While e-bikes for men and women have long been popular in Europe, electric bikes are a relatively new concept for many stateside cyclists. If the concept of a bike that can give you a power boost sounds intriguing, start your research with this list of frequently asked questions about e-bikes.
How Does an E-Bike Work?
You ride an electric bike just like you ride a regular bicycle. However, e-bikes provide extra rider assistance with a battery-operated electric motor that can be operated either by a pedal or a throttle. Most U.S. states recognize three separate classes of electric bikes:
- Class 1 bikes, which have a motor that kicks in only when the rider operates the pedals and turns off automatically when the bike hits 20 mph.
- Class 2 bikes, which have a throttle instead of an automatic, pedal-operated motor.
- Class 3 bikes, which are similar to Class 1 bikes but with a top speed of 28 mph.
When you don’t have a charged battery or you prefer to use your pedaling power alone, you can ride an e-bike just as you would a normal bike.
Why Ride an Electric Bike?
Some of the main benefits cited by e-bike enthusiasts include:
- Climbing hills more easily than with a traditional bicycle.
- Boosting your ability to tackle difficult routes and long distances.
- Commuting without breaking a sweat.
- Keeping pace with riding partners who have greater stamina.
- Reducing the strain on the hips and knees.
How Far Can I Travel on an Electric Bike?
The average electric bicycle can go between 22 and 50 miles on a single battery charge. However, the exact distance depends on the rider’s size, the wind speed, the hills on the route and the size of the battery for the specific bike model. For most e-bikes, the lithium-ion battery takes 3.5 to 6 hours to reach a full charge. Charging the battery is easy; simply plug it into the wall as you would for a smartphone or electronic device. Some bikes also have regenerative braking, which allows the battery to recapture some of its power when you stop.
How Fast Does an Electric Bike Go?
Most electric bikes can travel up to 20 miles an hour, but some have a higher top speed of 28 mph. These bikes are legally limited to 200-watt motors for throttle operation and 250 watts for pedal operation.
Where Can I Ride an E-Bike?
In most states, Class 1 and Class 2 bikes can travel anywhere that traditional bicycles can go. However, some local laws prohibit Class 3 bikes from trails and paths. Before you browse men or women electric bikes, check the regulations of the state and city where you plan to ride most often.
Does My Electric Bike Require Special Maintenance?
As with a standard bike, you’ll need to keep the parts of your electric bike lubed and the tires inflated properly. You should also clean the electronic contacts periodically to keep them in optimum working condition. Before deciding on a bike model, carefully read the manufacturer instructions about care and maintenance.
If you’re in the market for an electric bike, test drive the models on your shortlist before making a selection. Like standard bikes, electric bikes come in road, mountain and hybrid varieties, so you’ll need to consider function and lifestyle as well as when and where you ride.