Imagine a vehicle that can carry you across town, through the congested streets of the busiest rush hour. Strong enough to handle both a couple of kids and your shopping, this vehicle also provides you with the exercise that doctors recommend in order to diminish the risk of an extensive list of modern lifestyle diseases. And last but not least, imagine, if you will, that this vehicle also produces no harmful emissions, and protects you (and your passengers) from the worst of the city’s pollution.
This mode of transport goes door-to-door, parking it is always free, and it requires as much (or as little) of your own effort as you determine. There is no special tax that you have to pay to use it, and there is no mandatory clothing that you need to wear or licence that you have to carry. Moreover, if this transport form was more widely adopted, it would be the end of traffic as we know it, and the roads would be safer and more pleasant for everyone.
As you might have guessed, the vehicle in question is an electric bike! Only such a vehicle offers the simple solution to some of our greatest problems, and it is precisely this idea that lies at the heart of the Flying Dutchman’s e-bike range. But what is an e-bike? And how is it different from a regular bike?
It’s called pedal-assist
Pedal-assist electric bikes create a harmony between your pedalling effort and the motor’s output; the idea is that these motors complement your pedalling, rather than replace it. In order to gauge much assistance you want, they have a clever torque-sensor which measures how hard you are pushing on the pedals. If you decide that you want to go faster, you naturally push harder on the pedals, and the torque sensor detects this and tells the motor to provide more power – in this way, the assistance that you get is always proportionate to the effort that you put in. And if you stop pedalling altogether, the motor stops giving assistance!
It’s not the size that counts (it’s how you use it)
There are lots of electric motor conversion kits that advertise 500W or even 1000W of power. In reality, the wattage of the motor is secondary to the more important factor of torque – how much actual pulling power can the motor produce? This question is vital, as it’s what you’ll be needing when climbing up a long and steep hill. A high-quality electric motor system from Bosch or Shimano will be more efficient than aftermarket kits when it comes to converting less Wattage into ‘peel back your eyelids’ torque. Book a test ride and see for yourself!
We pride ourselves on the high-quality electric bikes that we sell, and note that they are distinct from high-end electric bicycles. A high-quality bike is thoughtfully designed, and built with the care, precision, and materials that will make it last. By contrast, high-end bicycles are built to be exclusive and expensive. A high-quality electric bike is intended for daily-use, and it comes backed up by a strong warranty to show that the manufacturer has faith in their product. By contrast, high-end bicycles are designed to generate hype and look shiny in glossy instagram pictures. It is true that some high-quality e-bikes might appear to be high-end at first when judged only on their price tag in comparison to cheaper alternatives. But bearing in mind the expectations of a reliable, powerful electric bike supported by professional service, and choosing high-quality will begin to appear exceedingly prudent.
So how is an e-bike different from a regular bike?
Apart from the motor, battery, and display, an e-bike is really very much like an ordinary bike. The key differences are subtle, but can usually be found in the quality and durability of the components. Electric bikes need to cope with higher speeds and greater forces, and so they need to be beefed up in certain areas in order to work safely. For instance, stronger chains help to minimise drivetrain wear. Powerful hydraulic brakes slow you down safely. Wide gauge and high-volume tyres provide grip and traction to keep the ride comfortable and stable. Frames are generally over-built in order to ensure a long life. Racks are stronger in order to cope with greater loads. Bearing all these things in mind, we’ve found that good-quality electric bikes are purpose-built machines, and so this is why we generally don’t recommend electric bike conversions.
In terms of riding, good electric bikes are like surprisingly similar to manual bikes: you sit on the saddle, spin the pedals, and away you go. The key difference in the ride is simply the amount of effort required to get you around or up hills. A well-designed e-bike system will create a harmony between your pedalling and the motor’s assistance. It shouldn’t be obtrusive, or counter-intuitive. The assistance should be quiet and smooth, like a tailwind or gentle downward sloping incline.