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 UK's Electric Assist Pedal Cycle (EAPC) specifications (see FAQ).  If the ebike complies then anyone 14 and above, may cycle an e-bike on roads, bridleways and cycle tracks just as they would a normal bicycle.

There are some amazing new bikes available and our FCC 'Christmas advert' features 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! 

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The Eovolt 'Evening' ebike has 20 inch wheels and 2.4 inch tyres for stability but still folders down so that it can be stored under a desk or in a car boot. It's 500Wh battery gives it a range of up to 75 miles on one charrge. Available in Farnham at the Electric Cycle Cafe.

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:

  • 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.

  • shifting larger loads such as shopping or young children;

COST EFFECTIVE EBIKES CAN BE PURCHASED IN FARNHAM TOWN CENTRE AT THE ELECTRIC CYCLE CAFE   WWW.ELECTRICCYCLECAFE.CO.UK
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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

Are e-bikes really expensive to buy?

Not compared to a car. If you buy a second hand car for £12000 and sell it 10 years later for £2000 you have lost £1000/year and then there is tax, insurance, MOT, servicing, repairs and, of course, fuel to consider. This must add up to about £2000/year for a modest car!

Compared to a comparable specification un-assisted bicycle, e-bikes are generally about £2000 to find one that is fully road-legal and with spare parts are available.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). BUT PLEASE MAKE SURE THAT THEY MEET THE UK REGULATIONS (see below).

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 so if the ebike has a throttle on the handlebars that allows the bike to be ridden without pedalling then it is legally a motorbike. In this case you would need tax, insurance and a motorbike helmet!  Please see the 8th bullet in this Gov page. A legal ebike has 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.  If the ebike complies with the UK rules then no vehicle registration, number plates, riders license or helmet use is required.

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.

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 200% 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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