eBike Basics and More
On its most basic level, an electric bike is a bicycle with the added assist of a small electric motor that helps you travel up hills and to ride farther, faster and longer. Style, components and functional design of eBikes can address urban, trail, and off-road use cases. Pedal assisted, a critical function for eBike, means you must pedal to gain assistance. This pedal assistance differentiates eBikes from mopeds or electric scooters. eBikes are also known as a “Pedelec,” which is a shorthand for pedal-assisted electric bike. Throttle-only vehicles are not considered eBikes and are more appropriately defined as a moped. Some models can be classified as hybrid when they are designed for multiple riding conditions. Different types of eBikes include road, mountain, hybrid (touring/commuting), gravel, folding and cargo with 1-3 eBike classification.
eBikes have a capacity up to 750 Watts of power and are defined by 3 Classes. Class 1 eBike, or low speed pedal assist, offers a pedal assist experience up to 20 mph. The motor offers multiple levels or more of pedal assistance when you start pedaling. Class 1 can be ridden wherever a traditional bike is allowed.
Class 2 eBike is throttle enabled and offers pedal assist up to 20 mph limit.
Class 3 eBikes, or speed pedal assist, offers the same experience as a Class 1 but will assist the rider to 28 mph. The trade-off for a faster Class 3 is being prohibited currently from riding on bike paths and mountain bike trails.
A pedal assist simply means that pedaling is required to engage the motor or drive system. In some drive systems, the level of assist is determined by the output, cadence, and speed generated by the cyclist, which provides additional support up to the defined speed for Class 1 (20 mph) and 3 (28 mph). In either case, Class 1 and Class 3 allows the rider to pedal and go faster using your own power rather than the assisted level. Any bike capable of power assistance in excess of 28 mph or 750 Watts is considered a moped or motorcycle and is subject to additional laws and limited to certain access. To research state by state access, registration and licensing click here People for Bikes’ state-by-state guide to e-bike regulations around the country.
There are primarily two different motors; A mid-drive which has the motor between the pedals and is considered more efficient and effective for off road and hilly terrain. Manufacturers include Bosch, Shimano, Brose and Yamaha. Hub-Drive motors typically have the drive system or motor on the rear hub and are lighter in weight, less expensive and effective on flatter terrain. German made Mahle Ebike Motion is the leader of Hub-Drive systems.
One must consider what type of terrain you will be traveling and your daily/weekly distance requirements. Next, what is your primary use? Commuting, fitness, running errands, touring, riding mountain trails, shuttling kids to school, exploring your town, cargo or delivery? For a complete eBike checklist click here.
The economic and personal fitness advantages of operating an eBike, as opposed to a carbon emitting vehicle, were evident in the nascent development period of the 1990s. Substantial growth in eBikes started in the 90’s and early 2000’s and have increased dramatically in the last few years driven by improved battery technologies and electric bike choices. China has led the adoption with over 130 million eBikes on the road by focusing on them as the transportation solution of choice in rapidly growing and congested urban areas. Europe markets have also seen growth in eBikes, rapidly replacing the traditional bike in urban/metroplex areas. The US is 3 - 5 years behind but rapidly closing the gap.
Electrification of bikes patents for eBikes date from the 1890s. Developers modified its design in earnest during the 1990s when motor design and the introduction of new generations contributed to the ongoing improvements in eBike efficiencies. Recent improvements in lithium-ion battery (LIB) technology, pricing, power enhanced design has created a surge in eBike popularity.
Electric bikes may be used on off-road, trails, paved paths, gravel or for commercial delivery. Many manufacturers deliver a variety of eBikes styles that are engineered for each key use case. Some eBikes are versatile enough to satisfy multiple uses and are called hybrid.
eBikes are identified by a 3-class designation with assisted speeds of 20 to 28 mph.
- Class 1 provides pedal assistance up to 20 mph and requires the rider to pedal.
- Class 2 provides direct throttle speeds of up to 20 mph and doesn’t require pedaling.
- Class 3 which provides pedal assisted speeds up to 28 mph throttle and the rider must pedal.
In all classes, an electric bike will go faster than these assisted levels by pedaling.
Benefits to eBikes include transportation economics, where eBike cost per mile is much less than the cost of a gas emitting vehicle. Solid exercise, contributing to physical fitness and wellness, is intrinsically tied to eBike usage. Also, eBike usage is a non-carbon footprint notion, and their use contributes to society’s goals for a safer environment.
In addition to lowering carbon emissions through Ebike usage, the bikes themselves are considerably less destructive to environmental landscape that includes less tear on paved roads, less intrusion to organic life on a trail (as compared to gas emitting off road/ATV vehicles), and the silent nature of eBike power systems does not promote “noise pollution” on quiet, natural environments.
A quality eBike can range from over $1,500 with some high-end ones costing upwards $10,000. Ultimately, costs are dependent on the quality of the hardware, components, frame design and materials, drive system, battery strength, control system and smart display.
So many reasons. Let’s start with great outdoor fun and exercise. Also, an electric bike is an economical and versatile form of transportation that has a positive effect on the environment since it is a zero-emission vehicle. Also, you can ride Faster – Further – Longer while being in the company of friends who may be more capable in riding at a faster pace.
A 2020 Deloitte study states that it expects 130 million e-bikes to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023. It also noted that “the number of e-bikes on the roads will easily outpace other e-vehicles by the end of (2020).” In the study, Deloitte posits that the electric bike will begin to invade the automobile turf dues to eBikes’ convenience, utility and low cost. According to another survey cited in the report, 28 percent of e-bike buyers bought e-bike as a substitute for a car, not as an upgrade to a bike.
Absolutely. There are numerous studies and data to support. You can get a HIIT workout depending on the level of your effort and pedal assist from the motor. Another study comparing the use of electric and non-electric mountain bikes found that the average heart rate while riding an electric mountain bike was 94% of the same while riding a traditional bike.
The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that the vast majority of the time spent riding an e-bike was spent in MVPA. That stands for moderate to vigorous physical activity, and it accounted for between 92–99% of the test rides which were carried out. Perhaps most importantly you are in control and can monitor your effort, calorie burn and mileage from your smartphone or the eBike device. You will find yourself going farther and getting a similar workout.
There are a number of studies that speak to the health and wellness benefits including a Portland University study showing that eBike owners ride more frequently than standard eBike owners. Another study showed that the eBike output and calorie burn to be 80 to 85% of a standard bike ride. A study from the University of Illinois indicated that riders were healthier and more fit, with significantly greater aerobic fitness, better blood sugar control, and, as a group, a trend toward less body fat.
Coupled with the notion that you will ride an eBike more frequently suggests a great exercise alternative.
eBikes are more expensive than traditional bikes for maintenance. Batteries eventually discharge, and replacement batteries cost $500 to $900. However, most of the Lithium Ion batteries can discharge, and be recharged nearly 1000 times, with minimal degradation. At home maintenance is necessary, but it comes with the reward of longer overall lifespan. Proper maintenance of these components is critical to performance, bike lifespan and your safety.
The current standard for electric bike battery technology is the Lithium Ion battery packs. The amount of energy in a battery is expressed in Watt hours (Wh). To calculate (Wh) you multiply the voltage by the Ampere (Amp or Ah). For example a 36V (voltage) by 10 Ah (Amp Hours) the battery will provide 360 Wh. 10 Ah X 6 V = 360 Wh.
Range is dependent on numerous factors that include battery/motor specs, terrain, rider size and bike geometry. Range per charge weighs in at 30 to 168 miles, but most eBikes range is 30-40 miles.
A 500-watt battery takes about 4.5 hours to recharge from a standard drop socket. At an average of 10 cents per kWh it costs less than 10 cents to fully charge a battery that has been fully discharged.
In some areas eBikes are considered traditional bicycles in terms of access, while in other situations they fall under the laws of all motorized vehicles and must adhere to such designations. Generally speaking, trail/off road access is dependent on local regulation. Class 3 may be prohibited from riding on most bike paths nor mountain bike trail systems.
License and insurance requirements vary by state, and in some cases and may depend on the class of bike being used. Classes 1 and 3 eBikes, which are pedal assisted, may not require licensing if they do not exceed various speed limits (generally 28 mph). In excess of 28 mph that would make them be treated as motorbikes, where full licensing and state laws would apply. Class 2 direct throttle, non-pedal assisted, eBikes are treated as mopeds or motorbikes. Check with your home and auto agent to find out more about personal mobility insurance.
While insurance may not be required by law in most cases, it is a reasonable cost to protect the value of your investment from theft, damage, and liability by seeking coverage. Check with your home and auto agent to find out more about eBike personal mobility insurance.
In addition to the classes that eBikes in which eBikes are designated, eBikes are designed in the optimal manner depending on location of intended use. Urban, rural, mountain, commercial delivery and off paved have design differences that are intended to optimize performance. Some eBikes present a configurable design to accommodate different riding styles and intentions.
eBike age and licensing requirements vary by state, and locality, and the type of Ebike being operated. Best to check state regulation to determine landscape.
It is always, always advisable, and in most cases a requirement, to use helmets. State regulations may vary, and the class of eBike operated may dictate safety requirements.
First, always wear a helmet. There is no reason not to wear one as they have become lighter weight, more effective in sustain blows and you can choose from multiple styles. Next, do a simple ABC check – Check your tire air pressure, Second, test the brakes. Third, check your chains and crank. Give your bike a good shake to ensure everything is bolted on tight. Wear reflective clothing. Abide by traffic rules. Have a bell, mirror, lights and reflectors to alert others on the road. And carry a Multi Tool for adjustments.
What about Piedmont eBikes?
We offer all things including road, mountain, hybrid (touring/commuting), gravel, folding and cargo. They come with different frames (standard and step through), frames sizes, drive systems and eBike classes (Class 1 -3). We are constantly reviewing new eBike models talking with consumers, industry insiders and manufacturers. We are listened closely to customer sentiment and rely on data to deliver the eBike brand and styles desired most.
We offer a number of curated high quality eBike brands including Cannondale, Orbea, Moustache, Haibike, Diamondback and QWIC. These eBikes are powered by best in class drive systems including Bosch, Shimano and Mahle eBike Motion and Brose as well as the highest quality components and frames.
Piedmont eBikes is singularly focused on finding a remarkable eBike for you, taking in full account how you plan to use or electric bike, your skill and comfort level, style and budget. We ensure the appropriate fit and encourage multiple test rides at our open test roads offering variety of terrain. Piedmont Navigators are standing by to offer you with styles and options that you will love. We will work with as long as you desire in find the best electric bike for you and that is one that you will love to ride at every opportunity.
First, Piedmont eBikes is an electric bike (eBike) retailer specializing in premium eBike brands for road, mountains, forest trails, city and commuting to compact, cargo as well as foldable. Finding the right eBike for you is our sole focus and we offer over 30 best in class models from the US and across the pond. We also made use of the collective wisdom of our colleagues inside the cycling and electric bike industry and perhaps most importantly of customers via voice of the customer research. In all cases eBike manufacturers that meet our customers’ needs and expectations as well as our exacting standards.
Our focus is to ensure you enjoy your eBike day 1 by providing ongoing support, maintenance and warranty service. We also provide a free 45-day check. To that end we also provide deliveries and service from our store in Winston Salem.
Warranties range from 2 plus years depending on the manufacturer. The eBike frames typically come with a 5 to 10-year warranty depending on the manufacturer.
We support, repair and maintain all of the eBikes we sell with in house and local partners’ certified technicians for Bosch and Shimano. Piedmont eBikes provides a free 3- and 6-month check-up on your eBike. Having your electric bike checked out annually or every 500 miles is recommended to check for brake pad wear and tune-up.
Yes, but you may find it easier to find the best bike for you by a store visit, consultation and test ride. An eBike can be selected online and if we don’t have it in stock we can order the specific model and deliver or have it available for pickup at the store. Again, we highly recommend speaking with one of Navigators to ensure we find eBike that best fits your needs.
We encourage you to test multiple eBikes to ensure the best eBike for you. We have convenient and safe test roads and paths at our Industry Hill location at the northern edge of down Winston Salem (https://www.airtype.com/work/industry-hill). You can test independently or be accompanied by one our Navigators.
Piedmont eBike offers a variety of rental options to daily, weekend and weekly rentals. We also offer delivery.
As quickly as 2-day delivery depending on the bike availability and your location. We also offer curbside pick-up.
There may be a $100 charge for delivery and set-up outside of the Triad area.
We offer eBikes ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 based on the specific eBike, components, accessories and unique features. We have secured a broad range to ensure we have an eBike that fits your needs and budget. We can walk you through your options via website, in store, phone or video chat.
While it may not be required by law in many states it is highly recommended. We offer the latest models with MIP technology. and can order one for you.
We offer a “Price Match Guarantee plus 7” where we match advertised competitive pricing for any eBike model we offer for up to 7 days post sale. For more details please contact us.
Your size bike will be dependent on your height, weight and intended use of the bike. We will help you find your perfect fit and comfort via a tailored and recommended fit and measurement and test rides.
eBikes will vary in weight from some light commuter or road eBike tipping the scales at 35 to 40 lbs. to a mountain bike at 55 lbs. to a cargo weighing in at approximately 65 to 70 lbs.
We accept major credit cards, cash, check, wire transfer and also offer attractive financing options.
While most states currently don’t require insurance we highly recommend checking with your insurance agent and protect your investment by getting coverage for loss, theft or damage to your eBike.
A driver's license is not required for Class 1 eBikes in North Carolina but does vary by state. For additional information please reference People for Bikes.
This is the most frequently asked question. Ranges will vary but generally speaking 30 to 40 miles per charge is conservative, but again it is largely dependent on the eBike model and type, your weight, pedal assist mode used, tire pressure, terrain and wind and other variables. With the recent lithium battery enhancements range has become less of a concern with distance. Also, additional batteries can be purchased to help you travel farther.
Typically, it takes 4 to 6 hours by plugging into a standard 110V outlet. The battery can be charged on or off the eBike and it also doesn’t require the battery to be completely discharged to be recharged. A battery can be charged from a depleted level to 70% charge in approximately 90 minutes.
It depends on where you enjoy riding the most and expect from riding. That said, critical questions to ask is how far and often will you be riding? Where will you be riding? How long will you be riding? What is the terrain like? Are you considering this eBike for urban, off road, compact or cargo use? Is it for recreation, commuting or utility? These questions will help narrow down the options, but a test riding will solidify your choice of eBike. And thinking through where you will be riding 90% of the time.
In addition to roads, Class 1 eBikes can be ridden on bike paths and greenways and certain mountain bike trails. However Class 2 and 3 may be restricted. Legislation is changing rapidly and recommend for additional information on e-bike laws, research, news and industry updates, visit People for Bikes.
Most eBikes we sell can be secured on a standard bike carrier, but we recommend checking the weight capacity and specifications for the rack. Also removing the battery will reduce the weight. We offer an assortment of eBike racks and would be happy to consult with you on what your best options are to transport your eBikes.
eBike maintenance is the same as traditional bikes in terms of component wear including brake pads, tires, tubes, chains and motor adjustments at regular intervals. In most cases eBike components are built with greater durability and quality in mind. Piedmont eBike offers the best eBikes with highest quality components manufactured by respected brands. The motor (drive system) and battery are covered under manufacturers’ warranty and continue to improve in reliability and performance. Quality batteries will last up to 1000 charges. Piedmont eBikes also offer maintenance packages for an additional peace of mind.
Yes, you can ride it as a regular bike requiring similar or more effort (no assist) if going uphill.
You may be surprised how quickly you can get around even compared to a car. With an eBike you can avoid traffic using bike routes, maintain a higher average speed than a conventional bike, and then park (for free) extremely close to where you are going.