Not everyone is an Athlete or in some kind of race, and there are many reasons why someone would get an e-bike, at the very least you can sit up and enjoy the scenery.

For me its about returning to cycling after many years recovering from injury, and on a fitness level the next stop for me is the basement so I have to do something. Cycling also gives independence, and e-biking increases your cycling range, even for the relatively unfit.

Electric folding bike with rear-hub motor, can be taken on trains and coaches

E-bikers will find that hills are no-longer an issue, and power levels can be adjusted as fitness improves. Cycling against the wind is also not a problem under motor power, and you will arrive at your destination energized and relatively composed, not panting for breath, red-faced and glistening with sweat.

The typical e-bike to be found in Ireland is pedal-assist, but there are also the throttle-type and the fully electric (moped) type aswel. Pedal-assist is where you have to pedal to move at all, and depending on the power setting, the bike picks-up the pace relative to your pedaling speed. The more you pedal - the faster the motor makes you go, up to the statutory limit of 15mph (25kmph), after that your under your own steam.

Sports e-bike with front and rear brushless Hub motors

As you look at more e-bikes you will notice that the Motors are all mounted in different places on the bike, these all have advantages and disadvantages .....

Rear Hub Motor - Gives good traction on the road and can be used for wheelies, but not great on hills and if you have to fix a puncture, removing the hub motor will complicate things.

Front Hub Motor - Bike weight more evenly distributed, but not good for hills, complicated to remove and replace, and may spin on the ice.

Mid-Mount Motor - Bike weight more centered, motor can also use the rear gears, punctures are more easily fixed as wheels are standard. Mid-drive can also be used for wheelies, and strategic use of the gears and power modes will extend your range considerably. These seem like the best option to go for in my opinion.

KTM eShopper is equipped with front and rear baskets, a Bosch drive and Planetary gears

The Batteries are also mounted in different places, typically wherever they will fit, but most new bikes have the battery incorporated in the design ....

Rear (carrier) Mount - Battery is "out of the way", can be hidden under pannier bags, room for larger batteries, but higher center of gravity, bike weight is towards the rear adding weight to the rear wheel and tire.

Behind the Seat-Bar - Battery is tucked away such as on the Kalkhoff bikes, allows for very large battery, but bike weight is slightly rear-wards, and the extra bike length makes handling a bit trickier.

In Front of the Seat-Bar - Bike is slightly more balanced, but this location cannot be used on a bike with rear suspension.

Down-Bar Mount - Fixed where the water bottle usually is, the bike weight is balanced between front and rear, ideal location for full-suspension mountain bikes.

Kalkhoff Agattu Impulse 360 with 250w impulse motor, planetary gears, belt drive and 612 Wh / 36 V battery

There are also several e-bike models where the motor and battery are hidden inside the frame, and when I say "hidden" I mean tucked inside the over-large frame bars.

Almost any type of bike is available in an electric version, mountain bikes, folding bikes, town and country bikes, dutch bikes, cruisers, racing bikes, etc.

Except for certain mountain and cross-country bikes and those with rear suspension, all bikes can be fitted with lights, mudguards, pannier racks, kickstands and optionally a bell and devices like computers and a GPS, such as the Bosch Nyon smart bike computer.

Cube Reaction HPA Race Mountain Bike with Bosch 250w Performance motor, 10 Shimano gears, disk brakes, optional GPS and a 400 Wh battery

I mentioned before about how Hub Motors can complicate removing a wheel, but many bikes now come equipped with Planetary gears built inside the rear hub. These are a fantastic concept with many advantages, but the whole mechanism has to be removed, replaced and re-aligned if you are changing a wheel to fix a puncture, difficult enough in a fully-lit workshop, never mind on the side of the road on a rainy night. So because of that, I would have to recommend the standard rear derailleur gear system (like the Cube bike above) for its simplicity.

The NuVinci system on those hub-geared e-bikes is not the same as a D-drive, so can't handle lots of torque, and if it breaks your bike isn't going anywhere.

Click the image for more info - the input disc is connected to your chain/motor, and the output side is connected to your wheel hub

I also mentioned how the Mid-Mount Motor/Drive is better as it also uses the derailleur gear system on the rear wheel of the bike, I'm only going to look at two makes of motor which keep cropping-up for me, see the links at the end for more ....

Bosch - The Bosch company make electric hand tools, appliances and certain car components, so plenty of experience there. Their e-bike motor is very smooth and efficient when used intelligently with the gears, and adjusts the power when you are changing gears so that there is no "crunching". The small drive-cog in the Bosch Motor is internally geared, and pulls the chain the same as if it was a normal large cog.

Yamaha - The Yamaha company make cars, motorbikes, tools, synthesizers, and several other appliances. They have been making e-bike motors since 1993 and the motor I tested is the most responsive ever. I am told that although the range is slightly less than the Bosch, the power is more noticeable - I can vouch for that. Its recommended that you "coast" on the pedals while changing gears, so that there is no strain as the chain is moved between the rear cogs.

There are kits you can buy, to convert your own regular bike into an electric bike. You can get front, rear and mid-drive motors in a variety of powers, but the limit in Ireland is a 250 Watt Motor which allows 15 miles per hour, usually enough for most bikes and bikers.

Batteries are all different too, the Bosch systems use an 11 Amp Hour battery (400Wh), and the Kalkhoff Daum Motor can use up to 24 Amp Hour. If your feeling creative you can hack your own electric bike, make your own battery bank from recycled Lithium Ion cells, or experiment with the new Aluminium and Graphene battery technology, all at your own risk of course.

Woosh DIY e-bike kit comes with a throttle, brake levers and an LCD display

The legal limit (set in 1978) for e-bikes in Ireland is 250 Watts. Motors typically run on 24 Volts, 36 Volts (most common) or 48 Volts for the higher speed Motors. The batteries go from about 8 Amp Hours up to 24 Amp Hours for better range. If you get a bike with a very large motor, that could place you in the moped class, requiring a motorbike license, insurance, helmet, etc., so don't mess it up for the rest of us, bike responsibly.

Since motor and bike technology has moved on considerably in the last 40 years, they should relax the legal limit and allow people to build their own competition and racing bikes.

Wear your helmet and gloves, and see the bike safety tips in the Cycling Group before you tear off into the sunset.

Haibike Sduro FullNine RC features a powerful Yamaha 250 Watt Motor, front and rear suspension, disk brakes, mountain tires, multifunction display and a 400 Watt/Hour battery (all images on this page are also links)

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Like most things on this site, this post is for educational purposes.

Several images are used, all are copyright their original creators, no offense is intended, all images are linked to info and shop-pages for the same bike/equipment.

Any questions or anything to add, please post in the comments.

Please share with anyone who is interested in buying an e-bike or who wants to get fitter.

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Links

  • For e-bike kits to make yourself, try searches on ebay, amazon and google for bike shops in your area or mail order. They are usually sold without a battery. The Woosh kit including a battery is around £660 Sterling.
  • A full battery charge costs around 15 cent, and could last you up to 60 miles.
  • Electric Bike Prices range from about €800 for a folding bike, €1250 for basic large bicycle, €2000 for mountain bike, and upwards. (prices approximate for April 2015)

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Videos

Hill test comparison www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNjFvL4uzO4

Off-road www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuwESVujaHg

A backflip www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCmkbFviSnM

Essential Mountain Biking Skills www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiQGFX_RlW4

Mountain Biking Skills (free-riding and trails) www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9vakhSvgt8

Haibike Sduro with Yamaha motor up the mountain

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