ELECTRIC BIKES FAQ

Answers to Your Frequently Asked Questions

Electric bikes are a new exciting segment of cycling. To help you discover the joys of riding an electric bike, we’ve compiled this collection of frequently asked questions. If you don’t see an answer to your question, stop by and ask our friendly and professional staff.

General Information

  What if I'm tall (or short)? Is there an electric bike in my size? Electric bikes come in many sizes and frame styles to fit everyone. From extra-small to extra-large, and women's, step-through and traditional frames. Accessibility is a primary goal for electric bikes.
  Are electric bikes safe to ride? Yes. Electric bikes share the same frame and fit as a regular bike, there's just an added battery and compact motor. Electric bikes look, feel, and ride like a traditional bike– with an added boost there to help when you need it. We, of course, recommend that you wear a helmet when riding, obey all traffic laws and use caution to remain safe.
  Aren't electric bikes expensive? Electric bikes, given their motors and advanced, long-lasting batteries – tend to be more expensive than traditional bicycles. However, their value makes any electric bike a well-spent investment. Electric bikes will keep you active, allow you to enjoy the sport of biking, and most importantly enjoy the outdoors. Come in and take a test ride. We are confident that you will have so much fun that the extra expense will be justified.
  How heavy is an electric bike? Each electric bike varies by size and style, but are all easy-to-ride, and more fun than you can imagine. You can expect an electric bike to weigh between 50-70 lbs. But don't worry about the weight – the motor will help you zip along with ease while riding and the sturdy kickstand will make parking easy.
  Can I take a test ride before I make a buying decision? Of course! Give us a call today and see which bikes we currently have in-store. We can nearly always accommodate, and would love to have you try before you buy – we know you'll enjoy your test ride.
  Which e-bike should I get? There are almost as many types of e-bike options as there are conventional bike options. This allows you to pick the model that fits your preferred riding style and activity level. These include cruisers, commuter/urban, and mountain bikes. Our knowledgeable staff can help you pick the right one for you.
  Which e-bike should I get? There are almost as many types of e-bike options as there are conventional bike options. This allows you to pick the model that fits your preferred riding style and activity level. These include cruisers, commuter/urban, and mountain bikes. Our knowledgeable staff can help you pick the right one for you.

Performance & Ability

   How fast can an e-bike go? By law, an e-bike cannot exceed 20 mph under motor power alone. All e-bikes conform to this regulation. Some e-bike can get up to 28 mph with rider's pedaling using pedal assist, but will not continue to assist above 28 MPH. The bottom line is you can pedal an e-bike and make it go as fast as any other bike.
  How long does a charge last? Equipped with a refined, long-lasting lithium battery – after one charging cycle, you'll be able to bike just about anywhere. Depending on your type of riding (hills vs. flats), your build, and how much pedaling you do – you can expect to go 20-40 miles on just one charge.
  How far can an e-bike go? That depends on terrain (flat or hilly), rider weight, tire pressure, rider input, and the wind. Under normal conditions, you can expect 20 to 40 miles per charge for the average e-bike.
  Do e-bikes have throttles? Some models do have throttles. Throttles can help to get you moving and can keep you going. Throttles cut out at a maximum of 20 MPH.

Repair & Maintenance

   Does an electric bike need to be maintained? The batteries should not be stored in extreme temperatures and if inactive, the batteries should be charged every 90 days. You can ride in all conditions that you would ride a bike in (but we don't recommend riding underwater).
  Are electric bikes expensive to maintain? The only thing different about an electric bike, in terms of moving parts, is just the added battery and motor. Every other moving part (including brakes and shifters) is identical to that of a traditional pedal bicycle. This means that tune-ups and adjustments are easy, and usually, won't cost much more to maintain than a regular bicycle..
  Where can I charge my bike? The battery can be conveniently charged anywhere there's a standard outlet – at your house, at work, or at the coffee shop. The battery detaches from the bike and charges quickly using the cable provided with your bike.
  How long does it take to charge an e-bike battery? Depending on battery capacity and charger output, batteries will take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours to charge. Li-Ion batteries take 70% of their charge in the first 1 to 2 hours.

Road & Weather Conditions

    Can you ride an e-bike in the rain? Most e-bike motors and batteries are made to withstand moderate moisture. Conditions like rain and puddles should pose no problems. However, we do not suggest submerging your electric bike's motor or battery in water as this could cause serious damage.

Legality

Since laws are subject to change, these answers may become inaccurate over time. Helen's Cycles does not offer these answers as legal counsel, and only intends to educate riders.

    Do I need a license to ride an electric bike? In most states, a license isn't required to ride an electric bike. If a license is required by a state, then a standard driver's License is all that's needed. Electric bikes are legal to ride anywhere you would be riding a traditional pedal-bicycle, including around the neighborhood and on bike paths. The advocacy organization People for Bikes is currently working to establish commonality across states and predictable federal legislation
  Do e-bikes need insurance? For most states, no. Since laws regarding licensing and registration differ from state to state, the requirements for insurance differs as well. Check your state laws and transportation requirements to be sure.
  Do I need to wear a helmet when I ride an electric bike? Helmet laws for riding electric bikes vary from state-to-state, with some requiring helmets and others not. However, we always recommend riding with a helmet no matter which style of bike– traditional or electric– it keeps you safe and gives you peace of mind to enjoy every moment of your bike ride!
   Can I ride an electric mountain bike (eMTB) on the trails? In California State Parks, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles may be allowed where bicycles are allowed as long as they’re not specifically called out as prohibited. They are currently allowed in Chino Hills and Wilder Ranch State Parks, as well as Folsom and Auburn State Recreation Areas. Contact California State Parks for more information. Most of our eMTBs are Class 1.
   Are electric bikes allowed on planes? The short answer is no. Due to FAA restrictions on transporting lithium-ion batteries, any battery over 160WH is prohibited. Most of our electric bike motors start at 400WH

More Questions

             Which e-bike motor is best for me? To best address this question, it helps to look at your riding needs and the type of drive system; hub or mid drive.

You will benefit from a 500W motor if:

  • You live in a hilly area and you wish to have a lot of torque and power to glide up hills
  • You plan to do little or no pedaling, instead relying more on the electric-only throttle
  • You would like to have the ability to increase the top speed up to 25 mph (in off-road mode only!)
  • Rider weight is over 200 lbs

You should find the 250W motor enough for your needs if:

  • You live in a hilly area
  • You plan to use the motor to complement your own power when you need a boost or feel tired
  • You still plan to pedal the bulk of the time
  • Rider weight is under 200 lbs

As you'd expect, 500W offers more power but generally costs more. A 250W configuration works great for most people. Coupled with a mid-drive system, it can deliver more torque than a hub motor. 

People looking to use "throttle-only" mode more frequently, looking to go faster on hills and simply looking for more acceleration should consider the 500W option.

The assisted top speed of both bikes is limited to 20 mph–per Federal regulations–and the 500w versions are able to meet this speed with little pedaling effort. Keep in mind that actual speeds depend on conditions such as terrain and rider weight.

         What is the difference between e-bike mid drive and hub drive motors?  

HUB MOTORS: Most wheel-mounted motors are hub-type motors. These motors sit in the center of the rear wheel and drive that wheel directly. The hub motor's axle is held in the rear dropouts, and its shell is spun by the internal motor.   

A hub motor is independent of any bicycle drivetrain components (cranks, derailleur, or cassette). This configuration usually makes the bike easier to control.  

Hub motors are further classified by whether they are direct drive or geared. Geared motors have internal planetary reduction gearing. They give high torque at low speeds and free-wheel without any drag.  

Direct drive motors generally reach higher speeds than geared motors. They are also quieter and can be rated for higher wattage. They also produce less torque, especially at low speeds. They also have some inherent drag when freewheeling.  

MID-DRIVE MOTORS: Centrally mounted motors add power to the bike's normal drivetrain by driving the chainwheel. These "mid-drive" systems are ideal for off-road applications because of their high torque, and lower overall weight compared to a hub motor. Since they integrate with the bicycle's standard drivetrain, center drive motors require more interaction from the rider than a hub motor does. The rider must shift the bicycle's chain into the proper gear for a given situation: high gear for speed, low gear for power. This extra rider effort is paid back by a system that is able to excel in a wide variety of terrain.

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