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Friday, 9 December 2011

Sunny Day for Test Ride

All our electric bike testing seems to be done in the winter! This is probably because we are so busy at other times of the year - and this is the time to look at the new models we might have up our sleeves for the spring.

The potential new lighter weight bike we are prototype testing at the moment already has a name - the "Sprint". It is a trendy, sporty looking bike.

Today I got to take the Sprint round my usual haunts to see how it performed. The weather really made it a pleasure to be out there, blue sky and sunshine almost made me forget the gales of yesterday. There were some sections of the ride however where it was a bit blowy and the wind had a definite edge to it. I was glad to be wrapped up warm with my super gloves on!

It was a joy to be outside after several days cooped up in the office. The trees were looking good, I usually prefer them with leaves on, but today with the sun you could really appreciate their architectural lines. The red berries on some were shining out just like miniature Christmas lights, and a willow with some uppermost leaves still on, shone out silvery white.

There were lots of little hedge birds popping in and out along the ditch line and I saw one squirrel rummaging in the leaves.
One of the fields I passed has been ploughed recently and the soil was a rich velvety brown in contrast to all around that was shining in the sun.

28 lovely miles ridden, I'm hoping for some more good weather over the next couple of weeks as I test out all the settings, and give the Sprint a real work out.

A sneaky preview gives a glimpse of the upswept mudguard!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Lithium Battery Improvements on the Horizon

Recent news from scientists in America reveals that in the future Lithium Batteries could have an even bigger range.

The breakthrough has come about with the development of a new type of polymer which is better than the current material and is relatively economical to manufacture.

The benefits to the electric bike market could be excellent. Higher energy storage values mean that greater distance per charge can be achieved, or batteries could be made smaller and lighter for the same distance.

The new material is still in the development stage at the moment but we can look forward to using this new technology in the future.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Islay's Cycling Coffee Stop!

Last week we were privileged enough to stop off for a coffee at Debbies famous coffee shop at Bruichladdich on the Scottish isle of Islay.

The coffee and cake was excellent and the cycling memorabilia worth a quick picture (or two).

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Early Training!

A passion for bikes is something that starts from a young age, so I couldn't resist sharing this picture of our technical and social media departments in their formative years!

Here at Batribike we are still passionate about bicycles, especially those with electric motor assistance.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Batribike in Jet Set Lifestyle

It's only some of us that are jet setting and really it's not as glamorous as you'd think! Living out of a suitcase is only fun the first time. But the news for Batribike is quite exciting.
Steve had only just come back from visiting the factory in China, and then he was off again, this time to the Bike show in Milan.

Steve with Bruce, Cynthia and Rain at the Milan Bike Show

Bikes on the stand in Milan

Our Trike 20 is on display in Milan!

I too was out and about, (but not internationally), in Lincolnshire yesterday, braving the horrors of road closures that sent me scurrying down the back lanes to Tattershall. The Autumn leaves are still looking spectacular and the mild weather is keeping the winter chill away.

Friday, 28 October 2011

More Choice on Where to Buy

We are delighted that there is now more choice of where to buy your Batribike electric bike. New stockists are now listed on our website.
Welcome to our new dealers, In the north, Ian Gerrard Cycles, who are in Bedlington, Northumberland. Over in Merseyside, Wirral E-Bikes at N&C Jet Ski and down on the south coast it's a big hello to Stowaway Bikes in Birdham, West Sussex.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Motorhomes, Caravans and Electric Bikes

Whew, what a busy week we had last week.

The Motorhome and Caravan Show at the NEC showcased new models for the coming year. Reduced ticket prices this year meant a record number of visitors, the opening day saw 15,000 leisure enthusiasts packing the halls and 25,000 on Saturday.

The Batribike stand was busy everyday with show goers finding out about the attractions of Electric Bikes, many of them tried one out for themselves in the test ride area.

We were delighted to be asked by Chausson to be part of the demonstration of their 'Bike Up' system of storing bikes in a motorhome garage. We lent them a Granite which we think you'll agree looks very stylish.

The winner of a Quartz Folder in the Caravan Club competition takes a spin on the test track

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Batribike Breeze on the Gadget Show

There was great excitement in the office when the Gadget Show phoned and asked if they could borrow the Breeze for an up coming programme.

We packaged the bike up and sent it off, we didn't know what the programme would be about and so waited with interest to hear back. The Bike duly returned and we were told the date of the show, series 16, episode 8.

We had seen electric bikes on the Gadget Show before and knew that they get a huge range of bikes to test and that there was a good chance that ours would not be pictured, let alone mentioned.

The premise of the challenge was car valeting, Ortis and Pollyanna needed to choose a compact means of transport to collect cars quickly.

The show went out on Monday, with a repeat showing this coming Saturday. We were delighted that right from the beginning of the segment there were close up shots of the Breeze, part of the attraction may have been it's lovely Wine Red colour - there's no doubt, it is an attractive bike.

Pollyanna chose to test ride the Breeze and commented on how easy it is to fold. Whilst she felt it wasn't as fast as one of the other bikes we know that it's gentle 'no drama' power is a hit with our customers. What a great endorsement of our bike.

Exposure on TV on the Gadget Show is great for the electric bike industry as a whole, it shows the diverse range of bikes available to the consumer and raises awareness of the many and varied uses of electric pedal power.

You can view the segment on the bikes here

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Batribike, Busy at the NEC Cycle Show

The new venue for the Cycle Show proved to be popular with electric bike manufacturers with several brands new to the show displaying their bikes.

The increase in the size of the test track meant that it was easier to get a real feel for the bike you were trying.

Bikes in the riding area before the show started

We had great feedback from the trade and retail customer alike with many commenting on how smoothly the power assistance came on and what great value the Batribike bikes are for the amount of technology they include.

Ralph with Patrick and Matt who were demonstrating Storck bikes and then with the Batribike Quartz and Granite

It was great to catch up with some of our current stockists who came to look round the show and visit us on the stand. We also had a chance to chat with other BEBA members about the electric bike industry as a whole.

Marty from GoEco in Eire (Batribike stockists) chatting with Steve on the stand

Chatting with Target Wheels at the exhibitors drinks party

Bikes all locked up on the stand at the end of the day on Saturday

I hear the show will be even bigger next year with companies that didn't attend this year clamouring for a space at next years event. We are certainly looking forward to being there again.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Ready for the crowds at the Cycle Show

The Cycle Show has moved to the NEC this year, previously we had been trekking into London to Earls Court. The change of venue has given much more space for test riding with both the road bike and mountain bike tracks starting in the halls and then heading outside.
We set the Batribike stand up this afternoon amidst the hustle and bustle of other bike manufacturers and retailers wheeling around bikes and bike related products, as everyone gets to grips with the new show layout.
It has been a very warm day and the forecast is hot for the duration of the show so I guess there will be big queues for riding outside.
Hopefully I will get some good pictures to post on here in the next few days

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Breeze, Folding Electric Bike, Now Available in Two Colours

The really popular 'Wine Red' is now joined by 'Royal Blue'
The Breeze has been a popular bike this summer, it's attractive retail price of £749 has been matched by it's features. Three levels of pedal assist, twist grip throttle, 36v lithium battery and a 20 to 40 mile range plus the added advantage of being a folder give this bike great kerb appeal.
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better we've added another colour, side by side they look amazing!

Monday, 25 July 2011

Welcome to new Chelmsford stockist

We are delighted to announce that The Cycle Company, of New Street, Chelmsford, Essex are now official stockists of the Batribike range of Electric Bikes.

The Cycle Company is a family business established in 1902 which prides itself on customer service. We popped along today to take some pictures for a press release and to see their window display.

We are very pleased to welcome Michael and the team on board.

Congratulations to Mark Cavendish!

The first ever Brit to win the Green Jersey in the Tour de France. That is quite something and I'm sure he will remember that day forever.

British cycling has taken on quite a resurgence over the last few years, the success of the British Olympic Cycling Team has encouraged mere mortals out onto their bikes either in competition or for leisure.

This interest in cycling has also spilled over into electric bikes with customers wanting to join the cycling revolution. Indeed the feeling that assisted cycling gives you is that you too could be an Olympic cyclist, especially when ascending hills.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Boris on Bikes!

I met Boris at Madam Tussauds yesterday and tried very hard to engage him in conversation about electric bikes but he was waxing lyrical about the TfL Barclays bikes!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Arrow Cycles Load up at Batribike

The busy week at Batribike continues as Arrow Cycles came to restock.

Arrow Cycles, based in Lincoln, are our nearest dealer, Paul enjoys the drive into the countryside to visit our showroom and warehouse.

Arrow cycles opening hours are Monday to Thursday 9.00 - 17.30 and Friday and Saturday 9.00 - 17.00

The staff at Arrow Cycles are all keen cyclists and will be happy to advise customers on their purchase.

In the picture the very smart Arrow Cycles van being loaded.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Clean Energy Centre Visits Batribike

"Electric bikes are a fun, practical, low-carbon means of transport"

The Clean Energy Centre based in Newtown, Powys are passionate about helping people to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions and are keen electric bike owners.

Jeremy and Jo visited the Batribike Showroom this week to view and test ride the full Batribike range. The weather was glorious and it was a great opportunity to really try out the paces of the bikes.

The Clean Energy Centre is a Batribike Stockist which offers bike hire as well as test rides. They are open 9.30 to 4.00 Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and 9.00 to 1.00 on Saurdays

Full contact details can be found on the 'where to buy' section of the Batribike website.

Busy Time for Electric Bikes

Things have been very busy at Batribike this week. We had a big delivery of bikes on Monday many of which went straight out to dealers so they should be in the bike shops now.

Electric Trikes are rapidly gaining in popularity with all the Trikes in the latest delivery being pre-sold and Trikes from the next delivery at the end of July already being reserved.

Our next show is the Northern Motorhome Show at the Cheshire Showground near Knutsford from 15th to 17th July.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Life, The Universe and Electric Bikes!

Riding has been on hold for the last five and a half weeks, I fell over and hurt my arm (Royal Wedding Day actually) three trips to the hospital later and it was diagnosed as a fracture in my elbow. Apparently this is a common injury if you have an impact on your hand - so clearly I shouldn't have tried to save myself! As the elbow started to improve I realised that my wrist and shoulder were quite tender too, so I guess the whole arm took all the shock. Typically it was my right arm so it has made it quite difficult to do many things.
Shows have of course continued, I haven't done any lifting, but I have chatted to lots of lovely people about bikes in general, electric bikes specifically and loads of customers have been to tell us where they have been with their bikes and how much they are enjoying them.
Travelling between the shows we have seen giant swathes of Oxeye Daisies along the roadsides and across the fields and poppies too bringing a bright splash of colour.
So just when I thought the arm was nearly better and I could be out on the bikes again - I have a cold! now I know that shouldn't stop me but, it's in my head making me feel slightly un balanced and as I'm breathing through my mouth I think I'd rather not be sucking in any flies or other flying insects!
Hopefully this time next week I shall be out on the Lincolnshire lanes, and then we will be off to the 'Great Summer Escape' at Belvoir Castle. We are in the Green area there with our own individual riding area so it should be a good show.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Electric Bikes in the Lincolnshire Echo

Following our visit from a reporter and a photographer we are on page 3 of the Lincolnshire Echo today! Also on their website so you can read it here, causing some discussion too with comments left already!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Local Press Visit Batribike Showroom

The BEBA event with electric bikes at the House of Lords last Tuesday has sparked interest from the local press.
A reporter and photographer from the Lincolnshire Echo have been to the Batribike showroom this afternoon to interview me about the event at the House of Lords and to see the Bikes.
Photos were taken in the showroom and they also got pictures of Steve riding the Diamond outside.
Look out for the resulting editorial in the Lincolnshire Echo on Monday!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Review on BikeRadar

The Batribike Granite is reviewed on BikeRadar today

We are delighted to see that they have said "Good value, decent weight and good range"

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Electric Bike Day at Westminster

Batribike attended the Electric Bike Day that was held by BEBA (The British Electric Bicycle Association) at the House of Lords yesterday.

The event was hosted by Lord Laird who introduced several influential speakers from diverging backgrounds such as the DfT, the Bicycle Library and the City Police Bike Squad.

MP's, transport planners and other influential guests had the opportunity to test ride electric bikes in the courtyard and in Black Rod's Garden.

We were delighted to demonstrate our Quartz folding electric bike to Simon Burns MP, Minister of State at the Department of Health.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Customer review

We received this e-mail from Mr and Mrs H today and we are delighted to share their comments.

We purchased 2 Quartz 2011 model bikes from Locks of Sandwich, Kent in early January this year.
We just wanted to say how good they are and we are amazed how many miles per charge can be achieved. We haven't yet found a hill too steep to go up, even with just using the motor. I've seen some rather dismissive blogs about the power of Batribikes, but can assure you that these bikes do MORE than they say on the tin! The build quality is good, the lights bright and they fold up and down in seconds. Seat big and comfortable as well.
Please feel free to use this email in any reviews or blogs as we want other people to try them out.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Royal Wedding Delays Electric Bike Test

Actually it was the rain! but I used that as an excuse and watched the Royal Wedding before I went out riding. The riding in question was testing the Breeze on throttle only, now I have been out throttle testing in the pouring rain before, it was a cold day and it was a job to keep warm with the rain stinging my face.
Yesterday it was definitely worth waiting, the afternoon was sunny and it was very pleasant to get out on the bike. Throttle testing takes a lot of will power as the urge to pedal sets in, but I resisted and had a great ride. Usually I try not to go out at weekends or holidays as the cycle/foot paths get busy but it seems everyone had stayed home to party and it was quieter than usual along the route.
I chatted to a couple of cyclists who were interested in the bike, neither of them had seen one up close before and both were impressed with the design and compact nature of the bike, also the distance I had been on throttle alone. Further along I met a man on an specialist Electric Trike who was interested in the testing aspect, he said that he often cycles my route as it has great scenery and is traffic free.
I was really pleased with the distance, 22 miles is pretty impressive on battery alone with plenty of torque to build the speed with ease.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Two Day Electric Bike Ride

The weather over Easter weekend was superb and I had a brilliant break getting in some non bike related exercise, but it did leave me somewhat achy for the start of yesterday's test ride.
The new folding Breeze has three assist levels, low, medium and high. Last week I was distance testing on high which assists the rider up to 15 mph (the legal maximum). This week I needed to try medium, this gives less assistance and therefore goes further on a charge. The speed is also slower as I use the same minimum level of effort as for high assist, giving an average speed of between 8 and 10 mph.
It's funny how differently the world looks when you slow down those few miles and hour. I couldn't make out what was different to start with. Last week at the faster speed I didn't really notice the people, I was in a world of my own where the flora and fauna really stood out. Yesterday it was all to do with people (probably because it took longer to pass them!) and the wildlife took a back seat.
Firstly there was a whole group of school children wearing Hi Vis and riding their bikes single file between two adults, there was lots of excited chatter, I guessed they were out learning how to ride safely. (having previously taught Cycling Proficiency for ten years I am a firm believer in teaching children how to be safe on the roads. I always said that if they only thing they learn is to instinctively look behind at junctions or before they turn then it's all worth while).
The children weren't riding fast but it still took a little while to pass their convoy. Next there was a group of young mums doing exercise in the park, they jog down behind their pushchairs, when I passed them they were doing some really fast running on the spot.
I moved on and was away over the new bridge when I met two cycling police people coming the other way, it really is a good way to police the parks. It's nice to see the Police back out on bikes, I know that the City of London now has a crack team of cyclists who patrol the square mile, they have also been testing electric bikes.
Coming back through the park the cycling children had stopped and were practicing hand signals. On the stretch of tarmac here I could see where the Police horse had been riding, it's metal shoes had left a series of U shaped scuff marks.
In the early afternoon I met a couple of the assistants from the Kiddy Caru nursery, they had eight small children in an enormous cart, out for some after lunch fresh air. Back down by the river some children were out of school and were paddling - one girl still wearing tights and her school shoes! I wondered what her mum would say when she got home.
Later a gentleman on a bike came along side to ask what it was like to ride an electric bike, we had a lovely chat before our ways parted, normally I would have been going too fast for him to catch me!
So there you have it 37 miles yesterday and another 7 today to take it to 44 miles in total, very friendly miles with greetings called, and for me, a completely different view of the park.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Electric Bike Riding

Yesterday was a glorious day for electric bike riding. Having just spent the last twenty days travelling aroundthecountry attending shows it was really good to be out riding again. Our new folder (the Breeze) was calling and I just had to get out riding.

The hedgerows had changed dramatically since I was out last, it seems like overnight summer has arrived, the wind was warm and it felt like July rather than April. But unlike summer the greens were really vibrant, the new leaves standing out dramatically against the blue sky. In the hedge bottoms white flowers and bright yellow dandelions vie for my attention while the dandelion clocks are almost perfect silvery balls as the sunlight transforms them.

One field of yellow caught my attention, the stalks were too short for it to be rape, but then I looked again and they were cowslips, a whole field of them!
Near here too were a series of flowering Broom, I could smell the blossom before I could see it.

There was plenty of wildlife about too, as usual loads of waterfowl on the reservoir,
and then to my surprise a grass snake zig zagged across the tarmac
in front of me and disappeared into the vegetation before I had chance to even think about taking a photo. Lots of small Orange Tip butterflies flitting around and then a man with a net catching flying things making a note on his clipboard and then freeing them again.

It was a superb ride of 29 miles a great start to the Easter weekend and now I'm looking forward to getting out there again next week.

Monday, 18 April 2011

New Electric Bikes Well Received at Peterborough Show

Batribike displayed it's updated versions of the Diamond (step through) and Granite (cross bar) at the National Motorhome Show at Peterborough this weekend. The new bikes have an easy to read LCD fitted to the handlebars which gives riders the convenience of a built in cycle computer. Easy to operate buttons give six levels of pedal assist plus a selectable throttle and the addition of an easy start button.

The sunshine over the weekend brought crowds to the show and many got the opportunity to test ride the new models, the feed back was excellent and with advance orders taken we are looking forward to stock arriving in mid May.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Peterborough Show Expects Crowds

The National Motorhome Show opened it's gates to ralliers at 1.00 today. Once again it looks as though it is going to be a fantastic event with the showground packed with trade stands.

The photo shows our stand just before the gates opened, we have a fantastic selection of electric bikes to try including a chance to try the brand new Breeze which is now available to pre-order for delivery in mid May.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Batribike Supports British Heart Foundation

Batribike was approached in January by the British Heat Foundation regarding the benefits of electric bikes. We subsequently gave them some information about our bikes and a folding Quartz bike for their competition. The April edition of Heart Matters magazine is now out where you can read about the benefits of cycling as a whole.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Romsey Sunshine Brings out the Crowds

The fantastic summer like weather has brought many motorhome and caravan fans to the lovely Broadlands near Romsey.

Batribike are showing their range of electric bikes and many showgoers have taken the opportunity to take a test ride.

The new advertising banner shows the perfect partnership of a Quartz folding electric bike and a WildAx motorhome.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Great Weather for Biking with Electric Assistance

The sun is shining today and there couldn't be a better time to get out and try an electric bike. The weather at this time of year seems to change day by day. On Sunday we were at a show in Shepton Mallet and were treated to dark stormy skies, momentary heavy rain showers and even hail.
Today it is very summery with sunshine, blue skies and the birds singing. The daffodils are still out but now there are primroses and cowslips too.
Whatever the weather an electric bike can take you into the countryside with ease, taking the strain out of riding whilst you enjoy the scenery or getting you home quickly when there is that unpredictable shower.
Electric bikes are great for commuting too, the rising cost of fuel and parking issues are leading many more to commute by bike. The only issue is arriving hot and sweaty with no shower or changing facilities to help freshen up. An electric bike takes away the need to work hard to arrive within a reasonable time frame and levels out those hills!
There hasn't been a better time to test ride an electric bike, try one this weekend, see us at the Motorhome Show at Broadlands, Romsey near Southampton.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Batribike Electric Bikes in the Press

We are pleased to be in several magazines at the moment including a review on the Granite in Cycling Plus magazine and reviews of the Quartz and Micro in the Camping and Caravan Club magazine.
One of our new retailers the Bike Shop, Newark was featured along with the Quartz in their local newspaper.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Cycling the Lanes

Electric bike test riding again! The weather has been superb for the past week which has coincided nicely with some riding I needed to do. The first day (last Monday) was just a short recce, the weather has changed for the better and I was keen to get out on my favourite route.

The sky was blue but the was still that edge in the air, with leaves starting to show slightly green and one marvellously pink tree it did seem that the season was turning.

The next few days were slightly overcast and even a little misty, but the birds knew that spring was on the way. The bird song along the hedgerows has been fantastic, they have been swooping in and out of the hedges as I ride past. Even Friday when it lashed down with rain and really, I wasn't sure whether I wanted to be out there or not they were still singing their hearts out. After an hour in the rain, as my glasses dripped and my hands were cold, the weather started to improve slightly - it went from lashing to just drizzle! and I realised that actually it was great to be out there even on a day like that.

Yesterday was brilliantly sunny again and the breeze was warm too - a touch of early summer? Nature has moved on somewhat since last week, the pink tree is now over and looking rather drab, but the Hawthorn has sprung to life with a superb display and the fluffy brush catkins have almost a metallic gleam in the sunlight. The Celandines this year seem to be bigger than ever.

When I passed the man made lake the first time there was an abundance of waterfowl and my plan was to take pictures on the way back, of course by then most of them were out sitting on the grass! There was a large flock of gulls on the water though, but as I approached something spooked them and they lifted in unison and wheeled above the water, in a panic I grabbed the camera, wobbled to a stop and took a few shots, and I'm actually quite pleased with the outcome.

Over the past few days I have ridden over 220 miles in various weather conditions, but all of them have been enjoyable. I have used several different levels of electric assistance which I think will prove to be very popular and easy to use.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Motorcycle News - MCN - Today

Electric bike in the pits at Brands Hatch!

Senior test rider Michael Neeves of MCN recently used a Batribike MIcro in the pits at Brands Hatch for the first round of the MRO Powerbike Championship.

Using a lightweight folding electric bike to get around the pits is ideal.

A report on how the championship round went together with a picture of Michael on the Batribike Micro is in todays MCN.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Folding Electric Bike on YouTube

You can now see how to fold our Quartz electric bike on YouTube. We took some video while we were at the recent Boat, Caravan and Motorhome Show at the NEC.

How to Fold a Batribike Quartz Electric Bike

How to Unfold a Batribike Quartz Electric Bike

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Batribike at Chepstow.

Showing our Electric Bikes at different shows around the country means we get to do a lot of driving. We have just spent a whole week indoors at the NEC under artificial lighting and whilst it is a good show by the end of it you long to see proper daylight. So I really enjoyed the drive down to Chepstow from Lincoln, most of it is on the A46 that follows the old roman road, the Fosse Way that linked Exeter to Lincoln.

Much of our travelling lately seems to have been during dull grey days but there seemed to be a lightness in the air on Thursday and a hint of spring in the verges and hedgerows. The Snowdrops have been out for some time but to me they are still a flower of the winter, now there is the odd spark of bright green in the hedges and the willows have that lovely lush aura that heralds the beginning of the new leaves. In the gardens the yellow flash of the forsythia flowers against their stark brown stalks seem to say that spring is in the air.

Yesterday (Friday) was a glorious day the sun shone and the sky was a clear deep blue. There are tiny lambs in one of the fields the other side of the racecourse and they were jumping and running the way small lambs do, it seems incredible that they can spring into the air (much like a jump jet!) without so much as a run up, yet you never see sheep do the same thing.

Today has been much colder, it started out sunny but soon the white cloud covered the sky as a chilling breeze started to blow, but the promise of spring is still here, we saw it in the sky yesterday, the clocks will be changing soon bringing lighter evenings. I am looking forward to cycling my local tracks and watching the season unfold.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Boat and Caravan Show at the NEC

Electric bikes have been proving very popular here at the NEC all week. Ralph has been busy demonstrating how easy it is to fold the Quartz.
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Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Electric Bicycles – A Buyers Guide

Commonly asked questions and the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of electric bikes.

What is an Electric Bike?

a.k.a Battery bike, E bike, Pedelec, Battery Powered Bike

In it’s most basic form it is a bike with a motor, a battery and a controller to regulate speed and power.

Commonly asked questions

How fast will it go?

The law says that an electric bicycle should not be capable of more than 15 mph (25kph) under power.

The bike will go faster than that (going downhill or if you pedal really hard!) but not under power.

The average leisure cyclist rides at 8 to 12 mph – so 15 mph is actually quite quick!

Do I have to wear a helmet?

Not if you don’t want to.

Do I need Tax or Insurance?

No, as long as the bike conforms to the regulations for electric bikes it is classed as a bicycle and can be used on cycle paths etc.

Will it go up hill without me pedalling?

Electric bikes are designed to assist the rider and by their very nature will not climb the steepest hills with no assistance from the rider.

Do I have to pedal?

Yes, electric bikes are designed primarily as pedal assist, but they can make it a lot easier. They take the strain out of joints allowing the rider to exercise without over exerting or arriving hot and sweaty.

How do I choose the right one for me?

To decide which electric bike is best for you, first think about how you will use it.

Frame first – does it need to fold? Do you need a trike for stability? What size wheels do you prefer?

Distance – will you be using it for lots of short journeys or are you regularly riding for longer distances?

Level of assistance – How much help do you want the bike to give you? Do you want maximum assistance with minimum effort? Do you want to do most of the work but with assistance on hills? Do you want variable assistance so you can select the level of help for each journey?

When you know how you are going to use your electric bike it is much easier to choose the right one for you.

Pedal Assist – What does it mean?

Exactly what it sounds like, as you turn the pedals, the controller senses the movement and turns on the motor to help. When you stop pedalling the motor stops.

Types of Pedal Assist

Rotation Sensor – this senses the pedals are turning and switches the motor on at a pre-set speed. This type of system can be available with a single speed or selectable levels.

Advantages – You don’t have to push hard on the pedals to get maximum assistance. Selectable level versions are very versatile.

Disadvantages – Single level version goes at maximum speed all the time.

Torque Sensor – this additionally senses how hard you are pressing the pedals and varies the assistance level accordingly.

i.e. If you press gently it just gives a little help (slow), press harder and it helps more (faster). This system may also have selectable power levels.

Advantages – Slows down and speeds up intuitively. Uses battery economically for greater distance per charge.

Disadvantages – To get maximum assistance full pressure must be put on the pedals.

Twist Grip Throttle - Some motors are not actuated by the pedals but by a twist grip throttle that must be turned whilst you are pedalling and held in position.

Advantages – Power assistance variable

Disadvantages – Holding the throttle twisted all the time, including while signalling.

Combination, Pedal Assist and Throttle

Some bikes with pedal assist have a twist grip too. This can allow the rider to take ‘a breather’ without having to stop. On a torque sensor bike this allows the rider to select ‘extra’ power, which can be useful when going up hill.

Easy Start and Launch Assist

These are both terms for a device used to help you to set off on your electric bike. Often the hardest part of cycling is the initial push to get going especially if you have stopped on an incline, or in traffic when you want to get up to speed quite quickly.

Twist grip – variable power, twist more for extra assistance.

Advantages – instant assist

Disadvantages – twisting too quickly could make bike unsteady (particularly front hub motors)

Button – up to 4 mph (6 kph)

Advantages – nice steady start, no ‘drama’, can be used to assist when pushing the bike.

Disadvantages – one speed only.

Battery Types

Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) – when electric bikes were first becoming popular they were hampered by battery technology and were equipped with SLA batteries.

Advantages – Low cost

Disadvantages – heavy (typically 15kg), limited range (10 – 15 miles), short life (300 cycles)

Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) & Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) – lighter weight than SLA and greater distance (15 – 20 miles).

Advantages – Cost (mid price)

Disadvantages – memory effect (must be fully discharged regularly) performance reduced in cold weather.

Lithium Ion (Li-ion) – even lighter (36v 3.5 kg) with high energy density and no memory effect. There are several types of Li-ion batteries the principals being

Lithium Polymer (Li-Po)

Lithium Manganese (Li-Mn)

Both these types of battery offer good power to weight characteristics.

Advantages – lightweight, good distance (30 – 40 miles), good life (1000 cycles)

Disadvantages – Higher cost

Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LiFePo4) – has good electrical and thermal stability

Advantages – extended life (2000 cycles)

Disadvantages – lower energy density giving slightly shorter distances (25 – 30 miles)

Battery Charging – how long does it take?

If you have chosen an electric bike with an adequate distance for your needs an overnight charge can be the best solution.

Standard Charger – 6 – 8 hours

Advantages – Kind to the battery, suitable for low power situations

Disadvantages – you can’t recharge over lunch!

Fast Charger – 2 – 3 hours

Advantages – Fast!

Disadvantages – can reduce the life of the battery

Charging from 12V – generally not available as a direct charger but can be done via an inverter.

Battery Charging Cost

This will of course depend on how much you pay for your electric but typically between 5 and 20 pence

Battery Replacement Cost

May seem very expensive (£300 - £500) but when you consider the distance you can ride on an electric bike it actually is very reasonable. Even if you only do 20 miles per charge for a thousand charges that gives you 20,000 miles. For a £300 battery that equals 1.5p per mile.

Battery Position

Below Seat – in front of the rear wheel, this has been a popular position for heavier batteries.

Advantages – keeps centre of gravity low

Disadvantages – increases wheelbase making some bikes too long for a standard bike rack.

Rack Mounted – popular position for Li-ion batteries.

Advantages – Wheelbase can be standard. Battery can be ‘disguised’ with panniers.

Disadvantages – slightly higher centre of gravity.

Water Bottle – some manufacturers ‘hide’ the battery here

Advantages – discreet and small

Disadvantages – small battery which gives lower mileage.

In Frame – New lightweight bikes are being developed with the battery inside the frame.

Advantages – discrete, secure.

Disadvantages – Very high cost, harder to replace.

Motor Types

Hub Motors – fitted to the centre of either the front or rear wheel.

Front Hub

Advantages – can then fit hub gears in the rear

Disadvantages – can be a bit skittish in slippery conditions.

Rear Hub

Advantages – very stable power delivery

Disadvantages – not compatible with hub gears

Brushed Motor

Advantages – can be used for regenerative braking. Simple. Reliable.

Disadvantages – can cause drag when pedalling with motor off.

Brushless Motor

Advantages – causes very little drag when riding with power off. Lighter. Compact. Efficient.

Disadvantages – cannot be used for regenerative braking.

Crank Motor – drives the bike through the normal gear system

Advantages – efficient, changes gear with the bike.

Disadvantages – expensive, requires specialist frame, beware cheap crank motors.

Displays and Gauges

Battery Meter – ideally choose an electric bike that has a battery indicator on the handlebars. This can be in the form of an LED display or a series of lights that go out as the battery charge is depleted.

On Battery Meter – some batteries incorporate a meter, which is useful if you have more than one battery and can’t remember which one you have charged.

Power level – shows the selected level of assistance

Brakes - these can be any of the ‘normal’ bicycle types, blocks or discs. The important thing is that purpose built electric bikes have an additional wire from the brake lever this is from a cut-out switch that shuts off the motor when braking.

Lights – these can be powered in several ways, directly from main battery, separate battery for individual lights, dynamo. Be aware that if they are powered from the main battery and it goes flat you will be without lights.

Test Ride - wherever possible, different models have a different feel when riding, try several to see which one suits you.

The Law – In the UK the minimum riding age for an electric bike is 14. The bike must weigh less than 40kg (60kg for a trike). Be restricted to 15mph (25kph). Maximum continuous power output 200/250 W.

Electric bikes get more use – Many people buy a bicycle with the intention of riding to work to save on parking or fuel cost, or as a way of getting fit, but the bike ends up sitting in the garage. Statistics show that people that purchase an electric bike are more likely to ride it and go out more often.