Q: What is the E-Bike?
A: The E-Bike would seem to be the very best solution to the everyday challenges of an active lifestyle. It's the world's most advanced new breed of vehicle, with all the safety and ingenuity to move the electric vehicle industry from theory to reality.
Q:How does it work?
A:Simply push on the thumb throttle and the reliable electric hub motor engages, delivering all the power needed to keep you moving ? we call it Power on Demand.
Q:Does the E-Bike come in different models?
A:Yes. The E-Bike comes in several models and colors depending on your specific tastes and needs. These models include 24 volt Power-on-Demand models (Standard, Comfort, Touring), 36 volt Power-on-Demand models , and the 24 volt Step-Through Pedal Assist and Folding E-Bikes. Each E-Bike model includes special features, optional accessories and distinctive colors.
Q:What is Power-on-Demand?
A:E-Bike's Power-on-Demand (POD) allows you to simply push on the thumb throttle to engage the reliable electric hub motor. Pedaling is optional.
Q:What is Pedal Assist?
A:E-Bike's Pedal Assist System incorporates special magnetic sensors that activate the electric hub motor as soon as you start pedaling. Use the thumb throttle to give yourself extra power when you need it.
Q:How do the 36 volt models compare to the 24 volt models?
A:The 36 volt is like the 24 volt on steroids. The 36 volt boasts a faster speed, quicker acceleration, greater range and better hill climbing capability than the 24 volt. Plus, many of the optional accessories on the 24 volt models are standard features on the 36 volt models.
Q:How far can the E-Bike go?
A:E-Bike range depends on how much you pedal, how many hills you climb, the terrain and your weight. On an average single charge carrying a rider with a weight of 170 lbs. on a flat surface, the 24 volt model can run up to 20 miles, the 36 volt model can run over 20 miles with moderate pedaling and over 15 miles with no pedaling, and the Folding Mini E-Bike can run over 15 miles with moderate pedaling.
Q:How fast can the E-Bike go?
A:Carrying a rider with a weight of 170 lbs. on a flat surface, the 24 volt model can go up to 14 mph, the 36 volt model can go up to 18 mph, and the Folding Mini E-Bike can go up to 12 mph.
Q:What are the height restrictions on the E-Bike?
A:Generally, the rider should be able to stand with both feet flat on the ground and have a minimum two-inch clearance between the rider's groin and the frame. We recommend that you test-drive an E-Bike at the authorized E-Bike dealer in your area prior to purchase.
Q:What are the weight restrictions on the E-Bike?
A:There are no specified weight restrictions on the E-Bike. As a general rule of thumb, the larger the load, the slower the speed and the shorter the range.
Q:How much does the E-Bike weigh?
A:The 24 volt model weighs 66 lbs. or less with a battery pack/ 44 lbs. or less without a battery pack, the 36 volt model weighs 88 lbs. or less with a battery pack/ 64 lbs. or less without a battery pack, and the Folding Mini E-Bike weighs 62 lbs. with a battery pack/ 48 lbs. without a battery pack.
Q:How do I recharge my battery pack?
A:Simply plug your battery pack into any standard 110 volt or 230V outlet using your charging cord (included with 24 and 36 volt models) or outboard charger (included with the Folding Mini E-Bike). You can leave the battery pack in the E-Bike or take it out, but we recommend that you remove the battery pack if you don't plan on using your E-Bike for more than a week. Charging takes about four hours and costs just pennies per charge. Safety circuitry guarantees that the battery pack cannot be overcharged.
Q:How should I maintain my battery pack?
A:Plug in your battery pack after every use. Lead-acid batteries are memory-free batteries and do not require a full discharge before recharging. Refer to the section in your Owner's Manual for a comprehensive guide to proper battery maintenance.
Q:How should I store my battery pack?
A:Store your battery pack in a warm, dry place. Your battery pack will last longer if stored fully charged, so top it off with a fresh charge every 30 days if it is left unused.
Q:Is my battery pack recyclable?
A:Yes. Lead-acid batteries are 100% recyclable, so contact your local waste management office or battery distributor for legal and safe battery disposal. Many places offer small rebates for used batteries.
Q:Does my battery pack have a memory like my cellular phone?
A:No. Unlike the nickel-cadmium batteries found in most computers and cell phones, lead-acid batteries may be partially recharged at any time. E-Bike chargers recharge batteries without over-charging them, so you can leave the charger plugged in whenever your E-Bike is not in use.
Q:How long is the life of the battery pack?
A:The battery pack life is dependent on how often you use it and how deeply you discharge it. Generally, you can fully recharge the battery pack about 350 times or ride your E-Bike about 7,000 miles before you need a new battery pack.
Q:What is Ni-MH and why is it a better battery?
A:The high-energy Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery is smaller and weighs less than lead-acid and Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) batteries with the same power rating.It's environmentally friendly because it contains no lead and no cadmium.What's more,an NiMH battery has no "memory-loss" effect.although Ni-MH batteries are much more expensive than either Ni-Cad or Sealed Lead Acid batteries they do no harm to the environment. for this and the other reasons mentioned Ni-MH batteries are the preferred choice in electric bikes.
Q:Can the motor overheat?
A:Yes. The motor can overheat under very steep hills and heavy loads, but the motor has a built-in heat sensor that automatically shuts down the system before any damage occurs. A series of beeps will sound prior to overheating to tell you to assist the motor by pedaling. After a few seconds, the motor will cool down and the system will restart automatically.
Q:What are some of the safety features on the E-Bike?
A:E-Bike safety features include Department of Transportation-specified headlight, taillight, brake light, mirror and horn, linear-pull brakes, integrated electric brake sensors that disengage the cruise control when the brakes are applied, and an automatic motor shut-off that stops the flow of current from the battery to the motor when the controller senses a problem. E-Bike is the safest bicycle you can buy.
Q:Can I ride my E-Bike off-road?
A:Yes. The E-Bike is suitable for normal trails as well as paved streets and bicycle paths. However, they are not suitable for extreme terrain.
Q:Can I ride my E-Bike in the rain?
A:Yes, but it is not recommended. Driving any vehicle in the rain can be dangerous.
What is VOLTAGE and which Voltage is best?Voltage can be thought of as the pressure or strength of electric power. All things being equal (see AMPS below), the higher the voltage the better, because high voltages pass more efficiently through wires and motors. Very high voltages (100+ volts) can give you a nasty shock because they also travel through people rather well, but the sort of voltages found on electric bicycles (12 - 36 volts) are quite safe. As a rule, a 12 volt system is fine for low-powered motors, but more powerful machines work better with 24 or 36 volts.
What are AMPS?Amps can be thought of as the volume or quantity of electric power. To aid this analogy, the flow of amps is called the current, as in the flow of a river. Unlike a river, though, the speed of the current is fixed - only the volume varies.The maximum flow of amps in a bicycle drive system can vary from 10 to 60 or more. A current of 60 amps requires thick wiring and quite substantial switchgear.
What are WATTS?Once we know the voltage (or pressure) and current (or volume), we can calculate the power, or wattage by multiplying the two figures together. The number of watts in a system is the most important figure of all, because it defines the power output. A few examples:The Zap motor draws 20 Amps x 12 Volts = 240 WattsThe Giant Twist Lite draws 15 Amps x 24 Volts = 360 WattsThe Powabyke draws 20 Amps x 36 Volts = 720 WattsThe Curry Drive draws 40 Amps x 24 Volts = 960 WattsDespite having a fairly low voltage, the Curry is the most powerful motor, followed by the Powabyke and the Twist, with the Zap coming in last. It's impossible to calculate the power without knowing both the number of amps and volts. Large machines, like cars, trains and trucks have their power measured in the same way - usually as kilowatts, or units of 1,000 watts. The old-fashioned 'horsepower' unit is the equivalent of about 750 watts.
I thought the legal limit was 250 Watts in many of countries worldwide?Well, yes and no. The legal limit refers to the continuous power output, whereas the figures above are for absolute maximum power. Most motors can give maximum output for a minute or two, but they'd melt if asked to do it all day - just like a cyclist. Obviously, maximum power is more useful than continuous power as a guide to the way a bicycle will climb a hill. Look at the spec of bikes on sale and you may see 200 watts, 250 watts or (illegally) 400 watts. These figures are only a rough guide to the true maximum power output.
How many watts do I need?As a general rule, a cyclist can produce several hundred watts briefly, and one hundred watts for a reasonable length of time. To be really useful, a motor needs to produce another 100 Watts on a continuous basis, with peak power of at least 400 watts. Just to confuse things, our measurements are of power consumption - losses in the motor and drive system mean that the power output to the wheel can be much lower.If you expect the motor to do most of the work, especially in a hilly area, you'll want a peak consumption of 600 watts or more. On the other hand, if you prefer gentle assistance, a peak of 200 watts may be enough.
How big a battery do I need?The capacity of the battery is usually measured as the amount of current it can supply over time (defined as amp/hours). However, this is useless on its own, because you'll need to know the voltage too. By multiplying the two figures together, we get watt/hours - a measure of the energy content of the battery. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple... but you didn't think it would be, did you? In practise, you're unlikely to get results that match the stated capacity of a battery, because battery capacity varies according to the temperature, battery condition, and the rate that current is taken from it.Lead/acid batteries are tested at the '20-Hour' rate. This is the number of amps that can be continuously drawn from the battery over a period of 20 hours. However, an electric bicycle will usually exhaust its battery in an hour or two, and at this higher load, the battery will be much less efficient. So the figures for lead/acid batteries tend to look optimistic.On the other hand, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCd) batteries are rated at a 1-Hour discharge rate, so although the stated capacity of a NiCd battery might only be half that of a lead/acid battery, performance on an electric bicycle will be much the same. Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH) are measured at the 5-Hour rate, so their performance tends to be somewhere between the two.The capacities of typical bicycle batteries vary from Powabyke's 504 watt/hour giant (36 volts x 14 amp/hours) to the tiny 84 watt/hour pack on the early SRAM Sparc kit.It's best to choose a package that will provide twice your normal daily mileage. It's difficult to guess the mileage from the watt/hour capacity, because actual performance depends on the bicycle and motor efficiency, battery type, road conditions, and your weight and level of fitness.
How can I measure the efficiency of an electric bike?We measure overall efficiency by dividing the watt/hours used by the battery charger by the mileage achieved, giving a figure of watt/hours per mile. This varies according to the terrain, the weight and riding style of the rider and the type of battery and charger, but our figures are measured in exactly the same way for each test, so they should be comparable, bike against bike. The best we've seen is 8 watt/hours per mile, and the worst is 32... Typically, an electric bicycle will consume 10 - 20 watt/hours per mile. So a big battery like the Powabyke's will give a range of between 15 miles (doing all the work in quite hilly terrain) and 50 miles (a joint effort in flat terrain). This is fine for most uses, although it's a big, heavy battery. As a general rule, medium-sized NiMH batteries on lightweight bikes give the best results: the Giant Twist runs for more than 20 miles on a 156Wh battery, and the faster Ezee Sprint more than 25 miles on a 324Wh battery. Small units, such as the Panasonic WiLL, give a maximum range of 5 - 10 miles.
Do electric bicycles recharge when you coast downhill?With the exception of the Canadian BionX, the answer is generally NO. Taking into account wind-resistance, road friction and so on, there's surprisingly little energy left over for recharging the battery, even before generator and battery losses are taken into account. In most systems the motor coasts when you ride downhill, but those that don't (mainly electric scooters) are capable of putting back only 15% of the power absorbed climbing the hill. Regenerative systems do have their advantages though - mainly in reducing brake wear and over-heating.
Which battery type is best?Lead-acid batteries are cheap and easily recycled, but they are sensitive to maltreatment and have a limited life. Weight for weight, Nickel-Cadmium gives more capacity, but it's expensive and the cadmium is a nasty pollutant and difficult to recycle when the battery fails. The life is greater, which tends to compensate, but disposal problems mean that Nickel-Cadmium is being phased out. NiMh is theoretically more efficient still, but these batteries can be expensive, and because the capacity is measured at the more generous 5-Hour rate, the advantage is not what it appears to be. Our experience is that NiMH offers little, if any, improvement in range. They are, however, easier and safer to dispose of when they eventually fail.Most modern lightweight bikes come with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. These are more weight-efficient than the other types, and are supposed to have a longer life, but can do some odd things. Charging and discharging must be carefully controlled to prevent the cells going into terminal meltdown, so chargers are packed with electronics, as are the batteries. Costs are coming down rapidly and fires are now rare(!), so Li-ion looks destined to become the default battery. Lithium-ion Polymer (usually called Li-pol) doesn't really offer any performance advantage in terms of weight or range of Li-ion, but it's safer, and promises to become even cheaper once the technology becomes mainstream. Very few bikes offer these batteries yet, and no-one really knows what the life of the batteries will be.
Which charger is best?Swings and roundabouts here. Batteries do not take kindly to fast charging, although NiCd and NiMH are more tolerant than lead-acid, which can start fast, but prefers a long tapering charge thereafter. A fast (sub four hour) charger makes a great difference to the flexibility of an electric machine. You can, for instance, travel for the full range in the morning, recharge while visiting a friend, and run home in the afternoon. No lead-acid charger can do this, although the best NiCd, NiMH and Li-ion chargers will. For basic commuting, an overnight charger is safest and kindest to the battery, but if you expect to push a high daily mileage, you'll need something faster.
Should I choose a brushless motor?Broadly speaking, there are two types of electric motor -Direct Current motors - simple but comparatively heavy and inefficient, andAlternating Current motors - smaller, lighter and more efficient over a broader speed rangeGenerally speaking, Direct Current motors have brushes to transfer power into the rotating bit and Alternating Current motors do not. However, most of the brushless motors fitted to electric bicycles are a hybrid of the two types, often called 'Hall Effect'. These are not quite as clever as a full Alternating Current motor, but do away with the brushes, so they should be more efficient and more reliable than the straight Direct Current type. Hall Effect motors are now almost universal on electric bikes, so don't concern yourself too much with these categories. But don't rule out Direct Curent brushed motors! They may have mechanical brushes, but they're mercifully short of complex electronics.
What should I look for?We've put together an electric bike specification wish-list below. At the present time, there are no machines that win in every category, but the closer yours gets the better. If the salesman is unable to provide all the answers, or starts blustering or attempting to blind you with science, we'd recommend looking elsewhere. A good shop should be able to provide most of the figures in a straightforward and honest manner, but some are quite incompentent:
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