Why An Electric Bike?
From our friends at iZip:
"Most people who own an electric bike use it for their daily commute to work or to take care of errands. They really depend on them to move around! Riding a regular bike already has lots of benefits that a car or other alternative transportation does not offer, like saving time, money in gas, maintenance, parking, tickets and insurance. Biking by itself helps you take care of the environment and your community, be healthy, fit and enjoy more what a city can offer you or simply enjoy the beautiful landscapes if riding off-road. "
"So, why an electric bike? While riding a regular bike is great, if you are using it as your main transportation to go to work or move around you start having some challenges and getting a little bit uncomfortable. Who likes to get all sweaty on the way to work? No one, unless you can take a shower at work and have the time! Who likes to get to work and back home faster? Everyone! An electric bicycle helps you go further, ride smoothly and have FUN all at the same time! What about steep hills? An electric bike helps you climb them with ease. What about a bum knee? An electric bike can keep you cycling. You still need to charge your eBike’s battery pack, but you will get an average of 20-25miles [or more] range depending on the rider’s weight and type of terrain. The good news is riding an electric bike costs only pennies per charge and you’ll save lots of money compared to other ways of transportation."
What is an electric bike?
Electric bicycles come with an electrically-driven helper motor. The motor is used to provide extra pedaling power to the bicycle. This means the rider may use the motor to assist in pedaling, reducing the effort used to move the bicycle. All of the electric bikes have the option of turning off the motor and even leaving the battery at home, making the bike a traditional pedal bike.
What are the fundamental options when looking for an electric bike?
Electric bikes come in myriad shapes and sizes: folding, mountain, sporty, hauling, comfort cruiser, tricycle, recumbent, conversion kits, etc. Prices range from a low of $500 (kit) to $6,000 or more. Conversion kits are the least expensive way to modify your current bike, especially if you are handy. Used electric bikes are available, but sell out fast. Folding bikes take up less space. Where and how you are going to use your electric bicycle will depend on your choice. There is a style that will fit anyone’s need.
How do you make the bike go?
An electric bicycle may come with optional pedal assistance. Some electric bicycles come with an optional throttle to control the electric assistance. Some models come with only one option, some with both, while it may be an add-on option for others. The pedal assist feature allows the motor to add power to the rider’s effort on every pedal stroke. The pedal assist power may be adjusted to increase or decrease the rider’s effort, through a small control interface. With a throttle (twist or thumb), there is a lever operated by hand and provides a variable input from the rider to increase or decrease the motor assistance. With pedal assist, pedaling is easier, making going uphill or level, as easy as going downhill. Since the power is adjustable, the amount of effort used with each pedal stroke can be made normal, to get full aerobic exercise benefit, or easy, to make up for any physical impairment or just to make the ride a relaxing event. When you have a throttle option, the rider can choose to not pedal at all, letting the motor do all the work, or give adjustable help, depending on the rider’s preference, with or without pedaling.
How powerful are the motors?
Motors come in various sizes, commonly from 250 watts to 1,200 watts or more. However, that is still not more than two horsepower (1,500w). Most government agencies limit power to 1Hp (750w) to be considered a pedal-assisted bicycle. Larger motors, measured on wattage, provide more assistance to climb hills or to get up to speed. This is analogous to the size of the engine in your car. Smaller motors use less energy, are less costly, and will have a longer range for every watt-hour pulled from the battery. Larger motors are heavier, will not go as far per watt-hour used, but provide much greater push in all situations. Lighter riders may want to look at smaller motors, while larger riders may want the added benefit of increased power.
What battery do I need?
Batteries come in different voltages (usually 24, 36, or 48 volts) and different sizes, usually from 6 amp-hour to 20 amp-hour. Lead-acid batteries are great for golf carts, cost less, but weigh a lot, have a short life span, and require frequent maintenance. All modern bicycle batteries are made from Lithium-Ion. They are more compact, weigh less and are very reliable. The life of Lithium-Ion batteries is anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 charge cycles, and around one to five years, depending on how much it is used. Modern batteries do not need to be continuously charged or stored while connected to an electrical source. Batteries should be stored at room temperature (ideally), but only charged after they get low (do not leave any battery unattended on a charger). Commonly, the battery is attached to the rear rack or along the frame tube leading down from the handle bars to the pedals. Depending on how much you pedal, and the size of the battery, your range will be anywhere from 15 to 40 miles or more. Higher voltage batteries, which must match the motor voltage, store and transfer energy more efficiently. Higher amp-hour batteries have a longer range because they store more energy, but also weigh more. For example, a 24 volt, 6 amp-hour battery will provide the least power and shortest range. If the rider desires only a moderate range and less motor assistance, the smaller battery will be lighter and the overall cost of the bicycle lower. Sporty models (lighter-faster) cost more, have more power, will go farther, but may weigh less than an economy model, adding to the fun factor. Some bikes are made for hauling, have larger motors and heavier batteries, but go at a very conservative pace.
How do I charge and care for the battery?
Lead-acid batteries require relatively continuous charging during breaks of more than a month (trickle charge). They do best when connected to a high quality trickle charger and are kept in a climate controlled area (32-70 degrees). They last longer if you recharge them before they get to about 50% discharge. Deep cycling does deplete the battery life more quickly. Expect most lead-acid batteries to last about 300 cycles or two-years, before degrading. Chargers can break, batteries can leak toxic fumes and gasses, or may cause a fire. Never leave any type of battery, even lead-acid, unattended for long periods, while connected to a charger.
The newer Lithium-ion type battery does not need to be continuously charged. They can be safely stored in a climate controlled environment for 6-months or more, with no detrimental effect (32-68 degrees). They do best if stored in a safe place from causing an accidental fire and put at 30% to 60% before storing. These newer batteries get 1,000 or more cycles, and can last as long as five years, before substantially degrading. As they degrade, you get less range. You can, however, charge your battery back to 100% before every ride. If the battery was at 50%, this will count as 1/2 of a charging cycle (you get 2,000 1/2 cycles). Never leave any type of battery, even lithium-ion, unattended for long periods, while connected to a charger.
All batteries should be kept out of extended sun and temperature extremes. Many will show an error when allowed to exceed 104 degrees. As well, they work poorly when cold (below 35 degrees) or hot (over 100 degrees). Don't leave your battery out in the hot Arizona sun (like on a car carrier - even while moving).
Always recycle old batteries properly as they could cause an accidental fire or contaminate the environment.
Where does the motor attach?
Motors may be attached or configured in many ways: clamped on the back and with a friction wheel to push the tire, a motor attached to the side of the bike with a chain driving the wheel, integrated into the wheel hub (front or back), or as part of the pedal crank – mounted in the center of the bike frame. The most common configuration is the motor integrated into the wheel hub. The motor is what provides the assistance. It can be attached to the tire, the hub, the chain or the pedals. With the most common hub motor, the bicycle looks like a normal bike, except for a larger wheel hub. This leaves a lot of space for a bike rack and the battery. It also protects the motor from damage and moving parts away from the rider. Mounting the motor on the rear hub gives added traction, but also some complexity if you need to change the tire. With the hub motor in the front, there is less complexity, but less traction overall. Tire mounted motors are generally easy to install, but very unreliable (and usually are found as kits). Center drive motors mount at the pedals, provide good balance and give easy access to change flat tires. They are newer and more complex, but are gaining in popularity. Older styles include having the motor hang on the side, driven by a chain, but have lost popularity because they are damaged easily, are low wattage, and require frequent maintenance.
What type of motor is best?
Most commonly available motors are either direct drive or geared drive. Both direct drive and geared motors use electric power from the battery to turn the wheels. Direct drive motors have no gears and no brushes, reducing wear and complexity. Geared drives tend to be smaller and provide greater power (torque) when starting off or at lower speeds, but are more complex and have a greater number of wear points. Both types come at various levels of quality and performance. Direct drive motors have fewer moving parts and may last longer, are quieter, weigh a little more, but have better efficiency at normal speeds. Geared drive motors deliver power from the start better, weigh a little less and provide more consistent power delivery at all speeds. Opinions about which is better is somewhat subjective, leaving rider to decide what functions suit them best.
Rear Wheel (hub) drive e-bikes
Rear wheel (hub) e-bikes offer a good economical solution, as they are the simplest method of adding a motor to a bike, providing pedal assist and/or throttle to an e-bike. The design is less complicated and easier to manufacture as well, so rear wheel / hub drive e-bikes can be priced more competitively. It also puts all of the extra weight on the wheel for best traction. Compared with mid-drive e-bikes, rear wheel (hub) motors are much more common, making up perhaps 90% of the e-bike market. The biggest downside for rear drive is it is very difficult to change a flat tire. The wheel is heavy and the axle is usually bulky and keyed. As well, the bike can become unbalanced if the hub is very heavy or the battery is mounted on the back too.
Front Wheel (hub) drive e-bikes
Front wheel (hub) e-bikes, like rear wheel, offer a more economical solution, especially if you are doing a conversion or a trike. The design is less complicated and easier to manufacture as well, so front-wheel-drive e-bikes can be priced more competitively. Front drive is a disadvantage for traction though, because there is little weight on the tire compared to rear drive. A big advantage for front drive is it is much easier to change a flat than a rear drive.
Mid-drive offers the highest efficiency and performance for e-bikes. They are more expensive than hub-drive e-bikes, but offer superior performance, especially in hilly terrain. Mid-drives incorporate the bicycle's transmission as the gears for the motor, allowing the electric motor to operate in the optimum RPM range. Because they are more efficient, the battery can last longer (which can also made the bike lighter, since a smaller battery can be used.) Mid-drive e-bikes also handle better than their rear wheel / hub drive cousins, because the weight of the motor is balanced in the middle of the bike. Mid-drive has some downsides: they can be noisier than hub drive models, and are more complicated to service. Despite these downsides, they are usually the best choice for riding in hilly terrain, or off-road. By far though, mid-drive motor setups make changing a flat very straightforward, as it is just like any bike.
What about the brakes?
Brakes can be rim-style or disc. Disc brakes come in mechanical and hydraulic. Rim or V-brakes work by squeezing the rim of the wheel and have been used for years. Disc brakes are newer, but have been perfected to the point where they are better than rim brakes. Disc brakes work by squeezing a small disc attached to the wheel. Mechanical disc brakes work using a wire that is pulled at the brake handle to apply pressure to the disc. Hydraulic brakes are similar, except they use a fluid, usually brake fluid or mineral oil, to transfer the pressure to the disc. Disc brakes stop better than rim type and work better when wet. Hydraulic brakes are more reliable and stop better with greater feel and road feedback. Disc brakes are preferred on an electric bike because of the increased weight of the bike, applying better stopping power. Nearly all of the newer electric bikes come with disc brakes because they have become almost as inexpensive to install as rim brakes. Mechanical disc brakes are less expensive and work well, but do require more maintenance and attention. Many bikes will cut off the motor when the brake is actuated.
How does the bike "know" how much power to apply?
Speed sensors limit maximum power assist for most bikes at 20mph (S-pelelec 28mph). Cadence sensors tell the motor controller how fast you are pedaling. Torque sensors tell the controller how hard you are pedaling. speed, cadence and torque sensors may all be used to help the motor controller modulate the power provided to the motor. A speed sensor helps the rider stay within the federal regulations and guidelines, limiting power-assisted bicycles usually to 20mph (State and Local laws may vary - AZ is 20mph). Cadence, and the more advanced torque, sensors help the controller make the motor feel natural and efficient. If the bike only has a throttle, it is unlikely to have cadence or torque sensors, as they would be superfluous.
How fast can I go?
Any bicycle, electric or otherwise, can go quite fast. None of the electric bikes have a governor or speed limiting device, other than to stop applying power (helping) after a preset limit (usually 20mph or 28mph). Obviously, pedaling or going downhill, you can go over 28mph. Electric assisted bicycles, foot-powered elect/gas scooters, and gas-powered bicycles all fall into a general bucket of law enforcement. Simply put, they are not automobiles, motorcycles, mopeds or ATVs. For the most part, they are unregistered, unlicensed and not titled or plated, need not be insured, and require no license to operate. The laws in Arizona are not exactly clear, leaving enforcement and interpretation up to local law enforcement. In general, Federal laws restrict speed to 20mph and less than 750W at the motor (under 49cc for gas). To be as safe as possible in regards to the law, keep your speed under 20mph, stay out of traffic, use bike lanes as appropriate, yield to pedestrians, obey all traffic laws, wear a helmet and be courteous. In Arizona, Law enforcement may interpret your riding how they see fit, considering public safety first.
How far can I go?
The bigger the battery, the farther you can go. A lighter rider on a lighter bike will go farther. Small profile, high-pressure, tires go faster, easier. Several factors affect range: temperature (warmer is better), wind, hills, tires and pressure, how much you pedal, battery age, motor design, battery type, etc. A 24v 10Ah battery supplies 240W-Hours of energy. A 48v 10Ah battery supplies twice the energy at 480W-hours. A 36v 20Ah battery holds twice the energy of a 36v 10Ah battery. Under moderate load, assisted with pedaling, most bikes will go 20 miles before needing a charge. Some models will go 40+ miles between charges. Under a hard load, the bike might only go 5-10 miles before running out. Of course, you can always pedal home. Lithium Ion batteries will last three or more months without being charged, sitting on the shelf. That said, Always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for storing, charging and disposal. Major factors affecting distance on a charge: Wind, human effort, battery capacity (in watt-hours), voltage (higher voltages are more efficient), weight (both the bike and rider), hills (even with regenerative systems, you never get much back), tire pressure (keep those tires filled), maintenance (a rubbing brake can rob a lot of power), motor RPM (every motor has a sweet spot - usually slow, hard pedaling is a power waster), battery age, and charge (the first half of the battery charge is livelier than the last half).
What is the controller?
The controller is the brain. It interfaces the motor to the battery, through user input (throttle or pedal assist). The controller is the central electronic unit that controls when battery power is applied to the motor. It does this by interfacing to the most, if not all, the electric bicycle specific components including the battery, throttle, sensors, motor, brake override, and display. The controller regulates everything for smooth, dependable operation.
What about regenerative braking?
As you pedal up a hill, you create potential energy that can be recaptured on the decent. Equally, if you are going 20mph, coming to a stop can generate power. This potential energy can be captured through the motor or braking system to charge the battery. On a Prius electric car, which weighs two-tons, this can translate into a significant amount of energy. On a bicycle, it is really negligible. With most electric bikes, the notion of recapturing lost energy is small because most of the kinetic energy used to accelerate or climb a hill, is lost in wind resistance, tire flex, heat loss and other factors. In other words, there is nothing to gain. Comparing two bikes, one with regenerative braking and the other without, both will travel about the same total distance on a given charge.
What about an e-bike versus a gas bike?
Dollar-for-dollar, Gas bikes generally cost a lot less and are more powerful than an electric bike. They do require much more attention and maintenance. Without question, they are noisy, messy and smelly. Gas bicycles come with a small, often 2-stroke, motor (oil is premixed with the gas). Some may have a 4-stroke motor, often larger and heavier, but most bicycle frames cannot handle a lot of stress, so large motors are unusual. More power is just a motorcycle. Just like an e-bike, the gas motor is used to provide extra pedaling power to the bicycle. Electric bikes do cost more than gas bikes, but are clean and friendly to the environment, with far less maintenance. With either motor type, the rider may use the motor to assist in pedaling, reducing the effort used to move the bicycle. All electric bikes have the option of turning off the motor and even leaving the battery at home, making the bike a traditional pedal bike. Gas bikes are very cumbersome to operate without the engine running. For more on gas bikes, go to the Gas Bike FACs page.
Get The Most Miles Per Charge
"[The] IMBA developed these "Rules of the Trail" to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. Keep in mind that conventions for yielding and passing may vary in different locations, or with traffic conditions.
Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures. Ask the appropriate land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.
Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you and the environment around you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don't cut switchbacks. Don't ride around standing water which results in widening the trail. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in. Consider improving the trail experience for those that follow by picking up and removing any litter.
Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits. Social conflicts on trails often result when riders are going too fast.
Yield Appropriately: Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you're coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Mountain bikers should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to all users headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe, controlled and courteous one.
Never Scare Animals: Animals such as horses are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, dismount from your bike, walk around them on the downhill side of the trail, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear."
ELECTRIC BICYCLES INFORMATION AND FACTS
Safety - Minimum Requirements
Classifications for e-bikes
This chart shows California regulations and supports a trend across all States and in Federal law. In California, it is interesting that, if you only have Pedal Assist (PAS), you can legally apply power up to 28-MPH. But, if you have or use a hand-throttle, you can only legally apply power up to 20-MPH. Either way, most e-bikes come with a 20-MPH limit set in the software. You can always pedal the bike, like downhill, over 20-MPH. However, in Arizona, technically, no bikes, pedal or otherwise, may go over 20-MPH. A brief summary of the most common e-bike classifications:
The vast majority of e-bikes sold at Archer's Bikes are Type 1 (or, Class 1).
The following is an excerpt from the IMBA website ( https://www.imba.com/about/rules-trail ) and represents a very logical approach to mountain biking:
What does Wikipedia have to say? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws#Arizona)
"Motorized electric bicycles and tricycles meeting the definition under the applicable statute are not subject to title, licensing, insurance, or registration requirements, and may be used upon any roadway authorized for use by conventional bicycles, including use in bike lanes integrated with motor vehicle roadways. Unless specifically prohibited, electric bicycles may be operated on multi-use trails designated for hiking, biking, equestrian, or other non-motorized usage, and upon paths designated for the exclusive use of bicycles. No operator's license is required, but anyone operating a bicycle on Arizona roads must carry proof of identity. A "motorized electric bicycle or tricycle" is legally defined as a bicycle or tricycle that is equipped with a helper motor that may be self-propelled, which is operated at speeds of less than twenty-miles-per-hour. Electric bicycles operated at speeds of twenty miles an hour or more, but less than twenty-five miles per hour may be registered for legal use on the roadways as mopeds, and above twenty-five miles-per-hour as a registered moped with an 'M' endorsement on the operator's driving license. However, mopeds in Arizona are prohibited from using bike lanes on motor vehicle roadways. The Arizona statute governing motorized electric bicycles does not prohibit local jurisdictions from adopting an ordinance that further regulates or prohibits the operation of motorized electric bicycles or tricycles." (Note: to be registered, a vehicle must comply with all the legal requirements, such as, lights and mirrors.)
How are electric bikes classified?
There are myriad ways to classify a bicycle with an electric motor. Most classification strategies use the following attributes:
Where can I ride my Electric bike (especially my mountain e-bike) - Arizona electric e-bike laws?
Arizona is problematic regarding where you ride. Local laws may be different. The laws are ambiguous and do not address pedal assist (Type 1) e-bikes, ridden on a bike path or in a designated bike lane (public highway). Federal lands, like BLM and National Forests, are a little better. State and County lands are much more difficult to understand. Some complain that e-bikes are cheating, they damage the path because of weight or that it opens the door to motorcycles. Of course, anyone that has ridden a pedal assisted bike knows that none of this is true. After all, should we ban people weighing over 200 pounds on a conventional bike; or should a lightweight carbon hard-tail MTB be banned for cheating; or that there is a huge difference between the horsepower of a motorcycle and an e-bike? Should we also ban the decked-out downhill rider from carving the turns at a high rate of speed? Or, ban shuttle rides, because that would be cheating? Some contend that a "motor-is-a-motor" and has no right on a bike path. However, this is completely contradicted by the national trend to permit Type 1 e-bikes on bike paths. It also recognizes that people with disabilities, through pedal assist, should benefit from access to the many public-funded bike paths in the USA. Clearly, all paths on Federal Lands that are marked for ATV use (fire roads) are open to e-bikes (and there are thousands of miles of these in Arizona, such as in the Tonto National Forest). Any path where motorized travel is allowed, an e-bike can also use the path. Bike paths along highways are usually not an issue either (albeit ambiguous). However, if you ride at McDowell Mountain Park, a County Park, they have taken the stance that pedal assist (type 1 e-bikes) are prohibited on bike paths ("motor-is-a-motor"). The best way for us all to safeguard our rights to access bike paths with e-bikes is to ride responsibly, be courteous, and don't flaunt your pedal assist. If you are in a park, ask or refer to the signage to validate e-bike use. If a sign says "no motorized vehicles," it's best to choose another path. Please do ask any regulation authority or politician to support e-bike provisions and laws that allow Type 1 e-bikes on designated bike trails and paths.
Check Out The Specs on This Trekking Model From Haibike
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