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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 :)


Update: 3 years later, I never did buy an e-bike. I stuck with my road bike and just powered on through. I can now average 20mph if I feel that way inclined. I'm also the fittest I've ever been so I think all in all e-bikes aren't for the likes of me. I did however buy a new, faster road bike but the real speed comes from stronger legs/mind.

Update 2: I did get an ebike in the end! A cyclotricity 1000w stealth. It saves about 45 minutes as there's no need to have a shower at the end of the ride and it's faster. It's good!

  • 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
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    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
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    @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
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    I believe the correct answer should be simply "Magnets". – Emyr May 15 '14 at 7:41
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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".

  • The OP's estimated average speed on their racing bike is 16mph, so the e-bike will probably not help them get to work any quicker. Maybe they should consider an electric motorbike, if they're willing to go through the licensing process. – bdsl Oct 19 '15 at 10:34
  • The laws regarding bicycle speed are not enforced anywhere in Europe. It is very easy to de-restrict a 25km/h bike to go at least twice as fast, if not more. – Dmitri Nesteruk Jun 13 '17 at 12:12
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    Doesn't make it legal, or sane - there's plenty of vids of people on youtube almost killing themselves.. – John Hunt Nov 6 '17 at 13:18
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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.

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    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
  • @Kibbee there's no point in doing that. an e-MTB gives you all the benefits of off-road and road use, whereas a road/touring frame would be useless on the trails. – Dmitri Nesteruk Jun 13 '17 at 12:15
  • They do make these, although at your time of writing they probably didn't – John Hunt Nov 6 '17 at 13:20
  • Pedalling from a standing start in the highest gear will wear out the cassette very quickly on a crank-driven ebike, use the gears like normal – Swifty Mar 8 at 15:08
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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.

  • Can you please explicitly state whether you have a relationship with the company? Users who only answer one question that deals with a product that no one has heard about are rather ... suspicious. – RoboKaren Jun 13 '17 at 15:00
  • I don't have any relationship with the company. Just thought I'd share my experience. I still have the same bike and it's still going with about 11,500 miles. I've needed to replace the cassette, chain, and front chainrings a couple times, but other than that no issues. Looks like Kalkhoff now sells bikes via more local dealers in the US. There are a number of other options now from more well known manufacturers in the US probably available at your local bike shop. – Rangi Keen Jun 14 '17 at 18:24

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