Lead mostly by young people from the Information Technology realm (in terms of both innovation and consumption), the rest of the society is bound to eventually take notice and start the switch. The government is pitching in with subsidies to make electric vehicles more lucrative to prospective buyers. But with electric vehicles like electric scooters, electric motorcycles, electric cars, maintenance costs and parking space in an already congested urban landscape are a major concern for owners.
Bigger the vehicle, bigger are the components, the greater the effort needed to maintain them. Unlike electric scooters, motorcycles or cars, an electric bicycle is extremely frugal in terms of maintenance and reliability as most of the maintenance and upkeep of the bicycle can be performed by the owner at his or her own time and place of choosing. Add to this the benefit of being able to pedal every once in a while to burn a few calories to try and stay healthy is a bonus. The cost of buying and owning is an electric bicycle’s major advantage over other electric modes of transport, hence the increasing demand.
Now there are a lot of die-hard bicycle fanatics who hate electric bicycles calling them a sacrilege to the sport/activity. Last I checked, nobody owned the rights to the basic ideas of what a bicycle should do and how best to optimize related features. An electric bicycle has a bevvy of advantages over a regular bicycle. A few of them are listed below.
If you want to know the basics of Electric Bicycles please scroll to the FAQs at the bottom of the page
Firefox Adventron is Firefox’s flagship electric bicycle and comes in only one colour- matte black. This is a hardtail MTB (Mountain Terrain Bike) with a rear hub-mounted motor. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery which may be charged on or off the bicycle. One full charge will give a range of 35 kilometres and the average charge time is four to four and a half hours. The battery is a 36V, 8.7 Ah battery with Panasonic cells.
The bicycle has four ride modes namely pedal, pedal-assist, full throttle and walk modes. The pedal mode makes the bicycle behave like a conventional bicycle. Pedal-assist mode does just that, assist the rider while he/she pedals by providing electric assistance. Throttle mode gives the rider the boost he/she needs when they want to use the very feature that electric bicycles were made for i.e twist the throttle and hang back while the motor does all the work. Walk mode slows the bike right down to 6kph to enable the rider to be with his/her peers on their feet.
This is certainly one of those electric bicycles that have the hardware to go off-road and it looks to tell the same story. As with all Firefox bicycles, the Adventron is sold exclusively through Firefox’s own authorized dealers. Firefox provides a lifetime warranty on the bicycle’s frame and a six-month warranty on the front and rear suspension (rigid or otherwise) and all original components and accessories except consumables like tyres, inner tubes, chain lubricant etc. Let us have a look at the pros and cons of this bicycle:
GoZero Mobility is a British electric bicycle manufacturer that has partnered with Kolkata based Kirti solar for the development and manufacture of its bicycles in India. This bicycle comes with a rear hub-mounted 250-watt BLDC motor powered by a 10.4Ah lithium-ion battery.
The battery takes about three and a half hours to charge and provides a range of up to 60 kilometres. The bicycle has both pedal assist and throttle systems and comes with five gears. This seems to be a very budget-friendly, reliable and lightweight electric bicycle. Also has an LCD display showing all the details of the current and previous rides.
This bicycle certainly looks very European in design and looks lightweight. It is definitely a contender for every Indian electric bicycle enthusiast and novice.
Let us take a look at the pros and cons of this bicycle:
Pure EV is a recent startup that seems to have taken the electric mobility market in India by storm. One of their models is called Egnite and is powered by a 500Wh, 20A battery enclosed in an IP65 rated case. This battery is charged using a 42 volt 3-ampere CC-CV charger. The battery powers a 250 watt, 36-volt rear hub-mounted BLDC motor mated to a 7- speed gear system. This bicycle comes equipped with a throttle and a pedal-assist system (with five modes).
With a sleek design and an overall weight of just 23 kilograms (including battery and electric components), this bike is one head-turner.
Let us take a look at a few of the pros and cons of this bicycle:
Another offering by Pure EV, the ETRON is a little brother to the Egnite. Powered by a 500Wh, 20A battery, this bicycle is just as formidable as the Egnite. The battery is housed in an IP65 rated Hailong Casing and powers a 250 watt, 36-volt BLDC motor mounted to the rear hub. With a throttle, five-level pedal assist and a centre stand for stability, Pure EV claim an operating cost of just five paise per kilometre. A 42 volt 3 Ampere charger is used to charge the battery.
With a total unit weight of just 24 kilograms and a playful and colourful design, priced at approximately Rs. 35,000/-, this is an extremely budget-friendly option by Pure EV.
Let us take a look at the pros and cons of this bicycle:
This bicycle comes in two-wheel sizes namely 26” and 27.5”. It also has three variants based on battery, these are:
Equipped with a 36 volt, 7.8 Ah (Upgradable to 10.4Ah or 13.0Ah) battery that is removable for charging or maintenance purposes, this electric bicycle gives a prospective buyer many options as the three battery options cost different.
With a myriad of variants (with different price points) and a feature-rich tech sheet, the Roulik Inizio is no slouch. Whatever option one goes for, it is sure to serve the buyer’s purpose well. Approximate prices are as follows:
Coming from Bollywood star Salman Khan’s own brand, the BH27 is priced at Rs. 53,999/- and is somewhat dearer to the pocket. But what a potential buyer gets for the money spent is a very modern-looking urban commuter bicycle. This bicycle is available in red, white, black and yellow colours. As with most bicycles featured in this lineup, this bicycle comes equipped with throttle and pedal assist modes with another mode to turn electric assistance off completely using the multi-function user-friendly handlebar-mounted display. A 36 volt, 7.8Ah lithium-ion battery with Samsung cells inside it powers a 36 volt, 250 watts, 40Nm rear hub-mounted motor. The battery can be charged in about four to five hours and provide a range of forty to 45 km.
With a one-year warranty on the battery, motor and controller and a total unit weight of only 23 kilograms, this is one irresistible electric bicycle.
Let us look at a few pros and cons of this bicycle:
This is another offering by Being Human. This seems to be a more realistic buy for most people. A 36 volt, 7.8Ah lithium-ion battery with Samsung cells inside it powers a 36 volt, 250 watts, 40Nm rear hub-mounted motor. The battery can be charged in about four to five hours and provide a range of forty to forty-five kilometres. This bicycle comes equipped with throttle mode and another mode to turn electric assistance off completely using the multi-function user-friendly handlebar-mounted display.
With a one year warranty on the battery, motor and controller and a total unit weight of only 22 kilograms, this electric bicycle by Being Human seems simply irresistible.
Let us know about the pros and cons of this bicycle:
Based out of Karnal, Haryana, this offering by OMOBikes comes in yellow, silver and black colours. Powered by a 36 volt 14.4 Ah battery, this electric bicycle has a range of about forty kilometres. The battery is removable and takes only about three hours to charge.
OMOBikes provides a warranty of one year on frame, motor and controller while providing a six-month warranty on the battery. This bicycle looks like the ideal small family electric bicycle.
Let us take a look at this bicycle’s pros and cons:
While there are a lot of aspects that technically differentiate a regular bicycle from an electric bicycle, the main difference on a more individual basis is to ride or not to ride. A regular bicycle is a lot of fun but is exhausting. On the other hand, an electric bicycle makes an individual more inclined to ride and exercise as it is easy to ride, convenient to operate and is more accessible.
There are many things a rider of any type of bicycle gains by riding namely freedom, more leisure, fun, less stress and better health. No to mention reduced car traffic and air and noise pollution. The main difference lies in the fact that e-bikes make it possible for more people to ride and ride farther. Not being worried about strength and endurance is a major advantage.
While electric bikes will never be able to completely replace the regular bicycle or the car, by eliminating barriers that deny so many people the joys of riding, such as their health, hills or distance, more people will be empowered to take that first step and ride.
There are five different kinds of motors that you can see in the market. They are
Crank Drive Motors:
First developed in Japan in the early 1990s by Panasonic and Yamaha, these were some of the first motors to be fitted onto bicycles. The motor is located in the bicycle’s crank and drives extra power through the rear wheel’s gear system. Crank drive motors can be adjusted to suit various conditions and are widely considered to be the best motor to use when climbing a hill or hauling heavy loads. Some examples are the Panasonic mid-drive bike motor and the Bosch performance motor.
As the name suggests, this motor type is mounted in the rear wheel’s hub and drive only one gear. Although some are very powerful, these motors aren’t really ideal for hilly areas. However, some hub motors like the one by Bionx is a very high torque motor and can easily ascend hills with steep gradients. Another example is the Sanyo Eneloop electric bike.
Friction Drive Motors:
Operated by having a roller pressed against the bicycle’s tyre, these are very lightweight and simple. Power output is limited as acceleration depends on the contact between the roller and small patch of the tyre. While the ‘buy-in’ is cheap, the operating cost of a bicycle with this type of motor is high as the roller and/or the tyre wear out in a few hundred kilometres.
Brushed & Brushless Motors:
Brushless motors are the industry standard now as they are quieter, smaller and lighter. They don’t need frequent servicing. However, there are a few proponents of the brushed motor arguing in its favour stating reliability, robustness, low service cost and better hill climbing ability. Once serviced, they are as good as new.
Sensorless / Permanent Magnet BLDC (BrushLess Direct Current) Motors:
These motors use magnetic field detection to sense armature position instead of sensors, reducing the number of electronic aids needed to run the motor, resulting in better reliability. This type of motor is a relatively new invention and have some ground to cover before it is widely accepted. If they prove reliable enough, they might end up becoming the industry norm. This motor type has also silenced a few advocates of brushed motors.
All electric bicycles that use a 250-watt battery are free of any licensing regulations. These bicycles do not travel faster than 25 kmph, that again is another reason for no licensing.
While there is no legal obligation binding every bicycle user to wear a helmet while on the bicycle, it is always recommended that while using a two-wheeled vehicle (powered or otherwise), the rider wear a helmet.
Bicycle helmets are hardly as expensive as a motorcycle or scooter helmets and are way lighter and smaller as well. I am not talking about those mega marvels of technological innovation that are used as helmets in XC, enduro, trail, downhill and competitive road cycling. While those will work just fine (if the prospective rider can afford them or has a real use for them), it’s not like the rider needs to spend a ton of cash on a helmet to keep his/her noggin safe from debilitating injuries.
There are two basic modes available in an electric bicycle:
This mode is very similar to how a throttle works on a motorcycle or a scooter. When engaged, the motor provides power and propels the bicycle forward. The rider may opt to pedal or not pedal at all and enjoy a free ride.
Most throttles may be tuned for power. Throttles on electric bicycles are not allowed in some countries. Laws governing electric bikes are extremely diverse (very country-specific) and are a topic for another article.
Some of the different types of throttles found in electric bicycles are as follows-
Half grip twist throttle: Engaged by twisting it just like on a motorcycle or a scooter.
Thumb throttle: Engaged by pushing a throttle paddle forward.
Thumb throttle: Another variant is engaged by pushing a button instead of a paddle.
Push-button throttle: Engaged by simply turning it on/off. No power adjustments possible.
Pedal-Assist (Pedelec) Mode:
As the name suggests, this is a mode that supplies power only when the rider is pedalling. Anyone used to riding a traditional bicycle will find this mode far more intuitive to use than an electric bike with a throttle. This mode also has the potential to provide greater ranges in comparison to the throttle mode.
Usually, there are three modes under the pedal-assist mode. They are:
Some electric bicycles have up to five-assist modes.
There are two main pedal-assist sensor types:
Torque sensor pedal assist: Generally found on more expensive electric bicycles, these systems have a very intuitive feel as they perfectly emulate the rider’s pedal-power. These systems measure the amount of power the rider is putting into the pedals and modulate the electric assist accordingly.
Cadence sensor pedal- assist: These systems do not modulate electric power, instead they provide assistance based on the level selected. These systems are indifferent to hard or light pedalling.
Certain electric bicycles nowadays come with both throttle and pedal assist. The rider could be operating the bicycle in the pedal mode while receiving an additional push by twisting/pushing the throttle.