What Are E-Bikes?

E-bikes are electric bicycles designed for both on-road and off-road use. 

What You Need to Know About E-Bikes

What Are E-Bikes?

E-bikes are electric bicycles designed for both on-road and off-road use. Depending on the make and regulations in the state, an e-bike may have street legal components such as lighting and a horn, but regulated to a certain speed or power output. Like mopeds, e-bikes have pedals as well.

What are the different types of e-bikes?

Electric bikes are broken up into three classes. Power ratings can range from 200w to 750w. Class One E-bikes have electric motors that are limited to 20 mph with pedal assist. 

Class Two E-bikes have electric motors as well but can achieve up to 20 mph without pedal assist. 

Class Three E-bikes electric motors can achieve up to 28 mph with pedal assist. Examples of manufacturers that make e-bikes are Harley-Davidson, Ancheer, Ecotric, Velowave, Nakto, Schwinn, Swagtron, Aventon, Rad Power, Benelli, and KTM. 

How much does an E-Bike cost?

The cost of an e-bike really depends on a multitude of factors. Range, electric motor type, availability and materials all contribute to different costs. A longer range e-bike generally means that it has a larger battery and possibly a more efficient electric motor. The bigger the battery, the more the cost. Lithium ion batteries are commonly used on e-bikes and electric motorcycles. These types of batteries are able to hold a charge for a long period of time and recharge relatively quickly. The 20 to 40 mile range is common in modern e-bikes. A 36 volt battery can get up to 30 miles of range, whereas a 48 volt battery can get past 50 miles. 

Typically, an e-bike is powered by two different types of electric motors. One being mid-mounted on the frame/crank of the e-bike and the other being mounted in the hub of the wheel. A crank type engine is usually more costly. Motors range from 250 watts to 750 watts. 

E-bikes can be made of steel, aluminum and even carbon fiber. Carbon fiber being the most expensive option. Sometimes mixed materials will be used like an aluminum frame with carbon fiber components. Some dealers will allow you to test ride the bike before purchasing.

Warranties are something that should also be considered. Manufacturers may offer warranties and but in some cases, a third party warranty would need to be purchased. The cost of parts is high due to inflation at the current time, so warranties are not a bad idea. 

An e-bike cost can range from $1500 to $10,000, with extremely high-end e-bikes reaching past $15,000. Lightweight plus high output usually equals higher cost. 

Financing an e-bike is an option. Some lenders have bicycle specific loans. Some manufactures offer point of sale financing as well. Plan your budget, get information about financing from a bank or OEM lender and make a well-thought decision. 

Where can I buy an e-bike?

E-bikes can be purchased through bicycle shops, online and from private sellers. Some motorcycle companies like Harley-Davidson are producing e-bikes, so you can purchase them right in a motorcycle dealership. There are quite a few manufacturers, so do your research and read user reviews. Before purchasing online, go over warranty details and shipping costs. 

E-Bike Maintenance & Operation

What is e-bike maintenance?

E-bike maintenance is similar to that of a regular bicycle.  Normal wear and tear items like brakes, tires, cables, chains need to be monitored and replaced if too worn. The chain needs to be lubricated, as well as most of the bearings, if they are not sealed. Check tire air pressure. Testing the battery may help determine the condition the battery is in and its life span.

Where can an e-bike be ridden?

E-bikes are capable of being ridden just about anywhere. They are built to be ridden on the road, trail and untamed path. However, the laws of each state vary, so make sure you are up to date on where they are permitted. Most e-bikes are developed to withstand wet conditions. Others might have options like longer suspension travel and knobby tires to take on off-road conditions. Riding in winter conditions will affect the battery life. As always, if bike’s aren’t allowed that usually means no e-bikes either. 

Do I need a license to operate an e-bike?

Unfortunately e-bike laws in the US are not as  clear cut as other vehicles and can be hard to understand. Each state handles them differently..  About two-thirds  of the states classify e-bikes as its own vehicle type, whereas the remaining states include them in with mopeds and other designations. An organization and e-bike advocacy group called People For Bikes is one of the best resources for e-bike laws. Except in Hawaii, e-bikes do not need to be registered.

Finding the right bike, buying and riding it are all part of the e-bike journey. Always ride with the right protection.  Riding an e-bike is similar to riding a motorcycle. It’s important to wear the right gear and taking the right precautions. Operating an e-bike safely can be a lot of fun, a great method of transportation and a great way to go green and help the environment. 

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