By Claudia Wasko
Electric bikes – or eBikes – are one of the fastest growing categories in the cycling industry. They help riders go faster, further and longer without tiring, and buyers are turning to eBikes for everything from vehicle replacements to pure enjoyment. There are also a wide range of styles, motor sizes and price points from which riders can choose to suit their needs.
But there might also be a little confusion by some of the specs, especially when it comes to motor positioning. It’s important to know the differences between the two main types: hub-drive and mid-drive.
Hub-Drive and Mid-Drive
For a hub-drive eBike, the motor is positioned on the front or rear wheel, with the motor placed handily in the wheel hub. The motor provides propulsion by spinning the tire on which it is mounted.
Some riders find a hub motor eBike does not maneuver naturally; depending on whether the hub motor is on the front or rear wheel, the eBike either feels like it is being pushed or pulled along. That can create issues for an inexperienced rider, either because the additional weight in the back wheel makes it harder to balance, or because the additional weight in the front creates steering challenges.
For a mid-drive eBike, the motor is positioned directly in between the pedals at the bike’s bottom bracket. This ensures a low and central center of gravity, providing load balancing and creating the feeling of riding a traditional bike. Riders don’t feel the additional weight of the motor because of where it is positioned, giving a mid-drive eBike solid directional and tracking stability.
A difference riders can’t see, but will experience on a long ride – especially on hills – is that a bike with a mid-drive motor works synergistically with the bike’s gears for higher efficiency, which translates into longer riding range per charge. Like a car’s engine, electric motors like to spin fast not slow. When the rider shifts gears to pedal at a natural bike-riding cadence (typically 50-100 rpm), the motor in between the pedals is churning at an efficient rpm as well. For these reasons, Bosch uses only mid-drive motors. Learn more here.
With a hub-drive eBike, the motor drives the wheel, which can spin very slow on a steep hill. When a motor is spinning slow and the rider is requesting lots of help from the hub motor, it can sometimes overheat, leading to a temporary shut-off (best-case), or permanent damage to the magnets inside (worst-case).
Flat tires – a periodic occurrence when riding as often and far as eBikers do - is a quick fix with a mid-drive just like it would be with a regular bike; the wheels can be taken off without affecting the motor. With a hub motor, the motor is actually on the wheel itself, so even a minor hiccup like a flat tire can turn into a lengthy procedure and is not ideal for riders inexperienced with in-depth eBike maintenance. Fixing a bent or broken rim on a hub-drive eBike can be even more problematic and expensive, which requires detaching the motor from the rim and re-spoking.
To Retrofit or Not to Retrofit?
The hub-drive motor positioning causes no change to the basic design of the bike, which means a motor can be retrofitted to almost any traditional bicycle using a conversion kit with a hub motor and battery pack. While retrofits are possible with some mid-drives, most higher-quality mid-drives require a specially designed bike frame built around the motor.
Retrofitting a traditional bike with a hub motor gives flexibility to users who already own a traditional bike, and is more wallet-friendly, but it actually can negatively impact bike performance and cause safety issues. A traditional bike is not designed for motorized use, and adding a conversion kit adds weight and strain on the bike’s frame, chain, gears, and brakes which were not designed for the higher loads and speed of an eBike.
Education is Key
The eBike market has changed a lot in the last decade, when hub motors used to dominate the industry and Bosch was one of the only suppliers to offer a mid-drive. Now, the majority of North American and European bicycle manufacturers have shifted from hub-drive to mid-drives due to many of the inherent advantages described above. Over the next decade, we expect the shift from hub to mid-drive to accelerate, especially as these miracle machines get smaller, lighter, quieter, and more seamlessly integrated into the bike frame. These improvements will help eBikes, one of the world’s most sustainable transportation tools, appeal to an increasingly expanding demographic.
With an understanding of the basic differences between the motor types as well as other specifications, consumers can educate themselves on the eBike that will work best for their needs. To learn more about where electric bikes can be ridden in the United States visit People for Bikes.
22 states now follow the three class e-bike system, doubling total in six months
Author (s): PeopleforEbikes
Link to Article: https://peopleforbikes.org/blog/22-states-now-follow-the-three-class-ebike-system/
2019 started with 11 states using the model three-class e-bike definitions. As of June 19, 22 states now define e-bikes within the three classes, effectively doubling the total in just six months. These eleven new states are: Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
A few major themes can be attributed to this success. First, states follow each others’ leads and seek regional consistency in how they treat e-bikes, so there’s momentum. Second, the e-bike market is booming and states recognize that riders need consistent and common-sense rules for where they can be ridden.
Last but not least, the unwavering support from the industry led directly to these wins. Without the above and beyond contributions raised by the BPSA E-Bike Committee to build on-the-ground teams in each of these states, making this much progress in one year would not have been possible. The companies that supported the e-bike initiative in 2019 are: Accell North America, Allegion/Kryptonite, Bosch, Brose, Bulls, Cycling Sports Group, DT Swiss, Envelo, Fantic, Felt, Foldaway Solutions, Fox, Genze, Giant, GM, Harley Davidson, Hi-Power Cycles, Ohm Cycles, Oregon E-Bikes, Pacific Cycle, Pedego, REI, Riese and Muller, Rocky Mountain, Shimano, Specialized, Sport Technik/M1, SRAM, Suzhou Bafang, Taioku, Tempo Bicycles, Tern, TranzX, Trek, Yamaha and Yuba.
In 2015, the BPSA and PeopleForBikes began this national campaign to pass clear e-bike legislation in all 50 states in order to create stability in the marketplace. E-bike manufacturers put aside competitive differences to develop the three class system around critical issues like motor assist, pedal assist, wattage and operational rules.
Good e-bike laws are completely changing business models and customer bases. In states where the three class system of e-bikes has passed, suppliers report that sales of e-bikes more than double. On the local level, bike retailers in states with this law report that having a statewide three class e-bike system helps their team clearly explain where e-bikes are and aren’t allowed, and e-bike sales help offset the loss of revenue due to other declining categories.
Most importantly good e-bike laws are leading to better e-bike access. For example, after Wyoming legislators passed the state’s three class e-bike law in February, Wyoming State Parks decided to allow Class 1 eMTBs anywhere a traditional mountain bike is allowed, and even opted to conduct a Class 2 pilot project. A number of local trail access wins from Virginia to Arizona can be attributed to land managers recognizing the increase of eMTB use and creating consistency with the three classes of e-bikes and state laws. PeopleForBikes’ e-bike page has state by state e-bike handouts and resources for riders, retailers and land managers.
TRANSPORTATION REASEARCH AND EDUCATION CENTER
John MacArthur, Portland State University
Christopher Cherry, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Electric bicycle (e-bike) use is a rising phenomenon in North America, as a growing number of manufacturers produce a variety of bicycles which can accommodate the needs of diverse populations. With the growth of the e-bike industry, e-bike users are an increasingly integral part of both the transportation network and recreational trail system. However, little research has been conducted on e-bikes within North America, especially on the individuals who have purchased e-bikes.
The first-known survey of e-bike owners in the United States was conducted by Portland State University in 2013. The present study seeks to strengthen our understanding of these issues, and to explore how the findings from the previous study may have changed over time and with the growth in the e-bike industry. Analysis of the survey results indicate that there has been little change in the primary reasons individuals are motivated to purchase an e-bike, and they tend to be related to various barriers which deter individuals from riding a standard bicycle; reducing physical exertion, challenging topography and replacing car trips continue to reign as a few of the most important reasons for buying an e-bike. The findings also reaffirm significant discrepancies in how these barriers are perceived by various subgroups of the population, as defined by the respondents’ age, gender and physical ability.
Through analysis it became evident that e-bikes are making it possible for more people to ride a bicycle, many of whom are incapable of riding a standard bicycle or don’t feel safe doing so. Additionally, the electric assist of the e-bike helps to generate more trips, longer trips and different types of bicycle trips. These findings are represented by the high value attributed to being able to avoid or tackle hills easier, ride farther and faster with less effort, and being able to carry more cargo or children when needed.
I would like to start by thanking all our followers across all our media communication services. We at Shoreline Ebikes are very excited to bring you along on our journey and welcome you to the world of electric mobility.
As the founder of Shoreline Ebikes I would like to introduce myself. I’m a busy father of two, a business management consultant by trade and a lover of outdoor sports. Through the years I have participated in sports across all different categories, competitive swimming, triathlons, mountain biking, surfing, diving and sailing among others. I grew up on an island where the outdoors, sea and land were my playground. Growing up as an islander meant that my main mode of transportation was a bicycle, from going to school, the beach to riding with friends. For 15 years my father ran and owned a bicycle repair shop, doing all types of repairs as well as building bespoke bikes. I was the lucky kid with one of the only bicycles on the island where the brakes functioned properly. I was also lucky that, with meticulous guidance of my father, I was also able to work and repair my own bikes and learn how each component was supposed to work. I was always attracted to mechanical movements and design, and I owe this to my passion for bikes.
To provide my kids with a similar upbringing to mine, my family and I relocated to Sarasota, Florida. A beautiful city with amazing beaches across all our shorelines. To me, there is nothing more relaxing than taking a bike ride around our shorelines, getting some fresh air and disconnecting from our daily responsibilities. Unfortunately, doing so has become more challenging and in some cases unsafe even more so for a family of four. Couple that with the limited drivable routes on our keys and the increase in popularity of our beaches, our area is suffering from major traffic congestion. Our residents and visitors are spending a considerable amount of time trying to reach the coastline and when they get there, there is limited parking.
This is where our journey begins, we would like to see our roads used as multifunctional spaces, not just by automobiles. We would like for our visitors and residents of all ages to enjoy our shores in a safe environment and we see electric bikes as a great tool to achieve this. Electric bikes are environmentally friendly, they can be used by all generations including those with certain injuries. Weather wise electric bikes are perfect for our humid and high temperature environment when you need a little brake from pedaling.
I would like for this blog to be a useful resource for us to learn from you, for our readers to interact and learn from each other and discuss all things electric mobility related. We encourage diversity in opinions as we strongly believe that this is how we grow.
I will always be available to answer any questions you might have.
Thank you all,
Electric urban transportation enthusiast.