Guide to Electric Bikes New Zealand
Electric bikes are gaining popularity in New Zealand. Velco team would like to explain on how to choose the right e-bike and stay on top of the things.
What is an electric bike?
The simple answer is that an electric bike (e-bike for short) is more or less a regular bike with the addition of a motor to help you pedal your way through.
The more complicated answer is that it is a hybrid version of transport meaning part of the power comes from the cyclist and part of it from the motor. Good thing to mention, is that most of the ebikes in New Zealand are set with speed limit cap of around 25-30 km/h.
Most of our electric bikes at Velco are equipped with the throttle, which means you can accelerate without pedaling at all. At the same time, our models have a pedal assist function and as soon as you start pedaling the motor kicks in.
Why would you choose an e-bike?
E-bikes are capable of doing just about everything a regular bike can do and more. So it may be you can extend what can be achieved through cycling, whether it be touring, leisure riding or daily commuting and chores, and gain a whole new experience in the process. If you ever had this feeling that going up the hill on the way to work was not a highlight of your day, with an e-bike it may as well be the your highlight.
E-bikes are also in a very privileged position legally speaking, as under the relevant New Zealand law they are in exactly the same legal position as non-powered bikes, so they bring all the well-known advantages of bikes but without any of the red tape normally associated with motor power. Fair to say, that
As well as the obvious benefits of a motor – helping you get up the hills more easily and with less sweat – there are several other benefits that might not at first occur to you.
If you have a recurring injury or illness e-bikes may help you keep cycling through it, rather than having to give up pedaling completely.
E-bikes fill the gap between journeys short enough for walking or non-powered cycling and longer trips where a train or car may be necessary.
You could get to and from work faster on an e-bike and convert commuting into leisure time.
They can be a viable replacement for a second car with all the environmental, financial and other benefits that this entails.
E-bike riders often say they feel safer in traffic than when riding a non-powered bike, as the extra acceleration and speed up hills mean the speed of other passing vehicles is less than it otherwise would be. The quick acceleration off the mark also means you can clear stationary traffic more quickly.
You can carry heavier loads more easily than with a regular bike, so many shopping trips and the school run might now be a possibility with an e-bike.
You still get exercise – it’s not cheating! Many studies have shown that e-bikers get plenty of very beneficial aerobic exercise. Our e-bikes have power level settings on the handlebar controls that let you dial down the power if you want more exercise, or turn it up if in need of more assistance. Some even have a display linkable by Bluetooth to a heart rate monitor, to display your heart rate and calories burned.
They are great fun to ride!
There are downsides compared to regular bikes; extra weight is the most obvious (although newer systems just emerging promise lighter e-bikes in the future). Writing in 2019 sub-20kg (including battery) is considered a fairly light e-bike. Modern motors are generally very reliable but today’s batteries should really be regarded as consumables if you plan to ride your e-bike a lot and keep it many years. They inevitably degrade slightly with time and more so with heavy use (and much more so with abuse), with a likely replacement cost of several hundred pounds. A good quality e-bike is a sizeable investment – but is that really a downside if you use it to its maximum potential, which is considerable?
Types of motors
E-bike motors fall into two main categories; mid-motors and hub motors. Today mid motors are by far the most popular and are usually easily recognizable as a significant addition to the bike frame’s normal shape around the bottom bracket area. Their ability to maintain their power over a range of speeds have been at the heart of their success.
Rear Drive (hub motor)
It is what it is. The motor installed at the rear wheel, that does all the job. All you need to know is that these motors are of a different power which is measured on Watts (W). The more powerful the motor, the faster you will go. Well, almost. There are things that define your speed, we will talk about It a bit later. Rear drive motors are usually brushless, which means that they have no resistance when not in use. Most of the bikes that are sold in New Zealand have a brushless rear drive motor. The motor is usually mounted onto the wheel itself, that’s why we call it a motor-wheel sometimes. If you remove the rear motor wheel, again, it is just a good regular mountain bike.
Mid drive is installed just by the pedals, and what it does is it spins the pedals rather then the wheel itself. Mid drive has some advantages, as it is installed in the middle, so the weight is distributed evenly. However, they are a bit more complex and sometimes are mounted into the frame of the bikes, so you cannot have your bike without a motor. Mid-drives are very reliable and provide a good source of power, they are a bit more expensive. You can check out our mid drive model Mantis BafangMantis Bafang
Just about every e-bike sold today is based on some kind of lithium chemistry as this offers the highest energy density of all the different ‘flavours’ of battery. Early e-bike batteries were very heavy lead acid and these were succeeded by nickel metal hydride and nickel cadmium but soon manufacturers settled on lithium as it simply gave the most mileage.
Battery range varies enormously; the same e-bike with the same weight rider can produce huge range differences if ridden over different terrain and in different weather.
Having said all that, around 35 km would be a minimum range expectation from a standard size battery of around 500 watt hours capacity ridden on full power over extreme terrain. A lightish very efficient e-bike with a lightish rider ridden on lower power settings and a 600Wh plus battery could exceed 120 km range. Of course, spare batteries are available and can be carried with you to extend range.
It’s advisable not to run out of battery power as most e-bikes are hard work to pedal without power over anything but the easiest terrain.
Charging the battery is usually possible either on or off the bike and typically takes several hours.
However, it’s advisable to remove the battery when the bike is not being ridden for long periods and on cold nights. Cold temperatures and physical knocks are two factors that can decrease battery life.
Volts and Amps: Without going into too much confusing detail, Voltage is what pushes (speed) the flow of electric energy, while Amps is a measure of Force. Typically, higher Voltage electric bikes go faster, while higher Amps require thicker gauge wires and/or more powerful and larger battery packs. Combination of Volts and Amps equal Watts.
Ok, time to crunch some numbers and get down to the nitty gritty of it. All batteries and battery packs will have fine print, listing various things of high importance, put on the bifocals and squint, expect to find things like :
Volts: Used to describe how fast electrons move, more voltage = more speed !
Amps: How wide the road is, more lanes, more cars can pass at the same time side by side...
Watts: The combination of Volts and Amps ( Volts X Amps = Watts )
Amp Hours: Should always be listed, typically 10 to 20 Amp Hours ( abbreviated " Ah " ) a measure of how many fixed number of Amps a battery can sustain for 1 hour.. ( C rate ). Or, double the amps for half the time.. Or half the amps for two hours.. etc.
Electric Bike Prices:
Now, a tricky one. You may have seen some of the prices out there and yes, electric bikes in New Zealand are expensive. That’s where we come in. All our electric bikes come at the best possible prices, and how do we do that exactly? Well, we do not have a physical store, we don’t have people working for us, no operating expenses, hence, savings are passed on to the consumer. We do have a team of specialists who are in love with what they do, we also have a good quality bikes for you. That’s it.
If you are still confused after reading this article, do contact us, and we will explain everything in details. We have a broad range of electric bikes in stock so we can show you the difference between all of them. If you would like to have a test ride, let us know, it is free with no obligations.