28th February 2012

Electric bikes

Giant Twist Express

Giant Twist Express

If you have been led to believe that eBikes are for people too old or too frail to pedal without motorised assistance, it’s time to drop your preconceptions.

Electric Bikes (AKA eBikes) are relevant to anyone who

  • wants to ride to work without getting in a sweat.
  • agrees it’s a laugh to overtake much fitter riders on steep hills.
  • believes that cycling is too much like hard work.
  • owns a car and wonders how to save on fuel costs.
  • usually cycles but hops in the car when it’s windy or they’re a little behind schedule or they’re leg weary or…

And if eBikes are also a dynamic life-enhancing transport solution for the old and frail, don’t knock it. You will definitely be older and probably more frail one day too.

What is an electric bike?

An electric bike is similar to a conventional bicycle but with one crucial difference. A battery-powered electric motor kicks in when assistance is welcome such as when riding uphill or into a head wind. An electric bike can therefore deliver all the fun and the freedom you associate with riding – no sweat. Less pain: more gain. Who doesn’t want that?

Pedal assist

Unlike first-generation electric bikes, which obliged you to depress a bar-mounted button to activate the motor, today’s eBikes sense your pedalling input and deliver the power assistance you require.

Battery range and life expectancy

With companies such as Panasonic producing ever more efficient Lithium Ion batteries for eBikes you can now expect range distances of at least 30km in challenging conditions, and over 100km on easier terrain, before you need to recharge the battery.

Battery life expectancy

Every eBike we stock comes with a battery that will be good for at least 500 charges. What’s more, even after 500 charge cycles the battery will still have around 70% capacity so it will be viable for most trips.

Depending on the eBike and where you ride it you can expect a total run distance of between 20,000 and 50,000 kilometres before the battery is exhausted. That’s many years riding, even for the high-mileage cyclist.

Bar-mount computer

Better eBikes come fitted with handlebar-mounted computers. This can simply be a ‘fuel gauge’ that displays the battery’s charge status. Sometimes the computer doubles as a ‘control centre’ which lets you set the power-assist level required.

Typically, you get a range of power settings. Set it at maximum, the engine supplies up to 75% of the power required to propel the bike forward. Set it at minimum (AKA eco) power level, the engine only supplies 25% of the power and the battery run time multiplies.

You can switch the power assist off and it will ride like a normal bicycle when you’re feeling frisky and looking for more vigourous exercise.

Front or rear wheel drive?

Everything else being equal, an eBike with rear wheel drive will be a better climber and faster accelerator, thanks to its improved engine efficiency and higher torque. Some riders still prefer front wheel drive because the bike feels more balanced. Also, should you have to fix a puncture, removing the front wheel is usually easier than removing a motorised rear wheel.

Electric Bikes Improve Your Health

Research at the Institute of Transport Studies, Monash University, Australia revealed that riding an electric bike fell into the moderate exercise category. This means that your heart rate remains predominantly in the target zone where fats are burned to produce energy and cardiovascular benefits are gained without significant lactic acid build up – the key to fitness gain without pain.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults should aim to achieve at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity 5 days of the week. You could easily achieve that aim just by riding to work everyday on an electric bike.

Research also shows that many people only consider cycle commuting if they live close to their workplace. Five miles is the maximum for most folk – until they experience the benefits of power assisted pedalling and discover that 10 or even 15 mile eBike commutes are viable. This throws up a wonderful paradox. Everything else being equal, the eBike commuter gets more exercise than the non-electric (acoustic?) bike owner who doesn’t cycle to work.

To sum up, eBikes abound with benefits

  • Legally, eBikes are bicycles with all the benefits that implies.
  • You’ll enjoy the ride – even when you’re knackered at the end of the working day.
  • No license, no test, no MOT, no Vehicle Excise Duty.
  • Whilst recommended, a helmet and insurance are not mandatory.
  • Free parking.
  • Saves significant money compared with other forms of motorised transport.
  • The cost of recharging the battery is negligible.
  • Great fun.
  • Nearly everyone who tries out an eBike comes back grinning.

You owe it to yourself to pop into any of our shops to arrange a test ride.

Check out our latest range of eBikes.

4 comments on “Electric bikes

  1. mark fraser on

    hi i am interested in getting the 2012 giant twist express, does it have anti puncture slime innertubes like previous models?

    if i did get a puncture can the wheels be removed easily?

    • Edinburgh Bicycle Coop on

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for getting in touch, and great to hear you are considering the Giant Twist Express.

      The 2012 model doesn’t come with slime inner tubes. Its wheels are nutted so we’d recommend you carry a spanner such as the Ice Toolz All in One Track Tool.

      Familiarising yourself with the fitting of the wheels would facilitate speedier puncture repair or you could opt to try and prevent punctures by either upgrading the tyres or tubes.

      If you have any further questions please get in touch.

      All the best.

  2. kev pedlar on

    My wife has had a Giant Express R21 for 4 1/2 years and loves it. We’ve been on cycling holidays and she has ridden it up Alpe d’Huez and other Tour de France mountains on it !

    We’re planning JOGLE next year and while to date we’ve had no problems, I’m concerned how to change the front tyre as the hub motor is on the front wheel.
    How do you cope with disconnecting the electrics ?
    Sod’s law says it will need doing in heavy rain in the middle of nowhere !!



    • Edinburgh Bicycle Coop on

      Hi Kev,

      Thanks for your enquiry and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. Unfortunately with this being an older model of electric bike I am unaware of the exact process for removing the front wheel. However, you are correct these sort of things do tend to occur at the worst possible time and it would therefore be handy to know the exact process. Bearing this in mind, if you can get to one of our shops a mechanic will be more than happy to walk you through the process.

      All the best.


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