Last updated on the 17th. February 2019.
Pedelecs have been used more and more in recent years, especially in Europe. In the Netherlands, perhaps the bicycle capital of the world, more people use electric bikes than non-electric bikes.
But the United States is catching up and every year more and more models come on the market, and the e-bike market has never had this choice. Buying a pedelec can be a little more complicated than buying a regular bike and it’s worth checking before you buy.
In this guide we inform you about the pros and cons of pedelecs and everything you need to know to make a purchase decision, including the legal aspects of using an electric bike in different states.
If you just want to know which bikes we recommend, check out the full reviews or our best bikes below.
Our favourite electric bikes
- Best Electric Motorcycle: IZIP E3 Peak Plus. We came as close as we could to a bike that could do all this, with quality components and a price in the average range.
- The best quality/price ratio for the pedelec: Power Plus roller. Excellent bike for easy commuting and commuting at a very affordable price.
Electric bicycle type
In order to contribute to the modernisation of the US legislation on pedelecs (more information on the laws that will follow later!), the BPSA has defined three categories of pedelecs according to the maximum speed allowed. You should be aware of the restrictions in your area for the following categories of e-bikes:
- Class 1: Low speed electric bicycle with pedals. A bike where the motor only assists pedaling and only up to 30 km/h.
- Class 2: Low-speed electric motorcycle with throttle valve. Bicycle with an accelerator pedal to be able to use the engine without pedalling, but the engine does not run faster than 30 km/h.
- Class 3: Fast electric bike with pedals. Same as Class 1, except the engine can go up to 28 miles per hour. They also have a speedometer.
For all classes, the maximum allowable power in the United States is 750 W.
Electric bicycles: LEGAL BIT
Because they are powered by electricity, the e-bikes are located in the grey area between the bikes and the motorbikes. While some states have specific laws on where e-bikes can and cannot be used, others have outdated laws that regulate them as mopeds or motor vehicles, which can lead to confusion about registration requirements, access to cycling infrastructure and the age a person should be before they are allowed to cycle.
When it comes to ATVs, things get even more confusing. eMTB is not allowed anywhere with traditional ATVs, and access to traditional ATVs can vary considerably, especially on local paths. In case of doubt, it is best to contact the local country manager or follow the approved routes.
As e-bikes become increasingly popular, the lawfulness of their use needs to become clearer and more consistent. To find the latest information on where you live, go to People for Bikes, which contains a government guide to the laws relating to electric highways and mountain bikes.
Electric bicycles: Advantages and disadvantages of
Advantages of an electric bicycle
Help on hills added: Probably the first thing most people think of when considering buying a pedelec, climbing mountains or riding with headwinds. If you live in a valley where the only way out is up, a small motorized assistant can make the difference between a good bike ride and giving up the bike.
Common protector: Pedelecs do much less damage to knees and joints and can be a good option if you suffer from knee pain or recover from trauma.
Less sweaty travel to and from work: The engine’s extra power means you can drive faster and work less, so you can go to the office or a meeting as coolly as when you’re on the road.
Heavy loads easy to handle: Whether you’re shopping at home or have a bicycle tool kit, an electric motor does the work for you.
You can drive further and longer: If you need a long drive to the beginning of the best routes, an electric ATV can help you save energy when it really counts. Moreover, you do not have to pay for the climb if you can get to the top of the mountain by bike.
Weight: The biggest practical difference between an electric bike and a standard bike is the weight. These batteries and motors are heavy! Of course the weight is more than compensated by the electric assistance, but if you have to lift or maneuver the bike by hand, this is considered appropriate. And if you cycle over long distances, remember that the extra weight makes it even more difficult to ride when the battery is flat.
Costs: Good e-bikes don’t come cheap, and unlike most bikes, the cost of owning an e-bike doesn’t stop when you turn in your credit card in exchange for a shiny new horse. The average cost of using a pedelec is about $390 per year, including maintenance and recharging. You will probably also need to replace the batteries every 3 to 5 years to reflect this in your expenses.
Bicycle transport: Because of their weight, only certain types of bike carriers are suitable for e-bikes. If you don’t drive a pickup, a robust clutch like the Thule T2 is the best choice.
Wow! That’s a lot to think about. But there’s one more thing. When comparing different e-bikes, it is useful to have a basic knowledge of the technology behind them. To help you, we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to electric bike batteries and bikes.
Batteries for electric bicycles
The battery is probably the most important part of your pedelec. Three aspects to consider:
- Capacity and range – how far can you travel with a single load?
- Battery life – how long do your batteries last before they need to be replaced.
- Weight and cost – Larger, heavier, more capacitive batteries are generally heavier and more expensive.
Most modern electronic bike batteries are either lithium-ion (Li-Ion) or lithium-polymer (Li-Po) batteries. Li-Po batteries are actually a subgroup of lithium-ion batteries, but they contain no liquid and can be poured into interesting shapes. However, because they are still relatively new on the e-bike market, they have not yet proven themselves in terms of battery life.
You may also come across nickel and lead-acid batteries. It is also not ideal for electric bikes: The chemistry of nickel batteries does not allow rapid discharge (i.e. the battery must be fully charged and discharged), and lead-acid batteries are much heavier and denser than lithium batteries.
Normally you can expect up to 1000 charging cycles for a lithium battery, 500 for a nickel battery and 300 for a lead-acid battery before you see a significant reduction in capacity.
Battery capacity and service life
To make sure you’re buying the right battery for your needs, you need to learn a little bit about science. But we’ll try to keep it simple. There are three numbers you need to look at:
- Voltage (V). More volts = more power. Most electric batteries are 36V batteries, although some are 24V and some are 48V.
- Ah (ampere hours). More A’s = more kilometers. Like the gasoline in your tank: The more Ah you have, the longer your battery life. But there are many other factors that influence your range, such as how many pedals you have, how many hills you have and your weight.
- Wh (watt-hours). The amount of energy in the battery. Wh = V x Ah. For example, the 48 volt battery with 10 Ah has a capacity of 480 W/h. The 24V 20Ah battery will also have 480Wh, but will be less powerful (due to the lower voltage).
It’s worth looking at the three numbers to see which battery is best for you. For most people a 36V battery is enough, but if you are heavy or carry a lot of weight on your bike, you can choose the 48V model so your bike doesn’t have to struggle for speed.
Battery technology is rapidly improving, so you can expect fewer, lighter and cheaper batteries in the future.
Motorcycle electric motors
Whatever type of pedelec you choose, it will most likely be equipped with one of the following drive systems
- Central engines are the most common, especially in the cheapest models. The hub motor can be mounted on the front or rear wheel. Pull the front wheel motors behind the steering wheel and the rear wheel motors behind the steering wheel.
- The center engine or crankshaft is part of the bottom bracket of the bike and is directly connected to the crankshaft and gears. Because it controls the handlebars and not the wheel, it can take advantage of the bike’s speeds for better performance and torque.
The engine significantly increases the weight of your motorcycle. Medium-sized drive motors help keep the bike’s center of gravity low and central while the hub motor moves the bike forwards or backwards.
There is also a difference in the way the motors work, which means that you can do more with a less powerful motor with an average drive. For example, the Voltbike Enduro has a 350W engine, but thanks to its central position it generates 750W of rear-wheel drive torque.
The downside is that mid-size drives are usually more expensive, and if something is wrong with the engine, you may need to replace the whole unit instead of repairing it. This also leads to increased wear of the drive chain.
If all this seems too complicated, there is another simple way: If you need an engine that can cope with long, steep gradients or if you need high torque, a mid-range engine is the best choice. If you have a budget or want to convert the engine to your existing engine, use a slip ring engine.
What is the best e-bike for you?
Now you know what to expect when you buy an electric bike. Here is our overview of the best electric bikes on the market for every cyclist.
The best electric bikes for $1000
High quality pedelecs for less than $1,000 are not enough. But if you have a budget, there are a few models that are worth a try. They may not have the characteristics or durability of more expensive models, but it is a good first step in the world of e-bikes.
Power Plus Anchor
The Ancheer Power Plus can be used in both pedal mode and full electric mode. The removable battery can be charged in 4 to 6 hours on or off the frame, and you can travel up to 31 miles (15 miles if you don’t want to pedal) on a single charge. It’s a great bike for short rides and easy trips, even if you’re tall, one size may not fit.
Power Plus is equipped with front suspension, electric rails and 21 speeds to make getting in and out easier. Lack of important brand parts, but for a bike this price is not surprising. This is a good all-round electric bike, easy to ride and very affordable.
Electric city bike Zaplou
The built-in lithium battery makes this suburban bike so smooth you can look at it. With the 6-speed Shimano gearbox, front suspension and disc brakes the ride is also very smooth.
A maximum speed of 15 miles per hour and a range of 23 miles with the pedal (less when using the clean energy mode). It’s not far, but it’s enough for most recreational riders. A decent bike for a low price.
Best electric bicycle switch
American green bike GB500
Green Bike USA sees cycling as a means of transport and not just as a hobby. It is reflected in the design: The GB500 is equipped with left and right turn signals, LED front and rear lights and even a brake light. You’d be forgiven for thinking you’re kicking.
But this bike is not just about accessories. The powerful 48V 13Ah 48V battery makes it possible to use the pedals for longer and some racers can cover more than 100 miles on a single charge. The bike can only be ridden by pedalling or accelerating, has full suspension and is equipped with leak-proof Kenda tyres. It folds to fit in the trunk of a car or for commuting to and from work, although at 57 pounds, it weighs 57 pounds to carry a cart. Excellent value for money for a suburban bike with many functions.
Electra Tawney Come on!
Designed for city riding, this pedal bike has four levels of electrical support – Eco, Tour, Sport and Turbo – and supports a maximum speed of 30km/h. This is a well designed and developed motorcycle with Shimano Nexus components and a Bosch Performance mid-range electric auxiliary drive system. Front and rear lights are included and you can even use the battery to charge your smartphone. A padlock with an integrated ring will deter potential thieves, but it is always better to have a special padlock for your bike.
The Townie is a great option for commuting, shopping and exploring the area. The upright riding position is suitable for older cyclists, people just starting out on a bike or who find the more traditional riding position uncomfortable. There’s also a version for women.
Best long distance electric bicycle
The use of an electric bicycle for long distances has its advantages and disadvantages. The bike helps you carry the extra weight of your gear, especially in the mountains, but you also have the added challenge of recharging the battery every night. You need a powerful engine and a good battery, but when fully charged, do not expect to reach the indicated maximum range.
On some e-Bikes you cannot remove the battery before charging – stay away from these models if you do not know where to place your bike near the charging station. Another possibility is the search for solar panels for the permanent charging of solar energy.
Haibike with Duro-Trekking 5.0
Haibike is a German company that produces some of the highest quality pedelecs in the world. The sDuro Trekking series is ideal for long trips and tours. In fact, cyclists who have covered 27,800 km around the world have used an earlier version of this Haibike model.
Trekking 5.0 is designed for use on easy off-road roads and paths such as gravel roads and has 20 speeds to help you navigate these hills. Instead of mixing and matching components there is a complete Shimano XT transmission and brakes.
The bike is powered by a 500-watt Yamaha battery with four power levels, allowing a range of 40 to 110 miles. It charges quickly and the LCD display shows the number of miles left to charge, so you can judge if you need to pedal a little harder.
Best mountain bikes
Affordable full e-MTB suspension for off-road ATVs. A powerful mid-range engine helps you climb mountains and the battery is well integrated in the downtube. She may not be able to handle the most difficult descents, but she will do fine on most routes and off-road rides.
It has been pointed out that the seat post is too short for frequent travellers – the latest model of course has a longer seat post and an adjustable leg, but if you are over 1.80 m tall, you may consider another model.
IZIP E3 tip plus
With its denser, denser tyres, the E3 Peak Plus appears at first glance to be a cross between the hard back of a mountain bike and a big bike. It looks good: The mid-range bike and removable, lightweight battery fit perfectly into the bike range and make it a more consistent mountain bike than other models. Unlike many other mid-range e-bikes, it is also available in three sizes – useful if the usual comprehensive approach doesn’t suit you.
E3 Peak Plus moves easily over paths, mud, snow and even sand. His large tyres give him a stable feeling and make him a good all-round bike for on- and off-road riding. It comes with a 400 W/h battery from Bosch, which can easily be replaced or upgraded to the 500 W/h version if you need a little more power.
Best electric bicycle for obese people
Thick bikes make it easy to work on almost any terrain, from soft snow and sand to mud and asphalt. It is fun to ride with them and they are useful if you have a snowy road. The disadvantage is that they are heavy, but an electric motor can be useful here.
Sample Bull E FS
The price may make you shiver, but this bike is equipped with full suspension, a Mega 500Wh battery and high quality components. Despite its size and weight, the sample is very adept at riding horses. Four-inch Schwalbe Jumbo Jim tires make work on virtually any surface easier and reduce pressure up to 5 psi in soft sand or snow.
The battery is detachable, so you can charge or uncharge it, and it gives you a long battery life of up to 134 miles (although of course this depends on the terrain, the hills and the amount of stairs!). The high-quality Bosch mid-heavy-duty drive motor offers high torque and the bike is available in two frame sizes.
Cyrusher XF660 Grease belt Electric ATV
If you want to take your first steps on a large pedelec or if the price of most electric bikes makes you shudder, the Cyrusher XF660 is a good choice. It features dual disc brakes, front suspension and 4-inch tyres to help you handle snow, sand, highways and roads.
The Cyrusher lacks the reliable Bosch engine, the high-end sports bikes and Samsung’s battery is only suitable for about 500 charges, which is less than one would expect from a lithium battery. But with a low price, some compromises are inevitable. An interesting option if you are looking for a decent and versatile model for easy commuting or getting to work.
Best Electric Freight Bike
If you want a bike that you can use to take your kids to school, go shopping or bring a keg of beer to your friends, a cargo bike is just what you need. If you’re not careful, she can replace your car…
Bosch Yuba Hot Curry Electric Bicycle
This motorcycle is designed for towing. The total capacity of Yuba Spicy Curry is 500 pounds (200 pounds in the front, including the driver, and 300 pounds for passengers or cargo in the back). You can count on a solid engine to move that weight, and the Bosch Performance Line CX takes care of that. In general, only for mountain bikes: The torque of 75 Nm makes it easy to work in the mountains with heavy loads.
It is only available in one size, but the low top tube, adjustable seat and straighter sitting position make it comfortable for people of different sizes. A lower luggage carrier and a smaller rear wheel (20) lower the centre of gravity and make the bike easier to manoeuvre. It’s a work bike that can easily replace a second car for most daily needs.
Bullit E8000 XT Steps
Nothing rides like Bullitt. It is a bicycle for people who like to ride and don’t want to be slowed down by a small fabric, a box full of goods. The 350 W motor delivers 70 Nm of torque and has three auxiliary modes and a running function to help you control the weight of the motor when you’re not sitting on it.
There are numerous adjustment options, from the colour to the driving and loading area. And if there’s not enough space in the cargo space for everything you want to transport, you can retract the trailer. If you want a cargo bike that lasts for years and offers maximum versatility, you can’t go wrong with the Bullitt E8000.
Comparison of a complete pedelec Table
|Power Plus Reed||$||49 pounds||36B, 8Ah||Rear wheel drive 250 W||up to 31 miles|
|Electric city bike Zaplou||$||64 pounds||36B, 10Ah||Rear wheel drive 250 W||17-23 miles|
|Green bike USA GB500||$$||57 pounds||48B, 13Ah||Rear wheel drive 500 W||50-80 miles.|
|Elektra Townie Go!||$$$||56 pounds||36V, 11Ah, 400Wh||250 W in the middle||20-100 miles|
|Haibike with Duro-Trekking 5.0||$$||51 pounds||13Ah, 500Wh||500 watts average power||40-110 miles|
|Voltbike Enduro||$$||55 pounds||48V, 11.6Ah, 500Wh||350 W central motor||25-60 miles|
|IZIP E3 Peak Plus||$$$||52 GBP||36V, 11Ah, 400Wh||250 W in the middle||30-50 miles|
|The monster bull E FS||$$$$||55 pounds||36V, 13.4Ah, 500Wh||250 W in the middle||up to 134 miles|
|Cyrusher XF660 Electric ATV with Grease Tires||$$||55 pounds||48V, 10.4Ah,||Rear wheel drive 500W||30-35 miles|
|Electric bicycle Yuba Spicy Curry Bosch||$$$||66 pounds||36V, 11Ah, 400Wh||250 W in the middle||30-60 miles.|
|Walking Bullitt E8000 XT||$$$$||About 50 pounds.||36V, 11.6Ah, 504Wh||350 watts average power||Variable|
– up to $2,500– over $5,000
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