You Gotta Feel It – It’s Electric!

About a year ago, I test drove an e-Bike here at the Performance home office and it kind of blew my mind. I had been sick, and was getting over a cold, so I wasn’t too keen about going out in the chilly weather while wearing office clothes to try out a bike, but I’m so glad I did. The first thing I noticed was that the build of the e-Bike was a bit heftier than a traditional bike, next I noticed the display unit that lets you change assistant levels and tells you how fast you’re going, and lastly I was surprised that the rest of the bike was built like a traditional bicycle – there was not much that was new that I needed to learn to ride it.

I got on the bike and started pedaling. There was some resistance while I was pedaling, so instead of downshifting (like I normally would), I turned up the e-Bike motor and boom! I was almost instantly going 12mph while pedaling at a speed that would have normally only had me going about 5 or 6mph. There’s a steep hill on our “test track” here, so I kicked the motor up another notch to make it up the hill. I made it up the hill effortlessly… going almost 20mph. The burst of energy that the e-Bike provided me during that test ride was enough to leave a lasting impression on me a whole year later.

Since then, I’ve recommended e-Bike test rides to anyone who will listen. As someone who enjoys cycling, it’s something you’ve got to try. The burst of energy you get to make it over a hill is thrilling. But, e-Bikes are not just for speed seekers, like myself. Nearly anyone can find a good reason to enjoy riding an e-Bike.

  • Current commuters looking to decrease their ride time to work (or find extra time to stop for coffee)
  • New commuters who are ready to go green and ditch their car ride
  • Cyclists who do deliveries on their bike (Could Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Delivery get even faster??)
  • Recreational cyclists wanting to add something new to their weekend excursions
  • Students needing to get to class quickly (or sleep in a few extra minutes)
  • Returning cyclists who haven’t ridden in a while, want to get back out on a bike, but might need pedaling assistance
  • Fresh air seekers looking to enjoy the outdoors more and their screen time less (Which, let’s be honest, is just about everyone)
  • Mountain Bikers wanting to scale inclines quicker

Yes, there are all types of e-Bikes. Road bikes, Mountain bikes (hardtail and full-suspension), Cruisers, Greenway bikes, and more. And other than learning to use the display unit while riding, they all ride like a traditional bike. You can still shift gears, brake normally, change your own tires, and pedal like you’re used to.

The only new parts that you should be aware of are the battery, the electric motor, and the display unit. Not all e-Bikes have the same set-up with these new parts. There are variations that can affect the distance they will run on a single charge, the weight distribution, the build of the frame, how much pedaling assistance they can provide, etc. Here’s a quick buyer’s guide to help explain the differences:

e-Bike Part Variations How it affects your ride
Battery Type SLA Battery Heavy, shorter distances, short battery life, lower price
Lithium-ion Battery Lightweight, long distances, long battery life, higher price
Battery Location Down Tube Heavy center weight, easy to balance, water bottle on seat tube
Seat Tube Heavy center weight, easy to balance, water bottle on down tube
Rear Rack Heavy back weight, less space for storage, visually obvious
Internal Evenly distributed weight, light weight, sleek look
Electric Motor Direct Hub Drive Quieter, less torque, less efficient and heavier than geared hub
Geared Hub Drive Lighter, smaller, longer distance, and higher torque than direct hub
Center Drive Mounted to the frame with a more natural riding feel than direct hubs
Motor Assist Modes Pedal Assist Assists up to 20mph while pedaling*, 3-4 assist levels
Throttle Assist Pedaling not required, assists up to 20mph*, can be on or off
Walk Assist Assists up to 4mph, helps walk bikes up hill

*Some e-Bikes can assist more than 20 mph, depending on their class type and state regulations. Laws for e-Bikes differs from state to state regarding the amount of assistance allowed, where they can be ridden, whether or not you need a license for one, etc. For more information about your state’s laws on e-Bikes, click here.

If you haven’t done a test ride on one, pop over to any of our Performance Bicycle locations and discover the thrill of riding an e-Bike.

10 thoughts on “You Gotta Feel It – It’s Electric!

      1. They’re not common, but some do assist over 20mph. The classifications of e-Bikes, their pedal assistance power, and where they’re allowed to ride differs from state to state. In some places, they are considered a motorbike at over 25mph of assistance.

  1. I’ve tried several e-bikes and ended up buying a fat tire e-bike “for my wife”. Even though I have about 25k miles of road cycling, it is refreshing to have the assist that an e-bike gives specially on days you feel a bit lethargic. Our bike is a tank at about 65 pounds so it is unwieldy to load into a car. Special considerations are needed in choosing a suitably strong bike rack that doesn’t require very high lifting. I like that I can take this bike on very sandy trails. I still get a very good workout but now I don’t come home with sore knees. I’ll say this much: it has rekindled my love of cycling.

    1. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all built to be in the condition to ride a bike for our entire lives? I’m glad e-Bikes exist, because they allow those of us who want to ride more often, but can’t (for whatever the reason), to still enjoy some wind therapy.
      Yes, the battery and motor drive can add up on its overall weight, and loading them in to a car (especially at 65lbs, wow!) can be daunting.
      However, if it rekindled your love of cycling, I’d consider that a win.

  2. Mountain Bikers wanting to scale inclines quicker?
    As long as it is on motorized trails. These are not allowed on non motorized trails.
    Make sure you share with the public the facts.

    1. Thank you for your reply! We want our readers to stay informed. I added a bit in the second to last paragraph regarding the laws on e-Bikes as they differ from state to state.

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