An e-bike, or an electric bike, is a bike with a motor and a battery that make biking easy and accessible for a wider audience.
Despite my bicycle masochism, I ride my e-bike a lot. The electric bike motor makes it ridiculously easy to get around San Francisco.
Here are the basic characteristics of an electric bike:
- Electric bikes are typically speed limited to about 20mph, so you won't be breaking any speed records. But there is a class of bike called "speed pedelec" in Europe that is limited to 28mph. There's also this fucking thing.
- Range varies a lot, but a pretty typical electric bike will give you about 20-40 miles of on a charge. Enough for a few commutes in San Francisco.
- Some electric bikes have a throttle, but the kind that's legal to ride without a license in Europe (and my favorite) is called a pedelec. Pedelec means the bike can sense how hard you're working and auto-magically uses the motor to help you out. It is incredibly easy to learn since it feels like riding a bike.
- Electric bikes are quite heavy. Mine weighs in at 42 pounds, which is lighter than many others out there. Because of the motor the weight isn't an issue when you're out on the road. But a falling e-bike has certainly done its share of damage to me and my apartment.
- Riding an e-bike is good exercise, but not strenuous. For me, this means a 20 mile ride through San Francisco on my e-bike feels like a 10 mile ride.
- E-bikes are rapidly growing in popularity as the technology improves. There's probably a store near you already selling e-bikes.