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An Expert guide to buy Electric Cycle in India

With electric bikes now paving their way in the mainstream world, it is now becoming a new gadget one must invest in. In light of the lockdown, with people more conscious about their health and safety measures, electric bikes are becoming a prominent option for the customers.

Also, many ask which cardio gym cycles are good and why should we pick Electric Bikes over indoor gym cycles. Here is a detailed review on Top 10 Gym Cycles & why you should choose “Electric Bikes over Gym Cycles”; and just to clarify, we don’t encourage stepping out during a pandemic or lockdown. Our humble request to all our readers is to please follow their city lockdown guidelines sincerely.

  • How electric cycle is different from the standard pedal cycle?
  • Why should you invest in an electric bicycle?
  • Which electric bike should you buy?
  • Key features
  • E-bikes and the law

How electric cycle is different from the standard pedal cycle

What differentiates an e-bike from a standard bike is the electrical driving system, consisting of an electric motor and a battery, supporting the power-assisted pedaling. While you enjoy the biking experience, you get that extra boost from the electric assistance taking your journey to the next level. While your biking interests may vary from individuals around you, e-bikes come in a wide range, be it for your city rides, mountains trips, or challenging trails. With evolving technologies, the biking experience is improving day after day with the potential to be one of the most efficient and environment-friendly options to commute in the city. However, regardless of the technological advancement and the improved battery capacities, the fun part is that you still never miss out on the thrill of biking with an e-bike.

Why should you invest in an electric cycle?

While bicycles have some great benefits over other commute modes, e-bikes have some advantages that give you an extra edge to transform your biking experience to another level over the traditional cycles. Such as:

New Gadget

E-bikes can easily be gauged using their apps. Most of the e-bikes can easily be linked with your day-to-day fitness tracking apps, giving you a complete analysis of your daily calorie meter, helping you set your goals, estimate time to reach based on your pedaling rate.

Fitness

E-bike gives you the luxury of setting your own pace while working on your cardiovascular fitness. With the electric assistance, the distance to be covered automatically increases, improving your work out capacities and helping you push your limits.

Time-Saving

Days when you are on edge to reach someplace at the earliest, e-bikes come as a relief. Not only do they furnish you with that push in terms of speed, but they also ensure you do that without wearing out.

Smarter Commute

With technical assistance, the commute can now be planned and managed better to ensure a smoother and more efficient ride. Be it the app link-up to get an ETA or the easy pedal-assist to climb the high terrain, efficiency can be easily maximized using an electric bicycle.

For individuals biking in the city, crossing traffic lanes can often be a hassle. Multiple stops often increase your time to travel and disturbs the momentum. E-bikes help you ensure you have a better start over the traditional cycles.

Fuel Efficiency

Driven by electric power, a considerable fuel cost is reduced using e-bikes. However, e-bikes may not be a potential substitute for the long-distance rides to be covered via cars or motorcycles; but the short trips to the nearby grocery stores, shopping centers, and gym can be made more manageable with e-bikes.

Sustainable option

While cycling has always been one of the most energy-efficient ways of transportation. Electric cycles cover a more comprehensive range of distance, which otherwise would have been covered using a car/motorcycle, and thus help reduce the CO2 emission per km.

Which electric cycle should you buy?

Electric bikes can be broadly classified based on the following factors:

Based on Pedal Assist vs. Throttle

Type 1: Pedal Assist/Pedelec

Most commonly used electric bikes are the ones with pedal assist or pedelec. Just like a traditional bicycle, the riders pedal the bike, and the motor provides electric assistance by providing extra power to the rear wheel. The amount of effort put in pedaling thus reduces, providing higher speed and fewer efforts to climb over steep hills. The electric assistance can be controlled by setting your limits to get the desired support. The limits to the range provided by electrical assistance are dependent from region to region based on set standards.

Type 2: Throttle

Throttle operated electric bike propels the bike without the extra effort of pedaling. The amount of power that can be transferred can easily be controlled by force applied to the throttled. Most of the manufacturers based out of the US and China have bikes with throttle assist that functions even when the bike is not pedaled; however, the usage is limited by legislation. Other countries have restrictions on the usage of throttle assisted e-bikes.

Type 3: Speed Pedelec

With a similar design to standard pedelec, what differentiates the speed pedelec is the higher speed, approximately 45km/h. In some countries, this e-bike requires a rider license similar to the motorcycle license because of its speed limits.

Based on Usage

City Bikes: City bikes are mainly for urban commuters. Based on the length of the commute, be it short trips to the grocery store, shopping center, gyms, or traveling to your office, you can determine the level of comfort, speed, battery range required in your e-bike

Trail Riding Bikes: For individuals who enjoy the thrill of riding their bicycles in the hilly terrains, challenging roads with a mixture of uphills and downhills, should go for this bike. Trail bikes ensure you have an efficient yet fun ride throughout your journey. With a steeper head tube angle, these bikes climb better and turn faster to attain that agility required for terrains

Mountain Bikes:

Mountain bikes can be of three types :

Rigid: They are easy to maintain less expensive, with fat tires ensuring no bumps on  a trail

Hardtail: Bikes with suspension forks in the front to absorb any impacts on the front wheel. Cross country riding individuals often prefer this bike as it allows direct power transfer between the pedal stroke and the rear tire.

Suspension: These bikes often soak more trail bumps than the hardtail. They offer better power transfer and make climbing more efficient.

Cruiser bikes:

Designed for the everyday riding experience,  with comfortable sitting, swept-back handlebars, and larger tires for stability. Mainly for leisure rides while traveling, often with foldable designs.

Based on the distance covered

For estimating the range to be covered using an electric bike, the factors that can be considered include the battery, the motor power, and the level of assistance you use. If you plan to buy an e-bike for more adventurous trips and treks covering long distances, one can invest in trail bikes or mountain bikes based on the extent of rigorous usage. Such e-bikes have broader tires and Li-ion batteries with better motor power. While for someone with slightly less extensive usage, for example, for short trips, for daily chores, leisure purposes, city bikes can be a better option.  The overall lifespan of a battery depends on the type of battery.

Based on the price point

Most of the electric bikes available in India are often in a range of Rupees 40K to 350K.

Some of the other critical components to consider while buying an e-bike:

Frame

A frame is a crucial component as the weight, strength, quality, and price are independent. The most commonly used frame materials for mountain bikes are aluminum alloys. Providing lighter weight can often be expensive; hence manufacturers are very cautious while selecting the material and designing the frame. Some other commonly used materials include carbon fiber, titanium, and steel.

Motor

Motors for e-bikes are available in a wide variety of power range from 200W to 1000W+. The limits to this, however, varies from region to region based on the state decided legal limits.

While better horsepower means the better capability to pull heavier things but with more battery consumption in doing so, for example, a 600W motor will drain the battery at a quicker pace over a 250W powered motor.

It isn’t just the power of the motor but also the design and the placement of the motor that plays a crucial role in determining the motor performance. There are mainly two kinds of electric-bikes based on motors

Hub motor e-bikes:

Hub motors are usually placed on the front or rear wheel of the bike. While, front wheels are easier to install and maintain, mainly because they do not interfere with the gearbox or the drive train. At the same time, rear hub motors are comparatively challenging to install and often turn out to be back-heavy if the battery is also placed in the back. However, they are preferred as they give the look and feel of a traditional cycle.

Mid-drive electric bikes:

These are specially designed to incorporate the motors on or close to the bottom bracket of the e-bike. Such design facilitates the use of the drive train of the bike and easy access of gears making the motor turn closer to its ideal rotations per minute. On the other hand, hub motors can not be adjusted to their ideal RPM as the e-bike speeds up. Mid drives have comparatively a better weight distribution than the hub motor. Since the main components are located on the frame, these bikes make it easier to repair.

Battery

Battery is one of the most important components of the electric bike. The overall weight, style, and range are often derived from the battery setup. There are mainly two types of battery categories available:

Lead Acid Batteries: These are low cost and easy to recycle batteries. However, they are often bulky and do not have a long-lasting life.

Lithium-Ion Batteries: These last the longest among all and can generate more power than others.

Nickel-Cadmium Batteries: These batteries last longer than lead-acid batteries but are very difficult to recycle hence used less.

Nickel- Metal hydride Batteries: These last longer than the Nickel-Cadmium batteries, easier to recycle however offer similar performance as earlier

Among the above-mentioned batteries, the most commonly used are:

Lead Acid Batteries

  • Advantages: Inexpensive and are readily available.
  • Disadvantages: Heavy, short life span of 100-300 charging cycles, need more maintenance
  • Usage: For short distance rides with immediate charging post usage

Lithium-Ion Batteries

  • Advantages: Lightweight(as low as 6 pounds), high capacity, they have a longer life span of around 800 charging cycles, easy maintenance.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive
  • Usage: For long-distance rides

Batteries will degrade with time, and often the replacement batteries can be expensive. But replacement batteries can be a smart investment if you use your bike to lessen driving and public transport usage on a daily basis. The total amount of time to charge a battery can vary from 4-10 hours based on the type of battery.

Brakes

Brakes are an important component for any vehicle, be it a motorbike or an electric bike. There are certain things which, if ensured, give you a fun and safe riding experience.

Mechanical Brakes:

Mechanical brakes are very easy to adjust; you do not require any kind of special tool. This is your regular bicycle with adjustments down the caliper. One major concern with mechanical brakes is the consistent adjustment required every couple hundred miles. As the pads wear down, the cables need to be tightened with some adjustments.

Hydraulic Brakes:

Some of the advantages of a hydraulic brake include the super smooth lever, adjustable to distance. For anyone with smaller hands or lower hand strength, hydraulic brakes make an easy and comfortable option. These are self-adjusting with pads that wear out and get thinner with consistent use. However, in case of an issue, you may not be able to manually sort it on your own.

Controller:

A controller, often located on the handlebar, helps you operate the electric assistance on the electric bike. There are mainly two styles :

Pedal Activated: Pedal activated systems offer electric assistance when you push the pedals. There is no need for throttle assistance in this case, and only the pedal assist will work. The controller mounted on the handlebar lets you adjust the level of the aid you need as you pedal. The available range of assistance can be from zero assistance to full assistance.

Throttle based:  The throttle based controllers are often twisted grip or thumb press type. You can either press or pull back the throttle receive the electric assistance.

A few essential features that will create an impact on the overall performance of the e-bike are :
Weight

 The main components that add to the weight of the e-bike are the battery and motor. Anything that weighs less than 20kg can be considered a lightweight electric bike. While the usage often helps one decide the appropriate weight one should look for while buying an e-bike, to ensure ready accessibility, space, with regularly putting it on a rack.

Range

The range of the e-bike is a function of the battery and the level of assistance. While an electric bike on a hilly terrain may provide a range of 20 miles on a flat, smooth road, functioning on a lower power may give a range of 100 miles. However, the average lies somewhere from 60-100 miles.

Speed

The speed of an electric bike is usually dependent on the pedaling capacity; however, most electric bikes stop providing electrical assistance at a speed of 32 km/h.  However, some advanced bikes assist till 45 km/h.

Sensors

Electric bikes are often fitted with sensors for better performance and ease of accessing. Your choice should be highly governed by factors like your utility, cycling experience, and price points by budget.

  • Pedal Sensors

Available on more basic models. Also called speed sensors, they are engaged with the motors when you start pedaling and disengage when you stop pedaling. More suitable for e-bikes used for leisure rides.

  • Torque sensors

Available on higher-end models, torques sensors are more accurate than the pedal sensors. They measure the pedal force and apply for the electrical assistance automatically to support. These are often ideal for commuter cyclists with multiple stops and brakes.

Varying assistance

Most of the electric bicycles available in the market have four different levels of assistance. Eco mode is one feature that is available in a few models, which provide a cycling experience like that of a traditional one. The levels can often be adjusted using a switch or an LCD based on the model. The more the assistance, the shorter the bikes range.

Walk mode

A new addition, to assist the cyclist while pushing the electric bike by engaging the motor at a very low level while walking along the cycle.

Maintenance of your e-bike

As far as the utility is concerned, e-bikes are often observed to be used 10x as compared to traditional bicycles. While most of the bikes can be serviced by the users, but issues related to throttles, batteries, and computer systems may require a trip to the mechanic shop.

E-bikes and the law

The usual age limit for electric bike usage is around 14 – 16 years, based on the various laws in the country. However, the age requirement is usually a function of the motor power and maximum speed limit of the bike. In some countries, the motor assistance for electric bikes is 15.5 mph (25km/h), and the motor power cannot exceed 250 W. The controller is often adjusted to cut the electrical assistance, and the cycle runs on full manual mode. There is no driver’s license required for riding an electric bike. Also, there are no registration and insurance requirements to be carried out like that of a motorcycle. However, a helmet is a must.

Our research is based on examining a wide variety of electric bike models at different price points and using detailed feature analysis. We even looked at multiple batteries and motor reviews from various customers using electric bikes at present. We considered variables like battery charge time, range, gears, brake responsiveness. We visited multiple e-bike websites and tried to analyze their product for clarity and deep understanding from the instruction manuals as well.

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