As carbon emissions become more of a concern, people are considering riding bikes to get around. But, using your legs as your sole source of power can get tiring, especially in cities built in hilly or mountainous areas, like Cape Town. A happy middle ground can be found in an electric bike. These hybrids use a small battery to give that little extra push when you need it.
How it works
Electric bikes are just standard bikes with three extra components, a motor, battery and sensor. According to Raleigh UK, the battery provides power to the motor ,which powers the drivetrain to give that extra push up a hill. This is called Peddle Assist System (PAS) which reads the pace at which a persons peddles and this in turn keeps the motor going. The sensor, depending on whether it is a speed sensor or torque sensor, either engages the minute your begin peddling in the case of a speed sensor, or responds to match your speed while you’re moving in the case of a torque sensor. Most bikes are also fitted with a dashboard that gives the rider information such as battery life, average speed and trip distances. Each electric bike operates a bit differently but charging up your battery to 100% from depleted can take between 4-8 hours.
Buying an electric bike
Electric bikes are legal to drive on the road in South Africa as long as they are 250W or below with a maximum speed of 25kmph. These fall in line with unmotorised bikes and so don’t have to be registered or require a license to drive. This does mean high-powered bikes or those that use a hand throttle, which are better for off-road, can’t be used legally on the road as well.
There are many options when it comes to buying an electric bike in South Africa. Different manufacturers use different kinds of batteries and different sensors depending on the purpose of the bike. It is important to research the kind of bike you want and what you will be using it for to determine what will be the best option for you.