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Buying an ebike (ryanj.substack.com)
199 points by jseliger 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 241 comments





> I grab one of my mid-drives. But usually I grab one of my hub-drives. Why? A THROTTLE! Throttles are magic and give you the option of pedaling as little as zero.

Not sure about there, but pedaling as little as zero is illegal in several countries.

Besides, I own a mid-drive cargo bike, and had several hub-drives, and mid-drives are absolutely better:

> Particularly for cargo bikes, a throttle is a major feature. You’ll appreciate it when you’re taking off from a standing stop with groceries or children on the back.

with a mid-drive, taking off from a standing stop is smooth. if not putting energy at all is a concern, one can either make sure that reaches stopping points in a low gear, or just set the engine assist to the max.

If one is so concerned about not putting effort, an e-scooter is a more fitting choice.


Yeah idk why he seems to imply you can't have a throttle with a mid drive. Of course you can. But yes in many places if the bike has a throttle it ceases to be an ebike (a bike) and has to have insurance and papers, etc.

Yes; the only thing that makes my ebike a "Moped Class II" instead of an ebike is its throttle. I am able to legally use bike lanes, but also need to have traffic insurance to use it. It's been a life saver during the pandemic to avoid public transport, but it isn't my normal "daily rider" since it's just less convenient to lug out of storage on a regular basis than my Brompton.

> Not sure about there, but pedaling as little as zero is illegal in several countries.

It's not illegal in the US as long as total wattage is less than 750 and max speed is <=20mph.


It actually depends 100% on the trail or road you’re riding on and how it’s licensed.

You can have a pure electric motorcycle with throttle licenses for street use. No power or speed limits (obviously).

But most bike paths have been designated “No motorized vehicles” from the time before e-bikes. There have been exceptions carved out in some places for pedal-assist bikes, but having a pure throttle would not comply with the pedal-assist requirement.

The problem is that e-bike companies know that a lot of people really don’t want to pedal or be limited to 20mph or 750W, so a lot of the e-bikes you can buy today are easily hackable by design. It’s common for people to buy an e-bike compliant with these regulations and then immediately modify it to remove the limits and add a throttle. Now they have an electric motorcycle that looks like a compliant e-bike from the outside.

And to be honest, they’re ruining e-biking for everyone. My local trails are filled with people flying around at motorcycle speeds while the rest of us are moving at pedal speeds. They’re tearing up the trails because they can put 1500W or more into spinning the rear wheel without feedback while the trails were designed for us manual bikers putting a few hundred watts at most into the rear wheel with direct feedback to feel any spin.

Locally, there’s a backlash of denying any e-bike from common trails because they’ve morphed into a loophole to motorcycle around. It’s unfortunate because I really wanted pedal assist e-bikes to open the sport to older and less physically fit riders, but instead it’s closing the sport to anyone who doesn’t feel like dodging kids zooming around at twice the speed anyone expects.


Some bikes have a «walk assist» function to let you get a little help when parking, walking with the bike, etc. My Bosch mid-drive does that. I bike all winter (64 deg north) with a bunch of kids + cargo, works great.

Similarly, some models suggested have overpowered (or "illegal") engines, as subtly admitted. Going that fast on a bike is by no means safe, if anything because of tyres.

Pedal bikes will get up to speeds well over 20mph(30kph) going downhill and their tires are still safe.

I mean......based on what? Like don't get me wrong, I used to do a lot of mountain cycling on a road bike, and going downhill I'd approach 60mph(100km/h) easily.....but I was never under any illusion that it's "safe" to do, or that the manufacturer even tested the tyres up to that speed. They just happened to work when we did it.

What would you expect to happen to the tyres at high speed? I assume at some speed they’ll fall apart or something but that surely must be at more than 100kph. The things are already holding in air at 100psi+ — why would rolling quickly be an issue?

Of course, at 100kph you might have other issues, like stopping in time, but I wouldn’t expect my tyres to fall apart under me. If you have any further information on this topic I’d love to see it!


Look up "tire speed rating" for answers to your questions.

Road bike tyres are clearly expected to hold at speeds like 50-60kph... that’s not even fast for a descent.

And commuter bike tyres are usually substantially beefier.


You only have to look at pro racing to know it’s not common that tyres explode at high speed. Other bad things happen! But tyres only really go on descents when rim brakes melt carbon rims. That’s why many riders used alloy rims in mountains until relatively recently .. when high temp epoxies became more widely available.

Lawyers.

Why should cars not have governors, but ebikes should?

Because you can't drive a car on public roads without mandatory training and passing an exam - so the assumption is that you know and understand the standing speed limits and obey them, but you ride a bike/ebike anywhere without any training or licences so the barrier to entry is lower .

Same way how(at least over here) anyone can ride a 50cc motorbike without any training whatsoever, but to ride something more powerful you need a proper motorcycle licence. I'd be happy with some sort of process where you can only ride a 250W ebike with no self-drive without a licence, but more powerful motors are available after passing a licence and with mandatory insurance.


The "mandatory training and exam" are an utter joke in the US. The reality is that of course cars should have speed governors, but we have turned cars into luxury goods so now peoples fragile ego centers around how big and fast their transportation is. Reasonable people want to simulate a PID controller for hours as much as they want to shift manually - not at all.

Cars typically have speed limiters. Not sure why people think they don’t.

Not at a meaningful speed for safety.

Before we go hog wild with regulations, let's wait until there's a database of vertifed major injuries to innocent people with these rascals on their electric bikes.

(I am not a fan of overregulation. In the USA we have made practically everything illegial.)


Just so I get this straight - you're saying let's wait until people get injured and only then regulate this?

That's right. Not just minor injuries, but major injuries. And not just to guilty people, but innocent people. Then once we have a database (definitely a heavy duty one like Oracle with lots of consultants to nurse it), we'll need a consortium of independent auditors to verify that all those injuries were major, and all the injured people were innocent. Only then will we be able to embark on developing a standard VerifiedInnocentPersonMajorInjuryRecord interchange format, and begin the debates about whether it should be based on CORBA, XML, YAML, JSON, or CSV, and if we can't come to an agreement on that, then we'll have to develop converters between all the different data formats. Because the free market trumps government regulations every time. For some definition of "Trump".

Many (most? all?) cars absolutely have governors from the factory. And they're often related to the rating of the tires factory-installed.

You definitely should be able to (and can!) have e-bikes without governors, however, an unlimited e-bike is (and should be) legally treated as the equivalent of a moped/motorcycle, not as the equivalent of a bicycle.

Eh?

I take it you've never seen the Tour de France then?


I mean, severe crashes do happen, and Tour riders are also professional vehicle operators.

But not because the (incredibly lightweight and skinny) tires failed due to speed.

I was thinking the failure condition there is that the compounds in the tire were insufficiently grippy to hold the surface of the road in a corner. That’s certainly my biggest worry on a motorcycle. (Edit: it’s also where a great deal of engineering work goes into motorcycle tires)

Not because tyres explode tho

Why do the tyres matter regarding safety?

Tyres for any vehicle are usually rated for speed. There are probably many more informed people here, but I assume the material and the patterns are designed on a scale according to assumed speed.

The same applies with bikes, just that it's not legally required to advertise so most manufacturers don't really care. Schwalbe is the only company that I know of which actually tests and advertises compatible speeds on their e-bike tyres.

I had no idea. Thanks!

The tires define the distance you need to break the vehicle.

The only downside I've found with my mid-drive is it chews through chains quite quickly.

You... probably can't retrofit a belt, but I find they do live up to the advertisement. Zero maintenance needed, zero trouble so far. (After around two thousand kilometers.)

Nice, I wonder what that would take for mine. I doubt it's possible. I just had my change replaced at 2500km though and it was quite expensive. Given how much mileage the bike gets, I feel like something more durable would be worthwhile.

It's reasonably easy to replace the chain yourself if you want to control costs.

https://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/chain-replacement-...


Yes, when I replace the it I will probably go for belt drive with a Rohloff hub.

A throttle in a cargo bike helps a lot when going uphill, and especially so when you had to stop while going uphill. Haven’t tried the alternative, though.

Non throttled ones often have a few different assist settings that work for hills.

A throttled one with no pedaling is just a moped. Those aren't allowed in bike lanes in most places.


Not allowed but endemic where I live.

It’s really funny, my 3yo daughter started calling them “monsters” for some reason. “Daddy daddy there’s a monster behind us!”. I make a point of not correcting her.


How does law enforcement check if you are pedalling or not?

On my bikes (we have 2), the electronics controlling the motor only allows the motor to run when pedaling with some force.

I guess law enforcement can see if you’re pedaling, if they have one eye open. If accidents happen, they can test equipment to ser if it’s illegaly imported / not approved / tampered with / etc.

As usual, «don’t get caught» works up until a point.

If you want to go fast, just get a motorbike. Why bother tampering with a pedelec?


> If you want to go fast, just get a motorbike. Why bother tampering with a pedelec?

Because in a lot of places you're vastly less likely to be killed by a car on a cycle path on bike than on a road on motorbike.

I mean I'm not sure it's good, since this will just gradually make the cycle paths less safe as well, but at the moment it is what the math says.


That's why I always drive my car on pavements/sidewalks. Its so much safer for me.

If that’s the logic, why not simply drive the motorbike on the cycle path?

That is indeed what is happening which confirms the presence of this logic of incentives. It’s motorcycles which look like bicycles. On cycle paths. Killing people.

This needs to be addressed with a societal mechanism.


> this will just gradually make the cycle paths less safe

Not gradually. It's already well under way.


In practice - no one will. But if you get into an accident(especially if anyone is harmed) you can absolutely be sure that the police will check if your ebike was legal at the time or not. If they find you had a motor more powerful than allowed, or that it could ride without pedalling, you will find yourself in a situation where you caused an accident riding an illegaly modified vehicle - and will most likely be found at fault regardless of anything else. And that's not a good position to be in.

You do know that police officer evidence is typically treated as unquestionable by courts? So if the officer says you were not pedalling, then you have an uphill battle to prove you were.

For example in Berlin everything electric with throtle is baned

We live in a big city in Germany with two kids and earlier this year bought the Tern GSD mentioned in the article with two children seats. We don't own a car. This thing gets so much mileage it was definitely worth the money. Before, we frequently rented a car from a car sharing service when we had really bad weather or needed to drive a longer distance - we now pretty much NEVER rent a car anymore. The bike is absolutely lovely, feels very safe and is a joy to ride. It was a painfully expensive purchase, but very worth it.

When the kids get bigger we can exchange one of the seats with something comparable to a motorcycle back seat - a cushion and handlebars below the saddle - for the bigger kid. When they both grow out of it we can replace both seats with a chest or rack and have a very capable cargo bike. The whole bike is designed to not be much longer than a regular bike, so you can do pretty much everything you would usually be able to do, like putting it in a bike rack in the local trains and such. It also is built to be parked vertically due to support bars at the back tire (which, to be fair, doesn't work if you have two children seats, but still… nice feature).

I love it.


We love our 2 year old Tern GSD. It is such an amazing cargo bike. Carries both our kids, then sub out the seats for a crate and it’ll do a Costco trip with ease.

I see a ton of them in Chicago, and everybody is usually smiling as they pedal.


Seconded. The Tern HSD / GSD is a game changer

> They will be a big driver of shifting more car trips to other modes. And shifting more families to owning fewer, or even no cars. When we need fewer cars, that means we can build less parking, which lowers prices at grocery stores, restaurants, and other places. It lets us build things closer together, allowing us to build what consumers want — walkable neighborhoods like Culdesac Tempe.

Simply put, the biggest impediment to me using a bicycle now is that I don't really feel safe taking a bicycle to most places I want to go (or at least I'd have to carefully plan my route in a way that I don't to drive). E-bikes could help me cover a bigger range but I don't think they're going to solve that problem.


> E-bikes could help me cover a bigger range but I don't think they're going to solve that problem.

Popularity is the solution to that though, and e-bikes help with that. As more people shift from cars to bikes we can and should narrow roads and lower speed limits, which will in turn help more people shift from cars to bikes, and so on.


Here in Amsterdam I feel it's the opposite. Next to the car roads we had beautiful biking infrastructure used by bikes going typically 10 to 15 km/h, averaging say 12km/h, used by virtually everyone, poor and rich, kids, students, parents, grandparents, there being more bikes than people in this city.

Now the bicycle lanes are taken over by e-bikes going 25km/h and sometimes (illegally, as these must be on the car road) 'speedbikes' going 45 km/h.

It used to be that if you go say 12km/h, virtually every other bike will also go that speed +/- 3 k/m. With a speed difference of only 3km/h, that meant two things: 1) overtaking each other happens, but only every now and then. And (2) you only need to watch a few metres behind you before overtaking, because no bike in the bike-lane could overtake you from further away at such small speed differences.

Now with e-bikes going 25, you're sharing a lane with people who're on average going twice as fast as you. That means you're being overtaken constantly. It also means overtaking yourself requires much more thought and you need to look much further behind you.

Overtaking is statistically the area where most accidents happen, increasing the frequency so much is causing a lot of issues. Second, the 2x as high speeds increase the brake distance by a lot, requires much faster reaction times, and increases the force and damage upon accidents.

It's making me less prone to cycle, and for my parents its becoming outright dangerous to share the bike lane with bikes going 2-3x his speed. My dad broke his hip last year biking already.

I'm super enthusiastic about electric bikes, it makes a lot of sense on many levels. But I'm also a bit scared of what the future holds. In Amsterdam the shift from bikes to e-bikes I feel is turning a great situation for everyone, into an even better situation for some (young e-bike users without issues) and a horrible situation for others (young children, elderly, those who get caught up in accidents)

There's a reason that in recent years in Amsterdam gas-powered and electric scooters were taken off the bike lane and a mandatory helmet was introduced. Yet when recreating such a scooter similarly with some pedals, it circumvents the regulation.


Why do adults cycle so slowly there though? 12km/h is a moderate running pace.

I actually find with my ebike, I cruise more slowly than with a regular bike. An ebike is heavier with bigger tyres but the assist cuts out at 25km/h and I can't push it much faster. Whereas with my regular bike, I typically cruise at 30-35kmh. And I'm fat with the cheapest bike I could find. Plenty of people overtake me (in London).

E-bikes make accelerating and hills much easier though.


> Why do adults cycle so slowly there though? 12km/h is a moderate running pace.

A couple of reasons. One is that it's a nice pace for getting to where you want to go without being all sweaty when you get there. Another is that the bikes are built for practicality, not performance. As such, they're cheap (so when they get stolen, it's annoying but not the end of the world), they often are single speed with coaster brakes (less to go wrong), heavy (so built solid), and comfortable (mine is like riding a couch.) You're also often biking with a swarm of other people and so just keeping the common pace is nicer.

I find that my average Amsterdam speed is about 15kph, and that's probably slightly above average, based on anecdotally passing more people than pass me.

If you're cruising on a non-electric bike at 30-35kph you're probably a lot fitter than is typical, or showing up a bit sweaty and worn out. On my 3-speed Gazelle that is very heavy but can also carry two people and a case or two of beer (though I did find the limit of that, so long as combined we're under about 170kg or so it's OK), I really only use the 3rd gear to do a fast burst probably up to 20-25kph in "oh no the ferry leaves in 3 minutes but it's normally a 5 minute ride" situations. But I feel it when I get there.


> Whereas with my regular bike, I typically cruise at 30-35kmh.

sorry, but i find that a bit hard to believe. i'm very fit and going 30-35km/h on my bike for distances any longer than sprints is quite hard.


35km/h may be a push but 30km/h is fairly easy to maintain for me. Perhaps you have a different style of bike? Mine is a city bike with very narrow wheels.

Your bike might have issues, your posture might not be very aero, you might not be using your gears to maintain an efficient cadence, or your fitness isn't as good as you think. Play around with the following calculator: https://www.gribble.org/cycling/power_v_speed.html

Just using the default numbers of a 75 kg rider on a 7.7 kg bike with a frontal area of 0.5 m^2, C_d = 0.63, and drivetrain loss of 2%, maintaining 30 km/hr requires approximately 150 W of output. 35 km/hr, that goes up to 225 W. A functional threshold power (power one can sustain for an hour) of 200 W isn't exceptional.

Anecdotally, I have a lot of weight to lose and I can maintain an average moving speed of 30 km/hr on a mostly flat, 100 km course.


yes, on a mostly flat course i'd be able to keep it up too. maybe i misinterpreted it a bit, but i pictured original commenter cruising at 30+km/h _in london_ (city proper) on a city- or trekking bike.

during the summer my ftp was around 270 (~3.8w/kg) and i had a hard time staying close to 30km/h avg on a local bike path where one does have to stop and slow down occasionally for safety reasons (i.e. real world conditions - even though my computer pauses when i come to a full stop). in the city i can go 30-40km/h on my single speed if i ride on the road in car traffic, but on bike paths that's usually way too dangerous because of the speed difference to other cyclists and pedestrians.

sure, on tempus fugit i can go close to 40km/h for 100km with a TT bike.


150w of a 200w FTP is tempo territory. That is a long way from being a cruising pace.

Maybe there's some misunderstanding about what I mean by cruising speed.

I mean it in the sense of the speed I pick when the road is clear ahead of me. Analogous to the cruising speed in an aeroplane, which is usually quite close to its max speed, but not quite.

I can sprint fast for short bursts, but 30km/h is for me comfortable to maintain indefinitely. My heart rate will be around 160 vs my resting of 45, max of 200 and 120 when walking.


ok sorry, in that case i misinterpreted you. i thought you meant you were able to keep up 30km/h averages "cruising" point-to-point through london, which, imo, would be a challenging feat for alleycat racers.

I highly doubt you average 35 km/h on a regular bike, especially when overweight, and then regularly get overtaken as well, in a city.

It's simply an average. People ride bikes in Amsterdam in their everyday clothes for work or going to a club., they're not looking to build up a sweat but to get from A to B. Recreational biking is a different story and typically brings people outside the city in less busy wide lanes across nature without traffic, stop signs or double-parked cars, where none of this is an issue.


Not average, average is closer to 25km/h once I factor in accelerating, hills, getting stuck behind cyclists/cars, overtaking, etc. 15km/h if you factor in waiting at junctions and traffic lights. Overall I usually cycle to work slightly slower on an ebike than a road bike unless it's windy. I still prefer the ebike though.

30-35km/h (note it's a range) will be when I have a flat clear road in front of me, after I've got up to speed - hence cruising speed. 35 will be in good conditions only, 30 is a lot more comfortable and I can maintain that pretty much indefinitely unless it's windy. I can also do 30 on my ebike, but I get quickly exhausted because it's almost 30kg with thick tyres. Also I wear cargo shorts and t-shirt, nothing special, no lycra, no aerodynamic helmet or whatever. However, I do change my shirt when I get to the office. My usual goal is to keep up with the car traffic, which is usually around the 20mph limit on my route.

I do indeed get regularly overtaken, but I also regularly overtake. I would say I go faster than nearly all females and of course anyone on a rented bike or similar - but the lycra men on expensive bikes will always overtake me. I feel like I keep pace with the average young fit male, but that may be some kind of observation bias - for example noticing more being overtaken than overtaking.

Also although I'm obese, I'm in my early 30s and my cardio fitness is decent. I put that down entirely to cycling to work, as it's the only exercise I do! I also would describe it as recreational biking and it's an enjoyable, comfortable activity... but why would I want to waste time getting from A to B when I can go quicker?


> Why do adults cycle so slowly there though? 12km/h is a moderate running pace.

It is like asking why adults dont you run to work or grocery store. I don't run to work or grocery store. I walk.


Why not indeed? Quite a lot of people do exactly that. The "run commute" is increasing in popularity here, or at least it was until covid.

At least for me personally, the reason I don't is that I'm not fit enough and it would hurt my hypermobile knees, but quite a few of my colleagues do run to work and to fetch lunch. I often jog to the offie or train station though.


> Quite a lot of people do exactly that.

Maybe, but overwhelming majority of people dont, whether before or post covid. Overwhelming majority of people walks to places and that includes people who like to jog.

Looking at past societies, people walked when getting to places, unless they were in usual hurry.


Because adults don't cycle for exercise, they cycle to get somewhere, preferably not being sweaty and out of breath.

It is exercise. Just not an intensive one. It is way more exercise then driving car.

Sure, but when I'm cycling to work, my primary goal isn't exercise; it's to get to work. So I'm gonna do things that optimise for getting to work in a reasonable state, rather than optimising for exercise.

Why do people walk when they could be jogging?

Hmm, it feels e-bikes over here (Tokyo) are most popular with the elderly (or cargo bikes doing deliveries) - young fit people ride faster than 25kph without assistance. Though a law-abiding culture and highly publicised cases of heavy fines for illegal models probably help.

The solution here is speed limits on bike baths for both e and pedal bikes. And yes, monitored with speed guns. Where I live the competitive cyclists are (almost) never on the bike paths in any case, they do their workouts on minor roads with little traffic.

> The solution here is speed limits on bike baths

He speaks about Amsterdam, there is no such thing as law enforcement there, specifically when it comes to bikes & mopeds. Whether it is about stealing or selling stolen bikes, speed limits or zebra crossings, cycling on sidewalks or against traffic, nothing stops anyone to do whatever they want.

Source: born and raised there.


Popularity is a huge factor, but so is infrastructure. You need both to make it happen, in my opinion.

I saw it happen in Paris over the last 10 years. Infrastructure used to be bad or inexistent (though not quite bad enough to have 0 cyclists). Then, with a push from the mayor, incentives it started to get better. The real turning points were the 2019 public transportation strike, then the pandemic.

I'm pretty sure the infrastructure came first (though it's still an ongoing project), but the popularity is not to be dismissed. There is something magical about an intersection I used to consider dangerous (because I was cut-off about half the time by a driver not looking) transform into not dangerous without any infrastructure change, because of popularity (drivers now look and stop for cyclists at this intersection).


They could just end up in a similar place to bikes now, enjoyed primarily for recreation rather than as a practical means of transportation.

(FWIW that's not at all true where I live: bikes here are practical transport first, recreation is the exception rather than the rule).

The article addresses that: ebikes don't have much advantage over a regular bike for recreation, they're popular because of their practicality advantages.


I wouldn’t say that. They’re good if you want to bike with someone more experienced, or over terrain tougher than you’re used to.

Only true if you live in a country with bad infra

No kidding. We’re talking about whether e-bikes becoming more popular would create the impetus to reconfigure infrastructure for e-bikes. If you already have great bike infrastructure it’s irrelevant.

Something I’ve noticed with an ebike is I’m much less sensitive to finding the shortest/flattest route - a bit longer path with fewer cars is an easy trade-off to make.

Likewise, although some of trips are actually shorter than a car trip because of bike paths that cut through some areas that cars cannot access. Super convenient when I need to go that direction.

I'd happily ride in a neighborhood that runs parallel to a major arterial if the choice is available.


My issue is a lack of secure bike parking.

Bike parking on streets is open season and “secured” parking is also frequently prowled. And that’s assuming there is even a rack to chain to; chaining to random street furniture is awkward at best and ends up blocking sidewalks at worst.


Yeah, also a good point. Overall, it just requires a lot more conscious effort than it would take to just drive, which seems like exactly the opposite of the incentives we actually want

I've been using an E-bike for the last year and a half in my small town. It basically removes all the tediousness of bad weather from biking and ascending.

I don't need to cover great distances everyday for work, groceries or kindergarten runs but it's been breeze on the bike. Yesterday I rode through 5-10 cm of fresh snow, with a child in a bike trailer.

I got a model with large tires and a bit of a front suspension, so it's an all-round bike. I can easily explore trails and nature, most of the time with a child mounted on the bike, while it's still very nice to ride around town.

High quality studded tires make it safer and easier to bike than walk during icy conditions.

Give it a shot, it's really nice.


A bike trailer paired with an ebike opens up all kinds of possibilities, like bringing home groceries, carrying your pet dog (!!)[1], going picnicking, etc. with or without a child in the trailer. It can eliminate the need for a car for these short trips as you mention.

[1] https://ampedcycling.com/how-to-use-a-dog-bike-trailer-with-...


One thing where infrastructure and laws need to catch up is that while ebikes enjoy similar privileges to bikes (access to bike paths, use of mixed pedestrian/cyclist paths etc), many are basically electric scooters, way more powerful and heavy than any bike.

In my town, you see a lot of full-fledged electric scooters with vestigial pedals for pretending it’s a bike (and it seems a togglable speed limiter). They then terrorise the kids and other less confident cyclists, or indeed pedestrians when they fancy like a ride on the pavement.

That’s not great either. The premise of an ebike is something with similar power output to a push bike, just lower user power use. These e-not-really-bikes are dangerous to cyclists.


Here in Zürich, and I think many parts of Europe, the rule is simple: to be regulated like normal bikes the motor can't push you past 25km/h.

With this limit I have not personally had any issues with E-Bikes/scooters being a hazard.

On the other side of the coin, 25km/h is a bit slower than I ride my pushbike, but plenty fast enough to make E-Bikes/scooters an attractive solution.

I'm pretty happy with this balance - my only gripe with the shared scooters is people park them inconsiderately.


I think it’s a good law, and it’s the same in the UK, just not enforced at all.

It spills over to other things electric, you have electric scooters zooming on pavements around school kids and unexpecting pedestrians, it’s terrible I think but totally ignored.

It feels like electric mobility is prioritised over pedestrian safety. Maybe because the police think these scooters displace cars (so net safety win) but I still don’t like it.


The UK (or at least my city) has a problem where a lot of places have just enough bike infrastructure to be dangerous. People can get some % of the way from A to B without trouble, but then resort to the pavement when they get to a busy road without proper infrastructure.

Also doesn't help that many councils seem to think that shared bus/bicycle lanes are bicycle infrastructure.


> Also doesn't help that many councils seem to think that shared bus/bicycle lanes are bicycle infrastructure.

I’ll take that over bikes / scooters on the pavement any day.

Perhaps my view is skewed by the fact that I’m usually faster than a (frequently stopping) bus so at most I’m annoyed when it comes to overtaking.


I'm not sure when the law changed here (UK); until a few years ago, it was a criminal offence to ride a powered vehicle on the footway, and a different criminal offence to ride an electric scooter on the carriageway (not taxed, not certified for safety). So it was illegaal to ride an electric scooter on public land.

Now local authorities are making deals with Chinese scooter-rental companies, and little scooter parks are popping up on the footway all over town. I nearly got knocked down by a rental e-scooter just yesterday - I was walking on the footway, the scooter zoomed past me with 3" clearance.

I disapprove of local authorities making deals with retailers (advertising hoardings on the footway) and scooter firms to "monetise" space that's supposed to be reserved for pedestrians.


> I disapprove of local authorities making deals with retailers (advertising hoardings on the footway) and scooter firms to "monetise" space that's supposed to be reserved for pedestrians

Except the app specifically tells you, after you send it a picture of your driving license to unlock the scooter, that you’re only allowed to ride it on roads <= 30mph and cycle paths.


My point is that the scooter parks have been carved out of the footway; the local authority is licensing the use of the footway for things other than pedestrians.

I try to avoid brushing past people on the pavement/footway/sidewalk; these obstructions make the footway one-way, so I just have to wait until the path is clear. This becomes insane if there's also a bus stop - the bus queue takes up all the space that's left after the scooter parks and signboards have taken their bite. I have to step into the carriageway.


I used these once or twice (only to pick up my bike from a service). When you sign up, you have to swear on your mother's life not to ride it on the pavement.

...

That definitely works.


The police in the UK aren't enforcing it because they haven't got sufficient resources. It's not a policy decision.

The 25km/h limit is EU legislation as far as I know, so indeed it'll be in almost all of Europe.

I think the issue is two-fold: 1) There's not much enforcement. Many units can be set to go say 32km/h with a software update. And speedbikes (which can look virtually the same) can go 45km/h, which require a helmet and must be on the car-road, but are often driven as regular e-bikes on bikelanes or the pavement.

2) The 25km/h really can be too fast, already. One must consider that in-city biking typically is done at say 9 to 15km/h, averaging 12km/h. The speed difference between an average cycler and his low (9) or higher-end (15) peers is typically about 3km/h. An e-bike going 25 changes the calculus, now the difference is 13km/h, or double the speed of the regular bike. And that creates a lot of issues. Overtaking is statistically the biggest source of accidents, and it happens way more frequently if the lane is shared by bikes going 12 and 25, rather than all averaging 12. And the act of overtaking is more dangerous too if it's done on a lane which has a large variance in speeds.

I'd love to see a limit of 20km/h, and a limit to 50% pedal assist, on bike infrastructure. That keeps the speed differences low, and it reinforces that one must bike, and put in effort.

Right now the experience as a biker is that you're sharing a lane with motorised electric scooters, going twice your speed, and doing it by essentially pressing a button.

I think electric motorised two-tire vehicles are still a great solution at 25 or 45km/h, but not regulated as bikes, but rather regulated as a scooter. That could mean having to wear a helmet, having to have a (light) license, a license-plate (to allow enforcement of rules), being 18+, riding on a separate lane with traffic going similar speeds.


It helps to put some perspective in when saying they are heavier and more powerful. A typical cyclist can put out around 250w of power for a short duration, a US street legal ebike will do 250-750w. An average American male weighs ~200lbs, a typical mountain bike or cruiser will be 20-25lbs, a commuter type ebike will be 65lbs. A road bike, or road style ebike would be lighter, a cargo bike would be heavier. So an ebike weighs ~15% more overall, but combined with someone pedaling has 2-4x the power of a regular bike.

Compared to a Tesla model 3 performance, it weighs 4250lbs, 16x as much, rated for 350kw, 350x the power. Even a Smart car one of the smallest cars in the US weighs ~8x as much and has 60x the power of an ebike.


But was the point of the infrastructure built for cyclists or commuters using bikes?

In the absence of intentional malice, I don't see why a throttled e-bike user should not be able to use bike lanes and bike paths. Seems like the solution is just a speed limit.

If I have to travel a few miles on a standard road before getting to an area with bike paths... I can't really switch to a different bike. But having a electric scooter type bike makes a lot of sense if the purpose is commuting.

Cyclists in NY are infamous for being obnoxious/dangerous to pedestrians and even car drivers and they accomplish that without electric bikes.


Most of these are high maintenance or fashion items. The Urban Arrow is ok, as is the van Moof, but a couple of simple and practical e-bikes would have been good to add as well as to explain in more detail the difference between the three different drive train options that you have at the moment (vario drive, derailleur and in-hub shifting).

The Koga e-nova line is pretty good, and you should definitely shop around to see if you can find the bike you are looking for on the second hand market, e-bikes are in many cases ridiculously overpriced and getting a second hand one is fine, people will buy them and try them, don't like them for whatever reason and then sell them again usually at a substantial hit off the original list price. Make sure the warranty is transferable.


I have an electric Bakfiets, the granddaddy of cargo bikes, and so far is has been zero maintenance.

It’s built for it too; steel frame, drum brakes, covered chain, thick anti-puncture tires etc. Which incidentally does mean that the rare maintenance will be a bigger job, but it can be sorted at the once-a-year service.


Watch the main pivotal bearing on those, they need frequent inspection, cleaning and greasing up. Once they go it can really wreck your day and they are hard to replace, maintenance is key there. The easiest way to work on those I've found is to put the bike on blocks on it's side while supporting the rear frame separately. If you flip it completely it is harder to work on because the bearing will be under pressure again so it gets harder to check for slop and to tighten it up.

Do you mean hard to replace DiY or hard to get done in a shop?

We have had two e-bikes in three years, both were stolen within six months. We even take the battery when leaving the bike (in both cases the theft happened one of the few times we didn't). Obviously the bikes were locked. This happens a lot with expensive regular bikes, too. I have had several bikes stolen while securely locked to an immovable object, like a lamp post.

The article does make a brief callout to 'anti-theft', and yeah, can confirm that this is important, but not sure what the best approach is. Maybe some huge honking alarm, like for cars. Expensive cargo bikes even have GPS tracking on some of them now. Simply locking the bike is unfortunately not enough.


> Simply locking the bike is unfortunately not enough.

I had a locked ebike stolen from outside my home (locked to the wall, with a gold chain lock). No problem - it had a GPS tracker fitted, and I could see it was travelling up the motorway to Birmingham; so I called the cops.

"It's out of our area".

So I waited till it stopped, in the West Midlands Police area. I called them and gave them the address where it had stopped.

"We are not going to start ringing people's doorbells to ask them if they have a stolen bike on the premises, and we can't search".

"You mean, you aren't prepared to enforce the law against theft?"

"Do you know how many Porsches and Ferarris get stolen in the WMP area every day? Bikes are not our priority."

My next e-bike (Gocycle GX) was not fitted with a £250 GPS tracker; and I keep it indoors.


I have heard this story many times. The police don't give a hoot about your app that says someone stole your bike. So as you said, the GPS is of questionable value in itself.

In the cases I know of, people had to go vigilante and go out themselves with a bolt cutter. One of them even saw his bike listed for sale a few hours after it was stolen, and went out and stole it back. Of course not everyone has the constitution or inclination to go crime fighting.


You think it would be the same response if you physically showed up at the police station and asked them?

I imagine in NYC that would have been the only way to go


I think some modern bike locks do have alarms, I'm not sure it would help though. Perhaps manufactures should start adding an unlock code to e-bikes. It would help if law enforcement took bike theft a bit more seriously as well.

> The article does make a brief callout to 'anti-theft', and yeah, can confirm that this is important, but not sure what the best approach is.

From my experience, the absolute best thing is "out of sight, out of mind", so park your e-bike in a dedicated parking garage at work, or in a locked shed or inside your home, if at all possible. I live in an area with loads of bike thefts, and luckily this has saved me so far. I would almost go so far to say that I wouldn't use my e-bike unless I knew in advance that I could lock it up somewhere off the street.

https://ampedcycling.com/where-should-i-park-my-electric-bik...


Agreed. That's my strategy for my road bike as well. For an ebike though? The whole point is to make getting places and doing errands easier. I use a cheap beater bike for this kind of trip. I think the only real solution to it right now is to try and mitigate theft with good locks, get insurance for the bike, and have a backup plan for when it inevitably gets stolen anyways. VanMoof including an insurance/replacement policy with their bikes is actually a killer feature I didn't know about.

Bike thieves are often specialized an a particular kind of lock, so that it helps if you have two locks, e.g. a chain and a U-lock, from different makers. You can also buy GPS trackers for bikes that don't have them. I don't know any good solutions for preventing theft of parts.

I imagine a ring lock[1] alongside a traditional U-lock might be good as it would be quite difficult to remove without causing damage.

[1] https://www.axasecurity.com/bike-security/en-gb/products/Loc...


I think the pro thieves just grab the bike and put it in a van.

They look relatively easy to remove with a few tools in workshop. Perhaps you can simply lock pick them, with some practice.

But they do protect against casual thieves, the ones who just grab a bike for fun, or they are drunk and need to get home, or something like that.

I've had a ring lock on my bike for decades. But then the last couple of decades the bike hasn't been in a state where the pro thieves could get any money from it. :)

And actually, I think this is the best protection: Work on reducing production cost of bikes. Most of them seem ridiculously expensive for the material that goes into them.


I mean, bolt cutters can cut rebar in 30 seconds max: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0imMjR-Vqs

The type of locks you'll typically find on bikes can be cut by $30 bolt cutters in about 5 seconds, which fit in a backpack, makes barely any sound, and you can bike away after. There's virtually no defence at night, police has to accidentally catch you in the act. If someone sees you, small chance they'll try to stop you over someone else's bike, especially at night when you're armed with a bolt cutter, and when they have no way to verify your story that 'it's my bike but I lost my keys'. If they call the cops they won't come, and if they do, will definitely not be in-time. And if they are, its a petty crime without real consequence, and the person will probably continue afterwards for quite some time.

Bike theft really is just quite shitty. The best you can do is make your bike less of an interesting target. There's typically lots of bikes around, if yours isn't the most expensive model and has two locks whereas other bikes have 1 lock, your bike is likely not going to be the one the thief picks.

And if you don't lock it to a fixed object, indeed it'll be susceptible to the bike gangs that just throw 20 locked bikes into a van at night and take the time unlocking them later.


>Bike theft really is just quite shitty.

Yes, some of my wilder fantasies include a large sprung spike in the downtube that could be released remotely when you discover the bike has been stolen.


> it helps if you have two locks

Thieves generally carry either an angle-grinder or a bolt-cutter, but not both. Angle-grinders work on D-locks, but not on chains. Bolt-cutters work on chains, but not D-locks. If you use one of each, the chances are the thief will steal someone else's bike instead.


Locks are only good for keeping honest people honest.

Over a quarter century of bicycle commuting I've had 7 bikes stolen, and it cost me about $20k less than if I had been relying on public transport, the next cheapest option.


Not all bike locks are created equal. If you’re going to be securing even a moderately expensive bike in a theft prone area then get something like this: https://www.uscargocontrol.com/products/9-32-x-2-pewag-secur...

The lock can be picked. And a battery powered angle grinder can cut through the chain. But both will take a much longer time than any u-lock. Meaning your average thief, who’s looking to work as quickly as possible, will move on to a different target.


Ebikes are in a weird territory between bicycles and motorcycles. I occasionally see ebikes clipping along at a rate that would make me a lot happier with a full face helmet and some degree of abrasion resistance and soft armor.

I guess this is technically true of bombing down hill on a conventionally powered bicycle as well (which I’ve done many times in shorts and with naught but an aerodynamic hunk of styrofoam strapped to my head). Still, I see ebikes pushing skin-removal speeds pretty routinely.

From my adventures in motorcycling, I know that ABS yields somewhere between 30-40% reduction in crashes. I wonder if any of the higher-wattage ebikes are starting to explore those kinds of things? Similarly, I just paid an eye-wateringly high cost for new motorcycle tires, that are marvels of engineering in their own right. I wonder if high-powered ebikes are starting to use high-tech rubber for safety.


The fact that there is VanMoof in the list at the second place makes me think for sure that this must be a paid for/sponsored article, I live in Amsterdam, it's all plain, no bumps, but still, I have to go every month to the customer care in order to bring in my VanMoof, it has continuously battery issues, and every now and then it is accompanied by additional issues, like right now for me it's the bell. So I am not sure if the author has ever driven a VanMoof or if he likes going to a place without knowing

And I am not an isolated case, there are facebook groups filled by unhappy vanmoof customers, so maybe for bloggers it's the time to grow a conscience and stop advertising shitty products


The author acknowledges exactly these quality issues, and makes this his recommendation if you prioritize the anti-theft features over things like price and reliability.

He does make it sound like they are very willing to replace problematic bikes, which might not be the experience of those in your Facebook groups:

> these have a higher percentage of bikes with an issue than they’d like. In my experience, that meant sending the bike back and getting a replacement. So I wouldn’t want this to be my only bike


Oh, missed that, then I guess the author already grew a conscience, and I have to grow a better pair of eyes

Anecdata: I've been riding a VanMoof ES2 around London for 2 years with no issues at all

Well, already the fact that you drove a bike in London for 2 years and survived is outstanding :D

But maybe the frequency of use is also important for the context, like here you use the bike 2-3 hours a day, every day, weekend included, want to commute? Bike. want to go to the gym? Bike. want to go out with friends? Bike. want to go to visit Utrecht? Bike. When I lived in London (for few years) bike was not used with this frequency and the infrastructure (up to 2018) didn't seem to allow for that kind of use, so maybe if you take your bike once a week, it can survive that long without issues, is that your case? Or your use is compatible with the one in Ams?


> 2-3 hours a day, every day, weekend included

I mean, I use a regular bike for 30 years in Amsterdam, I really don't think 2-3 hours of daily biking is the norm... There's 5 supermarkets and 5 gyms within a 5minute bike ride, including the ones I go to. My parents are 20min away, friends are typically 5-15min. It's really rare to spend more than an hour on my bike each day, even though I use it daily for just about everything in the city, I think it's an average of 20min a day the past years and about 50m if I wasn't working from home and biked to work (I work from home due to covid, but otherwise take the metro, not a fan of biking in a suit in rain half the year).

You can cut that by at about 30-40% if I had an electric bike, due to the speeds.

Going to Utrecht by bike is not really done, it'd be about two hours at the legally max speed (25km/h), and another 2h back. You'd typically take a train.

So 2-3 hours is really extreme. The Dutch average is just 16 minutes a day, by the way, Amsterdam won't be far off from that.


Then I guess that is more personal, I live in Diemen, and my work is at least 40 mins of bike away each way, and the swimgym is another 20-25, and all nice bars are far too

I've been commuting daily by bike in London for almost a decade. I use my bike to get around on the weekends too. Never had an issue.

Maybe this is because I've never had a job where I've had to leave it locked up on the street for hours on end. However, my bike is kind of crappy looking and I've left it locked up outside pubs and restaurants many times. I've never had an issue finding somewhere to lock it up anywhere in the city - there's always a bike rack, tall lamppost or solid railing near where I'm going.

You have to be confident riding in traffic. But once you accept that you need to be assertive - take the centre of the lane if there's no space to pass, use your positioning to control the traffic behind you, don't go into peoples blind spots etc, it's pretty safe. I think traffic in London is pretty accustomed to cyclists - we're everywhere. It's when you get further out the city into the suburbs that things start getting unpleasant.


I ride my bike like a Dutch person, which is to say I ride it everywhere. The infrastructure is getting better BUT I live in the borough of Waltham Forest which is miles ahead of anywhere else I have seen in the UK. Every main street has a separate bike lane and car driving is made to be deliberately painful. We affectionately call it Walthamsterdam in my house.

I've been riding a VanMoof in Berlin since May and it has been broken in some way almost all of the time. Wouldn't want to switch for any other bike regardless, it's that much fun.

I don’t know if they just send the good ones to Japan, but I know a handful of people that ride them everyday and have had no issues.

You have to get a theft insurance for your ebike. A lock is no replacement for that. That’s the most important rule for owning an ebike.

The Van Moof theft protection is pretty effective. One of my friends has one and is driving (and parking) all over Berlin. Basically if you touch it it makes noise. If you touch it some more, it escalates the noise. If you keep messing with it, it will get really loud. Forget about not being seen (or heard) if you try to steal this thing.

If somehow you do, you basically have to demolish the bike to get to the tracking hardware. Until you do, basically Van Moof has a bike hunters team that comes as part of a deal that basically says they'll track down your bike and return it or give you a new one. Pretty awesome insurance.

And super effective. Thieves leave these bikes alone; just not worth the risk and trouble plus the resell value is pretty low because you basically have to take the bike apart, remove the hardware and put some other hardware in it to avoid it being taken away from its new owner by the before mentioned bike hunters. Kind of defeats the purpose of stealing it.


Another good way of dealing with this is to ensure that you don't leave the bike on the street unattended, figure out where the guarded bike parking spots are in your town, and if you can't get a spot like that maybe only take your e-bike between locations where you are in control of the space (home, work, for instance).

And keep a cheap runabout for short trips to places where your bike will be unattended on the street. The Dutch form for reporting a bike theft to the police starts with the sentence 'where did you steal the bike' ;)


Another good way of dealing with this is to ensure that you don't leave the bike on the street unattended, figure out where the guarded bike parking spots are in your town, and if you can't get a spot like that maybe only take your e-bike between locations where you are in control of the space (home, work, for instance).

Well, my wife's eBike was stolen after only a few months from the parking garage of our apartment complex, which is locked and has cameras (and obviously, the bike was locked). Thieves just wait outside with a van, drive in when some resident drives in, block the view of the camera with their van. Throw in a few eBikes and drive away.

Preventing theft is all about making it harder to steal your bike than everyone else's.

- Get bike insurance with a tracker. A visible tracker will make your bike less attractive to steal. Even when they steal it, they often put bikes with a tracker in a cool-off location near the place of the theft to check that no-one is using the tracker. So, very often, you'll have the bike back pretty quickly, because the insurance company finds it at the cool-off spot. If all those measures fail, the insurance company will cover the cost of a new bike (though bikes are sometimes hard to get during the pandemic).

- Always use two locks. Make sure that both the front and rear wheel are locked (to avoid wheel theft) and ensure that at least for at least one of the wheels is attached to the frame with a lock.

- Always attach your bike frame to a sturdy, unmovable object with a heavy duty chain lock. Again, in a lot of cases, the thieves will just throw your bike in a van and remove the locks elsewhere. If your bike is attached to e.g. a lamppost and it takes them some time to cut the lock, getting caught is a risk that they may want to avoid. Especially when there are other bikes to be stolen more easily in the vicinity.


Yes, the last point is crucial. Never leave a bike in a state where it can be moved around, that is almost the same as giving it away.

Here in NL the insurance won't even pay out of your bike is in your own garage but not locked.


This[1] is the new bill in US congress that he mentioned about subsidies. The "E-BIKE" act. It's a tax credit of 30% of the cost of a new ebike. The credit can't exceed $1,500. This changes slightly if you file jointly, but you can just read the bill -- it's short.

The author makes it seem like this bill a part of Build Back Better which just passed the House and is in the Senate now. But that's not what the bill timeline says.

Personally, I'm waiting for this before I commit to a RadRunner Plus.

[1] - https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/1019...


I always wonder about the practically of these subsidies - would it still be considered "successful" if manufactures artificially inflated prices by 30% after the subsidies went live?

I would have assumed that the main goal was to encourage consumers to buy, rather than to inflate manufacture profits, though the latter wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing (since it's rewarding companies for taking a risk and bringing new, more eco-friendly products to market).


The manufacturers would have to collude to all rise prices. One rougue manufacturer can keep normal prices and grab the whole ebike market

Governments should also get free equity in the companies in these deals.

Although you’ll probably see shell companies and locking out of new entrants if you do that, it still seems better for a lot of situations.


Can anyone explain what the deal is with the Segway c80 and its "non-functional pedals"? I found a review here (https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/segway-emoped-c80-hands-o...), but even its author wasn't sure why this, er, vehicle, has pedals that you can't actually pedal without falling over. So I guess the pedals are there so it can be classified as an ebike and not as an e-scooter for tax/legal/whatever reasons?! In Germany IIRC the rules for an ebike which you can use without a license plate (same as a "classic" bicycle) is speed limited to < 25 km/h and that you actually have to pedal (however little) to get it to move, but I guess the regulations are different in other countries...

Personally I love the look of the Rad Runner. Only reason I don't buy one is because cycling as my commute is a great fitness for me, and going electric I would lose that.

However I really feel that for 1000+ euros, a chain guard and fenders should really be included by default.


> Only reason I don't buy one is because cycling as my commute is a great fitness for me, and going electric I would lose that.

People vary, of course, but my own experience is I ended up getting a lot more exercise after going electric.

I go on longer trips, and since I'm not scared of ending up 'stranded' from being exhausted somewhere far from home, I do it more often and put more power into the pedals. Of course that means going faster, but that just means I get to see more of the terrain.


As a side note, and essentially reserved to EU/Italian nostalgics, there is now a small firm retrofitting the Piaggio Ciao as an e-bike:

https://www.ambraitalia.it/cosa-facciamo

For those too young to remember the times, in the '70's the Ciao had become a synonym of "moped" as much as Vespa was a synonym of "scooter" and was ubiquitous.

The finally assembled thing will probably be way too heavy if seen as a bike, but on the other hand the original Ciao was designed for 40 km/h speed, so at 25 km/h body, wheels and brakes should be "safer".


I own a Specialized Vado 4.0 SL EQ. I love it but won’t let it out my sight. I’ve yet to ride in bad weather as this thing has to come up six floors in an elevator and on the wall in our spare bedroom. You can imagine the hassle and mess that would make.

I agree the killer features will be along the lines of anti theft but criminals are smart and will always find ways to steal.

I think the killer feature for ebikes is infrastructure. Secure infrastructure and parking as well as cleaning facilities for those coming back into apartment complexes. A small hose and leaf blower would go a long way.


I'm a big road cyclist, so I really want one, because they're COOL, but I have ZERO use case for one.

1. My wife and I both work at home. No commute.

2. Because COVID, we have leaned towards either delivery groceries, or larger shopping trips done less frequently to avoid unnecessary exposure. A major shop-up is too much for a bike.

3. Our climate here is really really unpleasant for about half the year, so the quickie trips we might opt for a bike (e- or otherwise) become car trips by default if you don't want to arrive sweaty and disheveled.


For all the useful information in this article I find it devalued by the first piece of advice being "absolutely just spend $2000 dollars without worrying too much and if you can't afford it just go into debt".

I'm sure that getting past decision paralysis and buying something is a decision that most people won't regret, and ebike adoption is great for everyone, but the fact that this is a person with 30? 50? ebikes makes me sceptical that they have the normal buying influences the rest of us do.


Guy: electric bikes take up a lot less space than a car! Guy buys 50 electric bikes.

Yes. And the article explicitly states “over 60” ;)

I ride a recumbent similar to this one: https://files.bikeindex.org/uploads/Pu/103421/Longbike_Slips...

I've looked into getting a mid-drive motor & batteries several years ago, but the price was close to $5,000!

Have the prices substantially decreased? Is Baofeng still the goto solution for mid-drive motors?

In addition, the laws restricting the speed are ridiculous. My top-speed on that bike is 62km/h, and my `cruising speed` is around 40km/h. So laws that limit the speed without taking into account the effort that I can add make no sense. Have the law be "upto 20km/h 'assisted boost'" or something.

Where I live the max size of motor we can use is 500w. My bike weighs 50lbs all on it's own. A 500w motor powering a 10lbs bike is a far different animal then one on a 50lbs bike.


I have a Tour Easy with a Tongshen TZSD2 mid drive with the open source firmware. Total cost of the conversion was about $1200 USD. Even when the electric assist was still limited to about 20mph, my commuting time went down my about 30% due to the higher speed on hill climbs. And I arrived at work without sweating to much!

Delimiting it has allowed me to take a shorter route where I need to merge into 45mph traffic for a short stretch.


I thought about buying an ebike. I especially thought that going further than normal is indeed a great feature. Though, I've noticed just any decent second hand Dutch bike with a few gears will provide some of that as well since it allows you to give the maximum output that you desire.

What I'm scared off with ebikes is that I'll be going too fast. On normal bikes I already go too fast. I recently got in an accident by getting stuck in the tram rails for the first time in my life and that went fine because I was cycling about 20km/h, but even the notch up to 25km/h or higher, I wonder what would've happened.

I used to own a scooter that went 45km/h and had one very nasty fall from that once.

With both these accidents I was in retrospect quite lucky in an unlucky situation. I guess it doesn't help that The Netherlands doesn't care about cycling helmets and that I also would never want to wear one.


Rule 1: Just buy one ... using Buy Now Pay Later services such as Affirm or Klarna.

Rule 3: Don’t buy one on Amazon. They don’t have the best bikes. And many of the bikes on there I wouldn’t recommend. See below for my lowest priced recommendation.

So... Don't just buy one ;) Also: Facepalm on the "Buy now, Pay MORE Later" options. Just.. Why?


There was an MIT Phd student thesis I read 20 years ago that electric bikes (escooters) are the future transport for Taiwan.

Roll the clock ahead and ebikes (at least here in Paris) are taking over. Dedicated lanes, government subsidies, government lending system plus private systems (2 or 3) have pushed it into main stream.


Same in Berlin. During the lock-down, the city transformed quite a bit. Several roads first got temporary bike lanes (they sacrificed a lane for this) and then when that turned out to be popular they went ahead and made it permanent. Some uncharacteristically quick and pragmatic decision making actually happened.

And of course the entire city is crawling with rental scooters, e-bikes, etc. They are hugely popular. Also a lot of the delivery companies are using electric scooters and ebikes. The volume of all this new traffic is actually forcing the city to adapt.

Berlin still has a long way to catch up to the Netherlands (where I'm from), which has awesome bike infrastructure almost everywhere. But, it's a nice start.

There are still too many deadly accidents and quite a few of them are due to infrastructure lacking key safety measures. E.g. a common accident cause is trucks running over cyclists when turning right. The way to prevent that is having clearly marked bike lanes and some obstacles that force trucks to not cut corners, slow down, and check their mirrors.


The biggest problem with e-bikes by far is theft. We need heavy aggressive policing (including bait bikes) so the thieves stop feeling like it's low risk/high reward target. Sadly it seems that current political climate is to go in the opposite direction of not treating theft as a serious crime.

I it as the government failing at its most basic purpose. At this point it's such a big problem (it's a huge boon to mass adoption and improving city living, health, infrastructure etc) that I am ready to vote for the first politician that says that theft is not acceptable and we will activily catch people willing to commit it and remove them from society.


Where are the normal looking ebikes? Are they not as good as those mentioned?

I mean, the best way against theft is to be unnoticed or bing not worth the time. Look cheap, normal and/or old, and have a big external lock, and your ebike tends to be ignored.


Batteries are bulky. You get the choice of putting them inside the chassis, or alternately having a visible, highly obvious battery pack attached somewhere it will be immediately visible.

Scaled-up hollow chassises like e.g. R&M's at least look normal from a distance.


Half of these rules are just opinions, and made me go looking for the affiliate links to figure out what they were trying to monetize. The rest of the article completely skipped any legal concerns other than saying they hope to ask a lawyer someday. But the line between an e-bike and a motorcycle is not fuzzy, it is clearly defined in your local regulations. It impacts where you can ride it, what license is required, and other such things.

Not that the article is all wrong - nearly half of it is good info, and probably will help people just getting into this arena.


An option he doesn't seem to mention is to build your own ebike from an existing bike. Just buy a kit on AliExpress (motor & battery) and you're good to go. Costs are between €500-750 shipped, and many sellers have warehouses in Europe and the US so delivery is fast for the most common items.

If you already have a bike that fits you, transforming it is a budget friendly solution. And if not, buying an ordinary used MTB will only add around 100-150 to the total cost of the project.

It's not difficult to do, and it's a lot of fun.


I'm not sure a $150 MTB is going to have the brakes suitable for use with an e-bike. Then you have all the other stresses and strains beyond what would normally be expected.

I live in a climate where summers are very hot and winters are really cold. There are also rainy days. That doesn't live a lot of time when I can use a bike, maybe half an year.

Also, the City I live in has lots of traffic and I don't feel safe riding a bike. Also, riding a bike isn't comfortable on long distances, you can't go to shopping, you can't get your family on a bike and get somewhere.

I don't see bikes replacing cars, mainly augmenting them. If I'd have to chose, I would feel safer on a motorbike or scooter than on a bike.


I wonder if that’s also to do with infrastructure. It’s all built for cars now.

Cycle-friendly cities in Europe are really easy and safe to ride around. Off-road bike paths, contra flows, etc make a massive difference.


I mean yeah it absolutely is. But the city layouts are also designed with that in mind, which is a challenge too.

So I think the good news is, a lot of it can be retrofitted, if there is political/societal/voter will.

It was all retrofitted here in Europe after all.


The infrastructure can be retrofitted, but the fact that cities were designed to be sprawling under the assumption that people would drive is a bit knottier to work out.

True. But if you could get 90% of non-work stuff a cycle ride away (groceries, childcare, post office etc) that’s already a big one.

London, another massive sprawl, opened what’s called “cycling superhighways”. These are on disused railway tracks, covered with high quality tarmac. Wide, straight, lit, off-road, bike-only trails taking you around the city (into the centre in particular).

I wouldn’t call London cycle-friendly but these really make long commutes feasible. A friend of mine, no exercise freak, happily cycles 40 mins each way on one of those.


They are not disused rail tracks, they are on the edge if roads.

Exactly what happened in EU. Many EU cities in the world were designed for cars. So it can be done.

But zoning is also part of the issue. Residental areas many places in NA is often strictly residental - designed around that people can just take the car to go grocery shopping.

In europe it is more common that you have things like a supermarket in walkable distance (or atleast short trip on a bike).


Tokyo sprawls as do many chinese cities but people bike to the train

The city I live in was designed for horse-and-carriage transport. Most of the buildings in the town centre have preservation orders. What's underground is often a mystery - a recent construction project discovered a cellar that nobody knew was there.

So back-fitting cycle lanes is rather difficult, when the roads are already too narrow for cars, and can't be widened.


>If I'd have to chose, I would feel safer on a motorbike or scooter than on a bike.

Why ?

I drive a motorcycle and just on the weight difference is significantly more risky - if you tip over an ebike it's a minor inconvenience, if you tip over a 200kg bike you could injure yourself just trying to catch it.

I don't think the two compare other than they can both be used for short commutes, but you're likely not getting a motorcycle just for that, driving and owning a motorcycle is way more involved. Scooters are a more realistic comparison but ebikes theoretically let you use paths you shouldn't use with scooters.


Not the person you're asking, but I kinda of agree with OP. The weight of a motorcycle's initially intimidating, but to me it feels much more stable and planted at most speeds and maneuvers. I have no real reason to believe it's objectively true, but it feels that way.

And in some cases the weight can be an advantage. It's it more difficult to steal a 200kg motorcycle then it is to steal a 10 kg bicycle once you're at that destination.

>I don't think the two compare other than they can both be used for short commutes, but you're likely not getting a motorcycle just for that, driving and owning a motorcycle is way more involved. Scooters are a more realistic comparison but ebikes theoretically let you use paths you shouldn't use with scooters.

I kinda look at it the other way. A motorcycle gains access to major highways and freeways cyclists and pedestrians are prohibited from traversing on due being unable to cruise at 100+ kph while retaining a good chunk of the small size advantages that a bicycle has.


> If you tip over an ebike it's a minor inconvenience

They're heavy enough to bruise, cause a sprain, or even skin your hands if you catch yourself badly. But generally that still counts as 'inconvenience', yes; you won't be taking any permanent or long-lasting damage.


Climate is one of those excuses that are only made by those with no experience. In countries where biking is popular people drive in all climate conditions without much problems, snow, wind, rain, heat.

It sounds like a bike is not for you, but for those who use a bike, they do have solutions to your problems:

Weather: Cold is easy enough, unless there's deep snow. You buy warm clothing and take it on before riding and off afterwards. Those clothes are also perfect for taking the kids for a walk, hitting up playgrounds/forests. Rain can sometimes be fixed by being a bit flexible with when you set off, else waterproof clothing. Hot weather is probably harder, although you do get some air cooling once you're on the bike.

Shopping: Actually, with a child seat, you can fit a relatively large bag of groceries, enough for a couple of days.

Family: You outfit your partner with a bike too, and the oldest kids. The small ones (say, under 5 years) you put in child seats on the back of the bike or in a trailer. Range is of course limited, you can't go somewhere far away.

If you think all of this sounds uncomfortable, one really important upside is that riding a bike most days makes you more active and arguably tougher, both of which are important traits with modern sedentary life styles.


Studded tires! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8wZHS7shUQ

But infrastructure is necessary:

Why Canadians Can't Bike in the Winter (but Finnish people can) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhx-26GfCBU


Shopping and kids: http://elhjul.se

You can drive a Better Bikes PEBL in the winter. People do. It is enclosed including an optional floor for driving in winter or rain. It even has reverse. It can take one adult or two young children in the back seat. The trunk can hold groceries.

Hot and cold are irrelevant. Rain is annoying and the only thing that kept me from biking.

I would like a similar list for e-scooters.

Does anyone here happen have recommendations for solid and - importantly - affordable e-scooters?

I’m in the market, but clueless as to what actual quality models are.


I'm overall very happy with my ePowerFun ePF-1. Though it's pretty specific to Germany. It has the significant advantage of being foldable, so I can take it on the train. On the other hand, battery could be better. (I missed the release of the Pro by a few months...)

Note that with any eScooter, the range will collapse in winter. It's barely below 0 here and range is about halved from summer.


I’ve really enjoyed my Super 73. Good range, speed and really fun to ride. Recently I turned it on and the battery started smoking and from all appearances was about to explode. Thankfully it didn’t. And although it took awhile to get the line of communications straight, they are replacing the entire bike and shipping should only take a week or so.

I really wonder about the whole battery thing and if it's somehow deterministic. Has there been any mechanical shock, deep discharge or unusual temperature exposure? FWIW, there are special battery bags.

What do you mean by "scooter"? One of the ones in the article is the Segway c80, is that what you're after?

Scooter as in kick-scooter, or a small motorcycle?

I'd like to find an electric version of a Vespa scooter that can do 50 km/h. Most ebikes max out at 25 or 35 km/h so the driver doesn't need a license to drive it.

I'd love to have an electric version of the Honda Super Cub. Good carrying capacity for around-about, not as large as a full-sized motorcycle. Dunno if it's available in the US yet.

It doesn't appear to be electric. Is it?

That’s what I’m asking for, an electric version. You’re right, there isn’t one yet. The CSC Monterey looks close, though:

https://electrek.co/2021/01/07/csc-monterey-first-ride-retro...


For the record: it is cheating, and you're polluting the environment because you're too lazy to cycle.

Sincerely, the no lycra no lithium committee


No lycra, lithium committee checking in.

Show me the rulebook. Many ride bikes/ebikes for reasons primarily other than exercise, myself included—"cheating", is a feature, not a bug.

One could argue "walking" is even more environmentally friendly than biking as there are minimal manufacturing byproducts (shoes?) and end waste. Does that mean we should all ditch bikes? If an ebike can take a car off the road, I'm all for it!


> If an ebike can take a car off the road, I'm all for it!

Most e-bike usage does effectively mean one less car on the road.

The problem I (and many others) have with e-bikes is that they're putting extra strain on the already-insufficient (in the US at least) pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure. Many of those paths could barely support the users they already had safely; the addition of even more users and yet another speed mismatch has been a bit of a disaster. The real answer, of course, is more such infrastructure, but it's a bit of a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Nobody's going to build such infrastructure (which is terribly expensive due to the fact that it would generally require exercise of eminent domain) without demand, but demand is going to be limited until the infrastructure improves. I don't know of a good way out of that bind, unfortunately.


> Nobody's going to build such infrastructure (which is terribly expensive due to the fact that it would generally require exercise of eminent domain) without demand, but demand is going to be limited until the infrastructure improves.

My impression of america is that there's super wide four-lane roads everywhere, including the middle of cities. Use one of the lanes?

I'm sure that's not true everywhere, but it seems to be true everywhere there's currently far too many cars, so...


> Use one of the lanes?

Yes, definitely. They'd have to be physically isolated from the heavier higher-speed traffic, and there's some complexity around providing safe on/off ramps for both traffic types, but it's all solvable. The bigger issue is that it only addresses riders' longer-distance travels. The more difficult issue is shorter distances in cities and on secondary suburban roads. Shuttling kids around and various other day-to-day errands constitute a majority of non-commute driving for huge numbers of people. What do you do when the road only has one lane in each direction already, directly abutted on all sides by private property? That's the part I don't see a solution for. The only thing I can think of (which also helps address some of the "borrowed highway lane" issues) is fully elevated bikeways, which is hardly cheap or visually appealing but at least seems feasible financially and politically.


Take a joke, it's free

One can't argue that walking is more environmentally friendly because bikes maximize efficiency so you have less waste.

I believe in 20 years you'll agree with me that spent batteries are a huge problem for humans and the environment

Until then have fun.


Buy a Sur Ron and for slightly more money you have a 50MPH (80km/hr) machine that can tackle harsh off road and on road terrain, and has a large aftermarket parts community. Put the pedal kit on it and you can cruise around town like a bicycle if that’s your sort of thing.

It felt wrong trying to pass mine off as an ebike even with a pedal kit, though everyone gets away with it here. Fortunately my moped plates just arrived which allows me to ride it in the bike lanes for streets where traffic is >30mph.

Gotta say, the sur ron is the most fun thing I’ve ever bought. I use mine exclusively for off-roading and exploration. Im not so patiently awaiting my 3.5 kwh battery.


Almost everything in NA is build for cars. E-Bikes will do a bit better but it's still a shitty place to ride a bike. I sincerely hope US will fix and modernise their infrastructure, but the reliance on cars is so big, I don't see this happening any time soon.

If ebikes continue to be adopted and used by more people, demand for bike infrastructure will increase, and hopefully cities will start to cater to this form of transportation. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Ebikes are very different in different countries.

Some countries have very limited power or speeds. For example, much if the EU is limited to 250 watt motors. That's only half of what a human can do pedalling hard. Ebikes bought in those countries might severely disappoint.


You should get an ebike that has regenerative breaking, not because it's safer/better but because it does not wear anything (except the tyres, hard to avoid that) down when breaking since it's magnetic.

Not really. Regenerative braking is quite unusual in e-bikes as it requires a “direct drive” motor, and that comes with some of its own disadvantages. Heavier, don’t accelerate as fast, can’t “freewheel” like a traditional bicycle, etc.

Now days, most riders (and manufacturers!) seem to prefer geared hub and mid-drive motors.


True but it's also simpler and if you are building something to replace your car (replacing your bike is not interesting since you should use that instead) those are not disadvantages, see: http://elhjul.se

I live in Amsterdam. Since the council banned scooters in the bike lanes, we're now plagued by the silent menace of e-bikes whipping past at 25km an hour. I really dislike them.

Are these supposed to climb steep hills? I feel like, in my city/neighborhood, a regular motorcycle or scooter would serve me better.

But if I lived in Paris or Amsterdam...


Most: no.

I have this: https://lunacycle.com/sur-ron-x-bike-black-edition/

The Sur Ron has a 7000W motor. I weigh 260lbs. It climbs hills. At 30-40mph and is awesome!


How many miles do you get on one charge?

Also how do you store it? seems impossible to bring one inside / in the elevator and let alone a walk-up?


Thank you for posting this, I'm very interested in an ebike but all the options are making the decision hard. This article is very helpful.

He says not to buy one on Amazon, but I got mine on Amazon for $500 and it works great. Meanwhile the cheapest bike on his list is $1k.

Yeah, this would be much more persuasive if he gave more reasons about why not to buy from Amazon.

(Mine shipped with a minor issue, but the seller agreed to reimburse me for the price my local repair shop charged to fix it.)


I don’t see any, recumbent, trikes or velomobiles. Specifically the latter two are probably our best bets of replacing the car.

I like the Organic Transit ELF and Better Bikes PEBL. Both are enclosed recumbent trikes with a rear seat for an adult or two children and a trunk.

Why would you try to limit capability?

I got a Koga e-Nova (a high quality Dutch brand) with an Enviolo stepless automatic transmission and a Gates CDX belt drive, and it's buttery smooth and silent, fully sealed, low maintenance, and super easy stopping and starting at stoplights and drawbridges, and getting back up to speed really fast. It was not cheap, but I love it, it was well worth it, and it's an effortless delight to ride.

https://www.koga.com/nl/elektrische-fietsen/e-nova-evo-pt-au...

The Enviolo hub is a continuously variable planetary transmission, with an automatic shifting option that lets you dial in your desired cadence, and it automatically and smoothly shifts up and down as required, while you can even pedal and apply power while it's shifting. No gears or sprockets or chains or clicks or clacks or slips or derailments or constant lubrication and cleaning, just planetary balls sealed in transmission fluid.

https://enviolo.com/products/

>Enviolo Stepless Shifting: A smart range of hubs for different riders needs.

>The continuously variable planetary (CVP) technology forms the foundation of all enviolo stepless shifting products.

>The continuously and stepless variable planetary transmission enables cyclists to effortlessly change from one gear ratio to the next. Shifting while pedaling under high capacity has never been easier with enviolo.

Is enviolo the best internally geared hub for eBikes?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vob5Rb4IKsw

>If somebody asked me what my favorite drive train for electric bikes was, it would probably be the Enviolo hub. They have been around for a while but have been growing rapidly in popularity. In this video we’ll go over what the Enviolo hub is and who it is best for.

Harley Davidson just released the Serial 1 eBike with the Enviolo Automatiq CVT:

https://electricbikeaction.com/first-ride-serial-1-e-bikes-f...

FIRST RIDE: Serial 1 Harley-Davidson e-bikes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dHpsjDvZ-n4

>We had the chance to go for a ride with Serial 1 Brand Director Aaron Frank. The new Mosh/CTY and Rush/CTY bikes are well-priced, quiet, and really smooth to ride. The Rush bikes have the Enviolo Automatiq CVT, and all bikes have Brose mid-drive motors.


Does anyone know why quality e-bikes are so hugely expensive? I'd like one, but I wouldn't be comfortable leaving it anywhere due to risk of theft.

A good quality ordinary bicycle is around £1,000. Spend much more and maybe it's lighter, or you get a fancy style, but it won't be dramatically more reliable.

The batteries on e-bikes are surprisingly small relative to an electric car. e.g. a Kia e-Nero is 64 kWh and about £35k list price. Even the largest battery on the linked bike is 625Wh (0.625 kWh) i.e. one hundredth of the capacity of the car. So even if the cost of the Kia was all battery, the equivalent cost for the bike battery would be just £350.

Are the electric motor and the other electrical components really that expensive? What am I missing?


They're giant gadgets so there's really no ceiling on the kinds of features they can add to a high end bike.

That Harley Davidson eBike has elegant inline accelerometer actuated break lights! They must add a bit to the price. And you probably pay a premium just for the cool brand name, too.

It's a matter of picking the features that will actually benefit you, and shopping around for a brand that has the right combination of features important to you.

I took a test ride on a different, less expensive brand of bike that had the automatic Enviolo stepless automatic transmission, and really loved it. And the silent belt drive went really well with the smooth transmission.

Then I shopped around a lot and found a Koga that had the Enviolo, who makes high quality hand made seamless frames, and that drove up the price a lot.

If I was going to pop for a good transmission, it would be a pity to have it on a crappy frame. And the Koga has other useful features like good brakes and crank, shock absorbers, lighting, internal cabling and battery, all seamlessly integrated, etc.

I was getting a bike instead of a car as a primary means of transportation, and I fully insured it in case it's stolen.

I'd recently moved away from the center of the city to the outskirts of town where there's more space, and now I have a whole car-free locked garage to park it in and keep it safe and dry.

It's really made the rest of the city seem much closer, even though I'm now further away from the center!

But it would really suck without a safe parking garage, if I had to lock it out front on the street regularly, like where I used to live in the center.


Rules? Sure. Strong agree with “Just buy one”.

I’ve come to different conclusions about the specifics of the bikes themselves. From a different premise and position, surely. I’m a bicyclist and a a motorcyclist, and I tend towards taut, supple, reasonably lightweight, comfortable things. Vehicles that feel good to ride, ride well and predictably and smoothly and go anywhere and do everything. Get out of the way. Disappear.

An E-bike should:

• Take up to 2.25” wide tires to be able to use Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro tubeless winter tires. Studded 27.5x2.25” in icy seasons, 29x38mm or so for most everything else. (This might sound strange; idk. I was surprised by the unreasonable effectiveness of this setup.)

• Should have carbon fiber rims because the ride is so, so nice. Tubeless. Tubes are a failure point. Tubeless or GTFO.

• Should have drop bars with an “open” ergonomic flare. Most natural hand/shoulder position. Allows comfort while minimising drag and wind resistance in a tucked position as desired.

• Should be a good bicycle – should ride well overall and be reasonably light. For me this rules out hub motors.

(From these reasons I may conclude that E-bikes should be electric gravel bikes.)

• Should have some form of controlled suspension. Just a little though. A cheap suspension fork isn’t worth the weight. A Lauf fork with flat glass-fiber springs would be excellent. That leaves the rear wheel non-suspended though. This means that the rider’s spine and the bicycle’s frame are coupled to the road surface, besides the tires’ squish. Good tires do make a big difference but I for one have made up my mind – modern materials allow for super lightweight controlled suspension and I want it and will seek it out. It’s worth it, not just for comfort: Bumps jolt the rider, and the weight of rider and bike are forced to move over bumps; Both cost energy. (Jolts and vibration are not physiologically trivial; Subtly draining.) So: Ideally the frame should have some form of rear suspension. Very few electric versions of nice-to-ride bicycle frames have rear suspension. Some carbon fiber frames have suspension designed into the flex of the frame but I haven’t found anything I like in e-bikes. I think Shimano make an aluminium gravel e-bike with some form of suspension in the rear triangle? There exist suspension seatposts. This is kind of clever. Should be pretty effective. The bike’s frame is unsuspended but the rider is suspended and decoupled and that’s where most of the mass is.

And so.

I stand to believe that Cairn bikes are the e-bikes to get. (And swap a few component out on.) Compared to bicycles they aren’t cheap, but compared to the full cost of a car they are. Even without externalities.

Cairn E-Adventure: https://www.cairncycles.com/collections/ebikes-e-adventure

Cairn BRAVe: https://www.cairncycles.com/collections/e-bike-brave


This is cool, but I’d love to see a comparison of ebikes against good old dinosaur-juice (or even electric) motorcycles.

Much more difficult to steal, and for gasoline motorcycles, much better mileage per charge, charging to 100% takes 30 seconds, can go as fast as you have the guts for, much more stable at speed, almost as easy parking, can go on highways. Almost as cheap fuel as electricity with the smaller end of motorcycles doing 90+mpg. In California, you can also lane split, which makes motorcycles effectively transparent to traffic.

On the minus side, you do need a license and insurance for it, and the bar for hand-eye coordination is higher — there are more people on the planet that should not touch a motorcycle than those that shouldn’t do bikes.


I am also surprised, it is true that I live in a city very conducive to motorcycles for the climate (Barcelona) but here it is practically impossible to see electric city bikes (electric MTB for enduro or all mountain enthusiasts there are many) because basically you can have a 125/150cc korean or japanese scooter for almost half the price. It has all the advantages and more than a ebike and practically none of the disadvantages.

As a keen cyclist who almost got a motorbike license, one massive difference is that a bike weight 10kg (ebike lets say 20) whereas a motorbike upwards of 100, or thereabouts.

I think in traffic you are fairly vulnerable to both, but on a bike, at least if you fall, you don’t have the insult of your own vehicle crushing you as well as whatever obstacle / other vehicle you hit.


Yeah, that makes sense. I’m on both sides on this one, I have two motorcycles, one electric scooter and one electric skateboard. Motorcycles are by far the heaviest thing.

On the other hand, many motorcycles come with sacrifical rubber ‘sliders’ where if a motorcycle is dropped to the ground, the only thing that touches the ground is still the wheels and the rubber sliders on the dropped side. The slider itself is a block of rubber and it’s $10 to replace when ground down sufficiently to a nub.

I’ve found weight to be a less of a problem than I expected in practice.


As a cyclist (several of them, most often either a Trek 1.5 and Tern Vektron) and motorcyclist (700+ lb Concours 14), the bicycle is scarier. The motorcycle's weight isn't an issue in a tip or slide situation, and I can wear pretty serious armor in all weather conditions.

The bicycle leaves me exposed in traffic and more often than not wearing a t-shirt for heat control.

Just to give a different perspective on it.


Deaths per mile of bikes is 1/4 that of motorcycles in the UK.

https://www.motorbikeclaims.org.uk/blog/these-shocking-accid...


Anyone reading this critically should be thinking: OMG, per-distance bicycle fatality is a whopping 25% relative to the crotch rocket.

(And still 17X more than in an automobile.)


Interesting.

The bit I found most terrifying on a motorbike is seeing a car pull up to a stop , about to turn onto the road I’m on (with priority) and wondering if he’ll stop.

On a push bike, I’m doing maybe 30-35 kph in a city, and can stop very quickly. Splatting into the side of a car at this speed (less some braking) is serious but unlikely to be very dangerous.

On a motorbike, suddenly I have 200kg gyrating under my pelvis about to crash, and bounce into the traffic. Just feels terrifying.

And crucially, this situation (not the crash but the scenario) happens all the time.


Why do electric motorcycles get better mileage than electric bicycles? That just doesn't make sense to me; electric bicycles are so much lighter.

> ”Why do electric motorcycles get better mileage than electric bicycles?”

Motorcycles tend to have much larger batteries. Both in absolute and relative terms. For example, a full-suspension electric mountain bike might weigh 25kg and have a 500 Wh battery pack.

On the other hand, a Harley-Davidson Livewire weighs 210kg but has a 15.5 kWh pack. It weighs 8X more - but has more than 30X the battery capacity!


They don't. But they usually have far larger batteries. A typical e-bike battery will only weigh 3 kg or so.

> In California, you can also lane split, which makes motorcycles effectively transparent to traffic.

Not really a great idea for rider safety though.


Lane splitting is one of the things where it helps to be brutally honest about your skill level, lest nature calls your bluff. I personally only do it if the cars are stopped (i.e. on a red light) and not while anything other than me is in motion, and even that helps a lot.

Everything I've ever read has said it's about a wash, leaning slightly toward being more safe for riders. It's not safe (or necessary) to sit in traffic and be rear-ended or run over. It's also not safe to create a large speed differential with traffic.

That said, it sure makes commuting more reasonable. I'm for it.


I've filtered past many rear-end accident scenes on my London motorbike commutes.

Those commutes would be 2x as long at least if I didn't filter.


According to what?

Data on this is less robust than one would hope, but around a fifth of motorcycle accidents happened while someone was lane-splitting. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/sta...

motorcycle vs ebike - from a safety standpoint - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM8Xli2KTzI



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