Frequently asked question
Why would I use an e-bike over a regular bike?
There are many reasons:
- Get where you need to go faster and easier than on a regular bike. Depending on how you ride, you can travel without significant effort at up to 32km/h on the throttle and even higher speed with your electric pedal assist.
- Climbing hills is a breeze... and we aren’t talking about the breeze from huffing and puffing.
- No sweat. Even though you can ride much faster, you won’t feel like you have to shower once you are there.
- Safer. That might seem counter-intuitive since you can go faster than on a regular bike, but you also get an easier start from stopped positions, allowing you to get through an intersection steadier and quicker. When climbing steep hills with cars nearby, you can focus more energy on controlling the bike instead of propelling the bike.
- Easier on those joints. Use the electric assist to ease the pressure on your knees and hips.
- Staying together. You may have a riding partner who rides at a different pace. An e-bike can even out the pace for both of you.
- Ditch the car. An electric bike's convenience, ease, and speed make it an alternative to an automobile more often than a regular bike. A study by Portland State University shows that e-bike owners ride more frequently and farther than when they rely on traditional bikes. This was the case for all age groups.
- It’s FUN!!! Just try one, and you’ll see. Or catch a friend returning from their first test ride with a big smile.
Do I need a license?
No. As long as the e-bike has a motor size of 500 watts or less and is programmed so that it can’t go more than 32km/h without pedalling, there is no need for a license.
What about theft?
As best as we can determine, e-bikes don’t get stolen more frequently than non-electric bikes. That’s most likely because people tend to lock them up better and because a bike thief needs to get a charger and a battery key to make the bike truly saleable.
The best ways to protect your bike from theft are:
- Get a high-quality bike lock. Cable locks are way too easy to cut. High-quality chains, u-bolts, and folding locks are better.
- If you are parking your bike in your garage, lock your garage. It’s probably the #1 location we’ve seen bikes get stolen from.
- When in public, lock your e-bike in a visible location with at least two locks.
Do I need special insurance?
No insurance is required to ride an e-bike in British Columbia.
Check with your insurance company; you may want to get a rider added to your homeowners/renters insurance for theft protection. You can check with big banks and BikeHub insurers.
Aren't electric bikes heavy?
As one of our customers told us, "E-bikes might be heavy to lift, but they are heavenly to ride."
Electric bikes are typically heavier than regular bikes. But the weight of any bicycle (electrical or non-electrical) is felt the most when climbing hills. The electric assist on an e-bike makes up for the additional weight many times over. Where weight does matter is if you need to lift the bike. That's one of the many reasons e-bikes are favoured over electric scooters, often weighing 150 pounds or more.
CHARGING, BATTERIES & RANGE
Do electric bikes recharge when applying brakes or going downhill – like a hybrid car’s regenerative braking?
Yes, it’s available, and the concept doesn’t work well. A few models of electric bikes include a feature to recharge the battery, usually while you are braking. In those cases, the battery range can be extended by 5-10% while adding several hundred dollars to the cost. However, due to the design of the motors that provide regeneration, you'll often find the bike harder to pedal if you use the bike with the power off.
What is the range I can get from a single charge?
The biggest factor contributing to your range is whether you pedal or use a throttle without pedalling and what level of assistance you use. Thunder E-bike is a strong proponent of the synergy resulting from combining human pedal power with electric power, so we’ll tell you the expected range when you do both. With relaxed pedalling, expect 40-75 km on a single charge. In some cases, you’ll go even farther. We have bikes that are getting 120km or 300km on a single charge. The battery capacity, the hills, the wind, and your size impact the range. Many electric bikes pedal easily as regular bikes. So you can extend the range even further by using little or no power on level surfaces and downhill.
How long does it take to charge an e-bike battery?
A lithium-ion e-bike battery that is fully depleted will take 4 to 6 hours to recharge. Batteries that still have a partial charge when you start charging will take less.
How many charges can I get out of a battery?
Most e-bike batteries sold by Richmond E-bike are made by big brands like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, etc., and can deliver up to 800 charge cycles. Recharging the battery when it is only 50% depleted counts as only 1/2 of one charge cycle. If you usually use your e-bike in pedal-assist mode, combining pedal and electric power, you can expect to go 8,000-15,000 km before replacing your battery. That is a lot of kilometres on a bicycle.
How much electricity does it take to charge a battery?
Depending on the battery's capacity, it will usually take 500-800 watt hours (0.4 - 0.8 kilowatt hours) to charge the battery. Assuming a rate of $0.10/kWh, it will cost you 5-8 cents for a charge that lasts 20-80+ km.
MOTORS, SPEED & PERFORMANCE
What is the difference between Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 electric bikes?
Several states are adopting this system of classifying electric bikes to regulate electric bikes. The classifications are as follows:
- Class 1 - is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedalling (thus no throttle) and ceases to assist when the bicycle reaches the speed of 32 km/h per hour.
- Class 2 - is a bicycle equipped with a throttle that can propel the bike up to a maximum of 32 km/h with the rider pedalling, and may also have the ability to achieve up to 32 km/h with the rider assisting, without the use of a throttle.
- Class 3 - also known as a "speed pedal-assisted electric bicycle," is a bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedalling and ceases to assist when the bicycle reaches the speed of 45 km per hour.
Should I buy a bike with a mid-drive motor or a hub motor?
They both have their benefits. Hub motors tend to be a little easier to operate if you are a less experienced cyclist because they require less shifting of gears. Mid-drives tend to get a little better range for equivalent battery capacity because shifting will improve efficiency. While theoretically, you get better hill climbing with a mid-drive, you'll usually find both types will climb just about any hill.
What's the difference between a cadence sensor and a torque sensor?
With a torque sensor, the power delivered is increased proportionately to the amount of pedal force the rider is applying. So as you pedal harder, the motor automatically delivers more assistance. As you reduce pressure, you get a little less assistance. It’s essentially amplifying whatever power you are applying to the pedals. You have multiple levels of pedal assist, each representing a higher or lower amplification of your power. A torque sensor can feel more like riding a conventional bicycle than a cadence sensor. It also tends to deliver power smoother.
A cadence sensor, perhaps more appropriately called a crank sensor, delivers a uniform amount of assistance at each assist level, regardless of the pressure you apply. It is activated just by getting the crank turning. Because a cadence sensor is not reading your pedal pressure, the power delivery is not quite as smooth or “bike-like.” But it’s fairly easy to adapt your use of the controls to smooth out the power delivery. Some people prefer a cadence sensor because it provides a great power sensation without applying much pedal pressure.
The best way to know which pedal assist type is right for you is to try them both.
How fast can an electric bike go?
If you are pedalling, you can go as fast as you can pedal it. However, most bikes stop providing electric assist while pedalling at a certain speed set by the display.
Can I ride an e-bike as a regular bike - without the electric power?
Yes. And it is easy to switch back and forth. For example, you might want to use the power only when going up hills.
Is servicing an e-bike any different than a regular bike?
Look at an e-bike as comprising two parts – mechanical and electric.
- Mechanical parts are the same parts that you’ll see on non-electric bikes. Servicing mechanical parts can be performed at any bike shop.
You might find that your bike parts might wear a little faster than on a non-electric bike – especially brake pads, chains, cogs, and tires. But that’s because most people put many more miles on their e-bikes.
There is some basic maintenance that you can do on your own, like keeping your tires properly inflated and lubricating your chain.
- The electrical parts don’t require any maintenance. If you run into a problem with an electrical part, please contact our service center, we are open 6 days a week.
While not really a maintenance task, you want to ensure that the battery keeps some charge in it. If you don’t, it might discharge to a point so low that you can’t charge it anymore, thus killing your battery – an expensive mistake to make.
Richmond E-Bike has a complete mechanical and electrical work service department, with expertise in servicing electrical parts from many different e-bike brands.
What about leaving my electric bicycle out in the rain?
The motor and battery are sufficiently sealed to be protected from the rain. However, if you are carrying your bike in the back of a car and rain is in the forecast, you place the battery inside the car and cover all exposed connections. Driving 100km/h in a downpour with the battery exposed is like pressure-washing your battery. That's a lot different than riding your bike in the rain.