The electrically assisted bicycle: more than yesterday, less than tomorrow

The electrically assisted bicycle: more than yesterday, less than tomorrow

The popularity of electrically assisted bicycles is exploding!

In recent years, the popularity of electric bikes has exploded! But before you get in the saddle, we explain what makes it successful and the disadvantages that could hold you back.  

The hype is indeed real . Sales of e-bikes are so high that Jacques Sennechael, editor-in-chief of Vélo Mag, believes they are “saving the bike industry”. 

Indeed, during the pandemic, people bought a lot of bikes, to the point of causing a shortage of equipment. In response, retailers and manufacturers bought merchandise in large quantities as soon as they could, but since customers had already purchased a bicycle earlier, they were no longer there and they are found with significant surpluses. Fortunately, the electrically assisted bicycle has come to create a new interest.

“That’s more than half of the bike industry’s turnover anywhere in the world, Mr. Sennechael. Now, when you are a bicycle manufacturer, you have no choice but to make an electrically assisted bicycle. If you don't, you're missing out on a big chunk of the market. Some even do just that. »

Clear Blocks 

It is that the practice of regular cycling came with some obstacles for many people: difficult hills to climb, long distances to cover, the fatigue inherent in the effort and the fear of arriving sweaty at their destination. Coming to work in the morning was not always ideal.

However, the electrically assisted bicycle solves all these problems. No matter the route, you can cycle to work and arrive fresh as a rose.

But beware, the electric bike is not synonymous with laziness either. “The assistance only gets on board if you pedal, so you still have to pedal, recalls Jacques Sennechael. We still train. » 

There are models on which you don’t even need to pedal, but those, Jacques Sennechael does not call them bicycles. “These are speed bikes that generally go very fast and don't follow the regulations. In North America, a regulation electric bike will stop accelerating from 32 km/h. If a bicycle is not regulatory, it is not allowed to ride on public roads. »

Not without some complications 

What a wonderful invention! you will say. Exactly, quality has a value. A good electric bike costs between $2,000 and $3,000, estimates the editor-in-chief of Vélo Mag. “Still cheaper than a car,” he says.

Since these bikes are worth a certain price, you have to find a safe place for them when parking them. “Their biggest problem is the risk of having them stolen,” believes Jacques Sennechael. 

These frames are also very heavy. It was therefore difficult to mount them in our apartment. If this is your case, it may be best to stick with the traditional bike.  

Be careful, it's not just the bike that needs to be taken care of, but also the battery, warns Jacques Sennechael, who reports cases of batteries having caught fire because they had been poorly maintained. There are lots of rules about them. For example, you have to be sure to charge your battery with the connection system supplied with the bike.

Depending on the quality, these batteries have a range of 50 km to 200 km. If the bicycle is not used for a long time, the battery should not be completely discharged or fully charged. These rules are all indicated when you buy the product, and you have to follow them if you want to ensure its longevity, warns the expert.

We would not want to wear out a bike and its battery too quickly since obviously they have an ecological footprint. Especially since these batteries and the motor of the bike cannot be repaired by the user. Luckily, many bike mechanics have received training from e-bike manufacturers so they might be able to fix them too.

Finally, e-bikes come with an increased risk of an accident. There is no precise figure in Canada since the statistics do not make the difference between accidents in electric or ordinary bicycles, but in Switzerland, the figures of the Office of accident prevention (BPA) show that the accidents related precisely to this type of bicycle have increased. 

Electric-assisted bicycles go faster than conventional bicycles and, as it is a sport that does not require training, people who buy them sometimes have less skill. Two factors that increase the risk of accidents, explains Jacques Sennechael. 

However, these problems should be solved in the future, says the editor of Vélo Mag . “We are still in the infancy of this technology which is developing rapidly,” he recalls. So don't be surprised to see in the next few years more e-bikes that are lighter, more durable, cheaper, with better batteries and in more different models!

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