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Which Electric Bike is Right for You?

Today’s E-Bike Wednesday Guest Article is brought to you by Dan Woodard. Dan designs and builds custom electric bikes. He quit his high-tech engineering job to follow his passion in electric bikes. Follow his blog where he shares his experiences.

If you have considered buying an electric bike, there are many configurations and options to choose from.. In this article I’ll focus in on some of the considerations that might make your decision easier.

Background on E-Bike Purchasing

There are many reasons why people choose to own an electric bike. There are folks who commute but don’t want to arrive all sweaty. They are capable of riding without assist but use their electric bikes as a car alternative.
Many people like to ride but are not conditioned to ride long distances. Some are getting older or have injuries that prevent them from riding far or often.

A growing number of people have completely replaced their cars with electric bikes. They use them to haul cargo and for all other transportation needs.

Which electric bike is right for you?

It depends on what you are going to use it for. Thinking about the above reasons and how they apply to you will help narrow your search.

There are many choices for electric bikes today with more and more coming onto the market. This is good for selection and price but not so good if you are a first time buyer trying to decide what all the options are. When considering your options there are many things you should think about.

Main Decision Points

Do you want to buy a complete electric bike or convert an existing bike. There are many advantages to buying a complete electric bike.. If there is a local bike shop that carries electric bikes, you can test ride to select the one that feels right for you. You will also have a place to take it when it needs service. If you buy one online, you will have to pick one without a test ride and either service it yourself or find someone locally. There are a growing number of shops that can work on electric bikes but it may take awhile for one to come to a town near you.

If you want to convert an existing bike to electric, there are many choices and technical details. Just like the growing number of compete bikes, there are a growing number of conversion kits to choose from, too many to list here. Also note, not all bikes are compatible with an electric conversion.

If you have a favorite bike and are mechanically inclined, electric conversion could be a good way to go. That is the path that I have taken. You can read more about that on my blog Electric Bike Building.

Converting an existing bike to electric can also be accomplished at select bike shops. That way you can use your favorite bike and not have to do the work yourself. This will require having a bike shop in your area that can do this for you.

Details, Details, Details

There are a lot of details, too many to cover in one article. I’ll be covering more of these electric bike details in the future. I’ll also go over the technical details about how they work and what each of the components do. If you have specific questions, leave a comment and I’ll try to answer.

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New Category : E-Bikes

E-BikeYou’ll be seeing a new category added to Commute by Bike, “E-Bikes.”

We have talked about e-bikes several times in the past and it is always a hot topic for comments. This sector of the cycling industry has been growing weekly with new bikes.  Now, large mainstream media outlets have been featuring the benefits for e-bikes for alternative transportation.

Once a week we will be featuring E-Bike Wednesday. Employing industry insiders with guest articles, interviews and sneak peaks.

We encourage you to give us comments and feedback. If you see something interesting, leave a comment, tweet us or email.

Join the conversation on Twitter.  Add us or tweet us @BikeShopGirlcom

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Kona Bikes Goes Electric

Kona Electric Ute

Recently on Kona Bikes Facebook, and their Newsletter, Kona has released snippets into their newest lineup – Electric Bikes. Following close behind Trek’s Ride+ Bikes, Kona is quick on their heels with a new spin on their well received cargo bike, the Ute.

Three Models

There are three models in this new Electric line : Ticket, Token and Electric Ute. The Ticket and Token are respectably, standard and step through models of the same bike. The Electric Ute has a larger battery to allow you to haul on your cargo electric bike.

The most remarkable thing, we should see these bikes within the next few months. Kona completely kept the secret on these bikes.

EN 15194 Standard

All three of Kona’s bikes pass the EN 15194 standard for Electrically Power Assisted Cycles. Read more about these standards for the European E-Bikes.. We here at Commute By Bike are still learning all about Electric Bikes, but from my understanding this EN 15194 standard put a wrench in many bike makers gears. Much like the lead testing that came about in the U.S a couple years back.

Follow us on Twitter : @BikeShopGirlcom

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Bicycle Design Blog

Bicycle DesignIt isn’t a secret that I am a big fan of what James is doing over at He pulls the coolest fringe concepts and bikes out of the industry that most people forget about or ignore. In the past month they have talked about a few very interesting bikes and concepts, instead of rewriting what James has covered well.

James did not pay or even ask for this article. I think it is important to promote others that are doing remarkable things.

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Trek Ride+ : First Impressions

The bicycle shop I manage, Cool Breeze Cyclery, and sister store, Trek Bikes of Charlotte, have brought in a fleet of the new electric assist bikes, Trek Ride+. One of these, the FX+ is a demo bike that our co-owner with an engineering background took for this past weekend. Below is his original experience. We will be trying out this bike ourselves, as well as possibly building up our own with the Bionx or E-Bike Kit.


Trek FX+

The new Trek E Ride bikes arrived last week so I took the demo bike home for the weekend. This FX+ model is very normal looking at first glance with all the great Trek features built into the 7.5FX, including the carbon front fork. Taking a closer look, you’ll find a high torque pancake electric motor laced into the rear wheel, a battery pack slid into the rear rack and a controller / dash board mounted like a cycling computer to the handle bar. The concept is very much like the hybrid electric cars, difference being that the rider still provides the base engine, meaning that you still must pedal this bike. Just like the hybrid cars, the electric motor provides a power boost. In the case of the E Ride bike, you can choose to boost your pedaling power by 10, 20, 30 or 40%. The bike senses your pedaling effort just like the crank mounted high end power meters, but does it with sensors built into the rear axle. Again, just like the hybrid cars, the bike employs regenerative braking going downhill to recharge the batteries.

How did it ride?

I live in a really hilly neighborhood so I let my wife ride the bike while I road my high end road bike. Her personal bike is the same 7.5 FX used as a platform for the e-Ride bike and she always walks it up the first hill which is about an 8% grade. Knowing this we set the boost to 40% and she road up this same hill with very little effort and a huge smile”the result of a feeling of accomplishment for having finally conquered that hill. After waiting for me at the top of the hill”.Ummm”not sure I’m liking this feeling”.we continued for the next hour to attack every hill in the neighborhood. After an hour we had used about 15% of the battery charge. To put the bike away, I rode it up my drive way which is a 10% grade and again the feeling of the power boost is simply amazing”it is smooth and predictable and simply flattens the hills for the rider. Bottom line” this bike absolutely leveled the climbing ability between us and in the case of our neighborhood made the family ride even a possibility. Now we’re thinking about a Blue Ridge Parkway ride” By the way, the bike can also be set add up to 40% to your pedaling effort for the same feeling and effect of riding a bike in a trainer, but that’s another story.

– Steve Doolittle, Co-owner of Cool Breeze Cyclery and Trek Bikes of Charlotte.