E- Bikes Are Having Their Moment. They Deserve It.
E- Bikes Are Having Their Moment. They Deserve It.Many of us are entering a new stage of pandemic grief: adaptation. We are asking ourselves: How do we live with this new reality?
For many Americans, part of the solution has been to buy an electric bike. The battery-powered two-wheelers have become a compelling alternative for commuters who are being discouraged from taking public transportation and Ubers. For others, the bikes provide much-needed fresh air after months of confinement.
So it’s no surprise that e-bikes are now as difficult to buy as a bottle of hand sanitizer was a few weeks ago. In March, sales of e-bikes jumped 85 percent from a year earlier, according to the NPD Group, a research firm. Amazon, Walmart and Specialized are sold out of most models. Even smaller brands like Ride1Up and VanMoof have waiting lists.
That’s a remarkable shift. For many years, e-bikes carried the stigma of being vehicles for lazy pedalers and seniors. The bikes draw power from a battery and motor to make pedaling significantly easier. You can also accelerate with the press of a button, transforming cycling from a strenuous exercise into a joy ride.
E-bikes would completely change cities all over the world in the next 10 years, but it seems like because of this crisis, suddenly it’s all happening in the next three or four months,” said Taco Carlier, the chief executive of VanMoof, which is based in Amsterdam.
If you are contemplating an e-bike purchase, there are trade-offs to consider. For one, the battery packs and motors add bulk. For another, these ostentatious bikes may lure thieves.E- Bikes Are Having Their Moment.
E-bikes come in many forms and with various features. They also range widely in price: Some cost a few hundred dollars, while others cost tens of thousands of dollars. In general, though, e-bikes fall into two camps:
E-bikes with pedal assistance. These use a motor system and sensors to detect how fast or hard you are pedaling and determine how much power to provide. So if you are pedaling hard or slow up a hill, the motor will use more power to assist you. Well-known brands include Trek, Specialized and Fuji.
E-bikes with a throttle. These work like the twist throttle on motorcycles and mo-peds. To accelerate, you press a trigger or twist a handlebar. Many modern e-bikes with a throttle also have pedal assist. Brands include Rad Power, Luna Cycle and Aventon.
E- Bikes Are Having Their Moment. VanMoof’s S3, which was released in late April, is a pedal-assist e-bike. Instead of a throttle, it has a Turbo Boost button on the right handlebar, which immediately gives a jolt of power. It has a top speed of about 20 miles per hour and can travel about 90 miles on a full charge.
VanMoof e-bikes are known for their antitheft security. Kicking a button on the rear brake activates an electronic lock, which makes the rear wheel unmovable. Trying to pick up the locked bike triggers a loud alarm. In addition, the bike includes a cellular connection to help you find it if it’s stolen, using VanMoof’s smartphone app.
Ride1Up’s 700 series has both a throttle and pedal assistance. On the left handlebar is a small screen with buttons to let you select the pedal-assist level; on the right handle bar is a gear shifter. With a larger, faster motor than the VanMoof, the Ride1Up has a top speed of 28 m.p.h. and can travel about 50 miles on a full charge.