A Beginner’s Guide to eBikes

Most people don’t realize that electric bikes appeared not too long after the original bicycle was invented. The electric bike was invented as early as the late 19th century by Ogden Bolton Jr. In December 1895, Bolton Jr. received U.S. Patent 552,271 for his bicycle that moved without the rider pedaling! Drawing from the power of a battery, a 6-polebrush-and-commuter direct current hub motor mounted in the rear wheel,” the original eBike had no gears and only boasted a 10-volt battery. Just a few years later, however, Hosea Libbey invented an eBike that harnessed the power of a double electric motor, designed within the hub of a crankset axel. Later iterations of the electric bike included a drive belt, four fractional horsepower motors connected through a series of gears, and other major improvements.

Our readers, however, probably did not come to this blog page to receive a history lesson about early electric bicycles used in the late 19th century — as saddening of a fact as that might be. Instead, you likely came to this blog post because you live in or around Portland and are interested in learning more about electric bikes, or eBikes!

Below, we’ll answer a few commonly asked questions regarding electric bikes and their use. At the end of the day, we want you to remember that The eBike Store in downtown Portland is your go-to source for all things eBike-related in Portland. We have electric bikes for sale, for rent, and we even perform maintenance and repair service for your eBikes — whether you purchased your eBike here or otherwise!

With that in mind, keep reading to get the beginner’s guide to eBikes from Portland’s first eBike shop!

What Is an eBike?

Let’s start at the very beginning, so we all have a firm grasp on eBike basics. Simply put, electric bicycles are bicycles that can be run on electric power as well as by pedaling. And while many folks already understand that, others might not know that it’s up to the individual rider to determine just exactly how much pedaling they’d like to contribute to their locomotion. In this way, you can get a great workout by pedaling a significant amount. Conversely, you don’t have to worry about showing up for that 9 AM meeting drenched in sweat from your eco-friendly morning commute. Going with an electric bike really is the best of both worlds!

Are eBikes Legal?

Yes, eBikes are perfectly legal for public use. However, as is the case with most things, there are stipulations that must be followed. The CPSC, or Consumer Product Safety Commission, requires that eBikes:

  • Cannot propel a 170lb rider more than 20 mph on level ground without pedaling
  • Must have operable pedals
  • May not exceed 750 watts
  • Must meet other CPSC requirements for bicycles

If you are a resident of Oregon, you’ll be interested to learn that Oregon state law stipulates:

  • eBike riders must wear an approved bicycle helmet
  • Not legal to use the motor on a sidewalk
  • Electric bicycle riders must be eligible for a driver’s license (16 years of age, license not suspended or revoked)

Does the Extra Weight Make It Hard to Pedal Without the Motor On?

Yes…and no. That’s the short answer. The more nuanced answer is that yes, it is slightly more difficult to ride if you have the motor turned off. But the difference is by and large negligible. While professional cyclists will spend thousands of dollars on the most innovative lightweight models, the functional difference between a bike with a motor as extra baggage and one without is marginal.

Think of it like this: the average bike rider is usually in the range of five times as heavy as the bike in the first place. A heavy bike will be more difficult to go uphill with — but guess what? If you are in a pickle, turn your motor on! Problem solved.

Are eBikes environmentally friendly?

The final question we’d like to address in today’s post that serves as an introduction to electric bikes is that electric bikes are just as eco-friendly as riding a traditional bicycle! Some might think that because bikes use a motor, they are naturally going to leave a carbon footprint of some sort. However, there is no difference between regular bikes and eBikes because eBikes do not have a combustion engine. No spark, no leftover carbon!

Additionally, eBikes are growing in popularity due to their ability to open up the world of cycling to a brand new demographic of folks who were formerly never able to use a bicycle. For individuals with mitigating health factors, age, or commuters who don’t have the time/access to shower after they arrive at their place of work (and hence can’t bike to work because they don’t feel like working for eight hours with a layer of sweat caked on them), eBikes solve a wide variety of problems. Think about how many of these individuals once had to use cars to get around. No longer!

Where Can I Buy An eBike?

Alright, we fibbed. This is the final question we are answering in today’s introductory post. The answer, as you might have guessed, is that you can buy or rent an eBike at The eBike Store in downtown Portland. We offer affordable prices, top eBike brands, and a committed staff that is always willing to answer any questions you might have.

We want you to fall in love with eBikes the way we have at The eBike Store. Shop today!

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