Posted on 16th Feb 2012 @ 3:08 AM
Electric bicycles are becoming more common in the U.S., but many people have misguided views about how they work. E-Bikes can be our answer to the exorbitant cost of automobile commuting and the environmental impact fossil fuels cause. We have put together a list of the common misconceptions people may have about electric bicycles.
1. Electric bikes don’t last long because the battery wears out.
Many people think the electric bike batteries become useless after a fairly short time of riding and recharging. This might have been true on older sealed lead-acid battery powered bikes, which have a life span of about 500 charges before they drop to 80% capacity. However, today most bikes use Lithium Ion batteries or LiFePO4 batteries which can be recharged 1500-2000 times before dropping to 80% maximum capacity. This means if you fully drain your battery every day, the battery will last 4-5 years before dropping to 80% capacity. They will last about 15 years under normal riding conditions, which is usually longer than the bike lasts.
2. You can’t ride an electric bike in the rain
This is completely untrue. Most e-bikes today have waterproof and airtight wire connections and completely sealed electric motors and batteries. You can ride your bike in a hurricane and not worry about getting an electric shock, or the motor shorting out. Also, the bikes don’t operate at an amperage that could harm a human. If you somehow manage to get a shock from the battery (you have to really try hard to do this!) you will only get an uncomfortable jolt, but no bodily harm.
3. Electric Bikes are too slow to commute with
On rides under 15-20 miles this is usually untrue. The electric bike comes into its own at rush hour when cars are jamming the road and only moving at a slow pace. On an e-bike, you can use the sidewalk, which is usually completely clear, so you can skip the traffic. You can also use short cuts through parks, alleys, dirt paths and the like, which can cut the distance down dramatically. Not to mention you are outdoors enjoying your commute instead of being trapped in traffic. I have saved 30-45 minutes on my rides from South Beach to the Miami suburbs through some of the most heavily congested roads in America.
4. Electric bicycles require a ton of extra maintenance
Electric bikes don’t require you to do anything different than a normal bike, except plugging them in and flipping a switch to turn them on. The electric drive systems have the same moving parts as a normal bike, except sometimes a few gears in the motor on geared drive motors. A good electric bike requires no special maintenance that a normal bike wouldn’t require. You may need to oil the motor or clean an electrical contact if you let the bike sit too long, but really that’s about it.
5. The batteries are worse for the environment than burning fossil fuel
Would you rather be breathing motorcycle or car exhaust? Electric bikes don’t create any unhealthy vapors. The batteries do need to be disposed of properly. They can be recycled or placed in sealed landfills so that they don’t pose a threat to the environment. They take about 10 cents of electricity to recharge, which is like leaving a fluorescent light on for the day.
6. Electric Bikes are too hard to pedal
Electric bikes can be pedaled just like a normal bike. Most good motors don’t add any resistance, while some of the direct drive motors have a negligible amount of resistance due to the rare earth magnets. The bikes are generally around twenty pounds heavier, but if you use your gears properly this extra weight won’t be noticed. Most bikes have pedal-assist, which uses the electric motor to double your effort, which, in turn, makes a small effort move the bike quite fast. So unless you are used to a carbon fiber road bike, electric bikes are as easy to pedal unpowered as any normal bicycle.
7. Electric Bikes are too expensive
These days e-bikes are becoming amazingly inexpensive while still maintaining good quality. They usually go for less than what a local bike shop would charge you for a similar people-powered bike. They aren’t exactly Walmart cheap, but they are usually far better quality, and better equipped. You can also get an e-bike kit so you can convert a bike you already own. Now there are bikes for under $1000, like the Electric Wheels EW-800 or EW-850 which go for $699 before discounts.
Check out some cool electric bikes