While the electric car is still struggling for recognition and distribution, e-bikes are already very popular. However, the purchase decision is not always easy: the offer is getting bigger and more confusing. For example, the buyer has to choose one of several different drive concepts. Experts from 10ebikes.com answered the most important questions regarding e-bikes.
1. What is the difference between e-bike, pedelec, and S-pedelec?
Pedelecs make up the largest market share with 95 percent. In common usage, the differentiation between e-bikes and pedelecs is softened, but there are clear definitive differences.
A Pedelec (Pedal Electric Cycle) is a bicycle that is operated with muscle power and a supporting electric motor. The motor only switches on when the pedals are moved. Its support must be limited to a maximum of 250 watts, and the speed to 15.5 mph, only then the pedelec, is legally considered a bicycle and is not subject to any additional insurance. However, a moped test certificate is required for pedelecs with traction help up to 3.7 mph if you were born after April 1, 1965.
E-bikes are powered entirely or by an electric motor. They can, therefore, be set in motion without the driver having to pedal. E-bikes work exactly like a pedelec, but only switch off their motor support at a speed of 27.9 mph.
Anyone who owns a pedelec or an E-bike needs an insurance license, plate, and a moped driver’s license, must not ride on bike paths and must not attach child seats or trailers to the bike. Besides, special equipment regulations apply, such as rear-view mirrors or one millimeter as minimum tread depth of the tires.
2. How much does an excellent electric bike cost?
The price range of the models offered varieties from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. Cheap bikes from discounters are usually questionable in terms of safety, as proven by expert tests. The excellent and safe two-wheelers with high-quality equipment are available from around 2,000 dollars. At least 3,000 dollars can be invested in s-pedelecs.
3. Do I have to wear a helmet?
The helmet is not currently prescribed for pedelec riders, but you shouldn’t ride without it for your protection. According to the Department of Transport, hard hats are mandatory on high-performance electric bicycles.
4. Does private liability cover my pedelec?
Only pedelecs and those with and without starting aid have up to 250 watts, and a maximum of 15.5 mph are covered by private liability insurance. Speed pedelecs and some mopeds need their protection.
5. What drives are there, and how do they differ?
There are three different drive concepts: front, middle, and rear engine. The front-engine sits in the front wheel hub and works with every form of gear shift as well as with a coaster brake. When starting off on a mountain and on loose, wet, or slippery surfaces, you can get traction problems with a front-wheel motor.
The central weight distribution of the mid-engine has the advantage that it hardly influences the driving behavior of the wheel. The position of the motor in the bottom bracket area gives you a safe ride because the center of gravity of the bike hardly changes compared to the conventional bike. The mid-engine can be combined with all types of switching.
The engine position in the rear wheel part is characterized by direct power transmission. As a result, however, the wheel can become rear-heavy and tend to have unstable driving behavior, especially if the battery is also installed in the rear area. Rear-wheel motors are combined with derailleur gears, so these wheels have no coaster brake.
6. Are children allowed to ride pedelecs?
Legally speaking: yes. However, experts do not recommend that children under the age of 14 ride pedelecs because they are quickly overwhelmed by the speed. That is why most electric bike rental companies have an age limit of 14 years.
7. How far can you get with one battery charge?
It is difficult to answer because the range of an electric bike depends on a number of factors such as personal driving style, profile specifics, the level of support chosen, rider weight, and outside temperature. Most current pedelecs cover between 24 and 56 miles.
If a long bike tour is planned, you should keep in mind that electric bikes are heavier than a normal bike due to the built-in motor. That means: If the battery is empty, an electric bike is only more difficult to advance with muscle power than a conventional bike. If there is no opportunity to recharge the energy store in between, a second battery is recommended.
Incidentally, the batteries have a limited lifespan. According to some experts, they last about five years, regardless of the charging cycles. Many manufacturers promise that a battery will survive 1,000 charges.
8. Which circuit is right for me?
There are the hub and derailleur gears. One advantage of derailleur gears is that a smooth gear change is possible in every driving situation. Athletic pedelec drivers, in particular, appreciate this feature. The disadvantage is, however, that it is somewhat more fragile and requires more maintenance, and there is also no coaster brake.
With a hub gear, pressure must be removed from the pedal during the gearshift process. So you lose speed, which hardly disturbs a comfortable driving style. I have a back pedal brake on board, which increases safety in wet conditions.
9. Can I transport an electric bike with a car wheel carrier?
Of course, motorized two-wheelers can also be transported on the bike rack. However, the maximum load must not be exceeded. E-bikes and pedelecs can weigh more than 55.11 pounds, but the carrier load is often limited to 44 pounds per bike. Therefore, many manufacturers now offer special carriers that also take into account the wheelbase of e-bikes with a mid-engine.
10. Does a pedelec or e-bike need regular maintenance?
Depending on the mileage, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, safety-relevant parts should be checked at least once or twice a year, i.e., lights, brakes, and the assembly of attachments. During a regular observation, the driver can ensure that the tires are inflated sufficiently because the performance increases significantly with half-full tires.