The Chainlink

Yes, but they shouldn’t. Riding an e-bike still takes work. Unlike a moped, pedal-assist doesn’t mean you simply let the thing fling you forward. You’re still pedaling, but as you do, the motor enhances your efforts.

When you climb a hill, you pedal with more force, and the bike funnels in just enough power to let you rise with ease. It doesn’t feel like cheating, and the rider gets to think, “Hey, I’m much stronger than I thought.”

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As long as riders don't exceed the speed that is safe for road or path conditions, why not?  I am not interested in electric assist, but I would be if I lived in a hilly area and wanted to use a cargo bike, or maybe if I had knee issues.

I'd agree.  They're getting so stealth now anyway that soon many people won't even be able to identify pedal-assist e-bikes.  Orbea just announced one that looks like just a standard road bike, and I've already seen Treks that I couldn't really tell were e-assist until I looked hard. 

My hope is that a reasonable regulation is set (either by the industry itself, or by the City), which caps e-bikes at a reasonable speed (I'd say at least under 25, though lower is justified I think).  IMHO, anything that is electric and can go over 25 should be required to be licensed and insured, and should only be allowed to operate on the road (and out of bike lanes).

But then this happens:

Homemade e-bike project catches fire, destroys home
Published October 9, 2018

HAMPSTEAD, Md. (BRAIN) — Maryland fire investigators say a 25-year-old man assembling a do-it-yourself e-bike caused a fire that destroyed a house.

No one was injured in the fire, which started Sunday afternoon.

According to the Maryland State Fire Marshal, Robert Floto was loading lithium-ion batteries into the bike's battery pack when two of the lithium battery terminals touched, creating an explosion that caused other batteries to explode and ignite nearby combustibles.

"Robert Floto was able to push the bike out the rear door to the exterior. Floto and his father attempted to extinguish the fire with multiple fire extinguishers; however the fire quickly spread throughout the room and into the house. Investigators consider the home a total loss," investigators said.

They said the three-level single-family home structure was valued at $175,000 and the home's contents were worth $50,000.

The two-alarm fire took firefighters about 50 minutes to control.

Maybe it happens more than we would like to think. Two friends I know had their battery packs catch fire for their respective rigs. Both burnt out their garage and storage space.

This alone make me hesitant to go and invest in such a potentially flammable situation.

With lithium ion batteries and variants, owing to their ultra-high storage capacity and the strict standards necessary to properly make them, quality is of the utmost importance.  Good lithium batteries are expensive, so the world is flooded with cheap, poorly-manufactured ones.  The crappy ones are extremely prone to short circuits and to becoming physically damaged and overheating.  Those are the ones in all those hoverboards that ignite.  It's not a good idea to even buy cheap 18650 batteries for flashlights, much less dozens of them wired together to create power packs.  In my experience, the Japanese lithium ion batteries, while spendy, are the best.  I wouldn't worry too much about e-bike battery packs as long as they are well-constructed and use cells from known trusted manufacturers.  Also, unlike the guy in that article, I'm sure that you know which battery terminal should be touched to which.      

No, I'm holding out for one of those new fangled, steam engine powered bicycles. They don't make them like they never used to anymore.

I remember seeing one of those as a patent for a compressed air engine inside the seat tube and bottom bracket. Hydrolysis of the condensed water from the compressor tank provides hydrogen fuel for burning inside the piston chamber.

More bikes on the roads is a good thing. I don't really care if they have electric motors or not. 
I also don't see any problem with sharing our bike lanes & paths with electric scooters, skateboards, etc as long as they're being courteous and responsible, and not riding in a way that is dangerous to others. 

I do agree about high speed being an issue. 25mph is too fast for most bike lanes and paths, regardless of power source. And while we've all seen plenty of examples of pedal powered cyclists riding dangerously fast for the situation, e-bikes definitely make it easier to ride like an idiot. This all comes down to riding responsibly and setting reasonable regulations on the industry. 

On the good side of things, E-bikes greatly expand the range of possibilities for bike commuting, and e-assist can make it much easier to ride heavier cargo bikes and pull trailers in the city. For some families, an e-cargo bike might be a viable replacement for a second car allowing you to run errands and ferry the kids around without climbing into an SUV, or needing to kit up and arrive a sweaty mess. 

I'm seeing fewer electric bikes than I am seeing electric scooters and skateboards which have very different riding characteristics than bikes when it comes to speed, braking and maneuverability.

Same here. I want to embrace them in the hope that their use will mean less cars on the road. However, when I see an electric skateboarder going ~25 mph on the lakefront trail, I get all conflicted because I feel like path users should be using at least some human power to stay moving (except for things like electric wheelchairs for those who need them). This could be a thread in and of itself. I can forget about such dilemmas for a little while, as the e-skateboard's tiny wheels will not work well on the bumpy salt flat that the path becomes during winter.

I was just in New York and saw lots of E Bikes. 90% of them looked like the same brand of cheap homemade rig, with no pedal assist (just the throttle type). Seems like someone is doing a good business out of their garage or basement.


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