1. Why are some bikes called hybrids?

Ans. The term hybrid is used in regard to electric motive force supplementing the human energy created and used while pedaling your bike. Most common is for a hub motor to be installed on the rear wheel and the bike powered by pedaling utilizing a shifting system with the power supplemented by an in hub brushless gear motor.

2. Why are there so many distance ranges listed for different bike manufacturers?

Ans. This question is most easily answered if you separate the range available to travel into two parts. The first would be answered as the range the bike is capable of traveling when motoring on battery/motor power alone unassisted by human effort. This distance is relatively a fixed distance and thus a measure of the capacity of the battery factored by the efficiency of the bike. The second range is described as human effort assisted by the motor/battery combination delivering a greater distance and of course that distance increases as the human effort increases. Note: Many bikes are rated at 10 amp hours, this is a measure of the electrical capacity to deliver electrons, and therefore energy.

3. I had an electric bike about seven years ago, how have they improved?

Ans. The modern electric bike stands out in two important categories. Older model electric bikes were predominantly lead acid batteries and a few were powered by nickel metal hydride batteries. Both of these battery technologies utilize heavier batteries to deliver the same amount of stored energy or smaller batteries which deliver less energy. The result of the emergence of lithium ion batteries in state-of-the-art LEV’s (Light Electric Vehicles) and electric bikes is a lighter vehicle and extended range.

4. When looking for an electric bike, what are the main criteria upon which I should base my decision?

Ans. Most people base their decision on one, or all four of the following criteria:

  1. Match the bike to your mission. If you are commuting, the bike must have the range to make the round trip or you may find the solution is to purchase a second charger for charging your bike at work, thereby effectively doubling the range. . If you are navigating steep terrain be sure to discuss this with your supplier because is will affect your selection of bike.
  2. Select a bike that fits your body style and comfort needs. There is nothing more unsatisfying than getting a new bike, then putting it away and forgoing use due to it not feeling right. Exotic bikes have a limited fan base and appeal. Safely in the middle of the pack can be a good choice for many.
  3. Buy a bike that is built to high standards from quality components. If the information as to who makes the components is not available, pass on by and find a bike where all of the major components are identified. Virtually every bike company uses other companies to supply components. In electric bikes you absolutely need to know the manufacturer or supplier of the Frame, Motor, Battery, Electronic Controller, and Tires if possible..

Motorized Bicycle Electric Motor: Safety and Equipment Requirements 24016.

(a) A motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 shall meet the following criteria:
(1) Comply with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.) or the requirements adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (49 C.F.R. 571.1, et seq.) in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1381, et seq.) for motor driven cycles.
(2) Operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operate in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.
(b) All of the following apply to a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406:
(1) No person shall operate a motorized bicycle unless the person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212.
(2) A person operating a motorized bicycle is subject to Sections 21200 and 21200.5.
(3) A person operating a motorized bicycle is not subject to the provisions of this code relating to financial responsibility, driver’s licenses, registration, and license plate requirements, and a motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle.
(4) A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older.
(5) Every manufacturer of a motorized bicycle shall certify that it complies with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.).
(c) No person shall tamper with or modify a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 so as to increase the speed capability of the bicycle.
Added Sec. 3, Ch. 804, Stats. 1995. Effective January 1, 1996.