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The electric assist bike (EAB):
why it arouses so much interest?

By Philippe Baudoin © copyright (published 18/08/2018)
electric urban bicycle

Economical, ecological and practical, the electric bike is very successful

Its popularity continues to grow and sales explode (+90% in 2017!). The electric bicycle, or EAB, offers an economical, ecological and practical solution to go to work, to the city or to have fun. Equipped with a small motor powered by a battery, it assists you in your pedalling effort and is thus an interesting alternative to the car or scooter for small and medium trips (shopping, work, leisure). If you haven't already taken the step, read the following, it could change your life!

What is an electric bike and how does it work?

A small engine for a big push

An electric bike, or more precisely an Electric Assisted Bicycle (EAB), is a classic bicycle (city, road, VTC or VTT) to which have been added a small electric motor, a battery and a control console to assist the cyclist in his efforts. It makes pedalling easier and makes it possible to cover distances or climbs that would not have been possible with a conventional bicycle.

The battery is located under the saddle, on the crossbar or on the luggage rack. It can be charged either at home on a standard plug or in town. The motor is integrated into the wheel hub or the bottom bracket housing.

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Motorized, silent and non-polluting assistance!

The principle of the electric bike is very simple. The engine starts automatically when you pedal and stops when you stop pedaling or when you brake. Some bicycles also offer assistance when starting, for example at a traffic light, on a hill or when walking beside the bike. This assistance is limited to a few kilometres per hour (5 or 6 km/h in general).

The EAB is therefore only used to assist the cyclist in his effort. That is the big difference with a motorbike. You have to pedal to get assistance. A motorized system without pedalling would be considered as a moped with all the rules that this implies: wearing a helmet, compulsory registration, restriction on cycling paths in particular. In addition, to remain in the bicycle category, French regulations impose on the EAB an engine power limit of 250 W (the engine is flanged to respect this value) and a maximum speed of 25 km/h (the assistance is cut beyond). To give an order of magnitude, 250 W corresponds to the power developed by an 80 kg cyclist to reach about 32 km/h on a flat road with a 10 kg bike.

Some electric bikes, called speed-bikes, do not have this restriction but their use in France is prohibited, unless the regulations specific to mopeds are respected. Their speed can reach 45 km/h.

The electric bike brings a comfort which makes the bicycle accessible to all, sportsmen or not. It is economical, ecological (no pollution) and not noisy.

diagram of the electric bicycle

City bike, road bike, VTC or mountain bike

Electric bikes are available for all tastes and for all uses. From electric bicycles for the city to racing bicycles for sportsmen, via electric VTC and mountain bikes, there is something to satisfy everyone according to their objectives.

Depending on price and type of use, there are bikes with wide or thin tyres, with or without accessories, from the ultra-light (9 kg !) to the heaviest (up to 30 kg !).

  • City electric bike: called "Dutch", or straight bike, it offers an easy ride, a comfortable seat, a high handlebar and the right equipment to transport a person or groceries. It is ideal for the city and short trips (home-work for example). However, it is tiring for longer distances (more than 30 minutes).
  • Electric EAB
  • Electric VTC: more versatile than the Dutch bike, the polyvalent VTC offers an ergonomic seat and a more sporty position. It is suitable for rides longer than 30 minutes. It can be used for work and leisure activities.
  • Electric mountain bike: the electric mountain bike amplifies your pedaling power.
  • Electric EAB
    Electric race bicycle
    Economical, ecological and practical, the electric bicycle can be used in city or for the sport
  • Electric race bike: it is suitable for road cycling and is intended for athletes who like to ride but appreciate assistance for difficult passages or to travel greater distances.
Electric race bicycle
Economical, ecological and practical, the electric bicycle can be used in city or for the sport

Easy, convenient and with minimum maintenance

The electric bike can be charged in a few hours at home on a conventional electric socket or in town from terminals made available to the public. It requires easy and inexpensive maintenance, hence its economic aspect. Count about twenty euros per month for maintenance and recharge.

Why buy an electric bike: advantages and drawbacks

For whom and for what?

The electric bike is for everyone: young and old, sporty and non-sporty. It is indeed a good compromise between the bicycle and the motorized vehicle.

It allows you to get to work with less effort, to stay fresh and available.

For the less sporty, it is a real help to do activities that it would not be possible for them to do with a conventional bike (climbing hills, transporting races, leisure rides requiring too much effort, etc.).

Seniors will find an economical and convenient way to shop, get some fresh air or go for a ride.

As for the sportsmen, they will have an aid in the passages a little too difficult or to travel longer distances. Indeed, there are relatively light bicycles (from 9 kg, the weight of a conventional road bike !) to get extra assistance for difficult routes.

Advantages and drawbacks of the electric bike

From mountain bikes to racing bikes and city bikes, the EAB finds its place both for going to work or shopping and for leisure time. Their interests are numerous. Some of these are listed below.

Ecological, economical and silent, it allows easy movement almost effortlessly and at a lower cost. You can climb hills, face the wind, carry errands or a child on the luggage rack, get to work without sweating and avoiding traffic jams, all with less effort. It is an economical alternative to the car or even the scooter. No more gas, maintenance, parking costs...

The electric bike is a means of transport in its own right which can replace the car or scooter for small and medium journeys (up to 100 or even 150 km depending on the capacity of the battery and the difficulty of the route). According to a recent survey, 70% of EAB buyers have abandoned their car for their home-work journey of less than 8 km.

Used for leisure, it allows you to travel greater distances and cross coasts without having to spend too much energy. It thus gives the possibility to many non-athletic people to participate in sport even without having the necessary training or strength to do so.

Here is a summary of the main advantages and disadvantages of the electric bike:

The benefits of EAB
  • Economic: the costs of charging the battery and maintaining the bike are low compared to the travel costs if you borrow your car or scooter. Count about twenty euros monthly for the maintenance of the bike and the recharge of the battery.
  • Practical and comfortable: you can ride even in windy conditions, climb hills easily, carry groceries or a child, get to work avoiding traffic jams and without sweating. On some EABs, starting up on hills or at traffic lights is made easier thanks to assistance. Electric biking provides a pleasant feeling. Everything happens like on a bike but with extra assistance.
  • Ecological EAB is neither polluting nor noisy
  • Good for your health: you can go cycling, get some fresh air and exercise by controlling your efforts (the assistance allows you to adjust the level of difficulty). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cycling for 30 minutes a day can increase life expectancy by 8 years.
  • Easy and inexpensive maintenance: the bike requires almost the same maintenance as a conventional bike.
  • No administrative constraints: no need for permits, registration or technical control. Wearing a helmet is of course highly recommended for safety, as for conventional cycling. You can use the bicycle paths.
The disadvantages of EAB
  • A substantial basic investment: buying a bike requires a relatively substantial initial investment. A good EAB costs between 1500 and 3000 € but one finds some from 200 €.
  • A significant weight: most electric bikes are much heavier than a conventional bike. Count 17 to 25 kg on average including 3 to 5 kg for the battery alone. The lightest bicycles for sport start at 9 kg (the weight of a mid-range road bike) and the heaviest weigh up to 30 kg !
    The weight of the bike is not normally a problem since the assistance cancels it. However, be careful if the battery is flat: you will have to make a lot of effort to bring the bike home! Storage and transport (bus, train, car) are also more complicated than for an ordinary bicycle. In particular, it must be possible to carry or pull it if there are steps (house, train).


Electric bicycle: the means of transport of the future?

Some countries, such as the Netherlands, have long chosen cycling as their preferred means of transport. In France, its use is often limited to sports. Despite rising fuel prices and measures taken by governments to encourage a"green" attitude, cycling to work or to town is far from being a habit in the mainstream. It must be said that this requires some training.

The electric bicycle is a real revolution. Thanks to electric assistance, everyone can now get on a bike to get around. It is an economical, practical and ecological means that can, in time, replace the use of a motor vehicle for short journeys while encouraging sporting practice.

Electric bikes offer concrete advantages which, in time, should attract more and more people. So, why not take the step today when the government is currently offering assistance to buy its EAB?

Technical questions: what you need to know about the electric bicycle

How far can I ride an electric bike?

The EAB is ideal for short journeys, such as round trips to work (10 to 15 km for example) but it can also be used for longer distances (up to 100 to 150 km). Everything depends on the capacity of the battery, the type of ground (flat or with climbs), the inflation of the tires, the wind, the weight of the user, but also his/her efforts!

For the longest possible range, you need to invest in a bike with a larger, more expensive battery.

Athletes can use the assistance as a support in case of fatigue or particular difficulties encountered on the ground, or for climbing a difficult pass that they could not have crossed with a conventional bike for lack of training.

The choice of your electric bike must take these parameters into account.

Can I pedal if there is no battery?

Yes, when the EAB runs out of battery, it becomes an ordinary bike again. You can also turn off the assistance if you do not want to use it. It is the weight of the bike that makes the difference, especially on hills where the effort to produce will be much greater than with a conventional bike ! Unless, of course, you invest in an ultra-light racing bike.

How long does it take to recharge the bike battery?

The charging time depends on the type of battery and its capacity. This can take between 3 and 7 hours. The latest generation batteries (Li-Ion Mg) require only 3 hours of charging. However, they are more expensive than other types of batteries.

How many speeds are there on a VAE?

The EAB is a classic bike at the base. The number of speeds depends on the number of chainrings and sprockets. One can find bicycles offering 3 to more than 20 speeds.

How much does an electric bike cost?

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Between 1500 and 3000 € for a quality bike

The price of an electric bicycle varies from 200 € to more than 6000 €. Everything depends on the type of bike, the capacity and type of battery, the weight of the bike, accessories, the quality of the bike and its components (battery, engine, conventional accessories: speeds, braking system, etc.).

According to statistics published in 2017, the average price spent in France for an electric bicycle is 1564 €. For a quality bike, it will be necessary to spend between 1500 and 3000 €. Below 1000 &euro, the quality of the bike may be insufficient to the point of discouraging its user. It is better to put up the price to have a quality bike that will last a long time and bring full satisfaction.

A higher price for a light or large battery capacity bike

Weight plays an important role in sporting use. Light electric bikes are available (from 9 kg). They have been designed to offer minimal assistance without altering the weight of the bike too much. These bikes require a higher budget which can reach 6000 € and more.

There are also bicycles with a high capacity and/or high power battery to travel longer distances or climb steeper slopes. These bikes are obviously more expensive.

Maintenance and refill costs: about 20 €/month

The electric bicycle requires almost the same maintenance as an ordinary bicycle (cleaning, lubrication of the chain and other moving parts, replacement of brake pads and defective parts, etc.). Since it has to drive more (longer distances, higher frequency of use), this maintenance will be more frequent.

The battery requires no special maintenance. If the bike is not used for several weeks, it should be removed and stored in a cool, dry and dark place. Depending on the type of battery and use of the bike, it will need to be replaced occasionally (count between 300 and 1500 charges depending on the type of battery). Today's batteries are reliable and guaranteed from 6 months to 2 years. With time, the battery will lose capacity, a point to take into account when buying an electric bike. A used battery can of course be replaced. This will cost you between 200 and over 600 €.

The engine does not require any particular maintenance either, except on old bicycles equipped with a broom motor for which it is necessary to change the coals from time to time (they wear out with use). It will just need to be tightened by an authorized technician each time the bike is serviced.

Recharging the battery is also inexpensive. Consider a few cents per refill.

In total, there is a monthly maintenance cost of about twenty euros, which is very low compared to the cost of transport by car or scooter.

A subsidy from the state and the municipality as the case may be

The state grants subsidies for the purchase of a EAB. They are now limited to non-taxable persons. Some municipalities supplement this subsidy with aid. The two aids (state and municipality) cannot exceed 200 € or 20 % of the price of the bike.

How to choose your electric bike?

Où acheter un vélo électrique ?
vélo électrique

Incontournables sur internet, ces sites marchands offrent un service efficace et sérieux :

  • Bikeinn propose des appareils à prix défiant toute concurrence.
  • Cdiscount propose des VAE à petit prix.
  • Lepape propose des appareils de qualité et des réductions toute l'année. Livraison gratuite dès 90 € d'achat.
  • Amazon : livraison généralement gratuite.
  • Go-Sport : livraison généralement gratuite en magasin.

Profitez sur ces sites de nos codes promos.

Before buying an electric bike, it is important to choose it carefully. To do this, a number of important criteria must be taken into account:

  • The type or geometry of the bicycle (city, road, mountain bike, VTC): to be defined according to the intended use (duration or length of journeys, use in town, leisure, sport, etc.)
  • The capacity and power of the battery: these two parameters will determine the maximum length of the journey or the number of round trips before recharging it as well as the bike's ability to climb difficult climbs. The weight of the user, the type of intended use are also to be taken into account in this choice
  • The type of battery: it determines the number of possible recharges, its cost, the ease of use (to wait or not that the battery is discharged to recharge it).
  • The type of assistance: on or off (the engine starts or stops, without an intermediary) or proportional (depending on the pressure on the pedals). The comfort of use of the bike depends on it.
  • The weight of the bike: a heavy bike will be more difficult to handle and will consume more energy, therefore battery.
  • Engine location (rear wheel, front wheel, crankset): stability, balance, grip, feel and price of the bike depend on it

We do not list all the criteria here (such as engine torque, console, frame, integrated or derailleur gears, brakes, accessories) that should also be taken into account when choosing your electric bike.

We will soon publish a dossier on how to choose an electric bicycle. Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter to be notified in advance.

Where to buy an e-bike?

More and more sports shops offer electric bikes. Sales grow each year with an explosion in 2017 (+90%). Take advantage, as long as it is still possible, of the state aids or even of your commune.

We propose the following partner brands which offer, for some, coupons with our site :

LepapeLepape offers quality devices and regular promotions. Free delivery from 90 € purchase. View site

LepapeGo-Sport offers electric bikes of the brand or via its market place. View site

AmazonAmazon offers bikes at all prices. Delivery often offered View site

Philippe Baudoin
Copyright © Sport Passion

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