The Electric Bike Revolution

Brand manager Jason Boness has worked at Raleigh for six years and works on product development and implementation across their city bike collection. He gives us an insight into the electric bike market and the developments he expects to happen over the next few years.

Can you give us a quick overview of electric bikes? What’s so good about them?

An electric bike (also known as an e-bike) is the same as a regular bike, but with the addition of an electric motor and battery.

Electric bikes have improved dramatically since they were first developed; the frames are lighter, batteries last longer and there are so many different styles on the market. They’re used by an array of different people from commuters, leisure riders and everything in between. Once you get on one it’s easy to see why!

Aside from getting you where you need to be quicker and easier than a standard bike, electric bikes offer a host of benefits including removing the challenge of tackling hills, allowing you to go on long-distance rides without getting tired, getting fitter and just making the most of the great British countryside.

Plus, it’s a great way to get out of your car and off the bus and on to the roads yourself. Many commuters use electric bikes on their journey to the office as you cut out the traffic jams but avoid getting sweaty!

Can anyone ride an electric bike? Do you have to have a license?

The main legal requirement you need to be aware of when buying an electric bike is that you must be aged 14 or over to ride one.

You don’t need to register your bike, pay tax or get insurance. That’s because, despite having a motor, an electric bike is not covered by the same laws as a car or motorbike, as long as it meets the following specifications:

  • It does not power itself over 15 mph
  • The power doesn’t exceed 250 watts
  • The power output, or manufacturer of the motor is displayed
  • Either the maximum speed, or the battery’s voltage is displayed
  • Pedals can be used to propel it

Are they easy to look after?

Taking care of an electric bike is similar to looking after a regular bike. The main difference is that you need to look after the battery by charging your electric bike correctly.

Charging your electric bike is quick and easy; you simply need to plug it into an electric socket, it’s as simple as charging your mobile phone.

Most of our bikes only take a few hours to charge and how long the battery lasts between charges will depend on how far and hard you ride your bike.

Before charging the battery, let it warm up or cool down to room temperature.

Lithium batteries are the most common type used in electric bikes in the UK because they have the best lifespan. Depending on usage latest batteries can last as long as 12 years!

Following a few basic tips will help you get the most out of your lithium battery, such as avoiding letting it go completely flat. Instead, you should aim to make sure it never goes below 50 percent capacity.

Electric bikes are best stored in a temperate dry place, ideally around room temperature 15-20 degrees. This temperature will help maintain the battery; however, don’t leave your bike outside in extreme hot or cold conditions for too long.

If you need to store your bike for a prolonged period of time, leave the battery charged at about 50 to 60 percent and top up charge it every three months.

Keep the connections between the battery and e-bike clean, this can minimize the risk of short circuit and damage to the battery itself.

An electric bike’s motor doesn’t need much care. You simply need to keep it clean and dry to help extend its lifetime. If your bike gets wet, it is important to let it dry completely to protect the motor. If it gets dirty, wipe the motor’s casing with a damp cloth.

When washing the bike, remove the battery from the bike and use a sponge with a hose pipe, never using a jet wash. There are lots of bike specific cleaning products available today.

Where do you see the future of electric bikes?

With the popularity of electric bikes increasing quite dramatically over the last few years, I can see the technological advancements coming through thick and fast.

E-bikes will be look more like regular bikes with in-frame battery integration, which we’re already starting to see this coming onto the market, but I highly suspect it will become slicker!

There will be advancements with batteries and technology will allow for smaller, lighter batteries, which will allow for longer distances between charges. I can see more modular batteries to give the ability to add extra battery power packs.

Motor weights and overall sizes will reduce, allowing them to be lighter and I highly suspect GPS security tracking will be introduced, with the ability to disable the motor if the bike is stolen.

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