It may seem like ebikes are everywhere nowadays, and if you’ve started to learn about them, you’ve found lots of new jargon. Some words used to describe ebikes are just common terms used in a new way, such as amp and volt and others are entirely new such as Pedelec. While there are differences between how ebikes are designed and the components they use, they all have many things in common and it helps to understand the terminology common to most ebikes. Below is a list of ebike terminology you might find useful as you go about your journey to understand this new transportation mode.
Transportation is the biggest single contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the US, and as a country we are the second-largest contributor to climate change. One solution to reduce climate change and its effects is through changes to the way we get around—reducing our burning of fossil fuels through the use of electric vehicles (EV). Most of the buzz around EVs are around electric cars, but there is another EV option--electric bikes or ebikes. These promise to have an even greater positive impact on the environment.
One of the benefits of an ebike is that you can travel faster with less effort than on a non-assisted bike. This is a benefit in the colder months because you can get to where you want to go faster and with less exposure to the elements. This is a reason those who commute on an ebike are extending their trips into the winter months with some hardy souls cycling all winter. While most of the recommendations for winter riding are the same for assisted and non-assisted bikes, there are some areas unique to an ebike.
While not all ebikes have gears, most do and if your ebike has them you should know how to use them. By shifting gears we’re talking about the gears in the bicycle drivetrain, not shifting the assist level of the electric motor. On a non-assisted bike if you need to ride up a hill, you would shift the lever or grip on the handlebar to a lower gear in the wheel to take advantage of the bike drive train to spin faster with less effort. But on an ebike, you can just switch to a higher assist level and have the motor power you up the hill. So why do ebikes even have gears if you do not need them for different terrain? When should you use them?
Riding an electric bike, or ebike, is a different experience from riding a non-assisted bike. Riding any bike provides a sense of freedom, allows you to enjoy time in the great outdoors, be active and get exercise, and you have a sense of certainty in getting to appointments. An ebike provides all these benefits, plus it allows you to get where you want to go with less effort, you’ll be less sweaty, take a chance on going longer distances knowing you will be able to get back home with no problem, carry a heavy load, and ride with a faster friend. But if you are new to riding an ebike, you should be aware of the differences so you are as safe and confident as possible starting with your very first ebike ride.
If you have an electric bike you know it is more expensive than a non-electric bike so if you want to leave it unattended at any time, you will need a good locking system. While most of the techniques for bicycle security carry over, there are some factors unique to an ebike such protecting the battery, display, integrated lights, wiring harnesses and the wheel that might contain the motor that you should take into consideration to assure your bike is still there and operational when you return to where you left it.
If you’re shopping for your first ebike, you’ve probably discovered that prices vary a lot. There are many different styles of bikes where a boost can be applied, such as hybrid, road, mountain, cruiser, tricycle, recumbent, fat tire, folding, cargo, and the style you choose will have an impact on price. But even within a given style, there is a wide difference in prices. If you have a fixed budget, it is what it is, but if you have some flexibility in how much you are able to spend, how much you should invest and what are you giving up by going with a cheaper ebike?
What makes an ebike different from an acoustic bike is the motor, battery, and display. When deciding on which ebike to purchase, your first priority should be to find a bike that accommodates your primary style of biking. Popular bike styles are urban, hybrid, mountain, road, recumbent, folding, fat tire, etc. Second in consideration might be the motor, whether hub or mid drive and the brand of motor followed by the power and range of the battery. The display is far enough down the list that it will probably not be a significant factor in impacting the ebike you select, but it is good to understand the options and determine in advance if you will be satisfied with the display that comes with the ebike.
Ebikes have exploded in popularity but as with anything new, it will take a while for them to be understood and accepted. If you ride an ebike, you may have been subjected to insults, harassment, and negativity. Motorists may have shouted that you do not belong on the road and other cyclists may have told you ebikes are “cheating.” Why do they hate ebikes? Here are some reasons people resist this new form of transportation and recreation:
If you are interested in purchasing an electric bike, or ebike, and researching the options, you probably discovered there are two types of ebike motor systems on modern ebikes: the hub drive and the mid drive. Besides your budget, where the motor is located is the biggest decision you will have to make. While both options will provide you with assistance when you pedal, there are big differences in the technology and it is helpful to understand the benefits of a hub drive versus mid drive motors before you commit.
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