There has been a boom in the market for electric bikes in the past few years, and for obvious reasons. Nonetheless this has generated both praise and criticism.Some of this has revolved around the practicality of using an electric bike to travel. The size of electric bikes has been a problem.
There were a large number of models that turned out to be bigger than conventional bikes. Those extra centimeters prevented the bike from fitting in tight spaces, made bikes heavier, and could be aesthetically less pleasing.
The passage of time and technological advancement has removed a lot of the negatives of the new electrifies variants of bicycles. Today they proliferate in cities, roads, streets, mountains and roads.
According to epiccycles.ca, an electric bicycle (or e-bike) is one that has a pedaling assistance system (P.A.S) and that must comply with the following rules:
1. It cannot weigh more than 40 kg
2. It will only provide assistance while pedaling.
3. After reaching 25 km / h assistance will automatically cease.
4. The maximum power of the assistance engine cannot exceed 250w.
Any bicycle that exceeds these characteristics is considered a moped. Mopeds fall under different regulations, such as the obligation to have insurance.
In general terms, we can segment the market for e-bikes into four different types of users:
1. Those who, due to their physical condition, have stopped bicycling because they found it tiring, and have left their bicycles parked gathering dust in the corner of the garage.
2. Those who want to bicycle to work, but do not because they arrive hot and sweaty.
3. Hardcore cyclists who have physically already reached the ceiling but want to go beyond where their capacity has so far allowed them.
4. Everyone, eventually. Since there will come a time when age and health will prevent us from enjoying our hobby as we do today. Then it will be the right time to change the saddle and opt for a machine that makes things easier for us and allows us to continue enjoying cycling.
Electric bicycles use a pedaling assistance system. It contains a sensor that detects the pedaling speed (in the more basic models) or the force or torque that is exerted on the pedals (in the more advanced models). This sensor transmits a signal to an electronic controller that gives the order to the motor to start working and with what level of force. When the pedaling stops, the brake is squeezed, or the 25 km / hour is reached, the engine ceases its activity.
In the e-bike market there are 3 types of motors, according to their location on the e-bike:
Front hub motors: They are usually low power engines, and they are very common in kits that are installed on conventional bicycles. They usually come incorporated in the economy range electric bicycles.
Rear Hub motors: These have possibly been the most used up to this moment. For this reason there are a wide range of types, in terms of design and the quality of the components of the engines themselves and the devices that control them.
For a normal bicycling on paved roads or roads in good condition, they perform well, but if you want to use it in areas where mountain bikes are used, it may be more difficult to bicycle as you would like. This is because some practices such as lifting the rear wheel is almost impossible.
Mid drive motors: This is possibly the best option in terms of weight distribution. These are balanced bikes and easy to use in all terrains.
Efficient and powerful engines have been developed that make the fluidity of the pedaling harmonious and natural, and often they are even more aesthetically pleasing.
With e-bike models that have the motor in the axis of the wheel (known as HUB), if the motor breaks down, you can always just get rid to the battery to remove weight. To do this you also have to replace the wheel with the motor with a traditional wheel.
The battery is the element that supplies the power to the motor. The higher the quality of the battery, the more autonomy you will have on the bicycle and the average life will be greater. The first models used to place it under the carrier or between the rear wheel and the seat tube. Now it tends to be integrated in the bicycle frame so that they don’t stand out as much.
If you aren’t using the bicycle frequently, and you want to prolong the life of your battery, it’s recommended that you charge it at least every two or three weeks, and avoid leaving it uncharged.
Finally, we would like to explain the different types of batteries available in the market:
Lithium battery: These are the most efficient if we look at the energy they produce based on their weight. At the same size, compared to other technologies, a lithium battery can double the autonomy of the bicycle.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH): They are less efficient than lithium batteries, and their capacity ranges between 55-70 Wh per kg. They discharge relatively easily when the bicycle is not being used.
Lead batteries: In this case the relationship between weight and autonomy is the most unfavorable, being able to offer 25 Wh per kilogram. In addition, the charging process is longer.
The life of a bicycle battery is measured in cycles. A cycle is the time taken to charge a battery from zero. In the most common models the useful life is about 600 cycles, which increases as the quality of the battery improves. The higher models can reach a useful life around 1000 cycles.