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ELECTRIC-ASSIST BIKE INFO

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Electric-assist bikes, or e-bikes, are general terms for pedal bicycles with an electric motor. They can be used legally so long as they comply to the pedal electric assistance (Pedelec) specifications (see FAQ).  Anyone 14 and above, may cycle an e-bike on roads, bridleways and cycle tracks just as they would a normal bicycle.

Electric-assist bikes (e-bikes) are often based on modified bike frames with 3 additional components: a motor, a (removable) battery and a controller on the handle bars to set the level of assistance and display useful information (such as range).  Electrical assistance is the key to unlocking more people to cycle more often in a number of situations:

  • shifting larger loads such as shopping or young children;

  • tackling steep hills with ease (a plus in Farnham!);

  • easing unfit, injured or unconfident riders back onto the saddle;

  • allowing riders to cycle further and faster, extending commuter ranges for instance)

  • no-sweat, letting commuter cyclists get to work without over exertion and having to change clothes;

  • allowing older or injured riders to keep up with friends on social rides.

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In addition, Farnham is home to E-Bikeshop (www.e-bikeshop.co.uk) one of the UK’s largest on-line e-bike retailers and also specialist servicers. E-Bikeshop sells, customises and supports good quality, reliable and stylish European electric bikes.

 

East Street Cycles/Hoops Velo Farnham (www.eaststcycles.com) whilst not exclusively e-bike specialists, East Street Cycles, in the centre of town, have been official Bosch system servicers for over 4 years.  They also sell men’s and ladys’ e-bikes.

 

Halfords Farnham (www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/electric-bikes) in the Guildford Road Retail Park, sells and services a range of value, men’s, ladies’ and folding e-bikes

 

Argos Farnham (www.argos.co.uk) located is South Street Sainsburys offers a £400 folding ebike.

CostCo, for members, CostCo has a small, but affordable range of e-bikes(www.costco.co.uk/Sports-Spas-Leisure/Bikes-Scooters-Accessories/Electric-Bikes/c/cos_5.3.7). The nearest CostCo warehouse is on the airport perimeter road in Farnborough.

Guildford

www.electricbikesguildford.com

Pedal Heaven (www.pedalheaven.co.uk ) on Fleet Road, Fleet sell and maintain a range of e-bikes (including carbo e-bikes)

Local Bike Shops around Farnham

There are some amazing new bikes available and our FCC 'Christmas advert' (out soon) will feature an 80 year old whizzing up Firgrove Hill on his electric-assist bike.  E-bikes open up cycling to people who own no lycra and pensioners who might even have arthristis (like our 80 year old). When people choose to leave their cars at home some of the worst air pollution (cold engine starts) are removed and people can pop into town, avoiding the traffic queues and parking queues quicker than using their car! Prices start from £379 but there are bikes that can carry a child as pillion too.

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£379

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Are e-bikes really expensive to buy?

Not compared to a car!

Compared to a comparable specification un-assisted bicycle, e-bikes are generally a few hundred pounds more expensive with plenty of value choice under £1000 with, mid-range bikes at about £2000.It is well worth seeing if your employer supports (or is willing to support) the Cycle to Work Scheme where a government tax incentive allows the purchase cost to be effectively reduced by up-to a third (see

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2019/everyday-walking-and-cycling/the-cycle-to-work-scheme-explained/)

 

There is so much choice, what should I look for?

This is the great thing about the market: every time of cycle from road to off-road, hybrid to folding, cargo, child or three-wheeler can be found with electrical assistance now.  Most of the hard choices are the classic ones: what sort of cycle you need or want, what is your budget; does the local cycle service them, etc.  a few additional questions, covered in later FAQ answers, are about range, motor location and weight (if you have to carry the bike often).

 

FCC tip: check that the e-bike you are looking at uses battery, motor and controls from a mainstream component supplier.  This will make it easier to manage any warrantee issues, get local servicing and spare parts.  Whist there is no industry standard, the majority of bike manufacturer get their electric assist components from one of 4 manufactures, namely:

- Bosch (https://www.bosch-ebike.com/en/service/product-history/ )

- Panasonic (https://eu.industrial.panasonic.com/products/e-bike-systems)

- Shimano (https://www.shimano-steps.com/e-bikes/united-kingdom/en)

- Yamaha (https://global.yamaha-motor.com/business/e-bike-systems/)

 

This may well not be the case for more specialist e-bikes that are super lightweight or folding, still, it is worth checking and considering when you purchase.

Are they expensive to maintain?

Electric motors from the mainstream suppliers are very reliable.  For instance,, the Bosch motor is derived from the power steering of the VW Golf with a 20 year history of safety-critical use.  Battery, motor and controllers are all sealed units, designed for tens of thousands of miles use with very low mechanical wear and tear. The main additional servicing cost (compared to an unassisted bike) is for periodic (6-monthly) updates to the controller software which may add £20 to the normal bike servicing bill.

 

What is the specification for legal e-bikes?

On public highways, pedal assisted electric (Pedelec) bike may not be ridden by under 14-year olds.  The electric motor may only assist when the rider is pedalling.  The power is limited to a continuous rated 250w and the output is progressively reduced and finally cut off as the vehicle reaches a speed of 25km/h (15.5mph) or if the cyclist stops pedalling.

No vehicle registration, number plates, riders license or helmet use is required.

 

How much assistance to e-bikes provide?

Modern e-bike systems allow the rider to control the assistance level with the motor providing up to 300% as much power as the rider, up to the continuous 250w legal power limit. But let’s put that in perspective, an elite road cyclist will only maintain 400w.  An e-bike rider can expend just 80W to achieve a total of 330w once you add in the motor assist. On the steepest hills in Farnham, that is a comfortable, no-sweat, 8mph.

 

What about range and recharging?

Modern e-bikes use lithium ion batteries, comparable to the one3s in electric cars and mobile phones.  This gives ranges of 20 to 90 miles depending on battery capacity with about 40 miles being typical. However, the rider has a great deal of flexibility as they can control the amount of assistance they get and therefore the final range. A range of 30 miles with 300% ‘turbo’ assistance can be changed, with the flip of a thumb, to over 60 miles at a lower ‘eco’ level of assistance.

S for recharging, e-bike batteries are removable and come with a light recharger fitted with a standard 3-pin, 13A plug on for use in any wall socket.  A full charge would typically take 2-3 hours.

Different models have the motor in different places, which is best?

Each option has pros and cons, as this video from Which? Magazine explains:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbAly0Bodgc or this independent review https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuyIbjJFGik

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