Choosing Your E-Cycle

Once you’ve decided to go with the e-flow, the next step is to narrow down your (many) options. When it comes to e-cycles, there’s no one-size-fits-all choice. It all comes down to figuring out what will work best for you.

To start with, if you’re not sure whether you want an e-bike, e-trike or e-scooter (and you’re not ready to commit to all three) – there are some key differences to consider.

E-bikes and e-trikes are pedal-assist cycles – meaning that they run on a combination of muscle-power and motor-power. A digital display allows you to adjust the assistance level as you ride. E-scooters, on the other hand, don’t require you to do any of the work (other than staying upright until you get where you’re going).

In general, e-bikes have a longer range and faster speeds (usually with pedal-assisted top speeds of 20 or 28 mph, depending on the classification of the bike). E-trikes, with their third wheel, offer extra stability and average pedal-assisted top speeds in the 20-24 mph range. For e-scooters, with smaller wheels that make bumps and hazards more of a challenge, average top speeds are usually closer to 15 mph.    

In all e-cycle categories, the capacity of your battery and the efficiency of your motor will determine how far you can travel on a single charge. Generally speaking, the larger the capacity of the battery, measured in Watt hours (Wh), the longer and faster you can go. There are caveats here, of course. If your route is extremely hilly, for example, your motor will be working harder – and petering out sooner – than on more even terrain.   

The Rules of the Road

The rules governing the use of e-cycles vary widely from place to place. It’s crucial to know before you go (and before you buy) – so you don’t find yourself saddled with a hefty fine or relegated to routes unsuitable or unsafe for your preferred mode of transportation.

In some states and municipalities, e-cycles are banned from sidewalks, speeds are heavily regulated, and helmets are required under specified circumstances. Depending on the location, the requirements for registration and insurance of different categories of e-cycles may vary. The rules for stand-up e-scooters (which are not classified as motor vehicles at the federal level) may be different in your area than the rules for e-bikes and e-trikes. And Class 2 e-bikes, which do not require the rider to be pedaling for the motor to kick in, are sometimes classified (and regulated) differently than other e-bikes.

Recent changes to the law now allow e-bikes and e-trikes (with electric motors not more than 750 watts) on national park service land wherever traditional bikes are permitted. This change does not apply to e-scooters. No bikes, traditional or electric, are permitted in wilderness areas. It’s wise to check local regulations for updated rules in state parks and other recreation areas before you head out. Because – yes, we have to say it – a little knowledge goes a long way.

A Final Word

Whether you’re facing an uphill climb or a downhill coast, a daily urban commute or a weekend trail ride, there’s an e-cycle that’s right for you. (Some of our personal favorites are here.) Once you’ve thought hard about what you want in your e-ride and looked into the routes and regulations that apply to you, there’s really only one question left: What on earth are you waiting for?

Electric Bicycles

The latest sensation in recreation and transportation, electric cycles (e-bikes, e-trikes, e-scooters) suddenly seem to be everywhere. And for good reason – they’re fun, they’re practical, and new battery technologies are making them ever more efficient and reliable. So, if you’re anything like us here at PowerMy, you’ve got an e-cycle on your wish list. And if you don’t, we’re betting you will by the time you finish reading this article!