Buyers' Guide: Join the e-bike movement
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With petrol prices taking a dramatic turn for the worst, consumers are starting to explore alternative means of transport.
Public transport is generally the answer for the majority of the population, but have you considered joining the e-bike movement? You wake up, jump on your bike and pedal your way to work, laughing as you pass the continuous queues of traffic. Sounds great doesn’t it?
So what is an e-bike?
Generally speaking, e-bikes are regular bicycles with a battery-powered “pedal assist”. When you hop on and push the pedals, a small motor engages and gives you a boost, so you can zip up hills with a loaded backpack and cruise over challenging terrain without gassing yourself.
How do they work?
Electric bikes typically have two ways of delivering power to the wheels. Electric motors housed inside either the rear or front wheel are the most common motor that you will find on an electric bike as they’re highly efficient and cost effective.
Mid-drive electric bikes have the motor unit built into the crank compartment, which provides torque directly into your pedalling effort. This means the drive outputs torque to the drivetrain (gears) instead of directly to the wheel, meaning that you can refine the motor’s most efficient RPM level using the different gear ratios.
How much do electric bikes cost?
Depending on the style of bike, you could be in for a bit of a shock. Prices are similar to that of a budget used car, starting from around $2000 for an entry commuter style bike to $8000 for a top of the line, full suspension mountain bike.
In terms of electricity costs, e-bikes generally take 0.5-1kWh to fully charge a battery. This equates to approximately 10-30c per charge.
What maintenance do electric bikes require?
Electric bikes typically require similar maintenance as a regular bicycle. As with all vehicles, it’s important that you have your e-bike serviced regularly to extend the life of your bike, and ensure you remain safe. Battery replacement should also be assessed.
Rechargeable batteries don’t last forever, but an e-bike battery should last anywhere from 500 to 1000 charges (20,000-40,000km of riding) before losing capacity.
For an average rider, that’s likely to be about five years. Once capacity reduces, the battery is still usable, but the bike’s range reduces. A top-end Bosch battery costs $1400, while an aftermarket battery can be purchased for half that price.
Under NZTA regulations an e-bike, or “power-assisted cycle” must be primarily powered by a rider’s muscles and supply electric power less than 300W. Anything exceeding 300W in power output is legally classed as a moped and so must be registered and ridden by a licensed driver. It’s as simple as remembering your helmet and riding to the road rules.
Thinking of jumping back on the pedals? Electric bikes are now available throughout many reputable retailers throughout the country.
Buying offshore to save a few dollars can hurt you in the long run when spare parts are required and not readily available.