Cyclists, novices and experts alike, now can experience the best of two worlds—a method of transportation that provides both a great workout and can get you to work or school faster in an energy-efficient way. Electric bicycles, or e-bikes, have been around for decades, but the technology used to create the latest models is so advanced, users report a sublime experience— just like a bicycle, but faster.
“Nothing compares to the simple
pleasure of riding a bicycle.”
— John F. Kennedy
This hybrid vehicle (sometimes called ‘pedal assist’) has the simplicity of a standard bicycle with the convenience and utility of a car. In our modern world where “green is the answer”, e-bikes are changing the way we think about environmentally friendly transportation.
How e-bikes work:
The battery on an e-bike produces a steady electric current, driving an electric motor which can rotate the tires and make the bike go along without any help from your pedaling. Typical electric bike batteries make around 350–500 W of power, about the same amount of power as a kitchen blender. Lightweight lithium-ion batteries, similar to what you might find in a laptop, are used most often.
Typical batteries can give an e-bike a range of 20-150 km between charges (depending on the terrain, the size of
battery and how much power the motor is using) and a top speed of 15–40 km/h (which is about the maximum most countries allow for these vehicles by law). Most e-bikes come equipped with a power switch mounted on the handlebar, allowing you to adjust the power-boost from low—when you’re able to pedal more—to high or “turbo,” for times when you are climbing a hill or need to get somewhere fast.
Main types of e-bikes:
Full-power: this bike is for you if you want to minimize your pedaling and you are traveling shorter distances. With large batteries and powerful motors, these bikes are big and heavy with sturdy frames.
Power-assist/Pedal-assist: this bike is for you if you want to pedal more of the time and use electric power to get up hills or when you’re tired. With an electric motor mounted near the rear wheel, these bikes turn easily and give little or no resistance when you pedal.
Reasons to try one:
- Great way to beat traffic
- Easy to pedal up hills or with heavy loads
- Suitable for less fit, elderly or disabled people
- More environmentally friendly than cars
- Fun way to get more exercise
- Great for commuters
- Compared to the annual cost to run a car including gas, insurance and maintenance, over time, they can be much more cost effective than owning a car
Reasons to pass:
- Heavy to lift
- Often get flat tires due to the weight of the frame
- Require a steep initial investment
- Still needs a battery to be manufactured and disposed of properly
In Mississauga, you can take an e-bike on city bike trails per the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario. Two things to consider: first, be sure you are considerate of other trail riders and ensure your speed is appropriate when passing others. Second, leave the trails in the same state as you found them, without damage to ground cover, plants or trail markers. The increased speed capability on an e-bike means that you may be tempted to slide around corners and speed down trails; doing so, though, may damage the natural beauty you’re there to enjoy.
So, are e-bikes really the future of transportation? Major car manufacturers are already looking at e-bikes as a way to complement their business in the future. They know city planners are searching for methods of relieving car congestion. With high-density urban areas like Mississauga continuing to expand, e-bikes could be the “green” solution for the future.
By Ilana Clamp
GEARS Bike Shop
Skiis & Biikes Mississauga
EBike Universe Mississauga
Emmo Ebike Mississauga
The Bike Zone
Pedego Electric Bikes Mississauga