QUESTIONS ABOUT ELECTRIC BIKES

First, and foremost, electric bikes are BICYCLES. They're NOT mopeds, scooters, or motorcycles. You don't need a special license, registration or insurance to ride an electric bike. They are classified by assist types and speeds (read about classes below).

Sometimes they're called e-bikes, pedelecs, or electric-assist bikes. You can ride them just like any other bike, and come in all styles and sizes. They (mostly) have regular components like any other bike.

All e-bikes have a motor, battery and other electronics for controlling the bike. You don't even have to turn them on to ride them. But you can turn them on and have zero power assistance, where it'll be ready for you to set an assist level to give you the boost you need when you want it.

The motor is typically integrated into the frame (mid-drive) or wheel (hub-drive). The battery provides the energy for the motor and is usually lithium-ion cells, just like in EV cars, power tools, and laptops.

Electric bikes have three classifications, based on assist type and top assisted speed:

  • Class 1: The motor only provides assistance when the bike is pedaled, and cuts off at 20 mph. You can keep pedaling faster, but the motor will not assist you more than that.
  • Class 2: Same as Class 1, but includes a throttle (or other control) so that you can go without pedaling. The top speed is 20 mph, but you can also keep pedaling faster if you want.
  • Class 3: These are bikes that have a top assisted speed of 28 mph and operate by pedaling. You can keep pedaling faster, but the motor will not assist you more than that.

Yes. The drive systems of the e-bikes we sell are not affected by rain or other wet conditions.

We don't recommend leaving your bike outside in a downpour overnight or throwing it in the pool, but you should feel confident riding in wet weather. Most major brands even test their bikes and offer an 'IP' rating - 'Ingress Protection' - that tells you how resistant to dust and water it is. 6 is the highest number, so an IP66 would be the highest rating.

We also sell bike covers that you can fold up to bring with you to put over your bike while locked up in a rack that might not be covered.

BATTERY QUESTIONS

Most e-bike batteries consist of lithium-ion cells packaged into different cases having different sizes and connectors. These cells are the same used in many other things like EV cars, power tools, and laptops. The most common cell size is the 18650 (18mm diameter, 65mm length).

The batteries are all rechargeable, having different capacities and expected lifetimes (see other questions below). More expensive batteries typically have higher quality cells from reputable manufacturers with longer lifetimes.

You can read more about lithium-ion cells online (Wikipedia is a good starting place).

All e-bikes batteries come with a charger that plugs into a regular outlet (110-120 volts A/C), just like most other chargers you might already have (such as a laptop charger). Chargers come in different sizes with different connectors, so not just any charger will work for a specific battery. It would be awesome to have some kind of standard charging like USB chargers for phones.

So to charge an e-bike battery, just plug in the charger, connect the battery, and let it charge. Most e-bikes have batteries that can be charged on or off the bike, so you could bring it inside wherever you're at (just remember to bring the charger). New chargers are smart and will shut off once the battery is fully charged, so no worries about leaving it plugged in for long periods of time.

Typical times are 3-5 hours to fully charge a battery. Some chargers provide more output to charge batteries faster. Batteries with more capacity take longer to charge (like filling up a bigger gas tank). Some systems will charge to 80% within 90 minutes or less. Unfortunately there are no "super chargers" available yet for e-bike batteries like what you might read about with EV cars.

Most e-bikes have batteries that lock to the bike, whether it's on the frame or in a rack. This means there is a key needed for unlocking and removing the battery. Most keys are serialized, meaning we can get a replacement if they are lost.

Anything can be stolen off a bike. But since the battery is locked, it can't just be quickly removed without damaging the harness, wiring, or battery itself. A damaged battery isn't worth anything.

It depends. The short answer is generally at least 15 real-world miles using highest levels of assist if you want to go fast most of the time. Most people use lower levels of assist for casual riding where expected range can be at least 40 miles.

Batteries come with different capacities, like different gas tank sizes in a car. Bigger capacity doesn't necessarily mean more range. Typical e-bike batteries are 400-500 Watt-hours (Wh). Some systems are really optimized for efficiency and have more range, whereas more powerful motors might consume more energy per mile. Our diagnostic reports from real-world usage has shown anywhere from 5-15 Wh per mile, so a 400 Wh battery pack could get 26-80 miles on a charge.

Corvallis is mostly flat with hills in the northwest part of town (where we're located). Some people are riding their e-bikes in the lowest assist level most of the time, only going to higher assistance when climbing a hill. Range varies a lot between bikes, how you ride it, and other factors. We go through a range disclaimer with every customer that buys a bike from us to explain all the conditions that maximum range.

Bosch has a great range estimation tool that allows you to change some info to match how you might use an e-bike. Here's some common conditions we start with that is a good representation for the e-bikes (with Bosch systems) that we have and riding conditions for Corvallis:

  • Average speed = 15 mph
  • Riding mode = Tour
  • Rider total weight = 250 lbs
  • Rider cadence = 60 rpm
  • eBike drive = Active Line
  • eBike battery = PowerPack 400
  • eBike type of bicycle = city bike
  • eBike tire tread = city bike tires
  • eBike shifting system = derailleur
  • Environment terrain = some inclines
  • Environment surface = road with poor quality
  • Environment wind condition = light breeze
  • Environment starting up = middle

Many new e-bikes do not have regenerative charging during riding or braking. Regenerative charging requires the motor to be engaged, meaning there will be some drag on the bike.

None of the e-bikes we carry offer regenerative charging. We can help you find conversion kits with this feature and know the brands that offer this.

Solar charging can certainly be done, but you'll need a way to carry several large panels to capture the energy needed to charge an e-bike battery. Check out The Sun Trip for some inspiration on traveling long distances by e-bike and charging by solar.

Right now, typical prices for replacement batteries are $500-1000. Be wary of cheap batteries, as they may have unknown cells inside and may not even have true lithium-ion 18650 cells.

Batteries are the most expensive part of the bike. But we expect battery cost to continually decrease in price as technology improves.

We have resources for battery pack rebuilding for older e-bikes where replacements may not be available. Nethers Batteries and E-Bike Market Place offer battery pack rebuilding and we expect more of these services popping up in the future.

Batteries are usually designated by number of charge cycles before original capacity begins to degrade. This means how many times it will go through a full charge cycle from 0-100%. Charging from 50-100% is a half charge cycle. All of the e-bikes we sell come with batteries that have a 2-year warranty and 500-1000 charge cycles.

Reaching the end of a warranty period or full charge cycles doesn't mean the battery will die. It just means that it won't hold it's original capacity (and range). All batteries degrade over time (and use). Laptops, cell phones, and cordless power tools all lose capacity (and run times) as they age, same with e-bikes.

We always try to convert charge cycles to miles, and expected time frame. For example, 500 charge cycles and 40 mile average range per charge will be 20,000 miles. How many miles do you ride in a year?

QUESTIONS ABOUT OUR SHOP

We focus on selling new electric-assist bikes only in our shop. However, some of our brands offer regular (non-electric) bikes and we can help you get something they have even if we don't have it in stock. An example is Xtracycle cargo bikes. Feel free to ask us about getting something that is not electric assist.

ABSOLUTELY! We are trained bicycle mechanics with plenty of experience. We offer full service in our shop for all bikes. Check our service and repair page for more info.

We've done e-bike conversion kits in the past but no longer offer this service. We will continue to help you find the appropriate conversion kit for your needs and can get many parts for whatever project you have in mind.

We are a dealer for Grin Technologies (in Vancouver, BC) and can get any of their products, usually within a few days. They are a great resource for information and have lots of different hub motor kit options.

We also have local connections with others who might be willing to install a conversion kit on your bike. Feel free to ask us about this, we're happy to provide information and help you out.

We'll match the price (including shipping) for any e-bike or other product we have. Many brands have minimum advertised pricing (MAP) policies so we can compete with online retailers.

We generally have some e-bikes under $2000 so we can compete with online-only direct-to-consumer retailers (like Rad Power and Juiced). Even if you decide to buy a bike online, we will help you get it setup properly and service it in the future. Our advantage is that we have bikes for you to see, touch, smell, and ride. And we offer dealer support with additional tech support from our brands.

OTHER QUESTIONS & INFO

Electric bikes are popular in most of the world and we're catching on here in the USA. Whether you are looking to keep up with friends or family, go to the grocery store, get the kids to/from school, or spend less time in the car commuting, e-bikes will make that happen with a smile on your face (plus with less sweat and more fun).
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