Electrical Assist Bicycle's FAQ

 Does the battery regenerate (charge) while riding?

Only a few older high-end E-bikes regenerate while braking, which adds only 5-10% to their range.  To recharge the battery by pedaling would be like riding uphill with your brakes on – not fun. 


Are they considered a bicycle or motor vehicle?

Per federal regulations, low speed electric bicycles are regulated as a bicycle if they have less than 750 watts of power and a maximum speed under power of 20 mph.  They are allowed on bike trails such as the MKT or KATY.  In Columbia they are not allowed on mountain bike trails 


How does pedal assist or the throttle work?

Pedal assist works automatically when you start pedaling. The motor comes on to assist, making pedaling easy.  You pedal, it helps: you stop, it stops.  Most E-bikes have several levels of pedal assist power that the rider can select.  Low assist provides the most range.  High power shortens it. 

On the few bikes that have a throttle, it can be used whenever you want. With a throttle, you can cruise without pedaling, but that severely limits the range. The motor and pedals are independent of each other so you can pedal as much or as little as you like. The more you pedal, the longer the range.  The disadvantage is that you have to continuously hold the throttle in the on position while riding.  Some brands such as EasyMotion have both a throttle and pedal assist - you select which mode you want to use.


What happens if I am riding and the battery runs out of charge?

An electric bike is, first and foremost, a bicycle.  A well made one will be easy to pedal on flat ground and also have enough gears to get you up a hill – albeit slowly, and not as much fun as with power.  When buying one, ride it without power to ensure you like it as a bicycle alone.


How much does it cost to charge an electric bicycle?  What do they cost?

It costs about a nickel of electricity if the battery is fully discharged.

The price of an “off-the-shelf” E-bike ranges from around $800 for a used one to well over $5,000 for high-end models.  Most popular ones cost from 2 to 3,000 dollars.  Like purchasing a car, there is a wide range depending on quality, components and features.  Entry level ones can be bought on-line, but quality, service and repairs are often problematic.  Cyclex sells high quality Specialized, EasyMotion, Giant and Raleigh e-bikes in a range of prices


How fast and far can an electric bicycle go?

Most E-bikes are limited to 20mph under power but can go faster in a pedal-only mode.  A few models designed for fast bicycle commuting can reach 28mph under power.

Their range depends on several factors: terrain (hills etc), wind, tire inflation, battery and motor size, efficiency, weight of rider and mostly how hard the rider pedals.  Older models with smaller batteries can usually go up to 20 miles, while newer models with larger batteries have a range of 40 miles or more.  Individuals that use power assist sparingly on flats and use the motor to provide assist on hills can go much farther.


How long will the lithium batteries last and what do they cost to replace?

Lithium batteries will last many years if you take care of them.    The manufactures recommend storing them inside during the winter, not leaving them plugged into the charger for extended periods of time and limiting the amount of time they are sitting in direct sunlight on very hot days. Replacement lithium batteries typically cost $400 - $800. 


For more information check out the web site EbikeColumbia.org