EC FAQ

Why should I get an electric bike?

Many people will tell you that you should get an electric bike because it reduces your carbon footprint; it saves you a ton of money on transportation costs; it gets you to work without making you a sweaty mess; and it tricks you into “working on your fitness.” But the real reason you should get an electric bike is a lot more simple than that. It does do all of the above (and more)—but it also just provides a fun, enjoyable ride. There is nothing like the experience of being completely immersed in the rapidly changing scenery—with just the open air and the quiet power of the motor beneath you. (Also, electric bikes are just plain cool.)

 

What kind of bike is right for me?

The right bike for you depends on a lot of things—your height/weight, assistance preferences, intended uses (commuting, leisure, fitness, transporting cargo), and primary riding terrain. Give us a call or stop by the shop. We’ll answer all of your questions and match you with the right bike based on your requirements and budget.

 

Do I need a driver’s license or insurance to operate an electric bike?

You do not need a driver’s license, registration, or license plate to operate a low-speed electric bike. The Federal Consumer Product Safety Act was amended in 2001 to define “low-speed” electric bicycles as having a motor of less than 750 watts and a maximum speed of 20 mph on a level surface. Since it is legally a bicycle, it is not bound by the laws that apply to motor vehicles.

Insurance is optional, but it’s not a bad idea to have it. Check out Spoke Bicycle Insurance for more information.

 

Do I need to wear a helmet?

Different states have different laws regarding bike helmets— but even if riding unprotected isn’t against the law in your state, there are still the laws of common sense to consider. If you’re in California, you are required to wear a helmet. Bike lights are also required for those after dark cruises.

 

What are the running costs of owning an electric bike?

A few factors come into play (type of bike, battery efficiency, etc.). You can expect to pay normal bike maintenance costs—plus a few pennies per charge. You’ll also need to replace the battery every 2-5 years, depending on use. Replacement battery costs range from $250 to $1200.

 

How long does it take to charge the battery?

3-4 hours when empty.

 

Will the battery recharge when I’m pedaling?

Not really, but you can preserve battery power by pedaling. Some electric bikes have regenerative capabilities, but they don’t often provide the smoothest rides. (Imagine pedaling while braking.) Regen is more commonly used as an anti-lock braking system when riding downhill.

 

How many miles can I go on a single charge?

Depends on a bunch of factors—battery size and power, wind resistance, terrain, rider/cargo weight, and how much pedal assistance you provide. Most electric bikes average 20-65 miles with relaxed pedaling in normal conditions.

 

What is the average life expectancy of a battery?

700-900 cycles (or a couple years of daily use).

 

How do I activate the motor?

There are primarily two ways to activate the motor: pedal assist or throttle, often both options are available. With pedal assist, the motor kicks in when you pedal to amplify your pedal strokes. Handlebar-mounted throttles allow for power on demand and don’t require pedaling. Throttles are loads of fun, but they’ll empty your battery much faster than pedal assist.

 

Is the degree of assistance adjustable?

Yes, ebikes typically have 3-5 assistance options. The lower the level, the longer the battery charge lasts.

 

What kind of speed will I get?

Up to 20 mph using motor power only—more with pedal assistance.

 

Are electric bikes safe to operate?

Just like riding a regular bike, ebikes are totally safe when the rider takes reasonable precautions. Because they’re more stable and have technology in place to prevent dangerous wheel lock-ups, electric bikes actually have an edge over regular bicycles when it comes to safety.

For safety tips, including “How to not get hit by cars,” check out http://bicyclesafe.com/.

 

How do I secure my electric bike?

Bike theft is a big problem, but there are many ways you can keep your ebike secure—without having to lug a bunch of parts around whenever you need to park it. Luckily, many electric bikes have built-in locks to secure removable parts such as the battery. To maximize security, use a heavy-duty chain or U-lock that can stretch through the frame and wheels. Here are a few we recommend.

Electric Cyclery has a wide selection of Insurance-Approved Bicycle Locks.

 

Can I get a decent workout with an electric bike?

Will you turn into Jackie Chan overnight? Probably not—but you can get an awesome workout from an electric bike—sometimes without even realizing it(while running errands or commuting to work, for instance.) They’re also great for interval training. Most people find ebikes so enjoyable that they’re more motivated to get out there and ride—and for greater distances than they typically traveled on their regular bikes. Electric bikes can also help you ease back into shape if you’re recovering from an injury or your strength has declined.

 

Can I ride my electric bike in the rain?

Yes, but it’s about as fun as riding a regular bike in the rain. Make sure the electric connections are wrapped up and water tight, especially the battery power connection.

 

What sort of maintenance is required?

Typical bike maintenance (chains, tires). Also, the battery should be charged regularly—at least once a month to ensure a long and happy life.

 

Should I buy an electric bike kit or a factory-made electric bike?

There are plenty of quality pre-built electric bikes available these days from many of the major bike manufacturers; but if you’re in love with your current bike and it fits you well, you may want to consider a conversion kit.

 

How do I install an electric bike kit?

Most installations can be done with basic mechanical skills. Electric Cyclery offers both onsite installation services and remote support for home installations.