Folding Electric Bicycles
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An Electric Bicycle that Folds for Easy Storage
The folding electric motor bicycle can be an efficient way to travel for people living in urban settings. Many people have relatively short commutes to/from work, and and electric bicycle can provide an economical alternative means of transportation. A relatively compact size when folded, means that these bikes can be taken on an elevator or stored next to a desk in the office. Depending on the brand or model, a folding electric bike can also be relatively low weight, making it easy to transport around. Notice the phrase "relatively low weight", because even on models that have lightweight aluminum alloy frames, the electric motor and battery pack can still add a fairly significant amount of weight to these bikes.
IZIP EZgo Electric Bicycle
Some of the better known companies that make electric bikes includes: eZee, Schwinn, Giant, and Currie Technologies (IZIP). At the heart of many of these electric bikes is a brushless DC hub motor and a battery pack. On the cheaper models of folding electric motor bicycle, the battery pack will often be a more economical lead acid battery. On higher end models, more advanced battery technology such as NiMH battery packs may be employed. The most advanced battery technology commonly used on the more expensive electric bicycles is the Lithium Ion battery. Top speeds will vary, but typically you can expect a top speed in the area of 15 - 20 mph or so. Depending on the model and the battery pack, distance on a charge might be in the 10 - 20 mile range. Again, this varies between models. Keep in mind that hilly terrain can greatly reduce the range and speed of these bicycles. Pedal assist allows the rider to provide the extra power needed to make it up bigger hills.
IZIP EZgo Folded
Some of the typical motor ratings are 180, 250, 350 Watts. Even on a more powerful 350W brushless motor, that is still less than 1/2 HP. That's another thing to keep in mind... these electric bicycles are not powerhouses. Thankfully, low rolling resistance and efficient motors still allow these bikes to offer good overall performance. Many of these electric bicycles will not be able to zip up a long, steep hill only running on its electric motor. However, with some additional power from pedaling, it is possible to climb hills in a much easier fashion than a person riding on a normal pedal bike. That's the beauty of these electric hybrid bikes. You can still get some exercise and pedal if you like, or you can rely more heavily on the electric power when you want to take a break from pedaling. Also keep in mind that once you drain the battery completely, you will have more work pedaling a folding electric motor bicycle, because then you'll be hauling the extra weight of the battery pack and motor. In any case, a folding electric bike can offer a fun and efficient alternative means of transportation.
If you don't need a folding bicycle, then it is possible to find a good quality electric bicycle for a much lower price. In fact, at the time this is being written, you can buy a full size electric bicycle for as low as $399 online and at certain department stores. Below are some details on an electric bike made by Currie Tech known as the eZip Trailz. Currie Tech is the same company that makes the folding iZip EZgo electric bike shown above.
eZip Trailz Electric Bike
The eZip Trailz does not have an expensive hub motor, but it comes with a more economical 450w brushed rear earth magnet motor that mounts on a bracket at the rear of the frame. This design is effective and it also helps to keep costs down. The powerful 450w motor transmits its power through a short chain that attaches to a sprocket on the rear wheel. When the eZip is being powered by the electric motor, then a one way clutch engages and propels the eZip forward. When the rider is pedaling without electric power, then the one way clutch freewheels. It is possible to use the electric motor and pedal at the same time to extend your range on a charge. The range of this electric bike is specified as up to 15 miles when running with electric power alone, and up to 22 miles when the rider is pedaling along with the electric motor. Of course, this will vary a lot depending on the terrain (flat ground vs. hills) and the weight of the rider. Top speed with motor power is supposed to be up to 15 mph. You can go faster if you pedal, but then you are doing the work to reach the top speeds. Apparently, there are regulations that state an electric bike that goes over 20 mph would be considered a motorized vehicle. So, most manufacturers would not want to exceed that 20 mph limit, because it would result in many more restrictions, regulations, and lots of additional complications. In any case, you can go over 20 mph on one of these electric bicycles, but you just can not do it with electric power alone. Some other specs on the Trailz worth noting are that it comes with a 24v 10ah sealed lead acid battery pack that takes up to 8 hours to fully charge. An optional second battery back is offered that can double your range. In addition, a lighter LiPo battery pack is available that should offer more recharges and longer battery pack life. This electric bikes weighs around 68 lbs and comes with 26" alloy wheels. A Shimano 7 speed derailleur takes care of transmitting the power of human pedal power. Electric power is controlled by a twist throttle and buttons on the handgrip, and a solid state electronic controller efficiently manages the power going to the electric motor. A charger is provided to safely recharge the eZip battery pack. As you can see, if you don't need a folding model, then an electric bike like this can be another good choice.