given point. Then, volts multiplied by amps equals watts.
How far a battery will get you of course depends on how much energy your motor uses, as well as the terrain, and how much the rider assists with pedaling. On average, a decent electric bike will go about 40 miles if the rider is helping pedal, or just 20 if they’re not. Throw in an “extended range” battery and you may get 60 and 30 miles, respectively.
Older electric bikes usually used lead-acid batteries, which are the type of batteries commonly used to start cars. While they are quite cheap, the downside is that they are very heavy and slow to recharge. More modern ebikes have swapped those for lithium batteries, which are much lighter, require less maintenance, and have greater lifespans.
Leading electric bike brands, like EVELO, will often offer two battery options:
1) Standard – 36V 10Ah (or 48V 10Ah with 500W motor) lithium-polymer and lithium-ion batteries that can last up to 40 miles in pedal-assist or 20 miles in electric-only mode on a single battery charge;
2) Upgraded – 36V 17Ah (or 48V 14.5Ah with 500W motor) Panasonic Extended-Range batteries that can last up to 60 miles in pedal-assist or 30 miles in electric-only mode on a single battery charge.
Charge It Up
Charging an electric bicycle battery is fast and easy. You can charge the battery while it’s still attached to the bike, or remove it from the bicycle and charge it while you’ve swapped in another battery for extended riding. Just plug it into your wall outlet, and you’re good to go.
The power cell’s intelligent battery management system continuously monitors the energy levels, to prevent over or under charging. That means you can keep the battery plugged in overnight, after it has finished charging, and not worry about it. But, if you’re not going to ride the bike for a few weeks, it’s best not to keep it plugged in that entire time.
Modern electric bikes have lithium batteries (lithium ion or lithium polymer) that not only recharge quickly, but last a long time. EVELO electric bicycle batteries are rated for 750+ recharges, so you can be comfortably riding for many years to come.
Green & Sleek
Not only is riding an electric bike “green” from an environmental perspective, it can save you some green as well! Because modern electric bikes are so efficient, you can charge your bike’s battery for only about 8 cents. That means you can get about 13 rides, and cover hundreds of miles, for just a dollar!
But while many “green” products can be a little clunky, electric bikes and their batteries are anything but. In fact, you’ll barely even notice the battery at all. Top ebike batteries are either gracefully mounted on the bike’s rear rack, or inserted into the down tube component of the bike frame. No-one will know that it’s there!
Now that you know how the electric bike battery works, what about the thing the battery powers? Well in part two, we’ll learn a bit more about electric bike motors, and the controller that sits in between the battery and motor. And in the meantime, feel free to share the handy infographic below.
Electric Bicycle vs. Motorized Bike: The Real Difference
There’s one question we get a lot: are our products an electric bike or a “motorized bike,” and what exactly is the difference?
At EVELO, our amazing bicycles are first and foremost just that – bikes. They just happen to have a battery and electric motor added on to their bikes frames that gives riders some added flexibility with how long and how far they can ride.
So let’s take a look at exactly what that means, and how these products differ from a motorized bike.
Use Your Eye First
A good electric bicycle should look just like any old bike – say the kind you used to ride as a kid. In fact, top of the line ebikes like EVELO’s are nearly indistinguishable from a non-electric bicycle.
That is to say, an electric bike starts with all the general components that make up a bicycle: pedals, gears, shifters, a chain drive, and of course a bicycle frame (usually steel, aluminum, or if you’re a big spender: carbon fiber.)
Then, you add the “electric” part of the setup, in the form of a battery. Typical batteries offer between 250 and 500 watts, meaning they put out about 20 to 50 volts and 10 to 12 amps. Top brands like EVELO use lithium batteries, meaning they last longer and charge faster than older, heavy lead-acid batteries.
An electric bike
Now that you have a battery, it has to power something: the bike’s motor. In a more old-fashioned and low-cost setup, the motor is on the rear, with what may be known as a “rear hub” setup. Power flows from the battery to the rear motor, which then directly spins the wheel. This gives the rider the sensation of being “pushed.”
More advanced electric bicycles employ what is known as a “mid-drive” motor. Here, the motor sits in the middle of the bike, engaging the bike’s drivetrain. This is similar to how a rider would naturally pedal their bike, with the power they generate then being sent along their chain to spin the back wheel.
This is crucial as it means that the motor interacts with your bike’s gearing the same way you would, making hill climbs more efficient for both your legs and your battery if the bike is in a low gear. This also emphasizes how an electric bicycle really is a bike at heart, the battery and motor are operating the machine the same way the rider does.
Motorized Bike, Motorized Trouble
A motorized bike – source Wikipedia
So now that we know what an electric bike is, let’s learn a bit more about motorized bicycles, so we can compare them. Despite the similar names, these contraptions are anything but comparable; in fact, the name can be downright deceptive.
It might be best to think of motorized bikes almost as a light motorcycle, scooter, or moped. While some are electric, others might still be gasoline / internal combustion powered. And while most have what resemble pedals, you can think of those as almost decorative. After all, these vehicles can weight hundreds of pounds, so there’s no way you could comfortably power this thing with your feet.
In fact, there’s almost nothing “comfortable” about one of these to someone expecting to ride a bike. With some machines weighing hundreds of pounds and a hot gasoline engine between your legs, these vehicles are hardly bicycles at all. In fact, certain states regulate them the same way as a motorcycle – requiring you to get a special permit to ride one.
The “pedals” may try to fool you into thinking this is a bike, but you can’t trick your local government – think twice if you’re expecting a “motorized bike” to be an actual, pedalable bicycle.
|Electric Bicycle||Motorized “Bicycle”|
|Weight||40-60 pounds||100 pounds or more|
|Pedalability||Very easy||Very difficult|
|Power source||Electric||Gasoline or Electric|
|Legality||No license required||License varies by state|
Looking for an electric bicycle? Consider checking out an EVELO!