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Thinking of getting an electric bike? I bought one! It’s the Lectric XP ebike, and I love it — it’s a very comfortable ride.
E-bikes are becoming more popular every day, and greater numbers of people are becoming familiar with them.
I thought I’d share some of the most important things that I’ve learned along the way — to help you a bit before you buy your first eBike…
What Is An eBike?
An eBike (electric bike or E-bike) is a battery-powered bicycle that makes a great city bike. Basically, if you can ride a bike, then you can ride an ebike as well.
It looks just like a regular bicycle — but it in addition to having pedals, it also has an electric motor to make the pedaling easier. So whenever you want to keep bicycling without exerting all of the energy (like when going uphill or on long trips), you choose the level of “assist” you want and the motor will provide more power as you pedal.
The best part about an eBike is the fact that you can bike longer and at faster speeds with less effort. Of course, when the charge runs out on your eBike, you will have to pedal just as hard as with a regular bike.
This graphic from Evelo explains how an electric bike works:
The types and brands of e-Bikes are exploding on the Internet — to the point that you need to do some careful research to make sure the one you choose will fit your needs properly.
What Electric Bike Features Do You Need… Or Want?
I started exploring the idea of getting an electric bike about 6 before I actually bought one.
After I saw a few eBikes show up in local stores (a hardware store and then a satellite TV store), my first thought was, “These stores are just trying to cash in on the new fad.”
I knew that an electric bike would fit nicely into my lifestyle — but I wanted to make sure I was dealing with an electric bike company that was in it for the long haul.
My needs were threefold:
- A foldable electric bike
- A smallish ebike
- A fat tire electric bike
I definitely needed something foldable and smaller in size — so it can be easily transported in my RV. (I live in an RV fulltime.)
But most of all I was concerned about parts and service down the road, should I have any problems. I didn’t want to be stuck trying to decipher Chinese in an effort to get replacement parts!
Electric Bike Brands: Lectric E-Bikes vs. Rad Power E-Bikes
There are many brands of E-bikes — but only a handful that I feel have the infrastructure to back up their product.
What good does it do to buy a cheap electric bike (half the price of a reputable brand) if, when the first problem comes up, it becomes a boat anchor… for lack of a better term.
These are 2 of the electric bike brands that I explored at length:
- Lectric is a relative newcomer to the eBike business — that has quickly become an industry leader in the U.S.
- Rad Power is the brand with whiskers — they’ve been around for a number of years.
I diligently followed the progress of the Lectric XP eBike through pre-production and early ordering — with a wait up to 2 months and a price just under $1,000.
The RadMini is a comparable style of E-bike. It has been priced close to $1,500.
I chose to go with the Lectric XP. They have caught up with production — and my order was shipped in about 1 week’s time.
The continued good reviews by customers were no small matter in assuring me that they were good to their word.
There was a price break until Lectric’s processing got up to speed — but I chose to wait until things were rolling along smoothly before ordering. This is not a sponsored review — I paid the full price of $999 for my Lectric XP eBike.
If you compare the RadMini alongside the Lectric XP, you will notice the RadMini is missing a lot of what is standard with the Lectric.
For example… fenders, a rear rack, and a very stout aluminum frame that hides the removable battery pack within the frame are all standard equipment on the Lectric XP ebike.
Though the RadMini is considered a well-established quality brand, the Lectric XP is better appointed and, in my mind, offers more bang for the buck.
In this video, you can see what my Lectric XP eBike is like — watch as I unload it, unfold it, and ride off in less than 2 minutes:
A word about the motor from Lectric eBikes:
The bike can be used in 3 different ways: as a regular bike, pure throttle without pedaling, or in pedal assist mode. The bike is equipped with a rear planetary geared hub motor which utilizes magnets to turn the rear wheel and propel the bike forward. The motor receives power from the battery hidden inside the bike’s frame.
E-Bike Tires / Fat Tire Ebikes
Knowing that I wanted a smaller folding e-Bike, the first item I sourced before ordering the bike was the tires.
My Lectric XP eBike has 20”x4” tires and is referred to as a fat tire electric bike or an electric mountain bike.
TIP: The 20×4 tires are readily available online. Beware of bikes with skinny little special tires that will be hard to find.
Fat tire eBikes are able to go off road to a certain extent. That said, they are not designed for BMX racing or hard use mountain biking.
I’m one digit away from 70 years of age, and although I’ve done a lot of off-road motorcycle riding (decades ago), my current cycling needs are confined to short trips to explore the areas that I will be camping in. Mostly, I’ll be biking to town for milk or bread, and wandering down the forest roads near where I’m camping.
Do You Still Have To Pedal An Electric Bike? What’s An E-Bike’s Range?
Yes, you still have to pedal when using an electric bike. You just don’t have to pedal as hard or as long — because the motor will do a lot of the work for you!
Most eBikes operate with both:
- “Electric assist” — a twist throttle similar to a motorcycle that provides short electric power boosts on the fly.
- “Pedal assist” — a mode you set, based on how much you want the motor to assist with your pedaling.
E-bikes have different range abilities. It’s generally somewhere between 20 and 100 miles — depending on the electric bike and how much you choose to pedal,
TIP: You can extend the range of your electric bike by using the pedals only (without using “pedal assist”) or by reducing the amount of “electric assist” (when going up hills).
I really like how the “pedal assist” detects when you are pedaling and kicks in the electric motor to take all the effort out of pedaling. It’s like you’re pedaling a bicycle with the rear wheel off the ground. You get the exercise of moving your legs while pedaling — without the stress of trying to push a load down the road!
Keep in mind, even if your e-Bike has a throttle, you will still need to pedal when going up hills — you just won’t have to pedal as hard.
NOTE: The LCD computer display on the Lectric XP ebike shows the current battery level, current speed, pedal assist level, and trip distance.
To charge an electric bike, you simply plug it into a wall outlet. Similar to charging your phone, charging an e-Bike typically takes between 2 to 8 hours.
What Is The Maximum Speed Of An Electric Bike?
On my first ride, I quickly realized that these eBikes are wicked fast for an old man! I mean, I no longer bounce from a fall. Shattering is a much more likely result from a spill. So cruising at only 8 to 9 miles per hour suits me just fine. This is a powerful bike that exceeds my personal speed limits.
As set up from the factory, the Lectric XP eBike has a 500W motor and will do 20 mph with power assist.
This makes it a Class 2 electric bike:
- In most states, it is legal on bike trails, bike paths, and bike lanes.
- In most states, it does not require licensing, insurance, or a motorcycle operator’s license.
A few quick button pushes will upgrade the Lectric XP to do 28 mph — moving it into the Class 3 electric bike rating. This level of speed may require special licensing.
Personally, I think 28 mph is too fast to be comfortable on an electric bike. High speed should be reserved to those who are young and immortal. Oh, and be sure to wear a good quality bicycle helmet.
- Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted.
- Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
All 3 of the eBike classes limit the motor’s power to 1 horsepower — 750W.
Be sure to check your local regulations regularly to see if there have been any changes to the law.
The Bottom Line… Is An E-Bike Right For You?
Here are 13 reasons to love electric bicycles — one being that eBikes are great cargo bikes.
A cargo bike is essentially any human powered bicycle, tricycle or pedal-powered 4-wheeler which was designed specifically to carry a load – large or small. In its simplest form, a cargo bike can be a bike with a built-in, reinforced front basket for heavier-than-normal daily transportation needs … Cargo bikes enable the transportation of many more pounds of goods than you could possibly carry on a regular bicycle, with much more economic and environmental efficiency than you can get from a car. They’re your family vehicle, your work truck, your moving van, your party bus. They’re everything you would need a car for — but much more affordable, much more sustainable, and much more fun. Source
If you have any stability issues or bone density problems, an electric bike might not be the best mode of transportation for you. A fall could be disastrous. Instead, (depending on your comfort level) you might want to consider an electric moped or a motorized scooter instead.
On the other hand, if riding a regular bicycle is part of your exercise program right now, then an E-bike will make your abilities and experiences even better.
With top speeds up to 28 mph, a battery range from 20 to 100 miles, and practically no maintenance or fuel expense… there’s almost no better way to get around. This type of riding experience is hard to beat.
Besides it’s good exercise — and a whole lot of fun!
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I’ve been involved in RVing for 50 years now — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you’ve got a good idea of who I am.