Electric bikes are pretty common these days, with all of the different kinds of electric bike motor kits and battery options available. You’d be hard pressed to find a bike shop who didn’t carry an electric bike, especially since all of the big bike manufacturers like Trek and Giant have electric bikes of their own. Of course, every electric bike operates differently, and there’s different terminology for different kinds of bikes. For example, a bike that is powered completely by a throttle, with no pedaling required, is often referred to as an ebike. This is usually how cheap electric bikes operate, and they tend to kill the batteries from all of the strain of the throttle. The most efficient electric bikes on the market are hybrid bikes, or bikes that integrate the rider’s pedaling into the motor power. It’s like pedaling a bike that is half-man, half-machine. The popular industry term for this type of electric bike is pedelec bike.
What exactly is a Pedelec Bike?
Pedelec means that you have to pedal the bike to power the motor. Some are simply activated by pedaling, and then the motor will move on its own, like the eZee Sprint electric bike. Others will actually measure the rider’s pedal torque, and give a proportional motor assistance that is a percentage of the rider’s power, like the OHM electric bikes. It’s up to the rider on which method they prefer, but both kinds of pedelec bikes are far more efficient than the traditional ebike.
The most popular pedelec bike is a BionX electric bike. This is a standard bike that has been converted to an electric bike using the BionX electric motor kit. Using an intelligent torque sensor, the BionX kit utilizes four different motor speeds that depend on the rider’s pedal power, in addition to an ebike-style throttle, that powers the rider to full speed. This pairing of both modes is often the best for riders who want to ride a bike, but could use that extra boost once in a while.
How Far can a Pedelec Bike Go?
Since the rider is always pedaling on a Pedelec bike, it is far more efficient than an ebike. In fact, you can always shut the bike off and pedal it as if it weren’t electric at all! In terms of the battery life, most Lithium-based pedelec models, like the IF Reach DC folding electric bike, will run for about 20 miles on a single charge. This can be extended with more pedaling and less assistance from the motor.
Some bikes, like the Sanyo Eneloop electric bike, have the ability to be recharged while riding. Simply pull on the brake, and the battery life is regenerated via an internal generator in the motor. Using this frequently during the trip can also greatly extend battery life.
The Best Electric Bike
So what is the best electric bike out there? A pedelec bike will definitely travel further than an ebike, solely because of the rider’s pedal assistance. Of course, for someone that wants to cruise on a throttle, maybe an ebike would be better. Electric bikes are in the eye of the beholder, so see what works best for you and then decide.