Take the 2-minute tour ×
Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm about to move further away from work, so my 5.5 mile commute is going up to 12 miles (24 there and back).

I'm not interested in using an elecrtic bike because I can't be bothered to pedal.. I want to use an electric bike to speed up my commute to work and back. I estimate that on my racing bike it'll take me approximately 45 mins to get to work.

If I got an electric bike, is it possible to use the motor to assist me rather than do all the work? If so, what sort of time saving do you think is possible? Do they offer much oomph?

I have my eye on one of the giant electric commuter bikes but I don't really know what to look for. I'm not sure yet if there's actually going to be any speed advantage hence I'm asking :)

share|improve this question
    
A friend has just informed me that electric bikes in the UK can only legally assist you up to 15mph... that's not very good :( –  John Hunt Jun 25 '13 at 10:03
1  
They work quite well, but, as you've found, they're really intended to assist folks who are not quite so strong or who want to avoid working so hard (perhaps to avoid sweating up work clothes). Most will be intentionally designed to not provide power above 15-20 mph. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 25 '13 at 11:26
    
@JohnHunt that depends on the gradient! –  PeteH Jun 25 '13 at 11:36
    
Cambrideshire.. no gradients round these parts :p –  John Hunt Jun 25 '13 at 12:22
6  
@JohnHunt - Wait until you get older. I've found that over the years some strange geologic process has raised up hills on roads that used to be flat. –  Daniel R Hicks Jun 25 '13 at 14:46
show 3 more comments

3 Answers

The class of bike you're looking at is called an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle, a brief summary of the law regulating these is available here. In the UK (and Europe):

  • maximum power is 250w
  • maximum assisted speed is 25 km/h (15.6 mph)

You don't need insurance, a driving license, Vehicle Excise Duty or a helmet to ride an Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycle.

It's possible to get electric bikes with more power and / or a higher speed limit. These would be classified as a moped and would need insurance, driving license, etc. You also couldn't ride them in cycle lanes and cycle paths.

Some Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles come with an "off-road" mode which removes the speed limit. The linked article describes the legality of these as "at best, questionable".

share|improve this answer
add comment

My wife and I have the Kalkhoff Pro Connect Sport 250. I purchased mine to reduce my commute time. My commute is 12.5 miles one way with some pretty good hills in the mix. On my regular bike it takes an hour to an hour 15 but on the Kalkhoff it only takes 40 minutes.

This bike is a Pedelec in that you must pedal for it to provide any assistance (although it does have a mode where it can power itself at slow speeds when pushing up a steep hill - typically used to push beside stairs in Europe where they have dedicated rails for that purpose).

I can typically maintain an average of 20 mph over the commute with speeds on flat sections around 25 mph. With a racing style bike you may be able to get more speed as the wind resistance is the real limiting factor at this speed, although with this bike I will pedal out at 25-30 mph. There are other models that have a three speed hub shifter that would allow more speed without pedaling out.

It looks like they have limited supply right now, but I'd encourage you calling them directly as they have been very good answering my questions and following up on service issues. Plus, you can order the bike and return it within a week at no charge if it isn't right for you.

share|improve this answer
add comment

So right after my hands-on experience I can say that an electric bike will give you no speed advantage (presuming you are moderately fit). The acceleration is really quite extraordinary. Even in the highest gear you can just pedal away. I tested on highest power mode seeking best performance. The problem, as Tom77 and others mentioned, is top speed. It stops helping after around 26mk/h. And after it's just heavy and uncomfortable to ride. With a road bike you can go so much faster. Also - imagine your battery dies? Can't be fun hauling that heavy bike up a hill.

I tested a womans bike, it was way too small. I reached top speed 35 km/h with some effort (in saddle). With my road bike I'd cruise that speed easily and feel comfortable.

share|improve this answer
1  
I don't know why nobody makes an electric bike by starting with a road/touring frame. It really is much more efficient to be in the drops. I wonder how much longer battery life would last if the rider was in a more aerodynamic position. Also, it would be nicer once the battery does die to not be on a bike that's inefficient to begin with. –  Kibbee Jun 26 '13 at 12:30
    
@Kibbee I completely agree –  anaheim Jun 26 '13 at 16:00
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.