What is an electric bicycle?
Let’s start at the beginning. If just hearing the term “electric” makes an impression on you and generates respect, we are here to demolish unjustified myths and fears. An electric bicycle is a normal cycle to which an electric motor and battery have been added.
The motor is normally located at the rear wheel hub to power the bike, although it can also be at the front. It is an “electric pedal-assist bicycle”, whose motor is not intended to carry us without us doing anything (it is not a motorcycle), but to help us pedal with less effort. The motor is simple, with a power that varies between 180 and 250 watts.
How does it work?
The motor of the electric bicycle is recharged by extracting the batteries and connecting them to the conventional electrical network, in a normal socket, like when we recharge our cell phones. The mechanism is simple and, thanks to these batteries, in the slopes or in the sections that are difficult for us for example by having the wind against us we can stop pedaling, or pedal more softly, and the motor do its job. Of course, when the bike stops the engine stops. In other words, as we said, it is not “motorcycle”. Normally, you can regulate the power of the motor on a screen and see if you need it to do more or less power. The lithium batteries provide a range of between 50 and 70 kilometers, although of course you can go as far as you can pedaling. For urban use, which is what they are designed for, that distance is more than reasonable.
What are its advantages?
An electric bicycle is interesting for several reasons:
- The first and most obvious advantage is comfort. Knowing that you’re not going to arrive sweaty to work after climbing a hill is very attractive, just like daring to take a route on the weekend on a hill that intimidated you because that slope will be a piece of cake with your new cycle. And that, surely, will encourage you to become a cyclist.
- The second advantage is your batteries. You don’t have to be afraid of them. They are easy to remove and lightweight, which means you can park your two-wheeler without worrying about it being taken away.
- The battery charges relatively quickly, between one and five hours. Every night, you can bring it home and recharge it.
- Like all bicycles, it is a fast, silent, non-polluting, environmentally friendly and healthy means of transportation.
- There is an initial outlay for its purchase, but then its consumption is much lower than that of any other vehicle with a combustion engine. Charging the battery of an electric bicycle costs less than $1, much less than filling up the tank of a car. And according to a study by the Yamimoto brand, the average maintenance cost of an electric bicycle that rides 300 kilometers is $36 per month. Compared to a car, it’s a lot cheaper.
- You don’t need any kind of registration or insurance.
- If you are careful, it is a safe medium. Especially at traffic lights or road junctions, it manages to get up to a safe speed in a very short time, thanks to its acceleration.
- It can reach speeds of 25 to 40 kilometers per hour, or more, depending on the model and manufacturer. And of course, if you pedal you will get as far as your legs want and can.
- It is the most affordable electric vehicle we will find, and a good starting point to get started in electric mobility. The motor has about 10 years of life and the batteries, between one and two.Unlike what happens with other motor vehicles, with electric bicycles you will be able to ride on bicycle paths.
What are the disadvantages?
Other factors to consider:
- The first and most weighty one that may put off many from opting for this type of cycle is the price. Of course, there is a lot of variety, and there are cheaper and more expensive electric bicycles, but a low-end model cost around $600 and there are some high-end models that cost more than $3500. At this point, conventional bicycles have many more followers, as is logical.
- Repairs are less straightforward than with a conventional cycle, as you may need a specific part from the electrical part manufacturer. That is, you may not be able to repair it yourself or take it to the garage around the corner, although repairs to the conventional part of the vehicle can be done in a normal workshop.
- As mentioned in the advantages, the average maintenance cost of an electric bicycle that rides 300 kilometers is $36 per month. Compared to a car, it is much more economical. But compared to a conventional bicycle it is more, since a normal cycle does not give us any cost. It is the cheapest vehicle that exists.
- You have to be careful with rain and electrical parts. If you go on the road and it rains, you will have to dry it when you arrive. And of course, in some areas of Colombia it rains a lot.