Is Mercedes’ Formula E Team Electric Bike Worth $5,100? Here’s what you need to know
Types of electric bike
E-bikes come in all shapes and sizes, just like “regular” bikes, so it should be easy to find something that suits your needs.
There are simple hybrid designs (much like racing bikes but with straight handlebars), classic designs, folders, electric mountain bikes and complete racers, if you feel the need for speed.
What to look for when buying an electric bike
Even the most modern motors and batteries are still quite heavy, so an e-bike will always be heavier than the equivalent non-electric model. The average weight is around 20 kg, but some are almost three times the weight of a standard hybrid. “Dutch” stepper designs, for example, can reach 25 kg or more.
If you regularly need to climb stairs with your bike or lift it into the back of a car, consider a lighter folding model. Some racing-style e-bikes weigh around 12kg, but they can cost a fortune.
Use your e-bike regularly to get the most out of its battery – they don’t like to be left flat for weeks or months – and make sure you can take it out to charge indoors if you don’t have nowhere safe to plug it in outside. Most batteries recharge from flat in just a few hours.
Battery size can dictate e-bike range, so if you only need it for local rides, don’t spend the extra money on a model that can last ages between charges.
Most cyclists will find a range of 30-50 miles, but some batteries can carry an e-bike and go up to 100 miles if used sparingly.
Keep in mind that zooming to the highest power setting can burn through even a bigger, fully charged battery in as little as 20 miles – and it’s no fun trying to coax a heavy e-bike to the house on the power of the legs alone.
Even with today’s skyrocketing electricity prices, it barely costs to charge an e-bike battery – less than boiling a kettle. No matter how many miles you rack up in a year, you’re still likely to see huge savings on the cost of running a car.
Don’t forget to factor in the cost of annual maintenance – a heavy e-bike will go through brake pads and tires faster than a manual cycle.
AU e-bike rules
Electric bike laws in Australia are quite simple. To travel on public roads, electric bikes must:
1. Have a motor of 250 watts or less.
2. If it has a throttle (which powers the bike without pedaling), have a 200 watt motor or less.
3. Be limited to 25km/h
Throttles are allowed on 250W motors if they are limited to 6 km/h (to help walking the bike).