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What do you think of this Seattle company’s new e-fatbike?

Image from Rad Power Bikes
Image from Rad Power Bikes

So, we don’t usually do product reviews or features here on Seattle Bike Blog. But the best way to get featured here is to be a Seattle-based company and create a video with lots of biking-in-Seattle footage :-)

I got an email from Rad Power Bikes pointing to a crowdfunding campaign for their newest e-bike, the RadRover, which has super fat tires for off-road riding. And their video has all kinds of Seattle biking scenes, including a trip past the Fremont bike counter:

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But another element caught my eye, and I wanted to ask all you loyal bike blog readers about it: The company assumes you will not pedal this bike much.

In fact, the product details claim a 20-mile range without pedaling at all, and suggests pedaling simply as a way to extend your range. The bike is 60 pounds and has a top speed of 20 mph.

This is a topic that will only happen more often as electric bike and battery technology gets cheaper, more powerful and more efficient. I know it’s a debate that has happened in many other bike spaces (online and off), but we haven’t really discussed it in depth here.

I imagine some people will dismiss any bike that doesn’t expect you to pedal. After all, isn’t that really just an electric scooter?

On the other hand, I love the promise of e-bikes in allowing more people to bike for more tasks. From bike cargo companies to family cycling to people who — for a variety of reasons — feel more comfortable or more mobile with extra help climbing hills, advancing e-bike technology is a great thing for city cycling.

Plus, you can pedal it as much as you want. Why should I care how much someone else is pedaling?

Or maybe this isn’t an issue, which is why it really hasn’t come up much on this blog. Everyone just keep on keeping on. Ride whatever bike you want.

So I open it up to all you. Is this the coolest bike you’re ever seen in your life? Is there a point where an e-bike stops being a bike? Is any of this worth worrying about?

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93 responses to “What do you think of this Seattle company’s new e-fatbike?”

  1. Carl

    Motor driving the wheels means it is a motor vehicle case closed. These do not belong on our bike paths or other trail and need to be regulated like mopeds or scooters.

    1. Richard

      I think that’s a bit closed-minded perspective. I don’t see why whether it has a motor, in and of itself, is an important differentiator; the speed and size/shape are, in my opinion, the only reason this should matter at all. Size and shape are apparently no issue here, just speed – and frankly, 20mph on the burke gilman is extremely common as it stands.

      Thing is, numerous studies have shown that safety of cyclists is seriously impacted by adoption, so personally, I’m of the opinion, ride what you like so long as you ride!

      If speeds become an issue with e-bikes, they’re already an issue (and, yes, they are). Banning or enforcing speeds, either requires a new enforcement effort, so I’d vote on the latter – who cares if they’re driven by feet or motor; if they’re going at a safe speed, cool; if not, let’s fine.

      At safe speed, motor or feet just seems an unimportant distinction.

      1. Law Abider

        The issue isn’t necessarily speed, it’s more experience going at that speed.

        When I bike, I can easily cruise at 15+ mph on flat terrain. Doing that required years of bike commuting to get my muscle strength up. What those years also gave me is the experience of being aware of my surroundings when going that speed and how to navigate obstacles, static or moving, expected or unexpected.

        What I’ve been seeing recently is people on e-bikes going 20 mph (no helmets of course), with clearly no experience (1) on bikes and (2) bikes going that speed. From what I’ve seen this spring, the number of people biking is going to be at record amounts this summer and popular bike routes are going to be near capacity during commutes. It’s only a matter of time before we start hearing of e-bike incidents resulting in major injuries to the e-biker and/or the people they crash into.

        I foresee e-bikes being unambiguously banned from bike facilities within a year or two, and I’m all for it.

      2. Richard

        I’m surprised to hear you had to work up to 20mph over such an extended period of time…

        When I started biking, I was 260lbs, had no exercise outside of biking, and hadn’t really been on a bike since I was 14 or so (~20 years).

        I was able to hit 20 without issue within the first few weeks of riding.

        Here’s a ride from when I’d been on the bike again for less than a month:
        Notice there’s a significant amount of time over 20 – and that from a very heavy, out of shape, complete bike noob on a Wal-Mart Schwinn “Varsity” road bike.

        Again, I don’t disagree with you that what you are seeing is bad, I just disagree with approaching it as a problem of motor vs. not (when the lack of a motor clearly doesn’t preclude the bad behavior). If we are going to enforce some rule, why not actually enforce rules relating to the *problem* rather than something that probably has a loose correlation to the problem?

      3. Richard

        Also, if you’ve commuted by bicycle – or at least, if you’ve ever spoken to someone with a staunch car-centric perspective about bike commuting – any time you hear the argument that “X should be disallowed from Y because I see people with X doing Z bad action all the time!” should be setting off major red flag alarm bells in your head :)

  2. Ellie

    I’ll admit I’m skeptical about a quality e-bike being delivered at that price point.

    But, I have that same Samsung battery on my e-bike and it’s great. I do get about their stated range with pedaling; a bit over 20 hilly Seattle miles. I have a different hub motor, but I almost never use it scooter style (throttle only). That won’t get you up most hills around here. Maybe with a more torque-efficient mid drive motor and a medium-steep hill.

    Also, I find it harder to feel balanced and in control of a fast-traveling bike without pedaling, since that’s what bike riders are most practiced at doing while sitting on their bike.

    That being said, being able to scooter along is handy in an emergency. Once something went wrong with my drivetrain, and another time my knee started hurting en route.

    Fat tires are a good idea for an e-bike. I have 700×40’s on mine. The greater speed makes it necessary for comfort, and with assistance you can get away with really fat or even under-inflated tires without breaking a sweat.

  3. Ellie

    I disagree about banning e-bikes from trails. (Except loud and stinky gas-powered lawnmower motor bikes.) We have two e-bikes in our household: one makes a cargo bike manageable in a hilly city; the other makes a long commute manageable for someone who isn’t very athletic. We use them for accessibility, not speed. I always tone it down and ride with care on mixed use trails–I’m riding no faster than I would on my regular bike. When I am climbing a hill, I only pass other cyclists in the bike lane by taking the general traffic lane. Of course, not everyone behaves this way, but there are jerks on unassisted road bikes who buzz you, too.

    1. David W Landreth

      I totally agree with you! This E-bike movement is all about making the distances that we have created by our car based infrastructure more accessible by bike for the average user. A utilitarian non-car based option to get around town, performing basic functions: commuting, groceries, errands etc. The Radwagon and Radcity offerings are fantastic for this. Accomplishing all of these with some assistance for hills, wind and other unpleasantries makes biking these distances tangible for most. We need to be respectful of the capabilities of these things YES. Speed, Handling, and respecting those around us are all considerations that should be made on any bicycle assisted or unassisted! I think that this is the issue. Let’s all look out for each other, respect all those on the roadways, bike paths etc. If you purchase an E-bike take the time to learn the bikes capabilities and conduct yourselves on them in this manner. If everyone did this, then I suppose we wouldn’t even be discussing this…

  4. Alkibkr

    Motorized bikes on the beach and multi use trails? If this isn’t illegal it should be.

    1. Lynn

      I’m pretty sure that biking on the beach and the trails of Discovery Park (as shown in the video) is illegal, whether on a motorized bike or not.

    2. Josh

      State law prohibits electric-assist bikes on sidewalks, and on any paths/trails that local authorities have closed to motorized vehicles.


      1. Stardent

        Thanks for the link. I have been wondering about this as I see more and more electric assisted bikes on BG trail (“motorized vehicles prohibited”) zipping along at 20 – 25 mph on level parts and passing people with very little warning. Why don’t we allow mopeds then?

  5. Lisa

    I don’t mind them on bike paths and trails, if people are considerate. I totally get the need in Seattle. I’d rather people ride e-bikes than drive cars that have way more potential to run me over. I think if still lived up on Phinney Ridge I’d have one by now. This one, however, did not strike my fancy at all. It just doesn’t look… fun. I’m not a mountain biker, but the concept of an electric assist mountain bike seems really weird to me. Would the weight mess you up? It doesn’t seem like it would handle very well. It would be cool to be able to ride it on the beach and snow, but then you have to get it to the beach or the mountains.. and it’s so heavy to lift up onto a car bike rack.

  6. Ben Morris

    Carl brings up a good related topic. I’ve been passed by electric-assist bikes many-a-time on the Interurban trail in North Seattle and even on the Burke/Sam River trails. The overly-officious, anal-retentive part of me wants to catch up and give them a good ol’ Seattle-passive-aggressive ‘Hey! You know, maaannn, that’s like, prohibited, maaaaaannnn…’, but then the lazy slacker in me – thinking – ‘Ah, whatever, f*&^%-it…’ wins.
    Back on the original topic: SIXTY-POUNDS!? Dang right, people aren’t going to be peddling it much… or ever.

  7. Gary

    I would consider an electric assist on a cargo bike, ie Bullet, or Bakefits as hauling a kid, plus cargo and the bike can easily get to over 100lbs. And most bike drive trains aren’t geared for that. Nor are the parts really setup to handle that amount of stress.

    As for motorized bikes on trails, well without the access to the I-90 bridge trail you really are limited to one side or the other of Lake Washington. It’s similar to those low power gas scooters, not really safe at 55mph if they can even get there. And with the narrow trail it won’t take many jerks to make a mess of it.

    As for electric bikes in general, I’m for them, way bettter power to weight ration than an electric car, however I won’t be buying one as I need the exercise. And I ride 30 miles a day, so hauling the dead battery back the last 10 isn’t a good option. In addtion batteries lose their ability to hold a charge over time, so in 5 years the range may only be 10 miles…. ick.

    1. Mikaela

      After riding the bike for 20,000 miles with a battery that will get you at least 1,000 charge cycles (not li-polymer ones though), that is a good amount of mileage before you would need to buy another one.

      1. jay

        Considering that a high end e-assist battery can cost nearly $1000 for the battery itself, I don’t think anyone is going to be going 20,000 miles on this bike. I wouldn’t be any too suppressed if the range is less that 10 miles on the day it arrives (if it ever does) at least riding without pedaling as shown in the video. I also wouldn’t be too surprised if only a tiny fraction of the bikes were in rideable condition after a year, the battery being only one of the thins that can go wrong on a cheap bicycle, if one subtracts the e-assist from the $1000 price, the rest of the bike has to be really cheap. Though interestingly, I found one <$300 fat bike that got rave reviews, but almost all qualified their option with something like "for the price, this is a lot of fun, sure it is not very good, but hey, look at the price". One reviewer, who never the less gave a good rating, said he wouldn't want to ride it more than 8 or 9 miles. So; "so hauling the dead battery back the last 10 isn’t a good option" may be an understatement, how about double plus ungood?

      2. Mikaela

        I totally see what you’re saying. It doesn’t list the battery mixture which would definitely indicate the quality of the battery.

        Other e-bikes that have nicely expensive batteries can give you 1000+ charge cycles (from 0-full) so they practically outlast the bike.

        Ebike companies these days are actually starting to eliminate throttle-power all together or really limiting the throttle as merely a boost (maxes out at 6MPH) to get you going. Not to mention… RANGE (50+ Miles a charge)!!! But you gotta pay $3000 for it. Worth every penny.

      3. Jay and Mikaela,

        The RadRover battery pack uses the Samsung 29E cells which is an 18650 NCA Li-Ion cell and a great one for the application. This is the exact same cell as used in many e-bikes in the $3,000-$6,000 price categories like you are describing and it is built using the same construction techniques using a high end battery management system.

        You are all right that many things effect the range of an electric bike such as rider weight, rolling resistance, terrain, etc and many things effect the cycle life of a lithium battery pack such as charging and discharging rate, charging frequency, frequency of use, storage conditions, etc. With riders ranging from 110 to 210 pounds we consistently get a minimum of 20 miles of range around Seattle on the production bikes, without pedaling. In one of the lower power pedal assist modes (1-3 on the LCD meter) we get 30-40 miles per charge and in the higher power pedal assist modes (4-5) we get 25-30 miles with light pedaling (enough pedaling to get your heart rate up but not enough to start sweating even with piles of layers on to stay warm. There are many electric bikes on the market which claim to have XX miles range but generally have half or less in real world riding conditions. What Jay is suggesting above about our battery may be true for other bikes on the market as we have had a lot of people come to us with similar negative experiences with ebikes from other manufacturers, and we always provide solutions to “range anxiety”. There are tons of really good e-bikes to choose from now but this problem is still very much alive and we are constantly trying to educate and inform consumers that there are great options out there, and to be very cautious when ebike shopping.

        Jay also brings up a good point about the other electrical components as being just as important to the durability and usable life of an e-bike and I couldn’t agree more. Our motor controllers use high quality FET’s and are over sized for the application to provide years of trouble free use. We also use a high end SW-LCD meter with back-light and brushless hub motor.

        To speak to cycle life, it is greatly affected by the use profile but you should expect to get over 700 cycles with our Samsung cells with normal use. It is slightly lower than some lithium iron phosphate cells and others, but you gain a great amount of energy density and performance.



        Rad Power Bikes

  8. Cheif

    As long as the manufacturer stresses to their customers that this moped is intended for road use only this is a pretty neat toy. As someone who rides trails and fire roads with some frequency I will definitely say I don’t want to see the e-bike people who ride so thoughtlessly in town getting access to the places I go to get away from people like that.

  9. Chris Young

    Lately I’ve notice a lot of people riding those ebikes like maniacs on bike lanes and the Burke Gilman. They are not just using the motor to help with hills. They are using the ebike as a cheap electric motorcycle, that you don’t need to register and can go anywhere.

    1. Greg

      Yep-there’s a reason that the Europeans who have a lot more experience with this sort of thing limit the power assist to top out at 16 mph. We should do the same.
      Also it’s probably worth getting rid of throttle only assist entirely. There’s just a different frame of mind that people inhabit when speeding up involves physical input-it’s hard to take one’s speed seriously when it’s just a matter of pushing a button.

  10. Jeff Dubrule

    I’m inclined to “wait and see”, and deal with it, if it becomes a real problem. You still have to pay attention when biking, and the combined rider+bike weight of 260lbs, instead of 230lbs, won’t cause much more of a thump in the event of a bike or pedestrian collision. Worst case, some people will have bought cool bikes they can’t take on the B-G trail anymore.

    Legally, I think, currently, E-assist bikes are allowed in regular car lanes, bike-lanes & sides-of-roads, but not sidewalks or multi-use paths.

    It’s slightly frustrating to have someone buzz on by when I’m huffing & puffing up a hill, but so long as my safety is not compromised, that’s my problem, not theirs, and should be dealt with appropriately by stopping for a beer at the top.

  11. Brian T

    Concern about e-bikes in general? Meh. More bikes are better.
    Sure, I can envision e-bike riders someday blowing past me and others in a rude and potentially risky manner, particularly as I huff up an incline on my burrito-powered bike. But there already are rude riders and there always will be. I’m not inclined to lose sleep over it as a hypothetical problem.
    The advertising approach, however, showing no or very limited pedaling, is unusual though. It seems particularly odd for a fat bike, which I’m assuming tends to have more of a hard-core off-roading market rather than a coast-effortlessly-along-the-Alki-bike-path market.
    The e-bike legislation that I really want is this: E-bikers have to display a conspicuous sign or flag stating “I’m not working as hard as that guy over there on the regular bike.” My fragile ego already takes a hit each time someone on an e-assist bike effortlessly glides by me on an incline while I huff away. I need the world to know that it’s not a fair race. The sad irony there is that the injuries to my ego depend on an assumption that the people driving cars around me are paying attention to me and the e-biker, which we all know is demonstrably false most of the time.

    1. Lisa

      Can we also have a sign for the spandex crowd that says “I’m super in shape and train for endless hours on weekends” so that I don’t feel so bad when they pass me on hills? I can wear one that says, “I’m too lazy to shower when I get to work, so I’m trying not to sweat. Plus, my bike and I are way heavier than you and your bike. Please ‘on your left’ me as you pass.”

    2. Ellie

      I’ve tried saying “assisted bike passing on your left”…

      1. Lisa

        I just appreciate anything. It’s amazing how many people just zoom by me on Dexter, not saying anything or moving into the car lane. (One or the other- say something, or move over) I’ve gotten used to it but it’s not safe, I almost knocked a guy into traffic because I was about to move left to avoid a door, and oh hey, there you are. I always try to check behind me before I move over, but it only takes one mistake.

      2. Josh

        It’s more than just polite, it’s the law.

        Bicycles are vehicles and are subject to safe-passing requirements — if someone is passing you so close that dodging a door means you’d hit him, he’s not passing “to the left at a safe distance to clearly avoid coming into contact with the pedestrian or bicyclist.” (RCW 46.61.110)

        But that’s not e-bike specific, plenty of Cat 7 commuters pass slower riders like they were racing.

  12. Josh

    With a top speed of 20 mph on the level, and a weight of 60 lbs plus rider, it’s clearly capable of enough momentum to maim or kill a vulnerable pedestrian. That’s true of pedal-bikes, too, but in general, getting that much speed out of a pedal-bike implies at least moderate bike-handling skills and some level of experience.

    That’s why electric-assist bikes are legal on the street but prohibited by state law on sidewalks and on any path/trail closed to motorized vehicles by local authorities. (Currently, electric-assist bikes are explicitly illegal by code on all nonmotorized paths and trails in King County, and Seattle has posted many facilities to exclude motorized vehicles, e.g., e-bikes are illegal on BGT.)

    If we consider legalizing electric-assist bikes on paths, trails, cycletracks, etc., we need to consider either lowering the maximum electric speed, or raising the minimum standards for our bicycle facilities.

    Many existing paths and trails were designed not to be safe at 20 mph, even without other users. Sight distances, turning radii, lane width… all sorts of safety factors of conventional bike path designs assume riders go slower up hills, coast fast on downhills, and usually don’t hit 20 mph on level pavement. Allowing fast, motorized vehicles on these trails threatens the goal of creating all-ages-and-abilities facilities.

    The Dutch are increasingly recognizing this. According to CROW, there are increasing complaints that fast recreational riders and power-assisted riders are making Dutch cycletracks hostile environments for slower and more vulnerable users. The Dutch Cyclists Union has pushed the government into experimenting with allowing faster riders to take the street instead of the sidepath.

    Are there solutions other than a complete ban on e-bikes on trails?

    Sure, a bit of nuance would go a long way. Some potential solutions:

    Trail speed limits — currently, there are no legal speed limits for bicycles on Seattle paths/trails. Even where a trail has a 15 mph design speed and has advisory speed signs posted, those are just suggestions, not enforceable.

    Trail-eligible e-bikes — the current 20 mph top speed was designed to make electric-assist bikes fit the rules of the road for bicycles on the street. Should there be a slower class of e-bikes that would be allowed on shared-use paths? (Perhaps with limits on width as well as speed? The ELF is a touch over four feet wide, for example. Limit e-bike width to wheelchair width for trails?)

    Enforcement — we all love the carefree nature of cycling, but as it becomes a more important mode of transportation, with a higher mix of vulnerable users and an influx of power-assist vehicles, the rules of the road may need to be more than suggestions. Can the city allocate some enforcement personnel to ongoing traffic issues on paths/trails? Failure to yield, unsafe passing, failure to stop for pedestrians crossing the trail, etc. They’re all illegal already, but essentially voluntary until you’re dealing with liability after a crash.

    1. Jeff Dubrule

      “Can the city allocate some enforcement personnel to ongoing traffic issues on paths/trails? Failure to yield, unsafe passing, failure to stop for pedestrians crossing the trail, etc. They’re all illegal already, but essentially voluntary until you’re dealing with liability after a crash.”

      Not before they allocate some enforcement personnel to ticket cars for these same violations.

    2. BobE

      Josh is spot on about the entire subject.

    3. Tom Fucoloro

      Is 20 mph too high? I know people-power can easily get to that speed, too. But would people be more comfortable if motors cut out at, say, 15 mph? Or is that not really the point? I’m intrigued by this because clearly people are very divided on where e-bikes belong (and don’t belong).

      Thanks for the help on the legal front, Josh, like always. I’m curious if you know of anywhere that has successfully created law changes to allow e-bikes to a certain point. Or is this the wild west?

      1. Taylor

        I agree with Tom that 20mph is still an acceptable speed for our trails. That is around the speed I generally ride on the BG.

        The difference is that when you are doing so under power on a fat bike that takes all the bumps you may be less inclined to pay attention to what is around you.

        Also it seems like the kind of bike a neckbeard or a brogrammer might ride so despite my affinity for facial hair and computers I will vote against the thing.

      2. Josh

        I don’t know any place that has official rules to allow e-bikes on nonmotorized trails, but WSDOT has said they intend to allow e-bikes on Westlake, but not allow mopeds or scooters, so it’s an issue Seattle will have to be addressing soon.

      3. Josh

        Oops, autocorrect — I meant SDOT, not WSDOT.

      4. Josh

        My personal experience with electric-assist bikes is mostly positive, except for a few incidents that scared the hell out of me.

        Example: Riding the I-90 Trail, up-hill, towards a blind 90-degree intersection with the sidewalk on 23rd Ave S.

        The trail isn’t very wide to begin with, there’s a bollard in the middle of the turn, and there’s almost no visibility of riders coming southbound turning onto the Trail. It’s a design that’s marginally OK because people biking up that slope are generally going fairly slow and sticking to the right side of the trail.

        As I’m climbing the hill, doing maybe 10-12 mph, an e-bike zips silently by on my left, double my speed without pedaling. When he’s not quite past me, an oncoming rider appears at the intersection, and the e-bike swerves back onto the right side of the trail, clipping my front tire, while the oncoming rider does a panic stop that lifts his rear tire off the ground.

        Now, it’s possible for that to happen without an e-bike. Some strong racer with no common sense could sprint past me in the same position without calling out. But in the real world, in eight years of commuting that exact same route, I’ve never had an issue at that location with a human-powered rider climbing the hill too fast.

        If we’re going to allow trail use by vehicles that can easily climb hills at 20 mph, we need to design trails to accommodate that speed when climbing hills. Right now, we don’t. AASHTO allows an 18 mph design speed on the level, and design speeds as low as 12 mph climbing hills.

        By default, standards-compliant shared use paths are not designed to serve 20 mph e-bikes.

  13. Josh

    Not to be nitpicky, but it doesn’t appear any of the bikes in the video have legally-required reflectors.

    Personally, given they already have batteries large enough for driving the bike, I’d think any street-legal e-bike should have front and rear daytime running lights. But at the very least they should meet legal requirements.

  14. Kirk

    The promo video shows the riders riding irresponsibly (on the wrong side of the road, two abreast on a narrow trail approaching pedestrians) and illegally on sidewalks and on multi use trails. The law classifies them as motor-driven cycles. Motor driven cycles are not allowed on sidewalks, MUTs, bike lanes, or in parks, including beaches. I would advocate to keep bicycle facilities for the sole use human powered vehicles.

    11.14.345 – Motor-driven cycle.”Motor-driven cycle” means every motorcycle, including every motor scooter, with a motor which produces not to exceed five (5) brake horsepower (developed by a prime mover, as measured by a brake applied to the driving shaft), and every bicycle with motor attached. (RCW 46.04.332)

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I’m personally less interested in what the law technically says today and more interested in what it should say. We can change laws, and I’m sure those rules were written not anticipating all the potential uses for e-bike technology.

      For example, should family bikes (xtracycles, bakfiets-style bikes) with electric assist really be banned from trails? That’s crazy.

      1. Josh

        Personally, I’d think all-ages-and-abilities paths/trails should have legally-enforceable speed limits, backed by actual enforcement, with the limits set to reflect both the design speed of the facility and the vulnerability of expected users.

        There’s nothing wrong with a cargo bike doing 20+ mph on the street, pedal or electric, but I wouldn’t want that same bike doing 20 mph on a path with a 10 mph design speed.

        (Which reminds me, SDOT says they do intend to allow electric-assist bikes on the Westlake path when it opens. So when you look at the plans, consider what the tight spots will feel like with an ELF coming at you at 20 mph…)

      2. Cheif

        “I’m personally less interested in what the law technically says today and more interested in what it should say. ”

        Sounds like the mentality of a lot of car drivers who would rather me be out of their way or run over.

      3. Peri Hartman

        I agree with Tom. The reason? Because e-bikes really didn’t exist at the time these bicycle laws were written. Thus, how can you expect that congress had e-bike usage in mind when they wrote our current laws? What would they have written if there had already been a contingent of e-bike users?

      4. Tom Fucoloro

        Honk :-)

      5. Josh

        FYI, Washington’s law on electric-assist bikes was new in 1997, specifically because e-bikes were a growing issue that didn’t fit the old “motor-driven cycle” rules.

      6. Peri Hartman

        Frankly, I don’t see how one can really distinguish between throttle-style ebikes and mopeds (and small motorcycles). You can already buy electric powered motorcycles. What’s the difference? The shape of the frame? The wheel size?

        It might be hard to visually distinguish a pedelec from a throttle bike, but legally I think they are completely different.


    2. Josh

      As long the top pedal+electric speed is 20 mph, they should fall under “electric assist bicycles” rather than “motor driven cycles.” That would make them legal in bike lanes on the street, but still prohibited on sidewalks and any paths/trails closed to motorized vehicles.


      1. The bike industry/ebike industry has very strong views about what should be legal and is lobbying for laws to (ostensibly) bring us in line with Europe. They apparently just had someone introduce the legislation in California. Apparently that’s their #1 priority, because they say. as Cali goes so goes the nation. via Bicycle Retailer

        “The model legislation would create three classifications of e-bikes: pedal-assist bikes, like European pedelecs, where the motor provides power only while a cyclist is pedaling; throttle-assist bikes, which allow a rider to twist a motorcycle-type throttle for power even when not pedaling; and a new classification known as a speed pedelec.

        The first two types of e-bikes would be restricted to a top motor-assisted speed of 20 miles an hour, while a speed pedelec could reach 28 miles an hour with motor assist.

        The model legislation also would apply different restrictions on where each type of e-bike could be ridden. A standard pedal-assist bike, for example, could be ridden anywhere a regular bicycle can be ridden, while a speed pedelec would be restricted to streets or roadways, and to bike lanes that are adjacent to a roadway.”

        You can watch this bill pedal through the California Legislature at: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1096.

      2. Tom Fucoloro

        Thanks for the link, Tim! I had no idea this was happening in California.

      3. BTW, CalBike (like Washington Bikes) has a legislative watch on this bill, but their fact sheet is broken. If they fix it, info is here: https://calbike.org/legislation/

      4. Josh

        Also worth noting, California requires e-bike retailers to provide customers with a warning that liability for motorized bicycles may be excluded under standard personal liability coverage from home or renters insurance.

        Human-powered bicycles are generally covered by your personal liability coverage, so if you accidentally hit someone with your bike, you usually have $100,000 or more of liability insurance. But electric-assist bikes are “motorized,” and personal liability coverage commonly excludes any motorized vehicle. So an accident that would be covered riding your pedal-bike often won’t be covered riding your e-bike.

  15. Tom, have you heard about the Sonders/Storm Indegogo controversy? (https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/sondors-electric-bike; $75k ask; funded north of $5M.) Serious questions about whether they can actually deliver (start here and workbackward: http://electricfatbike.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/why-indiegogos-sondors-ebike-perk-insurance-is-risky-business/). The RAD bike looks like pretty much the same deal (with some slightly better parts but higher pricing) ; 1. fire up some crowdsourcing; 2. place an Alibaba order for commodity bikes 3. wait for bikes to arrive from China 4.Profit!

    At any rate if you do a followup with Rad, I’d like you to ask:

    a) why *fat* e-bike? (Unless you’re Ryan Schuetze in Alaska, that is, or otherwise needing the fatness –snow, sand, ?) Fat bikes in the city make no sense. 4″+ tires just weigh more, add drag to already drag-heavy e-bike power systems,, and up the price, and so on.
    b) if they’re just ordering a container of bikes from Alibaba that someone else designed, are they really a bike brand?
    c) what are their plans for after sales support? Service? Parts?

    These are questions I’d like answered from the Rad folks. They contacted us for a promo post and we declined — mostly because I’ve been following the Sonders thing and don’t want to give any publicity for another bike that’s just going to hurt the industry (and more importantly, turn people off to riding.

    1. Taylor

      I 100% agree with this. Crowd funding is so powerful just look how much money can be generated in such a .

    2. Hi Tom,

      Here are some answers to your three questions below, well noted on your concerns. I understand your apprehension having witnessed the Sondors campaign and am happy to answer any additional questions you have. You are more than welcome to come down anytime and talk shop with us here, and we could dive into the long list of features that make the RadRover a distinctly higher end product being offered by a distinctly more knowledgeable company. I am challenged to see how our product is going to hurt the industry considering we are offering a great product at a great price with a high level of after sales support and sound guidance. Being that our entire team is comprised of cycling enthusiasts and avid e-bikers our #1 goal in launching the RadRover is to turn more people into cyclists not turn them off to riding.

      a) The #1 comment we get from new users trying the fat bikes versus some of our Ebikes with smaller tires like Schwalbe marathons or similar is that they feel safer and the ride is more comfortable. Long story short we are in alignment that they are not as efficient as a commuter/road tire but it is a consumer demand thing, and anything that gets more people on bikes (even if it is less efficient) is a good thing in my opinion. Our brushless hub motor also freewheels which does reduce the “drag-heavy” comment you are making which is more prevalent with direct drive hub motors where cogging is more noticeable.

      b) We have been building custom electric bikes since 2007. This is our flagship complete bike and it is distinctly different from the Sondors bike given that it designed using components that we hand selected as everyday e-bike commuters, tinkerers, cyclists, and experienced e-bike experts. There is a lot more to it than just ordering a container of bikes from overseas. We are not specialized or trek, but we do manufacture/build/sell electric bikes and we love what we do and have never had an unhappy customer.

      c) Being that up till now most of our bikes have been custom high power conversions we have gained critical experience in understanding the troubleshooting, service and support side of this business. The bike is designed with modular components which allows end users to easily replace the battery pack, hub motor, display, motor controller, or controls with simple hand tools and the LCD display has a built in error detection which displays a code pointing to what system is in fault. Parts will be readily available on our website after the campaign, and service will be provided for all of our customers by calling our customer service line or by email and utilizing our how-to-videos for simple repairs. Customer service is king and we are in the business of making happy customers and keeping more people on the road, but out of their cars!

      Hopefully I have answered your questions, please keep them coming, and happy biking.


  16. Stuart Strand

    How about people with disabilities or conditions that limit their ability to ride bikes with no assistance? Should they be prohibited from multi use trails if a pedal assist bike would allow them to commute? Someone mentioned width restrictions. Should trikes and arm powered trikes be prohibited? Should riders with balance problems be outlawed from riding the BGT? Aren’t we supposed to be inclusive in the biking community?

  17. Peri Hartman

    E-bikes? Fine.
    Fat tires? Fine. Really beneficial in Seattle :)
    20mph without pedaling? Hell no! Not in bike lanes and bike paths, anyway.

    I believe the best design – and what the law should promote – are e-bikes where the motor *assists* the rider. In other words, it puts in 50% and you put in 50%, for example. If you stop pedaling, the motor stops assisting. (Maybe with a doctor’s “prescription”, you could legally bump the assist up to 75%.)

    Couple that with a max assist speed of 15 mph.

    This allows the weak riders to get around, get up hills and, yet, not blast through like on a moped.


    1. Ben Morris

      Totally agree with Mr. Hartman and Josh.

      There should be a definite distinction between an ‘electric assist bicycle’ in which the bike needs to be peddled before the motor kicks-in to provide assistance vs. a ‘motor driven cycle’ – where the rider can merely sit on their ass and be propelled forward (basically, a moped – which is what the Rad Rover essentially is).

      – It’s ‘still’ a bicycle if the motor only comes into play to assist the rider while peddling.
      – It’s a ‘moped’ if the bike does not ‘need’ to be peddled.

      There. Done. ;)

    2. In many locations in Europe pedal assist e-bike like you are describing are the only type allowed. As sort of a side note to this on the ebike tech side the RadRover has a pedal cadence sensor and an on/off button for the throttle, so it can be operated without the throttle mode enabled and users can select the pedal assistance level from 1(lowest) and 5(highest). I think a lot of Ebikes are pedal assist nowadays. The LCD screen also has a programming mode where the speed of the electric motor can be limited to any value from 1 to 20 mph max. I agree that the speed should match that of other non-powered users when sharing facilities.


    3. RTK

      I am good with 20 MPH, with the usual caveats that the bike is ridden at a speed that is safe for the situation. Most of the e-bikes I have seen have riders in very upright maneuverable positions. The benefit of this for me is that you can jump in behind one and get a great draft. Twice I have seen gas powered bikes on the BGT and that just shouldn’t be.

  18. Brian T

    This is a really interesting discussion (i.e., where to allow e-bikes and under what conditions/limitations), but it feels a bit like infighting. I long for the day when e-bikes are a bigger problem than cars. I’m not saying we can’t think carefully about both and maybe even regulate both. But when the discussion turns to devoting limited enforcement resources to this “problem” and to lobbying for the Legislature’s or City Council’s limited regulatory attention, I can’t help but feel like we’re getting distracted from what should be the priorities (i.e, bad infrastructure and the mayhem wreaked by people driving real motor vehicles).
    Anyway, as I said, interesting (and civil) discussion. Carry on, please.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      I’m with you, Brian. But I was curious about people’s feelings on this. If e-bikes really do become affordable and popular, this will be an issue someday. I don’t think we’re at the point of needing legislation, but we (meaning our governments) are going to need to decide what kinds of e-bikes are allowed in trails. For example, if there is a collision, it could pose a liability problem, etc.

      I don’t personally care what kind of bike you ride. I also don’t care when someone passes me on a hill (so long as they give a polite and safe amount of space, just like any other kind of vehicle).

      I’d want data to show e-bikes as being dangerous before pursuing any laws limiting their use. From what I can tell, no such data exists, at least in the US. If anyone knows of such a study, I’d love to see it.

      1. Josh

        Not sure how such a study would be done at a reasonable scale today, standard collision reporting doesn’t even ask whether a bicycle has electric assist, if a collision report is even filed for a bike-on-bike or bike-on-pedestrian crash.

  19. In Neal Stephenson’s futuristic novel The Diamond Age the way they handle increasing numbers of vehicles in increasingly dense urban areas is with half- and quarter-width vehicles that take a fraction of the lane and can drive next to eachother at high speed (notably, quarter-width vehicles were common — but a quarter-width highway lane would be maybe three feet wide… half the width of a modern bike lane!). This was an incidental part of the world and I don’t remember a deep discussion of it, but I think they basically replaced all the lanes today’s full-width cars use.

    Are some of these e-bikes that aren’t really meant to be pedaled much more like lightweight, “half-width” cars than bikes? Whether they belong mixed in with traditional bikes sort of depends on what the bike lanes and trails are there for in the first place. There are many different reasons for that — so there could be many different answers to whether they belong. I guess I’m OK with them as long as they aren’t going way too fast for sight lines and that sort of thing. The speed they allow on climbs is sort of awkward — too fast for door-zone bike lanes and sidewalks, not fast enough to take the lane. If they’re really the transportation mode of the future then we’ll need more space for ’em than exists in the bike lanes — we’ll have to start converting full-width lanes, Diamond Age-style (though we lack the material and control expertise to run independent vehicles that close at high speeds, Diamond Age-style).

  20. tudza

    I’ve got an electric bike that weighs that much with probably the same sized motor. I don’t think you can legally ride something with a motor larger than 750 watts.

    The range is probably right given that the battery looks about the size of mine.

    You will be pedaling at any significant hill. Some hills you will not get up unless you pedal. Haven’t burned out the motor on my bicycle, but I’ve done so on a hill riding something I couldn’t pedal, so I pedal up all hills.

    I have been passed many times by non-motorized bicycles on paths.

    Even without a motor, I would be on the streets most of the time anyway. Riding on sidewalks and paths presents many problems. With good weather coming again and the trails filling up with strollers, people on skates with headphones who can’t hear your bell, lines of people with headphones you can’t hear your bell, etc the benefits of keeping off the trails unless the road route seems like it might be too dangerous are even more evident.

    I expect you shouldn’t mind sharing the road and trails with me an others on electric bikes. As with regular bicycles, it seems to be the rider and not the bike that is the root of any trouble.

  21. Kyle

    Great to see this discussion! I’ve battled this one back and forth in my head as I’m headed up Dexter or Wallingford and get passed by an e-assist. (Sorry, person riding an e-assist.) I’m all for allowing people with less power get up our hills, but there is something disconcerting when someone with extra power hops to the front of the line at a red light. And as folks have mentioned above, that goes for e-assist as well as the Cat 6 racers.

    To me, the 15 +/- mph assist max speed seems reasonable. And of course there’s always need for people to recognize that just because they can go that fast, doesn’t mean they should go that fast.

  22. DAve

    Hmmm, a trail bike with a motor–didn’t Honda or somebody build a few of those awhile ago? Yamaha maybe–nah, they make pianos.

  23. Jonathan Fischbein

    I’m still riding bikes I bought back in the early ’80s. As I approach 60, assist begins to look nice. _Begins_ I get the argument about fewer cars, but offer the polemic: To all those nice young fit people in the ad, unless you have a durned good reason, wait until your oldfartdom to even begin to think about assist. And, yes, dear Papa, I know I said I would never sound like you . . . ;)

    1. Ben P

      Even though I can imagine use cases – older riders who need some extra power and cushioning, daredevils who want to take their off roading to the next extreme- the video had the feel of cars – perfectly able bodied people relying on a machine out of laziness. I think there is a collective pride amongst cyclists. Being on a bike shows a certain level of, commitment, strength, and exertion. Even the majority of e-asist riders today are working hard. I see older people or cargo bikes. They’re all giving it their best. The riders in this video can’t share this pride. I think nothing wrong with it, but cycling it is not.

      1. Lynn

        I completely agree with this. To me electric-assist technology is great to help with particular areas that standard bikes are lacking: cargo bikes with loads, family bikes wih kids, and accessible bikes for people who are older and/or weaker.

  24. Van

    Just to weigh in, my opinion is that if it goes over 15mph, does not require some movement on behalf of the rider, it is not a bicycle. Its a scooter or a electric motorbike, but its not a bicycle. And 60lbs? Who are you kidding? I can only imagine running out of juice and pushing that thing up a hill *shudder*
    As for whether it goes on the trails my indifference begins and ends with the question of whether or not cyclists in Seattle have been struck mute or have suffered a mass of broken fingers? Because it seems irrelevant to what is allowed on the trails when nobody honors either calling out ‘passing on your left’ or ringing their bell. If you’re not a buzzard I don’t care if you pass me, just don’t treat the interurban like a race track, I’ve seen too many kids just learning to ride cope with the weekend racers who apparently lack the decency in mass to alert other riders that they have initiated the tour de France in a shared space. Don’t even get me started on signaling.
    I am generally for electric assisted bikes, which I see as different than e-bikes, which I again, see different as an actual bike. I will probably end up on an e-bike in the near future, and if I get a cargo bike it will definitely have an e-assist function because I live in Seattle and I’m not training to take on the Himalayas. I am not against a full electric bike either, but I don’t consider it a bicycle if it can get to over 20mph without me or a steep hill.
    A good place to start thinking about these considerations is the recent survey done by the League of American Cyclists on this very topic, http://www.bikeleague.org/sites/default/files/E_bikes_mini_report.pdf

  25. Broc

    By setting the top assist speed at 20mph, we’re saying that all people on bikes have the “right” to go 20mph, regardless of ability or skillset and without much training or regard for others.

    To me, riding a bike that fast is more of a privilege. Plenty of people cannot bicycle unassisted more than 12-15mph. To me, I’m okay with an electric scooter up to 10mph, pedal assist requirements kicking in above 10 mph, and the motor cutting out above 15mph.

    I really wouldn’t want to be struck by a family bike or this Fat bike going 20mph.

    Even with the speed restrictions, there’d be huge advantages to having an e-bike. Getting up to speed would remain super easy, which is a big issue for family bikes. And hills would still be manageable, at the same speeds as people biking on regular bikes. And once someone got up to 15mph, thanks to the laws of physics & momentum, people would be able to stay at the speed by pedaling unassisted.

    *this is just Brock’s personal opinion.

  26. Brian Bothomley

    Thanks for starting this discussion Tom. As to the RadRover, it is an interesting bike that personally I believe will only appeal to a limited audience. There are a number of bikes available that are similar and in about the same price range so they will have competition. Good luck to them.
    I have had a home made eBike for almost 10 years, a Trek 6500 that I converted with a Wilderness Energy 600 watt brushless 36volt kit, (about $400 back then) I bought 2 of them almost 10 years ago, one brushed and one brushless one. I use the Trek mostly as a car substitute for hauling groceries in a trailer and local shopping trips. We also bought an e-Moto bike last year for the wife, ($450). So we have a bit of experience with electric bikes. But my primary mode of transport is my non electric Trek 8500 customized urban vehicle.
    Ebikes have a place in the bicycling world, just look at China with an estimated 200 million eBikes in use! However we do need to have some control over where and how they are being used.
    I am aware that the national speed limit for eBikes is 20mph but the kit types of converted bikes have no governors on them and can go very fast, my 600 watt will get me up to 28 mph on the flat, with pedaling. The 1000 and 2000 watt motors can get some very fast speeds, but here in Seattle I have not met anyone who has been stopped by law enforcement for going faster than 20 mph.
    I do think that if you ride an eBike on a multi use trail you should ride without power around other riders and in heavy use areas, if the trail is wide open and empty then I see no harm in going top speed.
    I see bicycles as a tool and therefor I do not understand the idea of being upset if you are passed on your non electric bike by someone on an electric bike. Most of the eBikes that I have seen and ridden still require some pedaling in hilly terrain and around Seattle that means one still has to pedal the bike and as it has been mentioned these bikes are generally quite heavy so riding up hills can be a workout. FWIW I am 67 years old and have been riding bicycles since my early teens. As I get older I will probably use an eBike more often but I will still ride a “regular” bike for the freedom and shear enjoyment of my own human power.
    The more people we have riding bikes can only make the world a better place.

  27. AW

    I am curious if Cascade has a policy if they allow e-bikes in their rides such as STP, Flying Wheels, etc.

    Although it isn’t fun to be passed by an e-bike while pedaling hard, I don’t have a problem with them so long as they are traveling at normal bicycle speeds and aren’t causing issues on the trail.

    1. Brian Bothomley

      AW – most of these eBikes are limited in the maximum distance they can go on a charge. STP would probably be beyond the range for most of these bikes, however there are custom made bikes/trikes with solar panels on trailers etc. that can do that type of range, possibly in two days, maybe.
      As far as I know there is no CBC policy prohibiting eBikes on their rides.
      Some of the daily rides might be good for a rider on an electric assist bike, but I am thinking that the faster:
      Brisk: 16-18 mph
      Vigorous: 18- 20 mph
      Strenuous: 20-22 mph
      Super Strenuous: 22+ mph
      riders might not appreciate someone on an eBike riding with them.

    2. Josh

      I don’t know if Cascade has a policy, but on STP, electric-assist would only be legal for one-day riders early enough to stay on SR-507, they’re illegal on the Yelm-Tenino Trail.

  28. Like several others commenting here I am of the mind that the biggest concern is speed in relation to riding experience. E-bikes are great for so many people for so many people and I want to make sure those people are not put off from bikes. The specific speed is also not that important to me; what is important is that e-bikes do not allow people to go faster than they can handle. Obviously that is vague and you can also argue that a lot of pedal-powered people bike faster than they can handle.

    In my opinion the simplest and most sensible way to legally adapt for current e-bikes is to make the distinction between pedal-assist and throttle systems as others said. If you are not required to pedal the bike it is clearly a motor vehicle a la mopeds and should be treated as such. For pedal assists, I think the 10-15mph range should be a limit on trails. Yes, that may be kind of slow for some riders. But cruising at 20mph is an easy task anyone can do – it requires, if nothing else, experience cycling. There should be nothing stopping someone on an e-bike from going 20mph or faster – they should just be doing it with their own power. And on sidewalks people biking are already legally required to travel slowly so that should be more or less irrelevant.

    1. Brian Bothomley

      Kevin – many of the newer eBikes have both pedal assist and straight throttle with a switch to toggle between both on or just assist or just throttle. So that makes “the distinction between pedal-assist and throttle systems’ a little more complicated. I think a time will come that riding faster than 10-15 mph on the city trails will be banned simply because of the sheer numbers of people using the trails. Personally if I am riding an eBike on a trail I do not use the power unless I am going up an incline or there is no one else on the trail and I can see it is clear for a long way ahead.
      Also I believe that anyone that can ride and keep up with traffic at a consistent speed should be riding on the road with traffic, and most of the faster eBikes can do this but then they are “illegal” because they are going faster than the 20 mph that eBikes are supposed to be governed at.

  29. doug

    Since my wife would not be able to easily use our family bike to haul the kid around without one, I am definitely for e-assist. However, she never uses it go very fast.

    When I ride it, I can get it going pretty damn fast if I pedal hard enough and set the assist to max (I can easily get up to 23 or 23mph on the flat on my regular bike). Fast enough that I call that mode “Motorcycle Mode.” Especially considering it’s probably 500 lbs when fully loaded.

  30. Kirk

    A bicycle with a motor is – a moped. A human powered bicycle is – a bicycle. Bicycle facilities should be for bicycles without motor vehicles. There is not one pedal stroke in the entire video above; the vehicle used is exactly a moped, and should be regulated as one.
    So is the debate should mopeds and motor vehicles be allowed on bicycle facilities?
    Or is the debate that bicycles with motors are not mopeds – that bicycles with motors are not motor vehicles?

  31. Lynn

    As part of the Mayor’s road safety plan, City Hall is planning to try to lower speed limits in certain residential areas to 20mph because we know that faster speeds kill. Why would we want people to be able to ride motor-driven-cycles on our multi-modal trails at speeds above 20mph? That screams unsafe to me and negates the “all ages and abilities” goal of our future bicycle infrastructure.

  32. Elizabeth

    I want to weigh in with agreement to what many have already said: If you don’t have to pedal to make it move it’s not a bicycle. Speed should be capped at 15 mph. I have nothing against e-assist and have seen many folks make appropriate and safe use of them and wouldn’t want to see that option taken away (or severely restricted).

  33. E-rider

    I’m a lifelong lover of riding bicycles. But, I now have lupus, arthritis, and to get home the last three miles are up 1000′ of elevation. I sold my old bicycle, thinking I would never ride again.

    But I now have an e-bike, and I LOVE it! It’s got me back in the saddle, and I’m spending a lot less time in the car because I can make trips on the bike.

    I am extremely disappointed in a number of the posters here that sound anti-e-bike. Bikes are bikes, more bikers are better. Some members of every group are rude and careless – but most people are not.

  34. metabike

    i have had a couple of ebikes with 500watt motor. the faster one could go about 15 mph on a flat road unassisted. anything faster would have to involve peddling. in fact if you chose to not peddle the battery would suffer severe drain quickly so peddling was a necessity for riding anything more than 30 minutes.
    now when going up an incline even on moderate hills it seems many of you think these things can go 20mph up a hill. boy is that the farthest from the truth. i was getting lucky to break 10mph with hard peddling. sometimes coming to a dead stop so it was always the question of “will i make it up this hill?” before i even attempted such a thing. many times seeing other no assist bikers go up those same hills just fine. my heavy bike wouldn’t be able to do it for various reasons. one of which is i’m on the heavier end of the scale at 260+ and not in the best shape. I have to thank the e bike for letting me get on a bike at all and stay on it long enough to work up a sweat and hopefully become a better biker one day and be able to ride without an electric assist.

  35. ian

    I think King County wisely disallows ebikes on trails. I can think two reasons:

    1. It is too fast. People don’t care how hard they pedals or not, but people care how fast they can stop. 20mh in trails especially at night or evening? I don’t think it is safe.

    2. It is very heavy. Please don’t ruin the trails.. it is heavy enough. Beginner riders usually do a lots of skidding especially when they go fast. You know what it leave on trails.

  36. ian

    And..please…it is really heavy..and some people saying they are going to pedal without that motor. I don’t think someone that strong would want to ride ebikes after all.

  37. I can understand the ambivalence regarding e-bikes but you guys are really overestimating the effort to move a 60 lb bike by human power alone. I used to ride my velomobile which is an enclosed trike at 18mph average on my way to work:

    That velomobile weighs 70 lbs empty and I carried clothes, tools, food, a towel and first aid kit in it. It had no motor other than myself. I recently sold it because I prefer 2 wheels and the open air but 60 lbs isn’t all that bad really.

    1. Ian

      Well, it’s all depends on how strong riders are, what types of road they ride on, or how long they ride, and so on. The decent downhill bikes are near 40lbs, but they are still too heavy, meant to be for those lift served bike parks.
      I could imagine how strong they are who can only pedal 60lbs bike on normal trails.

      I think you are overestimating people’s capability.

  38. Bill Cirino

    Wow, I find this discussion really interesting. From my perspective most of the anti e-bike arguments are pointless. “Too fast” even when limited to 20 mph, Seriously? I have people flying by me all the time on the BGT on the flats or down hill or any hill in the city. Too heavy .. Like a tandem or a loaded touring bike or anyone carrying a load of anything or 240lbs person on a cruiser?? Don’t like them passing you?…. Ego much? Not a real bike, there a moped…… Try peddling a moped. 70 lbs!! Way too heavy to peddle….. I had an xtracycle for years carried a load, no issues…. Just gear down and spin. 150lbs?…. Same thing. 20 mph sounds about right to me as there is no shortage of bikes going 20 around town. Don’t blame E-bikes for people being assholes on the road or trail. There is no shortage of people on all forms of bikes gong fast that don’t bike curtiously and consciously. I don’t give a damn if someone passes me… Cars do it all day long! Why should I care what there doing as long as there nice.

    This is a personal issue for me as I haven’t risen in 4-5 years. A motercycle injury 25 years ago is now making it hard for me to pedal. After years of being an avid rider, commuting, riding a cargo bike and for a few years averaging 200 miles a week … I can no longer ride. At least around here with the hills. If the nerve in my leg acts up and I push it I could be on crutches for weeks. But on an ebike I can pedal with moderate effort on hills and minimize the likely hood of leg issues. For me to continue riding at all I need an ebike. I also need one that will get me home without peddling if needed. I would rather pedal as I like to but if my leg acts up I need a way to get home. I would be getting a cargo bike as I want to haul things but have zero issues it’s a plane old ebike. Why make it harder for people to get out of there cars? Anti ebike people sound like skiers back when snowboards were becoming popular… Sore losers about something with no impact on what there doing… They just don’t like it…..So don’t buy one. As for only peddle assist, I see nothing wrong with crusing along on the flats at 20 and not peddling. It never bothered me in the past when people passed me going 20 by peddle or not… It won’t bother me now. My ego is way past that.

    It sounds like most of the people bitching about ebike smoking haven’t ever been on one. I have ridden the above bike and I can assure you that you are not going to be going up a modernist hill at 15 mph without moderate peddling. If you don’t it will be more like 10 or less and you will be steaming the motor. They are not a free ride unles your on the flats. Do your self a favor, shelve your ego and take one for a ride. Images all the people it could take out of there cars. Older needing a little help in a hilly city (here), handicapped people (me), over weight people needing some help, cargo bike/ family’s/ instead of a second car people needing some more horsepower to make it happen and all the environmental reasons too many to list. I see no decent argument against speed limited (20 mph) ebike using everything a regular bike can. You might not LIKE it but that is not a rational reason to keep others from doing it when it has zero impact on you.

  39. T.b.

    Wow, a lot of negativity here. I am with Bill c. I have not purchased e bikes yet, but I have been starting to research them. I am 60 y.o., and, as a baby boomer, I have been riding bikes since I was 5 y.o. There are already government restrictions. It is my understanding that e bikes are shipped with the 20 m.p.h. Legal max. Please leave further government regulation out of it. E bikes are bicycles. Ride safe, be considerate, and let e bikes go where non e bikes are. No more regulations. Thank you.

  40. alkistu

    E Bikes are a game changer in terms of mobility in Seattle and other cities. This example of an E Bike is however misguided as has been a lot of E Bikes built for the US Market. The concept for many manufactures has been, the US buyer is still predominately buying mountain bikes. The truth is we are now, in a BIG WAY, buying transportation bicycles. The problem with a fat tire bike is 1) the sizing issue as made very visual by the image used for this article. The lowest standover measurements for Fat Bikes are in the 680mm range which leaves out a lot of potential E bike riders. Typically the E Bike rider is not the bigger/stronger rider. The best E Bike for car replacement is inspired by the European standard which will be properly equipped with fenders, racks and lights. Flat resistant commuter tread tires are going to reduce the work load for the motor as well as when you are not needing the electric power, the work you put into pedaling. The Class A, E bike is capable of 28.5/ MPH or 48/ KPH which makes the arterial streets more speed compatible and is the Washington State and Federal cap. This 20 mph cap is pre- California State E Bike legislation that has been adopted around the country. Magnetic hub drive bikes are about to be obsolete as the motors are not as durable as the mid drive geared motors. The hub drive torque is hard on the wheels spokes and I spend a lot of time rebuilding hub drive wheels with 13 gauge spokes. Because hub drive heats up during use, it looses significant power and has the potential to melt sensors, wiring and connectors on long hill climbs. Hills are why E Bikes are so useful in Seattle. They are very inclusive by nature and opens the door for far more bicycle riders than the racing bike industry standard. We have been selling and repairing E Bikes for over 10 years. We are committed to E Bikes for the same reason we are committed to bicycles in general, for car replacement transportation and a healthy public. If The Seattle Bike Blog would like expose the public to a breakthrough in transportation alternatives I would recommend showing a far more capable E Bike that comes with the necessary power for Seattle hills and the appropriate design for car free transportation. Your readers should know that a $2500, 48 volt 500 watt mid drive system on a bike that comes with built in lights, fenders and rack, that might have a battery with 10-25 amp hours would be a durable everyday alternative to the car. Not this bike.

    1. Mikaela

      I will have to agree with this being in the Ebike business for 4 years now. Mid drives provide better low-end torque, center of gravity, more battery range, and are visually better looking than the bigger hubs that definitely drain the battery quicker because of the friction if the larger wheel and tired, especially on a fat bike. Good job identifying that.

  41. Erik Andersen

    I find it funny (not in a funny way) that people feel that whatever they feel, rules should be based on how they feel. You may not like ebikes because some people are idiots with them. I can post how often I have to avoid people on their regular bike riding on the street like idiots, or on bike paths or even walking paths and being idiots.

    In my area I have not run into one other ebike, not one. I have run into however a lot of pedestrians who wear headphones and don’t pay attention, regular bike riders who wear headphones and don’t pay attention to their surroundings. I have to avoid a lot of people who are oblivious to anything around them and they are always mad when you hit the bell letting them know you’re behind them, they seem to hate moving as if they own the bike path but again, we can’t regulate stupid selfish idiots or none of us would be allowed to do many things.

    On my Trek years back in the day I could hit 38mph and average 20 with no motor with little effort. My RadRover ebike is limited to 20.8mph so which one is more dangerous? Neither, it’s the rider period and we can’t regulate stupid people no matter how much people think we can.

    I am now an old fart and if people manage to make it so ebikes get banned anywhere all they are doing is limiting people with bad knees being able to share the same space as other bikes. Aholes who ride like aholes do so on whatever they’re riding or driving so if you don’t like ebikes, great don’t buy one but your feelings about why I use one matter little, I don’t care why you hate them or dislike that others bought one. I have had people at work tell me I’m cheating and not getting a proper workout.

    Last night I did 14.1 miles in 47 minutes with a suffer score of 21 on Strava, burned 1074 calories averaging 17.7mph with a max heart rate of 152 while averaging between 112 and 148, this was a workout, something I could not do on a regular bike any longer.

    For those of us now limited by past injuries from our days of thinking we were invincible let us have our chance to enjoy a hobby we would not be able to enjoy without peddle assist. I for one push myself on my RadRover, I don’t believe in not peddling, I believe in pushing it to see how many calories, distance and effort I put in and how much weight I can lose.

    I have had the RadRover for 3 weeks, now have 200 miles on it, have lost 14lbs and look forward to every ride and I wait until after 9pm to avoid people which works out pretty well. :)

  42. Not living in Seattle currently, but instead, in a very crowded over-driven area of Los Angeles. I was toying around with the idea of getting an e-bike (a rad power bike in particular, which brought me to this article and discussion), but decided against it. I suppose I am a “purist,” like many involved in this discussion.

    I think a lot of the negativity on e-bikes has to do with the relative novelty of it (at least in this region of the world), and with that novelty comes uncertainty and fear of what a growing number of e-bikers on the road will do to the traditional biking community, which itself, has been in place for much much longer. I think that this mentality comes with any established community facing a potential influx of “newcomers.” We have seen it certainly from racial/ ethnic/ religious perspective etc. The whole “ego” argument plays into this… “I worked, trained, and dedicated myself to this form of human powered commuting for so long to get to my current level of performance, only to have someone who is physically much less fit than I am with much less experience on the road pass me without even breaking a sweat…” yes I understand the frustration. I have felt it many a time.

    However, as with life, change comes. And it is our collective responsibility to make the best of that change and hopefully direct it to somewhere that, at least, most of us will want to go. From a policy standpoint, that means working with the policy makers and along with e-bikers to make it safe and comfortable for everyone.

    And this is not trivial at all. With higher baseline speeds with less effort, people will just want to go faster. With that comes accidents, injuries, etc. From a medical standpoint, this has not been studied well at all, not even in China (Li, X et al. Orthopedic injury in electric bicycle-related collisions. Traffic Inj Prev. 2016 Aug 30:1-4.) If you want more details, or read the article itself, I can paste it in its entirety on this blog. But long story short, we currently have not adequately studied the implications (injury wise) of e-bikes
    yet. But yes, as expected, they do come with injuries and possibly with higher frequencies and severity, especially in the middle age male population (in this study’s demographic).

    And in an infrastructure that has been designed mostly for cars and semi “retrofitted” for traditional bikes, I think e-bikes, particularly in the hands of novices, may be considered more dangerous than traditional bikes.

    So far, I have not had any accidents with e-bikers, in my 14 years of bike commuting. I think in the end, this is my thought process:

    1. A bike commuter (traditional or assisted) riding next to me is one less car on the road.
    2. An accident with a cyclist is probably less damaging to me than with a car.
    3. e-bikes make bike commuting more accessible to many.
    4. e-bikes are advantageous to me.

  43. FatMax

    I think it’s perfectly ok to have an e-bike, especially for commuters who ride as an alternative to sitting in traffic jams, wasting gas and screwing up the environment.

    From what I am hearing many doctors are recommending it as physical therapy or a way to ease in to exercise. You can get outdoors and pedal along until you are tired and then have the electric motor take you back.

    I’m looking into a fat tire electric bike because of its versatility for both street and off road fun and have been doing some research on front wheel drive vs. rear wheel drive. I’m thinking front wheel drive is going to be safer especially in softer terrain like off road trails. I mean think about it, front wheel drive cars are better in snow and softer terrain.

    I had a buddy recently break his collar bone on a RadRover because his rear wheel dug in on a turn and he went flying. He is buying a front wheel drive bike for this reason.

    What’s your thought on the safety of rear wheel drive fat tire e-bikes?

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