FAQ – e-Bikes and Pedelecs

What is a „starting support“?

Up to a maximum speed of 6 km/h bicycles with a starting support can be driven by engine power only. Most of these bicycles are operated manually using a throttle on the handgrip. Many people find this especially useful in city traffic.

Can I also use my electric bicycle without power support?

An electric bicycle can be used just like a conventional bicycle without power support. You can turn off the support via the control unit. You may even continue driving without any problem, if your accumulator is empty. In comparison to a conventional bicycle an electric bicycle is heavier though.

How do I recognize the power rating of the accumulator?

An accumulator is a rechargeable battery for electric energy. In regard to the power of an accumulator three values are important: Ah (ampere-hour), V (volt) and Wh (watt-hour). The charge that an accumulator can store is given in ampere-hours (Ah) and is called capacity. The voltage (V) denotes the circuit voltage. The decisive factor for comparing various accumulators is the watt-hour (Wh) though. Its value consists of the product of Ah and V: Wh = Ah x V. A high value of Ah or V alone therefore does not guarantee a high energy content.

How long does an accumulator last?

This depends on your driving habits and on the distance you’re covering. The range is subject to various factors, i.e. pedalling speed, weight of the rider, chosen support mode, state of the roads, headwind, etc. The sensor of the electric bicycle measures pedal force and pedalling power and regulates the motor support accordingly. An ideal balance of these factors results in an ideal range. Frequent stop-and-go as in city traffic, headwind or ascents reduce the range – this is similar to the fuel consumption of a car.

Do I need gears for my electric bicycle?

By means of gears you can adapt the power development to the conditions of the surroundings and the environmental influences, for instance headwind. This is easy on the joints and muscles and you can go longer. The same is true for the accumulator. When you keep pedalling on a relatively constant level – not too high, not too low –, experience shows that the electric support lasts longer.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various drive modes?

The mid-engine with the drive via the bottom bracket bearing gives the electric bicycle a very balanced distribution of mass and thus stable vehicle dynamics. The probability of malfunction of connecting parts is lower, because controls, motor, and accumulator have only few cables and connecting parts. A disadvantage of many of these models are the higher repairing costs and time in case of a defect. Back-pedal brakes cannot be used with a mid-engine either.
The vehicle dynamics are also quite stable when using a drive in the front axle. In loose, sandy terrain, however, the traction is somewhat lower, which is particularly disadvantageous on hills. In this case a rear-wheel drive is preferable. The disadvantage of a rear-wheel drive is a rather unfavourable load distribution, since both drive and accumulator are situated in the rear – this gets even worse when you add luggage in the back.
An advantage of a hub drive is that the repair or removal of the drive is less time consuming. In addition you can replace the drive wheel by a conventional wheel in case of a defect and use your electric bicycle like a conventional bike.

Should I purchase a new electric bicycle or rather fit my bike with an electric drive?

By buying a new electric bicycle you get – depending on your choice of bike – a consistent overall concept where the drive set is well coordinated with the frame, the fork and the brakes etc. Experts are not too enthusiastic about refitting, since the frame, the fork or the brakes often do not put up with the strain of higher weight and speed. When buying a new bicycle you have the possibility of choosing a bike with suitable components and thus making your bicycle safe for use.

I want to transport my electric bicycle by car. What aspects do I have to consider?

For car transports the maximum payload of your bike carrier is very important. Electric bicycles easily weigh 25 kg or more. In the case of a roof rack you should consider that you have to lift your bike up to the roof of your car and back down again and that you carry a considerable weight on your roof. The most comfortable solution are rear-end carriers for the coupling device. Numerous manufacturers have responded to the rapidly growing market of electric bicycles and now offer specific carriers for pedelecs. By removing the accumulator and transporting it within your car you protect it from environmental influences and at the same time reduce the payload on the carrier.
Equally important is a protection against theft when your bicycle and care are left unattended. Possibly the purchase of a folding bicycle might be worthwhile, if you plan to transport it by car on a regular basis. Thus you do not have to buy and fit a bicycle carrier and you can transport your bike without exposing it to varying weather conditions.

Does my bicycle dealer take back the accumulators?

In Germany consumers are obliged to return batteries and accumulators to the dealer or local collecting points. Almost all batteries contain substances that damage the environment. Therefore they must not be disposed of in domestic waste.