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E-Bike Roundup: Pedals Plus Power

by Paul Strauss

If you need to get around the city and don’t want to worry about parking, gasoline or traffic, then biking is a great way to get around. But if you have a long distance to travel, lots of uphill stretches or just don’t want to be all sweaty when you get to the office, an E-bike is an even better alternative. They’re also great if you have a physical limitation which makes it difficult to pedal at full force. I recently had the opportunity to ride a number of electric bikes at a recent industry event put on by Interbike and Outdoor Retailer, and wanted to share some of my favorites with you.

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Among several bikes I tested from CurrieTech, I really enjoyed riding their eFlow line. Designed in Switzerland, these modern road bikes offer a fast and efficient ride, while providing plenty of pedal assistance via a 500-watt direct-drive rear wheel motor. These bikes can hit speeds from 20 to 28mph depending on how hard you pedal, and conceal their powerful battery packs inside their seat posts, which also help balance weight. Prices for the eFlow line start at $3500(USD).

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Another bike I thoroughly enjoyed was the M1 Erzberg. This full-suspension electric mountain bike is incredibly lightweight, thanks to its carbon fiber frame, and lightweight interchangeable battery packs – which are disguised as water bottles. This luxury bike can be fitted with either a 250-watt Pedelec system to boost speeds up to 15mph, or a 500-watt Sport Pedelec system which tops out at 28mph. The M1 Erzberg is available here in the U.S. from Pete’s Electric Bikes for $7995. If you’ve got that sort of budget, you might also want to check out the M1 Secede, a carbon bike that break into two sections for ease of transport.

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If you already have a bike you love, but would like the added benefits of an electric drive, then check out BionX. These guys offer a sophisticated add-on system which can turn any bike into an electrically-assisted one, replacing the rear wheel with a motor-driven one, and adding a battery pack and controller. The installation process takes about an hour for a qualified dealer, and the system adds features like proportional pedaling assistance, and regenerative braking. Of all the bikes I tested, I found the BionX motor and its control system to provide the most natural and seamless feel in augmenting my pedaling. Prices for the BionX E-Bike system range from about $1000 to $2100, depending on the bike.

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Last, but certainly not least are the bikes from ProdecoTech. These guys offer a very wide variety of E-bikes to suit urban, off-road, and casual biking. They’re probably best known for their Outlaw SS, a bad-ass bike that can crank out a steady 28mph, thanks to a huge 750W motor, and motorcycle-like throttle control. With similarly sporty aesthetics to the Outlaw, the Oasis is a cruiser with an attitude. Driven by the same powerful motor, you’ll be able to zip from one end of the beach to the other in half the time of pedaling alone. One thing to keep in mind is that the large battery pack required to drive the motor adds quite a bit of weight to these bikes.The Oasis is also very well priced as E-bikes go, selling for just $1799.

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In case you’re wondering, range for most electric bikes seems to land between about 25 to 35 miles when letting the motor do most of the work, while you can go closer to 40 miles if you’re doing a normal amount of pedaling. But like any electric vehicle, range is dependent on riding style, hills, elevation and rider weight.

For more on the wide variety of E-bikes out there, be sure to check out our friends over at Electric Bike Review, who offer tremendous depth and breadth in evaluating the bikes on the market.

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