The electric bicycle sector continues to grow in our country. It is true that we still have a long way to go to resemble other countries where electric bicycles are already well established, but the figures indicate that it is a growing sector. And it is that the difficulties to access the nuclei of the big cities as well as the interest of some administrations to promote this means of transport are making fat tire cruiser bike products increasingly popular.
What is an electric bicycle?
Electric bicycles, formally known as assisted pedaling vehicles and e-bike in English, are bicycles that have a battery-powered electric motor that helps reduce pedaling effort. At present there are all kinds of bicycles (MTB , road, tour, urban, children’s, folding, etc.) that have become electric bicycles. There is also a wide range of engine models, with different weights, powers and auto-nomies.
How to choose the right electric bike?
If, after evaluating the pros and cons, you decide to buy an electric bicycle, you must take into account the following conditions to choose the one that best suits your interests. We list below those aspects that must be assessed:
The type of bicycle: it is the first thing we must consider. Depending on the terrain through which we are going to travel we will choose one or the other.
Motor types: there are brushed motors and brush-less motors. The former are heavier and generate more noise, although they are somewhat cheaper. The seconds are lighter and quieter, although their price is also higher. What they have in common is that, by regulation, none can exceed 250W of nominal power.
Motor position: the motor can be located on the front wheel, on the rear wheel or on the central axis, in which case it transmits the force directly to the pedals. The motor on the front wheel has the disadvantage that it places more weight on this part of the bike and transmits more bumps to the rider’s arms. In addition, when driving on slippery surfaces it is easier for this wheel to lose stability if it has more weight. On the contrary, the motor in the rear wheel makes the bicycle more stable and comfortable, but it is also possible that part of the driving force is lost since it is located on the same axis that transmits the pedaling force.
The type of batteries and their recharging time: Most of today’s electric bicycles carry lithium batteries. Gone are the models that took lead or nickel / metal hydride batteries, as lithium batteries have shown greater efficiency, greater durability and also a considerable reduction in weight. In addition, lithium batteries lack the so-called “memory effect” (a process by which internal crystals are created in batteries when they are not fully charged), which increases their useful life. Recharging time is also an important factor when choosing one or the other bike. Most batteries usually need about 3 hours for a full charge but there are some that take less time and others that even extend to 8 hours or more. Each manufacturer has its own booklet and it is convenient to make a comparison to choose the one that best suits your needs, taking into account that the shorter the loading time they need, the higher the price.
Autonomy: This is a highly variable factor since it depends on aspects such as the weight of the bike and the rider, the type of terrain on which it is going to circulate, the number of times the battery is going to be activated during each journey or the level of previous load that it carries. In this sense, what you must look at is the battery capacity, which is measured in Watts / hour (Wh), a figure resulting from multiplying the system voltage by the battery amps. In general, the capacity of most batteries ranges from 300 Wh to 400Wh, with which they can be carried out without problem between 40 km and 60 km. There are, however, some brands that sell batteries that reach ranges of 100km or 150 km for the most demanding cyclists. The most approximate calculation of the autonomy of a lithium battery can be made by multiplying the voltage (generally 24 or 36 volts) by the amps available (normally between 8 and 18 Ah) and by the speed at which it can render the motor (a maximum of 25 km / h), then dividing the resulting figure by the motor power which is usually 250W).
Thus, a 36-volt, 10-amp battery will have a real range of 36 kilometers as long as it circulates at maximum performance. Taking into account that you never drive at full speed and that there are battery usage level controllers, the autonomy can grow significantly.
Brakes: most urban electric bicycles still have V-brakes, in which two pads rub against the rim to brake. Their advantage is that they are cheap and easy to maintain. However, there are also urban models with mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes.
There are models very similar to traditional bicycles: despite the fact that the first prototypes were crude bicycles in which the motor and batteries attracted a lot of attention and were very heavy, the innovative designs of recent years and the boom in lithium have reduced the visibility and weight of these parts and have integrated them into the frames, the bottom bracket and even the bottle cages. Currently there are very discreet models in which the electrical parts are barely appreciated and that are the same as traditional bicycles.
In fact, not all of them are suitable for everyone. For example, for women and children, it is advisable to buy a step through bike. Buying online is preferable because then you have more choices. By buying online you can save a lot of time as well as money. It is common knowledge that many offline bike shops tend to sell the same products at significantly higher prices.