Electric Bike Selection Guide

(1) Make sure that your expectations are realistic as to the law, speed, power, range and charging.

The law regards the 'electric bicycle' just about as a bicycle, i.e. it requires no registration or driver's license and may be ridden also where only 'non-motorized vehicles' are allowed. In return for this privilege the electric bike must incorporate operable pedals, its top speed be capped at 20 mph and power at 750 Watt (about one horse power, albeit of the 'instant' torque variety).

Read The Law and Electric Bicycles.

Range, i.e. how far the electric bike can travel on a fully charged battery, depends of course on numerous factors. There can be no useful average. However, a 'magnitude' number for many riders—depending on his or her weight and willingness to intermittently pedal concurrently with the motor, on 'moderate' terrain and in 'fair' stop and go traffic—is around 25 miles on one 9-10 Ah Li-Ion battery. (Or unsurprisingly around 50 miles with a second battery added). While most riders find that they need to charge only at home or at work the range can be extended 'as you go' by 'opportunity' charging the quick-release battery, i.e. obtaining a partial charge where ever there is a standard wall socket (provided the rider brings along the small, one lb charger the bike comes with).

While a full charge (of a low battery) may take 3 to 5 hours an 'opportunity' charge (while visiting clients or friends, at a coffee shop etc) for even as short as, say, 30 minutes adds significantly to the battery's state of charge. And how much would you owe? Half an hour of charging appears as about half a penny on a Northwest utility bill.

Read How Far On a Battery Charge?

(2) Be clear on the relative power offered by the electric bike.

Only 80 Watt of pedaling is required to maintain (i.e. 'maintain', not 'accelerate to') 14 mph on level ground. Even a 250 Watt drive system is thus up to several times stronger, on a 'continuous' basis, than many a recreational rider. The power requirement is exponential to the increase in speed or the steepness of a hill (but we all knew that, of course). To maintain 20 mph on level ground 170 Watt is required. 170 W will also pull an average weight rider up a 'moderately steep' hill of 7% grade (although he or she shall crest at only 5 mph).

While the world's bike racing elite can amazingly pedal around 400 W for an hour or two most of us can't even keep that up round the block (if even momentarily). We offer electric bikes of 250, 350, 500-600 Watt of power. All of our electric bikes are thus stronger than most riders. And some are stronger (basis continuous output) than top level Tour de France riders.

Read Motor Wattage and Performance.

(3) Be clear on what riding experience you are aspiring to.

Are you looking:

(a)
To retain the feel and handling of a bicycle but with augmented (as in 'rider and motor together') power, i.e. you enjoy pedaling but just wish to be a bit stronger or have better endurance? Be it for hills, picking up groceries, hauling a child, keep up with a stronger bike rider, arrive to your destination crisp and presentable, commuting home after a long day at work, sparing that recalcitrant knee, driving less or seeking exercise while not risk overdoing it. Or for what our customers tell us above all, viz. the uniquely smooth, quiet, surging, no emissions riding experience of a quality electric bike.

or

(b)
For a bike you don't have to pedal at all, even up serious hills? Such an electric bike will be less bicycle akin in feel and handling but still no 'clunky' moped—and far more stylish.

or

(c)
Perhaps for a design on a continuum in between? We offer several.

Read Electric Bikes and Kits, an Overview.

(4) Learn how power is uniquely applied.

Were you aware that the electric bike offers a choice for how the rider applies power? While motorcycles, boats, planes and cars incorporate nothing beyond a throttle or gas pedal the electric bike uniquely offers interactive pedal activation, i.e. the motor responds to your pedaling. This provides a highly intuitive ride and many riders find they are in even firmer control than when operating a throttle. Most of our bikes incorporate both pedal activation (of varying designs) and a throttle, and are referred to as 'dual mode'.

Read How Power is Applied and Augmenting—Not Replacing Human Power.

(5) Charging

Chargers a smart, small, light (weigh about a pound) and plug in 'anywhere'. A full charge takes a few hours and costs pennies in many states. Li-Ion batteries may also be partially charged.

It makes sense to some of us to plug in where the electricity is generated from renewables—particularly from hydropower available right now. Seattle City Light generates about 92% from hydro plus 4-5% from other renewables at a consumer price of merely about 8 cents per kWh. Mainland U.S.electricity prices range from around 8 cents to about 18 cents.

(6) What do you get for your money?

We currently offer bikes with Li-Ion batteries from $1,200 to $3,999. A prospective customer shall do well comparing specifications to determine value.

Read Electric Bikes and Kits, an Overview.

Seize The eBike Opportunity of a Lifetime Within the Lifetime of the Opportunity!

Giant Freedom DX Electric Bike

If you are a cyclist by inclination, who prefers an electric bike that closely handles and rides like a superb regular bicycle then here's the rarest of brief opportunities. The Giant Twist is the fourth generation ebike model developed for the U.S. market by top global bicycle manufacturer Giant Bicycle Company. Since 2008 no model on the U.S. market may have garnished higher customer satisfaction. Smooth, comfortable, quiet and strong on hills. Intuitive torque sensing control, i.e. the motor response is instantaneous and proportional to your pedaling. Available in 18 and 21" size slope (=men's) frames only At $1,700 it comes with a 250W Sanyo front hub motor, front and seat post suspension, 8-speed internal Shimano Nexus hub, rear rack with light, fenders and dual panniers.

And it is the only ebike on the U.S. market that comes standard with dual batteries (for the same measly price!), which also makes the Twist the undisputed 'Range Queen'. Our customers routinely ride 50+ real life, real traffic miles and Popular Mechanics tested it as 70 miles.

Giant Twist Freedom DX

Read more about this electric bike category.

The Cyclist's Electric Bike Shops Since 1996

We sell and service Human Power Augmented a.k.a. Electric bikes and ride them enthusiastically ourselves.

Visit or call

Electric & Folding Bikes Northwest
4810 17th Ave NW
Seattle, WA 98107 / Map
206/547-4621 / Contact

Hours

Now open 7 days a week, 11am to 6pm, to better serve our customers.

5th Annual Electric and Folding Bike Rally

Northwest Electric and Folding Bike Rally
Saturday August 12th, 12pm-5pm. LIVE MUSIC!… Test ride electric bikes! More info.

EFBNW in The Seattle Times!

EFBNW in Seattle Times

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Overview 'at a glance' and Selection Guide

Check our Overview and Selection Guide for most of our bikes and kits.