Q: Why would I use an e-bike over a regular bike?
A: There are many reasons:
- Get to where you need to go faster and easier than on a regular bike. Depending on how you choose to ride, you can travel at an average speed of 18 mph or faster without significant effort. For some bikes, you can even average 25 mph.
- Climbing hills is a breeze… and we aren’t talking about the breeze from huffing and puffing.
- No sweat. Even though can ride much faster, you won’t feel like you have to take a shower once you are there.
- Safer. That might seem counter-intuitive, since you can go faster than on a regular bike, but you also get an easier start from stopped positions, allowing you to get through an intersection steadier and quicker.
- Easier on those joints. Use the electric assist to ease the pressure on your knees and hips.
- Staying together. You may have a riding partner that rides at a different pace than you. An e-bike can even out the pace for both of you.
- Ditch the car. The convenience, the ease and the speed of an electric bike make it an alternative to an automobile more often than a regular bike. A study by Portland State University shows that e-bike owners ride more frequently and farther than when they relied on their traditional bike. This was the case for all age groups.
Q: What is the difference between Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 electric bikes?
A: This system of classifying electric bikes is being adopted by several states as a means of regulating electric bikes. The classifications are as follows:
Class 1 - is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling (thus no throttle), and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 2 - also known as a “low-speed throttle-assisted electric bicycle” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle (in other words without pedaling), and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 3 - also known as a “speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle,” is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour, and is equipped with a speedometer.
For all classes, the maximum power output is 750 watts (1 h.p.).
Several states, including our neighbor to the north, Washington, have adopted regulations that use this class system. Our home state, Oregon, has not yet done so.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this classification system is how some states are treating Class 3 e-bikes. While these bikes are permitted in bike lanes on streets, they might be restricted from shared use paths, such as those in parks and "rails-to-trails" paths that are designed to be shared by cyclists and pedestrians. In such cases, access to Class 3 bikes may be allowed if all municipalities that share the path decide to permit them.
Q: Do electric bikes recharge when applying brakes or going down hill – like a hybrid car’s regenerative braking?
Q: Should I buy a bike with a mid-drive motor or hub-motor?
A: They both have their benefits. Hub motors tend to be a little easier to operate if you are a less experienced cyclist, because they require less shifting. Mid-drives tend to get a little better range for equivalent battery capacity, because you'll get more efficiency by shifting. While theoretically you get better hill climbing with a mid-drive, you'll usually find both types will climb just about any hill.
Finally, it's usually easier to change a rear tire with a mid-drive.
But the real test is to ride both and compare.
A: A few models of electric bikes include a feature to recharge the battery, usually while you are braking. In those cases the range of the battery can be extended 5-10%, while adding several hundred dollars to the cost. However, due to the design of the motors to get regeneration, you'll often find that the bike is harder to pedal if you are using the bike with the power off.
Q: What is the range I can get from a single charge?
A: The biggest factor contributing to your range is whether you pedal or just use the throttle without pedaling. Cynergy E-bikes is a strong proponent of the synergy resulting from combining human pedal power with electric power, so we’ll tell you the expected range when you do both. With relaxed pedaling expect 22-50 miles on a single charge for most e-bikes. In some cases you’ll go even farther. We have bikes that are getting 70+ miles on a single charge. Range will also be impacted by the battery capacity, the hills, wind and your size. Many electric bikes pedal easily as regular bikes. So you can extend the range even further by using little or no power on level surfaces and down hill.
Q: How long does it take to charge an e-bike battery?
A: A lithium ion ebike battery that is fully depleted will take 3.5 to 6 hours to recharge. Batteries that still have a partial charge when you start charging will take less. In addition, the last hour or so of a charge is used to "top-off" the cells, and you don't have to wait for that process to be completed. So some batteries can be 90% charged in 2.5 hours or less.
Q: How many charges can I get out of a battery?
A: Most e-bike batteries sold in North America are lithium ion, which will provide a minimum of 500 “full” charges, after which the battery holds only about 80% of its original charge. Some battery makers are claiming up to 1200 full charges. Lithium ion batteries have no memory effect, so if you recharge the battery when it is only 50% depleted, that counts as only ½ of one charge. If you usually use your e-bike in pedal-assist mode, combining both pedal power and electric power, you can expect to go 10,000-30,000 miles before replacing your battery. That is a lot of miles on a bicycle.
Q: How much electricity does it take to charge a battery?
A: Depending on the capacity of the battery, it will usually take 400-500 watt hours (0.4 - 0.7 kilowatt hours) to charge the battery. Assuming a rate of $0.10/kWh, it will cost you 4-5 cents for a charge that will last you 22-40 miles.
Q: How much will I reduce my carbon footprint if I use an ebike instead of a car?
A: This depends on how much of your electricity comes for fossil fuels and which fossil fuels. In our home state of Oregon, which gets 39% of their power from hydro power and 8% from wind, yet approximately 33% from coal, an electric bike will emit LESS THAN 2% of the CO2 per mile compared to a car. In states that depend heavily on coal, an electric bike might emit 4% of the CO2 per mile compared to a car. No matter how you calculate it, even though an ebike uses electricity that might come from fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 emitted compared to a car is miniscule.
Q: How fast can an electric bike go?
A: If you are pedaling, you can go as fast as you are able to pedal it. However, most bikes stop providing electric assist while pedaling at 20 mph. Some will provide assist going at speeds up to about 28 mph.
Q: How important is wattage? (also - I'm really big, so don't I need a 1000-2000 watt motor? - or - I want to go fast, so don't I need a lot of wattage?)
A: The benefits of a high wattage motor are very overstated. A street legal e-bike in Oregon can go only 28mph, and only 20mph unless you are pedaling (and we recommend pedaling). You'll be able to get that with even some 250 watt motors. In many states, the limit is 20mph, whether you pedal or not.
With a properly designed e-bike and e-bike motor, you'll find that you get far more power than you need with 500 watts or less. There are many 250 watt motors that deliver as much torque as motors that are 500 watts or higher. The design of the motor and the gearing of the bike are far more important than the wattage of the motor.
E-bike usage in some European countries is 30 times (or more) of that in the U.S. Yet Europe has a 250W limit. That hasn't stopped e-bike usage from exploding in popularity.
Higher wattage correlates with higher power consumption, so using a higher wattage motor means you'll need a bigger battery to go the same distance. The most expensive part of your e-bike is the battery, thus a larger motor, requires a larger battery which leads to higher cost.
As for hauling a lot of weight, we have several 300lbs+ customers and cargo bikes carrying heavy loads that do fine at 350 watt motors. In some instances larger wattage motors can make pedaling easier.
Q: Can I ride an e-bike as a regular bike - without the electric power?
A: Yes. And it is easy to switch back and forth. For example, you might want to use the power only when you are going up hills.
Q: Do I have to pedal?
A: No. Some electric bikes sold in North America allow you to operate by simply turning the throttle without pedaling. Europeans have stricter rules, requiring that you pedal - which we support. If you think you'll get by without pedaling, think again. Even for e-bikes that have a throttle, you'll need to pedal when going up steep hills, although you won't have to pedal hard. Pedaling is more fun, extends the range of your battery, extends the life of your motor, and extends your own life too.
Q: Do I need a license?
A: No. As long as the e-bike has a motor size of 750 watts or less and is programmed so that it can’t go more than 20mph without pedaling, there is no need for a license. No electric bike sold by Cynergy E-Bikes requires licensing. FYI – you must be at least 16 years of age to operate an e-bike.
Q: What about leaving my electric bicycle out in the rain?
A: The motor and battery are sufficiently sealed to be protected from the rain. However, we do suggest that if you are carrying your bike on the back of a car and rain is in the forecast, that you place the bike or battery inside the car. Driving 70mph in a downpour with the battery exposed is like pressure-washing your battery. That's a lot different than riding your bike in the rain.
Q: Aren’t electric bikes heavy?
A: As one of our customers told us, "E-bikes might be heavy to lift, but they are heavenly to ride."
Electric bikes are typically heavier than a regular bike. But the weight of a bicycle is felt the most when climbing hills. The electric assist on an e-bike makes up for the additional weight many times over. Where weight does matter is if you need to lift the bike. That's one of the many reasons why e-bikes are favored over electric scooters, which often weigh 150 pounds or more.
If you have to climb several flights of stairs to store your bike, we strongly suggest finding a more accessible storage location.