E-Bikes: Fun, practical, and ready to help save the planet

Friday, November 20, 2020

By Larry Gales

What Are E-bikes (Electric Bikes)?

They are true bicycles, and are usually of the same size and appearance, are used in the same manner, obey the same laws (except they are not allowed on sidewalks), have the same TOP speed (but their average speed is higher), fit in conventional bike racks, and allow a range of exercise from almost none to as much as desired. 

You can either buy an e-bike as a complete unit, or you can buy a kit which you can add to your existing bike: either option can result in an excellent e-bike.

What Do E-bikes Have to Do with Climate Change?

Transportation is the largest contributor to climate change in the U.S. and automobiles are responsible for about 60% of that. Yet 70% of all car trips are within 10 miles and usually only carry one person: this is well within the comfort range of e-bikes. 

And e-bikes are not only free of any emissions, but use 25-40 times less energy and about 70 times less materials than cars and thus have a drastically lower environmental impact. In addition, e-bikes are much smaller than cars, reduce traffic congestion, parking space, noise, road wear, and are much less expensive.

What Are the Advantages of E-Bikes?

They are much more fun than conventional bikes as they eliminate almost all the unpleasant aspects of conventional bikes, such as hills, headwinds, sweat, fatigue, and weather, and can be used by people with many physical limitations. 

For example, you can never be comfortable riding a conventional bike in cold rainy weather because if you dress to be warm and dry you will soon be drenched with sweat from within, whereas on an e-bike you never have to sweat unless you want to. 

Also, they either greatly reduce or eliminate the need to shift gears, especially if you select the largest legal motor of 750 watts (1 HP). The only disadvantages are that they are somewhat heavier (typically 15-20 lbs. more) and are usually $500 to $1000 more expensive.

What Sort of E-Bike Should I Get?

E-bikes are usually powered by a hub motor (a motor inside the rear wheel) or a “mid-drive” motor that drives the sprocket and chain in the same way that your feet do. 

Hub motors greatly reduce the wear and tear on the sprocket and chain, and so reduce maintenance, but mid-drive motors can make full use of the gearing of the bicycle and so allow you to climb the steepest hills, but put a lot of wear and tear on the sprocket/chain, so that the more expensive ones use a carbon fiber belt instead of a chain.

The motors are controlled by “pedalic” (that is, they multiply the power you exert on the pedals), or throttle: most bikes provide both options.


jno62 November 20, 2020 at 9:19 AM  

Correct! You can ride one without any fitness benefit at all! I get "one less car" but these are motorized cycles, or, motor cycles.

Why they are allowed on MUP like the BGT is beyond me. They travel way over the speed limit, and have longer stopping distances due to their weight.

Glad they benefit some folk. But they are a motor cycle. Wear your helmet.

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