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Electric Bike Recommendations
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Electric Bike Recommendations

Electric bikes. Things to look for.

With the surge in electric bike or E-Bike sales in recent years the variety and range of E-bikes has increased and become more sophisticated. Being an avid E-biker myself I have discovered a few important features that will make the E-bike experience more fun, less troublesome and less costly in the long run. BATTERY, the power source of your E-bike. I would recommend a Lithium Ion battery over a lead acid battery any day. Lithium Ion batteries have a number of advantages, some of which are; *They are generally lighter than lead acid batteries and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. *They are engineered so that there is an increased amount of power that can be transferred at a lower current. *There is no memory effect, meaning that you do not need to completely discharge the battery before re-charging. Topping up the battery on a regular basis will have no detrimental effect. *They have a much lower rate of self-discharge when not in use.

In a lot of E-bikes these days (mine included) the battery fits within the frame or hangs from a rack at the back of the bike. In both cases this keeps the weight low and has a lesser effect on the centre of gravity, which from personal experience, I felt was compromised if a big clunky battery was perched high up on a rear luggage rack. A battery that can be easily removed from the frame, as many of the good ones can, is highly desirable in my opinion. If you were not sure whether your E-bike would make it to work and back on one charge, it is simply a matter of taking your charger along with you (they are just like a laptop charger) and charging your battery at the office or workplace. You can assure the boss that a full charge costs about five cents or thereabouts on a good bike. One last thing on batteries. A battery charge indicator is very handy for telling you the amount of charge you have in the battery before you set out.

Brakes. There are a number of different braking systems on bicycles but personally I have found disk brakes to be the most effective. An E-bike will be heavier than a normal bike because of the motor and battery, so you want brakes that will give you the greatest stopping power, particularly if, like me, you have an electric mountain bike and like to go off road where the wheel rim can get wet and affect the efficiency of block calliper brakes.

Power options. A good electric bike will have a number of power options. By that I mean ways in which you can apply power to your wheels. My own bike has the following options and perhaps may act as a guide for you. Option one; Pedal only. Just because it is an E-bike doesn’t mean you HAVE to use electric power. These bikes can be used as an ordinary human-powered bike. Option two; Constant power assist. With this setting the electric motor kicks in after a couple of revolutions and stays on until you stop pedalling or apply the brakes. There is usually more than on power level within this function (high and low). Option three; Power on demand. On this setting the electric motor responds to the handlebar throttle, just like a motorbike. In this mode you can ride the bike under your own steam and then when you reach a hill or you want to go a little faster for the same effort, you simply give the throttle a squeeze and you will feel like there is another person helping you pedal.

Lights. With all that battery power, why not have lights hooked up to it? Some good bikes have this function and I personally have found them invaluable. If the battery in my clip-on lights fails, I always have plenty of power to turn on my headlight. You can never have enough attention-getting lights. Be see, be safe, I say.

Lastly, make sure your E-bike has auto cut-out on braking. Most should but just check. With this system, even if you are squeezing the handlebar accelerator, as soon as you apply the brakes, the motor will cut out. It may sound dumb, but people will often panic in emergencies and forget to let go of the accelerator, so this is a must.  So enjoy your E-bike. Happy cycling!  


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