At EVELO, we are on a mission to make cycling accessible to everyone - regardless of hills, fitness levels, age, and other barriers - through electric bikes. Electric bicycles create a whole new transportation paradigm - enabling people to get around cities more efficiently, leave their cars at home, and improve their health in the meantime. We've seen countless clients switch from other modes of transportation to electric bikes.  While on an e-bike, you control pedaling and have the peace of mind in knowing a small, integrated motor is there to give a boost when needed. In Europe and Asia, the electric bike industry is growing tremendously with over 200M e-biks on the road today, and it’s quickly gaining traction in North America. People engage us on a daily basis, curious to learn more. However, finding the right information can be overwhelming. For example, what’s the difference between various motors and batteries? What questions should you ask a local retailer? How are electric bikes different from scooters and other motorized transportation? A lot of online information is fragmented, contradictory, or outdated, requiring you to sift through a multitude of websites to get accurate, real-time answers. There must be a better way to understand options and get information on how to make the best buying decision.  There is! We’ve created the most comprehensive and accessible electric bike guide on the web and we're proud to share The Complete Electric Bike Buyer's Guide! In this 17,000-word guide you’ll learn:
  • why e-bikes make great all-around vehicles
  • what kind of e-bike rider you are
  • what types of e-bike models, options, and technologies are available
  • which e-bike components and designs will best meet your needs,
  • how to shop for the e-bike that will give you exactly what you’re looking for
  • how to get the most out of your e-bike.
We hope the information helps you find the perfect electric bike you’ll ride for years! CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE ELECTRIC BIKE BUYERS GUIDE We'd love to know what you think!
Originally posted MutliBriefs: Exclusive on November 11, 2014   With the ongoing growth of the electric bike industry in the U.S., more individuals are looking for ways to get involved in this space. For many, they see potential and opportunity for electric bikes to take off within their community, city or region. I regularly get inquiries from folks who are looking to start a business by bringing and promoting electric bikes in their area. For those individuals, it represents an opportunity to capitalize on the growing industry, while being involved with a product they feel passionate about. The challenge, however, lies with how exactly to get involved. One of the first routes that many explore is opening up an electric bike shop. Unfortunately, the high cost of opening up a retail space and time commitment required to manage it on a daily basis ends up being a dealbreaker for most. After all, developing a brick-and-mortar shop from scratch can easily run north of $100,000. As such, if a traditional electric bike store requires more funds and resources than you are prepared to commit, another good option to consider is starting an electric bike tour-and-rental business. This offers an opportunity to benefit from the growing industry while promoting and sharing electric bikes within your community or city. Most importantly, it is significantly easier to get up and running and requires a much smaller investment. A tour-and-rental business may not require a full brick-and-mortar location to get started. There are many opportunities to partner up with other businesses (e.g. hotels) or simply provide delivery of bikes to the customers' location. While the latter is harder to scale in the long run, it's a great way to test the waters while keeping the investment low. Tours and rentals are also an effective way to the cash flow going right away. Since your customers are dealing with smaller amounts of $40-120 per rental or a tour vs. $2,000-$3,000 for a bike purchase, you'll find that those customers are easier to attract and turnover. Your largest upfront investment is composed of the initial inventory of bikes used for the service. While that does require a cash outlay upfront, most such companies tend to sell this inventory at the end of the season thus recuperating most of the initial cost. Many electric bike brands also specialize in helping new companies get off the ground by providing additional essential services, such as:
  • Online marketing support: With carefully designed ads on Google and other search engines, as well as a well-planned promotion on Groupon, LivingSocial and similar websites, it makes it easier to get customers in right away.
  • Sale commissions: Although the core of your business may be tours or rentals, you can still benefit from any sales of bikes that are generated. If your electric bike supplier can dropship the bikes to the clients you bring through the door, it creates an important additional revenue stream without increasing your investment upfront.
If you are considering starting a new electric bike tour-and-rental business, there are a few things to consider first:
  • Think about your market. Is there an adequate tourism infrastructure to provide a regular flow of prospects looking to explore your city or area?
  • Tours vs. rentals, or both? Tours can provide a higher profit margin and can be more fun to operate, as they provide ample opportunity to connect with other folks in a relaxed, nonrushed environment. Rentals are typically lower priced, but can scale better as they require a more hands-off approach.
  • Your supplier. Who will you work with to supply your inventory? Are their electric bikes suitable for rentals and tours? Can they help you get up and running?
If you are looking to get involved in the e-bike industry, an electric bike tour-and-rental concept can be an exciting lifestyle business that can allow you to get started quickly while minimizing your risk and investment.
When we think about technologies that have changed the world, and how we function and exist in it, there are certain ones that come to mind. The automobile, the computer, and most recently, the smartphone.    There is, however, another technology that is quietly flourishing and spreading around us without getting nearly as much attention. One that has the world changing potential - the Electric Bicycle.   In fact, the technology is so popular that in Asia, the world's largest e-bike market, there are two hundred million of them in use. They account for over a quarter of all the bicycles in the country. In the United States, the numbers are smaller for now.  Yet, more and more people are becoming aware of them, and adoption rates are increasing. 20 years from now, as we reflect back on our search for the personal mobility solution, we are likely not going to remember the world before ebikes just as it is becoming harder to remember it before the smartphones came along. The Back Story Electric vehicles have been in existence for over a hundred years. They predate the gasoline-driven versions by several decades. In fact, if someone in the year 1900 had to bet on the future of cars, they'd have put their money on electricity.   Although the first patents for something resembling today’s bicycles date to the 1890s, the modern electric bike is only about 20 years old with most popularity gained in the past few years. The early modern ebike suffered from the same issue it’s vintage counterpart did - both used heavy, short-lived and expensive batteries – like lead-acid technology making them heavy, unreliable and impractical. One of the side effects of the technological revolution of the recent past is finally shaking things up. Thanks to the rapid scaling of laptop, cell phone and other mobile electronic device production, a much lighter and durable battery became affordable – lithium ion.  Battery packs that used to weigh 20 lbs and provide only a few miles of range now weigh  less than 10 lbs and provide up to 60+ miles of range. Today, most electric bicycles use these cells. Finally after a century of being little more than a fringe idea, ebikes are starting to boom and come into the mainstream.  The technology is maturing, and we are atarting to consider e-bikes as reliable daily transportation and recreation for the masses. This led people to wonder what separates an electric bike from a regular bike.

Why people choose to get an electric bike.

Once they find out about electric bikes, many people wonder why someone would buy one instead of a regular bike.  These doubts resolve around:
  • what's the technical difference between the two?
  • what are the advantages of an electric bike?
  • isn’t the point of riding a bike to get exercise?  
  • why are they much more expensive than regular bikes?
These are all compelling and valid questions that we often find ourselves answering to customers.  After all, there is a lot of misunderstanding around them. As they are whole new type of transportation, people aren't that familiar with them yet. But don't worry. By the end of this post, you'll know the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike. And what is more important, you'll know if an electric bike is for you.

What are the technical differences between a regular bike and an electric one?

So, now we come to the question: How are they different, technically? It’s simple!   An electric bike is a regular bike with the addition of an electrical drive system. This consists of a battery, a motor, a way to integrate the motor’s power into the drivetrain, and a way to control that power.   Image of an EVELO electric bike. In the image above you can spot the 4 components:
  • Our mid-drive motor is at the center, below the frame.
  • The battery that powers the motor is in the rear rack.
  • The drivetrain that integrates the power is in the rear wheel. In this case, it's the NuVinci N360.
  • Finally, the throttle, which controls that power, is in the handlebar.
In essence, that’s it! Yes, we know. They look like a regular bike but let's do a deeper dive.   Let's start with the electric mid-drive motor. This is the main component and is what makes the bike ride effortlessly. This type of motor has higher performance and torque when compared to a traditional hub motor. As it drives the crank and not the wheel, it multiplies its power and takes better advantage of the bike’s existing gears. Also, it's positioned close to the center of gravity and low to the ground. This helps improve the handling of your electric bike, as it distributes the weight better throughout the bike. Now, the battery. This is usually the most expensive and heavy component of the bike. A typical electric bike battery (as an example, 36V10Ah) can provide you with up to 40 miles of riding, depending on a few factors. You can remove it with ease to take to your home or office to charge. Third, the bike's drivetrain. This is what delivers power to the driving wheels and convert speed and torque via gears. In this case, the NuVinci N360. Instead of having only a few gears to switch through as you encounter a change in terrain, you have an unlimited range controlled by the turn of a dial. A big hill? Turn up the “volume” and the NuVinci N360 will adjust. Finally, the throttle. This is the mechanism that allows you to control the motor. For example, our bikes use a half twist throttle integrated into the handlebar. Twist it with your right hand, and you'll experience the motor kick in. Apart from those 4, electric bikes share the same components than regular bikes. A frame, two wheels, disc brakes, suspension, a comfortable seat, handlebars, and pedals. What it's important to remember is that there will always be differences. What I described above is the typical EVELO electric bike. But since e-bikes are a new technology, there are many different approaches to it.  For instance, some people prefer a hub motor over a mid-drive. There isn’t one electric bike that is perfect for everyone. You just need to find which one is perfect for you. But now, on to the next big question!

How does it affect the actual riding experience

We've talked about the technical difference between both worlds. But I'm sure that's not why you came here. You want to know what's the difference for you. There is a clear answer: e-bikes take some of the disadvantages of a regular bike and throw them out the window. A regular bike is a fantastic method of transportation and recreation. People have been riding bikes since the 1800s and they still do today. It gives you freedom and fun   Entire cities, like Amsterdam, run on bikes.
Many of Amsterdam's residents commute on bikes. Photo by Sabina Fratila.
  The problem is when things like hills, fitness levels, health or even the simple inconvenience of arriving to work sweaty gets in the way of enjoying the ride. The electric motor solves that. It shortens the time and distance and flattens out the hills. It makes riding convenient, easy and effortless when otherwise it wouldn't have been. Big hills on your route? You live on a super windy area? No problem! Use that electric boost and swift through the hills. You'll be able to conquer them in no time. Is your destination 20 miles away and you don’t have 2 hours to get there?  Use the electric motor to travel at 20 mph without breaking a sweat. This will save you time. Are your knees or hips (or heart or leg muscles) not what they were when you were 20 years old?  Again, no problem! As we age, in general, we have less capacity to put out power. Our knees start to ache more, and we feel discouraged. We stop exercising, gain weight and put even more load on those poor knees. An e-bike will get you out of there - it makes it super easy to start exercising again! Are you afraid your recreational ride will end in terror? Maybe in the past, you could ride 20 or more miles with no problems, but now it’s not so easy.  We know the feeling. When you have an electric bike, you don’t need to worry about getting halfway through a ride and finding yourself far from home, exhausted. The motor is your friend, and we'll get you home without a pinch. Any bike gives you freedom. Freedom from having to drive everywhere and sit in traffic. Freedom to go where you need, when you need, and not have to worry about the price of gas. Freedom to have fun. An e-bike just adds to this freedom by making biking easier and more fun, or just accessible in the first place. That's the real difference.

Isn't an Electric Bike Cheating?

Electric bikes makes riding convenient, easy and effortless. And this might keep you wondering: "Isn’t the point of riding a bike to get exercise?  Isn’t an ebike cheating?”. That's a legitimate question a lot of people have. And the answer is no. It can be counterintuitive at first, but bare with me. First of all, that fantastic electric motor is there to help you, but you don’t have to use it all the time. The pedal assist makes riding super easy, but you can just pedal or use the motor only. Plus, electric bikes make exercising accessible, whether you are fit or not. In fact, most e-bike riders get more exercise as they ride more often, and for longer distances. I’m a dedicated bicyclist who loves being out there on the road, turning the pedals and feeling the wind.  I can’t even remember not being able to ride, and not loving it, too. And despite that, when I faced the 30-40 mile round-trip commute to work, I usually reached for the car keys. Why? I didn’t have the time or energy to do that every day.  My route was usually hilly, and riding to work just wasn’t a viable, everyday option. And I’d go back to the car. The same happens with errands. You still need to go to the store, right? An e-bike lets you do that with greater ease. This means you’ll be more likely to leave those car keys on the table by the door and grab your helmet instead.   For most people, the difference between an electric bike and a regular bike is riding or not riding. Riding a regular bike is fun, but exhausting. Electric bikes are easy, convenient and accessible, so you'll be more inclined to ride and exercise.    Pedal a lot, or a little, or not at all.  Unlike a regular bike, you have a choice!

The Conclusion

Riding any bike at all gives you so many things. Freedom, stress-reduction, better health, more free time, more enjoyment. And we shouldn’t dismiss other benefits, such as reduced car traffic and a better environment. The difference relies in the fact that e-bikes make it possible for more people to ride and ride farther.   No longer do you need to worry that you won’t be strong enough, or have enough endurance to complete a ride.  Starting any new endeavor takes confidence and determination. By giving you those, an electric bike gets you out on the road, having fun. Electric bikes will never completely replace the regular bicycle or the car. But by eliminating the barriers that stop so many people from riding, such as their health, hills or distance, more people will ride.   If concerns like these have kept you off a bike, then an electric bike might be just the thing you need to get back out there. Do your research, read owner reviews, and find a good, high quality e-bike from a company that will give you many years of enjoyment! You won't regret it!