Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Bikes
Electric bikes seem exciting. And for good reason! Nothing beats the feeling of cruising along on an electric bike, and it is a great environmentally conscious form of transportation, especially for anyone looking to speed up their daily commute. Still, there are plenty of unanswered questions about electric bikes, and we’re here to answer some of the most common concerns, so you can get in the know about this fantastic method of travel.
How Do Electric Bikes Work?
The easiest answer to this question is that an electric bike uses a motor in the back wheel or center of the bike to propel the bike forward. This motor is run off of a battery, usually a lithium-ion battery, as they last longer than nickel-based batteries. There are two main types of electric bikes: full-power and power-assist.
Full-powered electric bikes are just that, fully powered. These bikes tend to be on the heavier side and are made to travel for shorter distances without a need to pedal. The downside to these bikes is that they tend to go shorter distances than power-assist bikes and can’t be pedaled once they run out of battery because of how the motor works.
Power-assist electric bikes are primarily powered through pedaling, with a motor that can kick on to help with hills or to give you a rest. These electric bikes can go much further on a single change, between 50 to 90 miles depending on the make, and are made to be pedaled.
Most electric bikes have a lighter frame than the average bike and are commonly made out of aluminum. Electric bikes have stronger spokes than the average bike to help stand up to the power from the motor, as normal spokes would snap under the pressure.
How Much Do Electric Bikes Cost?
As with any piece of technology, the price for an electric bike varies on the type of bike you invest in. Electric bikes can run from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars, but the investment is well-worth it. Not only can an electric bike reduce the amount of money you spend on gas, a single charge for your bike can go for miles, meaning you get more distance for less money. Charging the average electric bike takes under a couple dollars in most cases and can drive up to 90 miles depending on the bike. That’s much cheaper than a tank full of gas!
One thing to consider is the maintenance costs, as it is recommended you do a full checkup on your bike every 500 miles. Still, this should only cost between $75 and $100, which is far less than you pay with maintenance on your car.
Overall, an electric bike is a relatively cost-effective investment, and the initial cost of buying the bike more than pays for itself when you consider the gas or other forms of transportation you would be using otherwise.
How Fast do Electric Bikes Go?
Electric bikes can range in speed from 10 to 25 miles per hour, with 25 miles the upper limit in most instances. This is far faster than walking, though slower than the average car. The full range of speeds largely depends on if you have a full-powered electric bike or a power-assist electric bike, as you have a higher range of speeds on a pedal-powered bike. The speed also depends on the carry weight of the bike, and the terrain available. Still, most countries have a limit of 25 miles per hour on electric bikes for safety reasons.
Do You Need a License for an Electric Bike?
The laws for electric bikes are as varied as the places you can use them. Many countries have their own ordinances for electric bikes, and individual states have different laws depending on the type of bike. In general, it’s a good idea to research your local government to find out the laws and regulations for riding electric bikes. However, it is incredibly rare for an area to require you to have a license for your electric bike, but there may be age restrictions on their use.
As with any form of vehicle, following the local laws is the best way to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. Be sure to obey any signaling guidelines needed for operating your bike, and to wear the suggested protective gear.
How to Build an Electric Bike
While there are plenty of fantastic electric bikes available on the market in a whole range of styles, if you’re looking to build your own electric bike, there are a few key things to keep in mind. Building your own electric bike may take more effort than purchasing one, but if you’re looking to save money while still getting a bike that can last for years to come, creating a custom cycle is a great way to avoid some of the lower-quality options on the market. In many cases, you can make your own electric bike for around $500, and the end result will be more durable than some of the cheaper, unsteady options available on the market today.
The easiest way to make your own electric bike is to buy a standard bike conversion kit. These kits are much cheaper than investing in a new electric bike and can turn your favorite bike into an electric bike in a cinch. However, it is worth noting that most electric bike conversion kits do not come with a battery, which is one of the more expensive pieces on a bike. Thankfully, if you’ve ever changed a bike tire, installing the electric bike kit should be no issue. Still, even with the need to source a battery, making your own electric bike is still a budget-friendly option.
Most electric bike batteries range from 24 to 72 volts, with the larger batteries adding more power but weighing down your bike significantly. You also want to choose what capacity you’d like for your battery, which means how long you can go between charging cycles. Thankfully, choosing the right battery is one of the more difficult parts of building an electric bike, and the installation is much simpler than debating over the right battery to choose.