Suddenly there’s good weather and out come the bikes. Except mine’s electric with pedal assist. I use it daily to go to work, get some groceries, and do local errands with even a weekly trip to the laundromat. Living less than 2 miles from town, this makes it an ideal form of transport for me. A full battery charge, which can last up to 20 miles, costs…5 cents for a recharge.
You don’t have to have a license, plates or insurance as long as your machine can be called a bicycle-it has pedals. Which means you can go anywhere a bike can. They are a quiet non-polluting people friendly form of alternative transportation.
Electric bikes are offered as conversions for an existing bike with a do-it-yourself kit or complete new electric bikes ready to go. The kits are easily seen on the internet on E-Bay. A typical kit costs on average $250-300 with batteries an additional separate purchase. It should be noted that virtually all modestly priced electric bikes, kits and components come from China. This is because China has a huge market-they sell over a million electric bike kits and bikes a year domestically.
And then there are the prebuilt ready to go bikes. They have numerous advantages including a complete engineered package and some dealer back-up. These ready-made bikes range from a little over $300 on up to well over a thousand. Be prepared to spend at least $500+ for anything decent and carefully check out the specs. Pay attention to battery voltage, type of battery and amp hour ratings.
The most common electric bike motor is the motor in hub type. These feature a gearless, brushless motor built right in the center of the wheel hub. There are no chains or belts. The slim motor is the size of a pie plate and comes installed in a bike wheel with rim and spokes. Some kits even come with a tube and tire already installed. So the motor is encased in the hub and your existing wheel/tire assembly is replaced by the new hub motor wheel. With that comes the electronic controller which is the brains and your twist throttle to regulate speed. Most kits do come complete with a wheel, electronic controller, wiring and a throttle. Some even include a rack to mount your battery.
For those looking for basic, clean non fossil-fueled transportation for doing local errands it’s hard to beat and I recommend it highly. You can still pedal and get all the exercise you want. Some use their electric power just for hills and heavy loads like groceries. The web has lots of stories about folks commuting 10 miles to work each way rain or shine. And loving every minute of it.
Once you try it, you’ll get the EV Grin! And remember- up to 20 clean miles for 5c.
GET Aug2011 page 4