A good electric bicycle is probably the most efficient form of motorized transportation available today.
Calculate how much you can save on gas by riding an electric bike with the gas savings calculator.
Assuming a 30 mile commute (15 miles each way), 5 days a week, using an electric bike instead of using a car that gets 15 mpg at $4.20 a gallon, will save you $2184 on gas in one year, more than enough to pay for a quality electric bike. You will also reduce carbon emissions by about 2800 pounds a year. Riding an electric bike is good for your health and the environment.
I recently purchased an E-bike conversion kit from Blue Planet Surf – I already had a 7-speed bicycle that fit me and that I was satisfied with, and I am completely satisfied with the E-bike kit. I did not expect it to have the power of a motorcycle (and it does not), but the power is sufficient for riding around on the level and small hills without any pedaling whatsoever if I so choose, although I usually do pedal to extend the range of the battery power. It does require pedaling to go up a hill of more than 10% or so, but it feels like I’m riding on the level. I find I am able to keep up with town traffic if I pedal and use the motor, and motorists don’t seem to be as irritated as they sometimes are with regular bicycles because I do not slow them down when taking off at intersections. I feel confident making a left turn from the left lane because I know I will be able to keep up with the traffic. (It’s fun to see the amazed looks from pedestrians, motorists, and especially other bicyclists who think I must be a real strong bike rider, and I’m 60 years old!)
I have been using the bike with the conversion kit for over three weeks now, and it has never failed me. It runs smoothly, almost silently, and cuts off automatically if I apply either hand brake – a real safety feature. I do not have a speedometer or bicycle computer, so I do not know how fast I am traveling, but the bike really moves along (I weigh 165-170 pounds). I am also not able to accurately check the mileage I can travel for the same reason but I know I can travel a long ways without worrying about running out of battery power.
The added weight of the batteries, wiring, controller, and motor hub is minimal, and gives me just a tad more exercise than I am used to when pedaling and not using the motor (and we all need more exercise). However, when I kick on the motor it is clearly worth the little added weight. Because the batteries are mounted on one side of the bike like a pannier, I thought it might throw off the balance slightly unless I mounted another pannier on the other side, but I have not added another pannier and I do not notice the weight at all.
I find I get a lot more exercise now because I am riding the bike more than I did before the motor was installed. I got rid of our second car recently and the bike is now my primary mode of transportation if I am not driving my wife around in our van (otherwise she takes the van and I use the E-bike). I go all over town on errands or just pleasure-riding with the bike and I have never run out of battery power. One caution, though – the motor is powerful enough to damage an aluminum fork if you are not careful. I replaced my aluminum fork with a steel one just in case.
I heartily recommend the eZee bike conversion kit for anyone who wants to use their bicycle more but hesitates because of long trips or hills, or needs a little extra help from time to time. Robert Stehlik of Blue Planet Surf has been very helpful with the purchase and installation of the kit.
See below for pictures of the custom conversion:
Mahalo and Aloha,
Craig N., Honolulu (e-mail questions are welcome, click here)