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> Bicycling Catalog > Bikes > Electric

Electric

Electric bicycles combine the convenience, fun and fitness of cycling with the ease of a powerful electric motor!

What is an Electric Bike?

Electric bikes are bikes that are equipped with battery-powered electric motors that help propel you, all or part of the time while you are pedaling. E-bikes as they're often called, are popular because they're quiet, non-polluting, and can make cycling a lot more fun for a lot more people.  Not only that, but they help you cover way more terrain than you could on your own.

An electric Motor is like a breeze blowing you up climbs.
How'd you like a little extra power while climbing hills, biking into a headwind or commuting to work in Pismo Beach?  That's right, you can ride to work and not be sweaty when you get there.

In fact they typically generate from 100 to 700 watts, which is a lot (750 watts is about one horsepower, 350 watts is the average a pro cyclist can sustain for an hour). So, you arrive at work calm, cool and collected, assuming you've already caffeinated too. Plus, the motor makes it easier to carry the extra weight of your work clothes and lunch, laptop, cellphone, etc.

Versatility
Electric bikes work for a bunch of different use cases:

  • They'll let you keep up so you can enjoy riding with a significantly fitter person.
  • They'll let you travel further with a lot less effort so you can consider biking places you used to drive to.
  • And, they make it possible to do things you might not be able to without motorized assistance, for example, pulling a trailer with the kids or groceries in it to Arroyo Grande.
Once you start riding an electric bike you're sure to find that it makes your everyday life easier, more convenient, and here's the best part, MORE FUN!

No special requirements
Because electric bikes are classified as bicycles, no license, registration and insurance are required, saving you a bundle (and there are no gas costs and only cheap, basic maintenance needs). What's more, these zippy (top assisted speed is about 28 mph) bikes let you sneak around traffic jams, are a breeze to park and the most common battery type used, Lithium Ion, can be recharged in a few hours so the bike's always ready to roll.

These advantages make e-bikes a real alternative to the car and we are helping tons of folks from all over San Luis Obispo County buy an electric bike.  We've found that folks from Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, and Oceano are coming into the shop every day now asking us about the e-bikes we have in stock. 

Electric Bikes are great for staying in shape too!

You'll have so much fun, that you won't be able to stop pedaling. You're repaid for pedaling with longer battery life (ingeniously, some models also use the energy produced by braking to recharge the battery). And if you like the view as much as the ride you'll be able to cover more terrain and see a whole lot more on your e-bike knowing that motor will help you get home.

How to Buy an Electric Bike

Understanding the different types
There are two basic categories of electric bicycles:
We've got a great selection of electric bikes you'll love!
Pedal assist (also called pedelec) is an electric bicycle where the motor only runs while you pedal. It feels like you have the best tailwind of your life all the time. 

Power on command is an e-bike equipped with a throttle controlled motor. On these electrics, you don't have to pedal to benefit from the motor. When you want power, just crank the throttle and away you go.  Of course, the less you pedal, the sooner you run out of juice in the battery. So, it's best to help the motor by pedaling.

Besides the motors, electric bikes usually come equipped with comfortable seats and handlebars, flat-resistant tires, wide-range gearing. You'll find features that really help you commute too: racks, fenders, removable batteries, anti-theft alarms, sturdy kickstands and built in locks and lighting systems. 

Which e-bike type is best?
Both types of e-bikes work great and the best way to choose is to check some out. Keep in mind that they're essentially still basic bicycles, so the things you would consider when shopping for a standard bike apply when looking for an e-bike, too. For example, what kind of drivetrain do you want? If you ride long distances with hills, you'll probably want a bike with more gears than someone who sticks to flat pavement and shorter routes.

Likewise, how much braking power do you want? If you ride in wet, sloppy conditions you'll appreciate all-weather, low-maintenance disc brakes. If you prefer not to bike in bad weather, you'll be fine with standard rim brakes.

Electric bikes make it easy to pull trailers!

Other considerations to think about include whether you want suspension to smooth rides and enhance your comfort, how much carrying capacity you need, whether you want maximum flat-tire resistance and on-road/off-road capacity out of your wheels and tires or lightness and agility for easier pedaling.

And, there are other intriguing options. We already mentioned electric-motor kits to motorize almost any bike. There are also folding e-bikes that make storage and parking easier and even let you collapse the bike for tossing it in the trunk of a car should you need to catch a ride home. Another interesting product is an electric trailer that actually pushes you along, a setup that lets you simply remove the trailer anytime you want to ride your bike without power.

Motor matters
As you shop for your electric bike you'll also find a wealth of technical information on motors. How much power do you need? Does it matter where the motor is located? Here's some information to help you weigh the pros and cons.

Location
Motor location varies widely and goes a long way toward determining how your electric bike rides. The motor and battery are relatively heavy components on a light bicycle, so their weight affects steering, cornering, acceleration and aerodynamics. The motor's position relative to the drivetrain also affects what drivetrains can be used as well as their function. We've shown the placement and the pros and cons of common motor locations in the chart below.

Motor location pros and cons
Pros Cons
Front motor Balances bicycle weight distribution between drivetrain and motor. Motor weight puts a strain on fork and head tube.
Compact motor form (in front hub).
Front wheel-drive traction.
Mid-bike motor Puts weight just where you want it. Often requires a non-standard frame. This may look odd or require hard-to-find components if you need to repair anything.
Any drivetrain possible (allows internally geared hubs). May reduce available bottle mounts.
Doesn't affect wheels, easier acceleration.
Rear motor Allows regenerative braking. Bicycle weight placement favors a sitting position. Standing and high-speed cornering trickier.
Stable mount. Not compatible with internally geared hubs.


Watts under the seat?

How much power do you need? Will a 250-watt motor be underpowered? Do you need 700 watts? It's important to realize that comparing watts is not necessarily comparing apples to apples. One manufacturer may list peak (maximum) wattage while another may list continuous (power consumption in a normal condition) wattage. More isn't always 100% better.

What's more, wattage isn't torque. Without getting too scientific, we can explain torque as the amount of twisting force that your wheel applies to accelerate — it's the amount of force that turns into acceleration. Wattage measures the amount of energy expended when velocity is held constant. This means that a bike with a lower wattage could provide more torque and thus feel faster and zippier than a bike with a slightly higher wattage (because the 20mph speed limit on electric power will eventually handicap the higher wattage motor). And neither consideration fully takes bike weight into account.

The takeaway is that you shouldn't value a high-wattage engine over all other factors. Come in, test ride a few bikes and talk to us about which bike is right for you.

FAQ
Can I ride an e-bike in the rain? Yes. Our electric bikes come waterproofed right from the factory. As long as you don't submerge the whole bike in a lake, you won't have a problem.

How fast can I go on an electric bike? Most electric bikes have a top assisted speed of 18 to 22 mph although some our our models reach 28 mph! Above that speed, the electric shuts off.

Commute to work the easy way and without even breaking a sweat!

How far can I go on one charge? Electric bike range varies from 15 to 60 miles by model. How far you go on a single charge will also depend on your weight, the weight of your cargo, the terrain, and wind. How much you pedal and which power setting you use (if any) also affect range.

How much does it cost to operate an electric bike? Based on the price of electricity, it typically costs 6 to 14 cents a mile to charge and maintain. Compare that with a car at over 50 cents a mile.

Will a conventional bike keep me in better shape? Yes — but only if you use it as much as the electric bike. Many e-bike users find that the electric's benefit on hills and into wind eliminates their fear of riding and gets them out on the bike when they otherwise might not ride. Some are more fit because they ride more often. 

We hope these tips help you understand electric bicycles more. Please visit our store for more information about the electric bicycles we carry. We can point out differences, answer questions, arrange for a test ride and demonstrate the features and benefits that are making these green vehicles the latest personal mobility craze.

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Trinity Cyclery

1343 W Grand Ave
Grover Beach, CA 93433

Phone: 805-473-8324

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