Close to one-half of all Americans live in areas with air pollution that is toxic to human health. One major cause of this pollution? Passenger vehicles and heavy-duty trucks.
In recent years, American cities have invested in their bike networks to make biking a safer commuting option. There are more protected bike lanes and paved, off-road trails than ever before. Dutch cities in the Netherlands weren’t always bike safe — it took years of planning and paving these bike networks to make it so.
If you’re interested in biking for personal or environmental health, take a look at this guide to electric bikes.
1. There Are Government Regulations
The definition of an electric bike varies from place to place due to local government regulations. The reason for these regulations is to help update the law as technology advances. Without these regulations, law enforcement would be confused as to whether to treat these vehicles as mopeds, scooters, or traditional bikes.
Most states, twenty-six to be exact, use a three-tiered classification system for electric bikes. The first tier is for e-bikes that top out at 20 mph and only use the battery for pedal assist. The second tier is for bikes that activate the electric motor with a throttle, but not beyond 20 mph.
Most e-bikes qualify as tier 1 or tier 2. Tier 3 e-bikes are also called pedelec bikes, and they top out at 28 mph. The electric motor can only work when the cyclist is pedaling.
The states that use this three-tier system usually do not require registration or licensing for tier 1 and 2 e-bikes. States without a three-tier system, however, have their own strange definitions of e-bikes. They often lump them all into the ‘moped’ category.
2. You Still Get a Work Out
Some elitist cyclists consider it ‘cheating’ to use an electric bike. The next time someone makes a snarky comment about e-bikes, you can inform them that there is only a 10 bpm heart rate difference between e-bike riders and traditional bike riders.
The best part is that e-bike riders can complete their commute faster and with less effort than traditional bike riders, despite this small change in heart rate. They are more efficient, while also being better for the environment than a passenger vehicle.
3. There Are Different Types of Electric Bikes
The three-tier classification system exists to address the three types of electric bikes on the market: pedal assists, throttle only bikes, and pedelecs.
The motors on these different bikes are either located in the rear hub or mid/center area. Choosing between them often depends on your budget, your needs, and the local legal regulations in your area.
These bikes can also come in different designs, as a cruiser, hybrid, or mountain bike. Cruisers are comfortable, often have a basket for convenience, but a bit heavier, so they take more effort to pedal. Hybrids are light and streamlined for a fast commute. Electric mountain bikes are more for off-roading and other hobby purposes.
To browse some of these different types, check out this page.
How to Purchase Electric Bikes
Electric bikes for adults are not cheap, mostly due to the expensive process of developing and manufacturing the electric battery. Electric batteries use some pretty rare and expensive natural resources. If it is difficult to save up for a brand new e-bike, you can always consider buying secondhand.
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