An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike, powerbike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. Many kinds of e-bikes are available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider's pedal-power (i.e., pedelecs) to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles.
I then rode each bike on a test commute into Manhattan and schlepped it back on the N train, taking note of the shifting, steering, braking, and overall ride quality, as well as the ease of folding the bike and then carrying it down the subway stairs, through the turnstiles (not all fit), and onto the train—and then doing the reverse on the other end. I also evaluated any luggage-/cargo-carrying options, as well as how compactly and securely each bike folded for fitting under a desk or into a car trunk or closet.
The Netherlands has a fleet of 18 million bicycles. E-bikes have reached a market share of 10% by 2009, as e-bikes sales quadrupled from 40,000 units to 153,000 between 2006 and 2009, and the electric-powered models represented 25% of the total bicycle sales revenue in that year. By early 2010 one in every eight bicycles sold in the country is electric-powered despite the fact that on average an e-bike is three times more expensive than a regular bicycle.
This is a widely popular electric bike and the new Epik Sport Edition even got some upgrades like the 350-watt geared hub motor, a 7-speed Shimano drivetrain and a basic front suspension fork. What’s great about the Epik is that it offers 3 levels of pedal assist and the thumb throttle control, so you can switch between assist mode, throttle only or no assist. The top speed of the bike is 20mph.
Obviously, you shouldn’t ignore traffic rules and try to weave around cars – that’s dangerous, even for unpowered bicycles. However, folding electric bikes can fit places that cars can’t – alleyways, or even sidewalks – though again, you should follow all posted laws and regulations about where to ride them. Using your surroundings smartly in an urban environment can help you avoid traffic completely.
A 2008 market survey showed that the average distance traveled in the Netherlands by commuters on a standard bicycle is 6.3 kilometres (3.9 mi) while with an e-bike this distance increases to 9.8 kilometres (6.1 mi). This survey also showed that e-bike ownership is particularly popular among people aged 65 and over, but limited among commuters. The e-bike is used in particular for recreational bicycle trips, shopping and errands.
Somehow, despite my original aversion to pedaling, I soon realized I was actually having fun using my legs. I even started dropping the assist level down from 8, the highest level, to a more reasonable 5 or 6. I could feel that I was making an honest effort, but it was just enough to get those endorphins going without being so much that I was sweating and tired.
The real purpose of folding a bike is to increase its portability. This is so that it may be more easily transported and stored, and thus allow greater flexibility in getting from A to B. Many public transportation systems ban or restrict unfolded bicycles, but allow folded bikes all or some of the time. For example, Transport for London allows folding bikes at all times on the Underground, but on buses it is down to the driver's discretion. Some transport operators only allow folding bicycles if they are enclosed in a bag or cover. Airline baggage regulations often permit folding bikes as ordinary luggage, without extra cost. Singapore has also implemented new laws to allow folding bicycles in its rail and bus transportation system, with certain size and time limitations.
The Mate X I rode is not a quiet bike. It sounds the way it looks: loud. On flat pavement, the drone of the 750W motor was louder than the 250W bikes I’m accustomed to riding on the streets of Europe (750W requires a license here, but not in the US) and the knobby treads only added to the din (you can opt for quieter street tires). Off road, the tires go quiet, but the sound is replaced with chain slaps and some creaking from the (optional) rear fender. While the knobby tire and motor noise isn’t likely to change, the company assures me that the final bike will ship with a tighter chain and silent rear fender.
The 20-inch Schwinn Loop, Amazon’s best-selling folding bike at around $200 currently, isn’t really designed for commuting (despite the Amazon verbiage). It has a bulky step-through frame, and in our tests it offered a heavy, sluggish ride—Citi Bikes (those blue three-speed bike-share behemoths) often passed me on the bridge, and I had no hope of fitting it through the subway turnstiles. If you plan to use your folding bike regularly, do yourself a favor and spend more.
The prototype Mate X I rode still had a few obvious issues related to non-final software and components. My prototype was not even meant for press previews. That bike, I’m told, was stolen the day before my test ride. As a result, there were some tuning issues and a battery mismatch on the bike I rode. After about 30 minutes of riding, for example, the motor started cutting out every 30 seconds or so, before resetting and coming back online. The culprit is likely the removable battery pack which didn’t fill the housing completely, causing it to rattle around when riding on bumpy surfaces. The company assures me that none of these issues will exist when the bikes start shipping to backers in December, as they didn’t exist in the stolen prototype.
This is actually the number one thing stopping many people from riding bicycles to work – if it’s hot outside, nobody wants to be sweaty when they get to the office, especially if they have no place to shower. folding electric bikes allow you to minimize the work done on the bike when you need to in hot weather, and keep you feeling fresh and cool even during the hottest commutes.
The rack and fenders make the Navigator a solid choice for daily commuting or light touring. The Octagon stem is also adjustable without tools, so it’s easy to dial in a comfortable fit. At 29-pounds, the Navigator is a bit less portable than some other folding options, but the full-sized wheels make it a great choice for longer rides and commutes. Price: $959.
The first step in deciding which Electric Bike is for you is to determine the right style for your type of riding. Want to take things off road? We have a full range of Mountain Electric Bikes, Hunting Electric bikes, and Fat Tire Ebikes that’ll have you going on and off trails with ease. Looking for a low impact but super fun ride? Our line of Comfort E-bikes, Commuting E-bikes, and even folding bikes will have you zipping around town, on the beach, or anywhere you can ride- no problem.