Technology keeps coming at us, and the bicycle has not escaped its grasp. Electric bicycle, or e-bike, sales are exploding.
E-bikes are especially popular amongst the older crowd who, due to the wear and tear of life, need a little help to get back out there.
There are e-bikes for everyone, from short and tall riders, commuters to single trackers to hunters who may want to tow a couple hundred pounds of gear on an e-bike trailer.
You can get e-bikes with one battery that may be good for a 30- to 50-mile ride or two larger batteries that would allow you to push the 100-mile mark on one charge.
E-bikes have 3 classifications that trail use regulators use.
• Class 1: The Class 1 e-bike provides assistance only when you pedal and stops assisting when you reach 20 mph – great for bike lanes, bike paths, roads or anywhere you’d take a traditional bike.
• Class 2: The Class 2 e-bike is equipped with a throttle which provides a boost without pedaling, and stops assisting at 20 mph.
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• Class 3: The Class 3 e-bike is equipped with a speedometer, and only assists until the bike reaches 28 mph – an excellent choice for commuters. The most popular bikes fit into Class 1 or Class 3 because riders still want to pedal.
There are e-bikes with hub motors and those with mid-drive motors. Hub motors are less expensive. Mid-drive motors are better for climbing hilly terrain and are more expensive.
Speaking of money – you can spend less than $ 1,000 to over $ 10,000 for an e-bike.
Beware, e-bikes are heavier than bicycles. The dual battery mid-drive models can push 80 pounds. Not a big deal while riding with a strong motor to assist you, but the manual moving and lifting of the e-bike can become a challenge. On the other hand, there are e-bikes around 35 pounds.
Do not think you do not have to peddle an e-bike. You do if you want to go any distance. It’s just that the e-bike assists you in that effort.
Also know, you can not ride an e-bike everywhere. The US Forest Service says each district ranger can decide where an e-bike can be used.
According to Bureau of Land Management policy:
“The public lands should be accessible to as many Americans as possible, including people who use e-bikes. E-bikes help make public lands more accessible to more people. An e-bike is a bicycle with a small electric motor of not more than 750 watts (same limit for the USFS) which assists in the operation of the bicycle and reduces the physical exertion demands on the rider. E-bikes may have two or three wheels and must have fully operable pedals. ”
Over 750 watts and you are no longer an e-bike – you are motorized.
And each local government entity has a say too. For example, in Tucson, the self-proclaimed bicycle capitol of the US, Pima County bans e-bikes from the 137-mile-long Chuck Huckleberry loop trail around Tucson. Why? They say e-bikes go too fast, but the average speed for a road bicyclist is 16 miles per hour while a pro rider averages 25 mph on flat ground. Using speed as the reason to ban e-bikes limited to 20 mph is illogical, but that is their regulation.
If you enjoyed bicycling as a kid and think you can not do it anymore, try out an e-bike. I guarantee it will put a smile on your face.