E-bikes, Mopeds, or Pedelecs: Trending Electric Bikes
They climb every slope and feel comfortable in city traffic: today, more and more people ride electric bikes.
They have long since lost their initial image of vehicles that only compensate for decreasing physical performance. Electric bikes inspire with their combination of technology and sport, and simply because of the possibility to cope with distances longer than those for a motorcycle. Also, if you start riding a bike with a battery instead of a car, you contribute to climate protection. The consumer advice center provides advice on buying an e-bike and relevant answers to some legal questions.
Which Definition Is Correct?
There is still a lot of confusion: “e-bikes” or “pedelecs”? It’s not just about what sounds sleeker. The critical questions are: bike path or road? With or without a helmet? Do you need insurance?
Pedelec stands for Pedal Electric Cycle. The word creation describes all bicycles with hybrid drive. An electric motor supports the cyclist with a maximum of 250 watts of power in adjustable stages.
With an e-bike, however, such a companion is referred mainly to ride without any effort (only by the engine thrust) and for getting driving pleasure — so that’s rather a scooter with an electric motor.
Pedelec rides at 15.5 mph. If the motor of the electric bicycle only works when the rider is pedaling and the motor support is automatically limited to 15.5 mph, then the law for a bicycle is in action. A short starting support without pedaling (up to 3.7 mph) is also permitted. The following rules apply to these bicycles, which are legally equivalent to conventional bicycles:
- Cycle paths are allowed and compulsory with the appropriate signage.
- A bicycle helmet and also personal liability insurance is not required by law but is recommended.
- A driver’s license is not necessary.
So, many vehicles are often offered as “pedelecs,” sometimes misleadingly as “e-bikes.”
More than 15.5 mph: the Moped
Any best electric bike under 500 dollars where the motor continues to support the driver even at speeds of over 15.5 mph is considered to be small motorcycles under the Road Traffic Act. Here, the engine supports up to a speed of 27.9 mph. Every holder of such an electric bike needs liability insurance and an insurance label. A helmet and a license are also required.
Attention: If your driving license has been withdrawn, you cannot switch to the fast electric bike because it would be a “drive without a license” offense. Cycle paths but also “moped-free” routes are taboo with this vehicle.
“Fast Pedelecs,” “Speed Pedelecs,” or simply “S-Pedelecs” has established itself as the name for these bikes. Sometimes, however, they run under “e-bikes,” which can lead to confusion with their companions who roll without a rider’s any muscle strength, regardless of whether insurance, bike paths, or helmet requirements: only the operating instructions provide safety here.
E-bike: Speed without Pedaling
Anyone who buys an electric bike that speeds up without pedaling also operates a motor vehicle. These bikes are called “e-bikes” in the narrower sense. Liability insurance with a license plate is necessary here. If the speed is at 12.4 mph, a moped license is sufficient, and cycle paths can be used at least outside of built-up areas. Helmets are not compulsory. Everyone who drives faster than 12.4 mph without any muscular strength has little to do with a bicycle, even if “e-bike” has become a common name. And here, nothing works without a helmet, liability insurance, and a license.
What to Consider when Buying
The market for electric bicycles is now large and covers various individual needs. The buyer of an electric bike should, therefore, think in advance about the use of the vehicle (city bike, commuter bike, trekking bike, cycling). Foldable electric bikes are also available today. Depending on the area of application, models, and equipment vary. For example, the position of the engine can be at the front, rear, or in the middle of the bike. One should bear in mind that an electric bike weighs significantly more than an ordinary one. Therefore, a ground-level storage option is recommended.
The most valuable component of the electric bike is the battery, which also accounts for the majority of the price. The battery should be removable from the bike and should be charged outside. Note the different charging times before buying! Manufacturers usually state how many miles a charge is enough for. But that is not a reliable comparison value — depending on the drive program set, the battery is sometimes more or less used. Besides, the range of the battery also depends on many other things, such as whether there is a tailwind or how heavy the cyclist is. Instead, it is worth comparing the capacity and performance of the batteries. Before buying, be sure to check whether a replacement battery is available and how expensive it is.
The highest driving comfort and stability is provided by a mid-engine, the power of which is transferred to the rear wheel via the chain. Cheaper electric bike models often have a hub motor on the front wheel. Disadvantage — the front wheel can easily spin or slip away. The electric motor is located in the rear wheel hub for rear-wheel drive. It is mainly used for sporty bikes.
Study how sensitive the motor reacts to your pedaling. Also, pay attention to weight distribution and driving noise. Be sure to turn off the engine to test normal cycling.
Brakes and Gear Shift
Depending on the quality and price, the e-bike riding experience differs. An extensive test drive is, therefore, a must before buying. They should check how the brakes and gear shift can be operated — even under load when pedaling. Disc brakes are a good choice due to their high braking performance and durability, especially for heavy loads or e-cargo bikes. In contrast, rim brakes (V-brakes) score at a lower price and low weight.