An electric hybrid bike is a just like a normal hybrid bike but equipped with an electric motor that gives you additional power to your pedalling action. This can help you get some exercise or move around quicker and more comfortably.
The electric bike has been an idea inventor’s and visionaries have been testing as forms of transport for many years. 1895 saw the first US patented electric bike but we didn’t see the first production electric bikes until the early 90’s in the form of the Sinclair Zike. It was small wheeled, folding electric bike designed to inspire people to use bicycles as a form of transport. Although a big flop, it did spark big bicycle manufacturers like Giant, Trek and Merida to take note and start developing bikes of their own.
In 2001 Giant introduced the Lafree, which was unbelievably heavy as it was fitted with a small car battery and no thanks to its modern take on classic French styling, it wasn’t the most efficient bike to ride. Credit to Giant, as it did work (almost) flawlessly and it opened the gateway to mass produced electric bikes.
Electric hybrid bikes can be mainly broken down into two disciplines of bikes. These are the urban commuter bikes and the more recreational or fitness based bikes.
Urban or Commuter Bikes – These bikes are designed to be hard working, quick, efficient, light and most of all, they need to be able to carry a load. Electric hybrid bikes almost always have rigid forks, slick tyres and can be equipped with mudguards, racks and lights. They are primarily aimed at the commuters that want to ride to work, have the need to be in a suit or don’t have facilities to change at work stop them from doing so.
Thanks to the electric motors power this style of bike can really replace the car for shorter trips, or public transport - with a kid’s seat, or a rack and bags, you can really load these bikes up and not feel a difference.
Recreational/ Leisure – These terms are quite broad, but cover everything from bridleway and light off-road bikes to the more classic styled, shopper bikes. Whether you need it for a short journey, out with the dog at the weekend or on the back of the camper, to take on holiday, it’s pretty much all covered under this banner.
Electric hybrid bikes can come equipped with a rigid or suspension forks, semi-slick or knobbly tyres and generally have a much more relaxed riding position. It’s worth noting that both of these disciplines of bikes will come in a few different frame styles.
Low, easy step or steps thru –Thanks to the bikes electric motor, these bicycles will make cycling more accessible to more people, so if you do struggle to get on and off a conventional bike, the step thru is perfect, as you won’t need to hoist your leg over a waist high top bar.
Drop, Trapeze or slopping top tube – These are generally considered as women friendly framed bicycles and will normally be easily spotted as they will be advertised as such, or have women’s specific components fitted. Batteries on these bikes will more than likely be on a rack at the back so that the stand over height is not impacted.
Standard or Straight Top Tube – these frames with their straighter top tubes will give a sportier ride and generally suited for taller riders. The straight tube means materials don’t need to be made more durable and hardened as the natural design of the frame can give it rigidity. This means frames can be made to ride smoothly without impacting on the stiffness of the bike.
There are lots of arguments for and against, but some of the benefits for electric bikes are favourable. Less effort is required; whether it is for leisure or commuting, you can travel further, faster and carry heavier loads than you can on a conventional hybrid bike. After the initial out lay for an electric bike, with regular use an electric bike will cost less than £5 of electricity a year to run, compare that to even a small car’s running costs and you will be saving a hefty amount.
Finally, regardless of what health study or journal you read, the most common topic is loud and clear, regular exercise keeps us healthy and happy for longer and an electric hybrid bikes make cycling more accessible to a greater range of people. In summary, they are capable, versatile, cheap to run and they will keep you healthy - sounds good to us.
The amount of range you get on an electric bike is dependent on a multitude of factors. Terrain, undulation, the level of assistance, tyres, the amount of weight being carried and even the gear selection can affect the amount of battery life you get from your electric bike.
Not to worry, most motors will give you a couple hours on full power to get the riding in that you want, not forgetting the amount of assistance can be adjusted depending how much you need for a given situation, so there should be plenty of range for your desired requirements. (See our guide to batteries for more info)
Electric hybrid bikes or Pedelecs (their official name) are still classed as bicycles by UK law so this means they should confirm to all the same standards as conventional bicycles. However, on the road, there are some additional law’s you must abide by.
Firstly you must be 14 years of age or older to ride an electric bike. The bike must not assist you to over 15.5mph or 25.kmh and it is essential that you abide by the Highway Code at all times while on the bike.
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