What bike is for me?
E-bikes are not all the same and you need a guide when you consider getting a bike. Many first time buyers have no idea what to look for and what is important to consider. Here are some pointers.
Style: There are different styles these days. Consider a good looking bike. A bike with an integrated battery looks slick and similar to an ordinary bike. The bike must look the part. You must feel good looking and using it.
Type: Make sure the bike you consider will satisfy your need. The most popular style currently in SA is an all-terrain bike that can do both on and off road riding.
Motor: Today you get a range of different motor sizes and output. The 250W is good for road bikes and cruising but it has limited power when facing steep hills, but that is the maximum allowed output to be legal on our roads. The other extreme is the 1000W plus motors. It is really over the top and frankly, dangerous. The 350W and 500W is very popular and for good reason. It offers enough power for normal use. In fact you need no more.
The motor brand should also be considered. If you want a brand name motor such as Shimano, Yamaha, Bosch or Bose, you are going to pay a premium as these are normally fitted in top bicycle brands. Other brands such as Bafang (which is the leading brand where 30 million e-bikes are sold a year – China). They are also a bit pricy but it is a brand that has been around for a long time and has proven to be reliable.
Motor position. You get hub drive motors- where the motor is built into the hub of the wheel, most commonly in the back wheel and then you get mid-drive motors where the motor is on the bottom bracket positioning it between the pedals of the bike. (Fort more information on this – I refer you to the article below that we wrote on this topic.)
Then you get conversion kits. This is an add-on to a normal bike to make it an electrical bike. This is a recipe for trouble. The bike may not be strong enough to take the weight and power (where e-bikes are built to handle it) and it tends to give problems if it is not fitted perfectly. Think twice before you go that route.
Battery: The motor and the battery are the most important decisions you need to take. The battery determine the power and how long it would last between charges. So you have to consider the output: 36V and 48V output are popular. Then the amp hours (Ah) – how long the battery will last. Here you find a full range from 9Ah to 20Ah and even more. What is ideal? For normal use on the road and travelling say 40km a 10Ah is good, off road maybe 13 or 15Ah. Keep in mind the difference in the cost of say, a 10Ah battery and 17Ah is enormous.
To make your choice easier here is a test: we talk about total amp hours which are the Voltage X Ah. The benchmark is 500 total amp hours. So if the battery is a 36V and 10Ah the total amp hours are (36 X 10) 360 which is less than the benchmark of 500. So if you are going casual riding over short distances, that is fine. The Smart-e bikes are mostly equipped with a 48V and 13.2Ah which gives a total of 634 amp hours. Now that is more than enough!
Then we move to the less important matters but still require some thought:
Saddle. If you want a soft comfortable ride make sure you have a saddle that caters for it.
Gears. Ensure a branded name group set such as Shimano. The number of gears is not critical.
Extras. What extras do you get such as a kickstand, charge point for your phone, reflectors, a light, mudguards and a carrier on the back?
THE PEDEGO RANGE
To start off with, take into consideration that most e-bikes listed are available in a “CLASSIC” style and also the “STEP THRU” style to make mounting some much easier.
There are a few categories of electrical bikes:
Transporters: Those bikes such as the CITY COMMUTER and the CONVEYR is designed to be used every day and travel even long distances.
Cruisers. These bikes offer a very comfortable ride and designed casual riding but can also serve the purpose of a transporter. The ride position is more relaxed with higher handlebars. (Ford and Interceptor)
Off road or all terrain bikes. These include the Ridge Rider, the Elevate which is a top of the range MTB, the Trail Tracker and the Gorilla.
Trikes. A three wheeling designed where balance is a problem.
A fold-able bike (Latch) for easy transport yet offering maximum fun on the road.
A cargo bike (Stretch) and where a heavy load is in question.
Tandem for use by two people.
Which battery should I choose?
Pedego offers four different batteries that are classified by their voltage and amp-hour ratings. The voltage determines how powerful the bike will feel and the amp-hours determine how far you can go on a single charge.
Choosing the right battery for you depends on your individual needs and budget.
|10Ah||Experience shows that most people are completely satisfied with the standard 36V 10Ah battery. It usually provides more than enough power and range, and it’s the most affordable option.||The more powerful 48V 10Ah battery is best for riders over 95 kg and for overcoming steep hills or strong headwinds. The extra power makes it more fun and exciting to ride.|
|15Ah||The extended range 36V 15Ah battery is best for trips over 32km or if you plan to pedal very little (or not at all). It can really come in handy to have excess capacity.||The 48V 15Ah battery is the best of both worlds, and it’s the most popular option. It has all the power of the 48V 10Ah battery and the extended range of the 36V 15Ah.|
How far can I go on a single battery charge?
The short answer to this question is far enough!
Predicting range depends on a number of factors: for instance, if someone weighs about 70kg, riding across varied terrain with moderate undulation and a steady cadence of 70-80 rpm with a moderate PAS setting and occasionally using the throttle you can expect to get anything between 60-85 km (even 95 km) from a single battery charge.
The following influences the battery usage:
- Your weight
- The terrain (how hilly and also how steep those hills are)
- How much and hard you pedal (very important)
- How often and how much throttle you use
- The PAS level you use
Logic dictates that if the above are all “negative” then the 60 or 70 km range becomes less.
All batteries have both a Voltage and Amp Hour rating. If you multiply the two together, you get Watt Hours. Watt Hours is an objective measurement of the actual amount of energy stored in a battery.
Volts x Amp Hours = Watt Hours
This is where it gets tricky, because there are so many variables. On average, you can expect to use between 7.5-15 watt hours per kilometer. This number fluctuates so much because of differences in terrain, rider weight, weather, speed, and most importantly how much you pedal, as mentioned above.
Below is a table with all the facts about each Pedego battery and the estimated range for an average rider.
|Volts||Amp Hours||Watt Hours||Estimated Range|
|Long Range||36||15||540||35-72 km|
How long until a battery needs to be replaced?
You can expect your battery to last about 2-4 years. (Then again, many cyclist claim their batteries are 6 years old and still going.)
Lithium batteries usually don’t just stop working altogether, what happens is they gradually lose their capacity over time.
Pedego batteries are backed up by an industry-leading three year warranty, where the first year is guaranteed 100% and the next two years are pro-rated based on how long you’ve had the battery.
To prolong the life of your battery it’s suggested that you avoid discharging it completely, and the big thing is to make sure that you charge it at least once every couple months.
How long does the battery take to charge?
A battery will charge is between 2-6 hours with a standard wall outlet.
There is no memory, so you don’t have to worry about discharging it completely, and it’s best to recharge it after each use.
It uses very little energy- usually about ten cents worth.
And it includes a smart charger that will automatically shut off when it’s done.
What is the battery made of?
The batteries are made up of individual Li-ion cells designated 18650 because of their size (18mm x 65mm). These are very common batteries found in countless consumer electronics, electric bicycles, and even electric cars.
There are basically two types of 18650 cells- those made by the four major, name brand suppliers (Sony, LG, Panasonic, and Samsung), and everything else. The name brand cells are much more safe and reliable than the cheaper cells.
Pedego Electric Bikes use premium cells made by Samsung, which is the world’s largest Li-Ion battery supplier.
The benefits of these cells are three fold:
Each cell is protected by a puncture resistant steel cylinder, and they are separated from each other in the battery pack to prevent fire.
Pedego is able to offer an industry leading three year limited warranty because of technological advances that have prolonged the life cycle of our batteries.
The manufacturing process and quality control of the cells themselves has significantly improved over the years, and there is an extremely low failure rate.
The connections between the cells have also evolved and improved to prevent bad connections and premature battery failure.
The number one reason 18650 cells are so wildly popular is their incredible performance capabilities.
They are remarkably energy dense delivering an abundance of power (up to 675 wh/L and 252 wh/kg) with very little space and weight.
These little cells really deliver the goods!
Can I charge the battery by pedaling?
The battery is charged by plugging it into the wall, and the more you pedal the farther you can go. Your pedaling conserves the battery, but it doesn’t actually charge it.
The technology does exist that would allow you to charge your bike by pedaling, but we’ve found that it just doesn’t make sense in the real world. The benefit is very little, it makes the bike even heavier and it increases the overall costs.
The problem is that it makes it hard to pedal, and that’s not fun! Even under the most ideal conditions, like riding downhill, the amount of energy you would get back is negligible.
Throttle & Pedal Assist: What’s the difference and which is better?
In the United States and South Africa, we are fortunate to have the luxury of throttles on our electric bikes which are forbidden in Europe.
Throttles provide full power on demand and we love them because they give us complete control.
They’re especially helpful for getting started from a standstill (sometimes it can be awkward to gain momentum), getting a quick burst of power to climb a hill, or safely getting through an intersection. If you can’t pedal, or you just don’t feel like it, that’s okay too.
Pedal assist, or Pedelec systems, sense your pedaling and provide assistance automatically.
They’re most popular among experienced cyclists that want a more natural, “bike-like” riding experience.
Pedal assist is wonderful for long rides with few stops on relatively flat ground, because you can just relax and enjoy the ride without holding a throttle in place. It’s like cruise control.
Both is Best
Our experience shows that the ideal electric bike has both pedal assist and a throttle, and the next best thing is one with only a throttle.
All Pedego Electric Bikes sold in the SA have a throttle, and many of them also have the option of pedal assist.
We don’t have any bikes that are pedal assist only (except what we send overseas), simply because most people don’t like them. Even if you prefer pedal assist, why wouldn’t you want the option of using a throttle?
Hub Motor vs. Mid Drive: Which is right for me?
Your will note we sell both mid drive and hub drive e-bikes.
A hub motor is the obvious choice for most people. The riding experience can’t be beat, and it’s the most affordable option. It’s the best of both worlds!
We speak from experience on this subject. The Pedego Stretch cargo bike was originally designed with a mid-drive motor because we expected it to perform better with heavy loads. We experimented with several of the top mid drive systems and compared them to our standard hub motor. The results were surprising.The mid drive motors were a huge disappointment. Their performance was no match for our hub motor, even climbing steep hills where mid drives are supposed to dominate. We also found that most people simply don’t like the way it feels to ride a bike with a mid drive motor, especially when comparing it to our hub motor.
Bottom line: You pay more and get less with mid drive motors.
Power and Freedom
Most quality mid drive systems come from Europe where strict laws limit the power to 250 watts and forbid the use of a throttle.
American’s are allowed (and prefer) more powerful motors and the freedom to use a throttle. All Pedego Electric Bikes sport 500 watt motors with twice the power of a typical mid drive, and they provide full power on demand with a twist-and-go throttle.
Acceleration and Hill Climbing
Many years ago, when all hub motors were gearless, mid drives had an advantage because they could use the gears of the bike to help you accelerate and climb hills.
Today, Pedego hub motors have gears built into them, so they can accelerate and climb most hills just as well (or better) without all the downsides of mid-drive motors.
Mid drive motors are notoriously high maintenance. They put extraordinary strain on the drivetrain of the bike and cause the chain, chainring, derailleur, and cassette to wear out much more rapidly than usual. These parts are expensive and inconvenient to replace.
Hub motors are completely sealed and self-contained, and they require no additional maintenance.
Mid drive motors use complicated electronics to coordinate the motor’s power with your pedaling and shifting. You are forced to constantly shift gears while riding, and it’s not as smooth as shifting a regular bike (or one with a hub motor). Many people are intimidated and/or annoyed by all this extra hassle.
Bikes with hub motors are far more pleasant and easy to ride. They seamlessly deliver power right where it’s needed – working totally independent of your pedaling and gear shifting. It’s almost like the difference between driving a manual and automatic car.
|Hub Motor||Mid Drive|
|Throttle (On all Pedegos)||No Throttle (usually)|
|Powerful (All Pedego motors are 500 watts)||Underpowered (usually 250 watts)|
|Maintenance Free||High Maintenance|
|Fun and Easy to Ride||Constant Shifting Required|
These are all great reasons to prefer a hub motor over a mid drive, but the most important reason is impossible to describe. It’s the way they actually feel when you ride them…
We like hub motors better. Most people agree. We think you will too.
What maintenance is required?
Aside from keeping your battery charged, maintaining a Pedego Electric Bike is the same as any bicycle.
After the bike’s been ridden about 250 km you’ll need a basic tune-up. This is standard procedure for all new bikes as they’re broken in.
The most important (and simple) thing you can do is check your tire pressure regularly, and keep them inflated as indicated on the tire.
If you’re riding in wet conditions, you’ll want to take extra care and make sure you keep your drivetrain clean and well-lubed.
Other than that, you’re likely to need minor adjustments from time to time, and even the best parts do eventually wear out. We suggest that you bring your bike to your local dealer for a check-up at least once or twice a year to ensure the most safe and pleasant riding experience.
What is the weight capacity?
The weight capacity of most Pedego Electric Bikes is 120 kgs. The exceptions are the Tandem and Stretch models which can carry up to 180 kg. The Boomerang Plus and Interceptor, when equipped with the Mag Wheel Upgrade, can also hold up to 180 kg.
Can I transport my Pedego on hitch mounted rack for my vehicle?
Yes! Many Pedego customers use hitch mounted racks to travel far and wide with their beloved Pedegos. Thule is a popular brand. Please check with your local dealer for their advice on which rack is right for you.