Everything you wanted to know about electric bikes but were too afraid to ask

Everything you wanted to know about electric bikes but were too afraid to ask

I love riding my electric skateboard. I love being out of my car and being able to go for a ride, taking in the sights and the fresh air. While skateboarding isn’t for everyone, and scooters take a while to get used to, electric bikes are the perfect fit. Not everyone can ride a skateboard, but most people are somewhat comfortable riding a bike.

So how about an electric bike?

Where you take a bike, add a motor, batteries, and smart tech. You have the best of both worlds; the ability to pedal and ride but also the power to go further and up those hills without breaking a sweat.

What is an electric bike exactly? Are e-bikes legal? Do you need a motorcycle license?

The CEO of VanMoof, Taco Carlier has some answers. And he should as VanMoof has over 120 000 riders all over the world, has just secured $40 million in funding, and has been described by Casey Neistat as the “Tesla of electric bikes”

All your e-bike Questions Answered

Q. What exactly is an e-bike?

A. The simplest way to explain it is that an e-bike is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used to assist propulsion. Depending on local laws, many e-bikes are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles.

Q. Is an e-bike the same as a moped?

A. No, they are not the same. Because they’ve been on the road so long, mopeds are considered a motor vehicle in many areas. Some states require riders to have an operator’s license, tags and moped insurance. Riders should check with their local DMV and learn about their state’s moped laws.

Mopeds also cost more than e-bikes. Typically costing more up-front, a new moped can get pricey when compared to an e-bike. Costly items like shock absorbers and automatic breaking systems add to the cost.

Mopeds are like a motorcycle. Because they are considered a motorized vehicle, registration, driving school and gas costs all factor into a higher yearly expense when compared to an electric bike. If you live in an area where you have to pay for parking, you’ll have to think about that cost as well. In addition, insurance can be required, which is not something needed for an e-bike.

Lets Talk Safety

Q. How fast can e-bikes go?

20mph is the legal limit for Class 1 e-bikes but some high-end E-bikes do get up into the 30 mph range. These typically have extra ride, safety and insurance restrictions.

Q. Are e-bike’s safe?

A. An e-bike is as safe as any other vehicle once the rider learns the safety protocols and follows all rules and regulations. Of course riders of all bikes should follow local laws, wear helmets and be responsible and aware of other road users.

Q. Can you ride e-bikes on the street?

A. Because most states consider e-bikes to be a bicycle, riders will be able to legally use them on the street and trails. That includes paved bike trails that are off-limits to mopeds. This is another selling feature for e-bikes.

vanmoof on street

Q. Can you use e-bikes for exercise?

A. Absolutely! All e-bikes have pedals and riders can simply choose to not use the bike’s motor, so anyone can get a great workout while on an e-bike! Research shows the e-bikes are better for your health than any other mode of transport and equal to non-electric bikes.

Q. Can kids right e-bikes?

Like any bike, kids can ride our bikes if they are comfortable and fit. The X3 is probably better as it is suitable for people of smaller heights (from 5ft 1″ and up). And of course parental supervision should be exercised where appropriate on speed settings!

Q. How popular are e-bikes?

A. e-bikes sales are booming all over the world and have certainly seen a spike since the pandemic began. For example, e-bike company VanMoof saw global Q2 (Apr-June) sales growth for e-bikes year-on-year was 379% (overlapping strongly with Covid) and US sales increase, year-on-year, 2019/20 (Jan to June) was 91%.

In addition, US retail sales of e-bikes in the first quarter of 2019 grew 90% year over year and 130 million e-bikes are expected to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023, easily outstripping electric cars

Q. What about basic repairs and maintenance?

A VanMoof bike is mechanically similar to other bicycles, so any bike mechanic should be able to perform basic service and repairs. We include a toolkit and have a series of videos on our Youtube channel for some basic upkeep and maintenance (attaching and removing the front and rear wheels, lubricating the chain etc).

If you have technical issues with your bike’s electronic components, our support team – will be happy to help up to and including arranging shipment or your bike to one of our brand stores for repair. Into the future we are moving towards a global mobile service network, called the Bike Doctor Network, where more complex repairs can be resolved locally by a qualified technician

Q. How much do e-bikes cost?

A. Generally, electric bikes will range in cost from a low of $600 to over $8000. Not many quality e-bikes can be found for under $1000, with most mainstream e-bikes costing between $1500 – $4000. VanMoof has many different types of e-bikes available for under $2000, which can be seen at VanMoof.com

So in summary:

One thing is for sure, as a global community we need to do more to reduce pollution. As more people are moving into megacities, transportation gridlock will get worse – not better. While I am all for electric cars, the truth is that replacing a fuel car with an electric one will be amazing for the environment, but will do little to help with the traffic.

We need to reduce the number of cars on the road and an electric bike is an ideal solution. You get to pedal and get the body moving, you get to hit the accelerator when you no longer want to and you get to zip around with no impact on the environment – now that is a win!

ps. If I get the opportunity to review this bike, I will update this post and make a YouTube video about it too. We really do need to start thinking about these bikes as a feasible transportation method. I hope to be a part of that education process.

Liron Segev - TheTechieGuy

Liron Segev is an award-winning tech blogger, YouTube strategist, and Podcaster. He helps brands tell their stories in an engaging way that non-techies can relate to. He also drinks way too much coffee! @Liron_Segev on Twitter