Electric bicycles (E-bikes) are growing in popularity as an alternative mode of transportation. E-bikes are great for one’s health, help reduce air and noise pollution, and they’re fun to ride! Even though they appear new, e-bikes have been around since the late 1890s The modern e-bike came to the scene in the 1990s. Since then, people have been switching to e-bikes as a more accessible way to exercise than a regular pedal-powered bike and as a replacement for car trips

What is an E-bike? 

  • Electric bicycles (E-bikes) are either road, mountain, or cargo bikes with a battery-powered motor that assists with the pedaling power. E-bikes give you the ability to cover multiple miles with minimal effort and can reach speeds up to 28 miles per hour. E-bikes can help riders of different abilities and ages cover longer distances and hills that they otherwise would not be able to.  
  • There are three classifications of E-bikes:
    • Class 1: A bike equipped with a motor that assists the rider only when pedaling. This type of E-bike reaches a top speed of 20 Mph with the pedal assist.
    • Class 2: A bike equipped with a motor activated with a throttle that provides a boost. This type of E-bike reaches a top speed of 20 Mph with the throttle
    • Class 3: A bike equipped with a motor that assists the rider only when pedaling, up to a top speed of 28 Mph
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Price, Range and Battery 

  • Entry level e-bikes cost about $1,500 and high end e-bikes can cost $8,000+
  • E-bike range depends on a variety of factors including: speed of the bike, rider weight, terrain style, wind conditions, tire choice
  • Range also varies depending on the brand and model of an e-bike, the power outage and battery type, and capacity.
  • Bosch has an E-Bike Range Calculator³ that can help you estimate the range of your E-bike based on a variety of factors. 
  • On average, an electric bike can go 25-50 miles on a single charge.⁴
  • E-bike batteries can be charged from a standard wall outlet, and many models allow you to remove the battery for charging or replace it with a longer range battery.
  • Most modern e-bikes use lithium-ion batteries, which are the same batteries that power most electric vehicles. 
  • The capacity of an e-bike battery is measured in amp hours (Ah) or watt hours (Wh)

Which Type of E-Bike is Right for Me?

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Photo by Himiway Bikes on Unsplash
Photo by Galen Crout on Unsplash

Road E-Bike

  • Perfect for the person who wants a sweat-free commute to work, does bike-accessible errands around town, or enjoys city riding. 
  • In Colorado, E-bikes are regulated just like bicycles; the same rules of the road apply to both E-bikes and human-powered bikes.
  • Colorado recognizes the Class 1, 2, 3 classifications of E-bikes.
  • Riders of Class 3 E-bikes under 21 years of age must wear a helmet. Persons under 16 years of age may not ride a Class 3 E-bike.
  • Local governments have the authority to restrict the use of E-bikes under motor power on bike paths. When in doubt, check with your town, city, or county for local rules and regulations.

Mountain E-Bike

  • The ideal bike for an off-road lover or someone who loves riding where the road bike doesn’t go. 
  • Electric mountain bikes (E-MTBs) have a mid-drive motor and battery attached to the frame for better weight distribution. 
  • E-MTBs are not allowed on all human-powered bike trails. Check with your local land management agency before riding your E-MTB on a designated trail.
  • Federal: On federal lands, electric mountain bikes are considered motorized vehicles and have access to motorized trails. Contact the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Regional Office or the Bureau of Land Management Colorado State Office for more information.
  • E-MTBs typically come with front or full suspension. 
  • E-MTBs are one of the more costly e-bike types, ranging from $1,200 to $12,000 or higher.

Cargo E-Bike

  • Cargo E-bikes are optimal for replacing car trips and can carry all types of cargo, including kids!
  • Two basic types: Longtail and Frontbox
  • Frontbox: cargo box between the rider and front wheel
  • Longtail: Extended rear end of the bike to carry people or cargo. 
  • Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 or higher

E-Bike Motors 

Torque is important if you plan on riding lots of hills or hauling heavy loads. The more torque your bike has, the better it will perform. Both types of motors have their own advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your local e-bike retailer to determine which type of e-bike is right for you.

Hub Motor

  • A hub motor sits on either the front or rear wheel. Hub motors are often less expensive and more versatile than central drive motors.

 

Mid Drive Motor

  • A mid drive motor is incorporated on or next to the bottom bracket of the bicycle. Mid-drive motors tend to be smaller and lighter, with more torque than hub motors.
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Photo by ergeyryzhov on Canva
Credit to 4CORE
photo by sal73it on Canva

E-Bike Share Programs

Want to try an e-bike for yourself? Check out these Colorado programs!

We Cycle – Roaring Fork Valley

eBikes for Essential Workers in Vail – Vail

Vail eBike Share General Public – Vail

Holy Cross Energy rebate for eBike purchase – Roaring Fork and Eagle Valley 

Pike Ride – Colorado Springs

e-Cycle to Own Program – Pueblo 

Boulder B-Cycle – City of Boulder

Lyft and Lime – City of Denver

Spin – Fort Collins

Zagster Bikeshare – Meridian Metro District