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Many companies will market their ebikes as either pedal assist or throttle operated, but this is somewhat misleading. In fact, there are three distinct ways to operate an electric bicycle, and each manner of operation dramatically changes the way an electric bike rides and performs. The best way to understand ebike operation is as an evolution: from an early, simple generation to a more sophisticated third generation (or next generation) system.
FIRST GENERATION: THROTTLE
The simplest way to operate an ebike is with a throttle. Since it is so simple, it has been around the longest. Twist a lever or push a button and the bike goes. Let go and it stops. It’s simple, it works, but it can leave something to be desired as the interface is more like a scooter than a bike. On longer rides, the act of twisting or pushing a throttle every time you want power can become tiresome, and so throttle bikes are more and more being phased out in favor of pedal operated assist systems.
SECOND GENERATION: CADENCE SENSOR
A cadence sensor is like a throttle operated by your feet. The design is simple: a magnet is attached to pedals and a sensor picks up the movement of the magnet as you pedal. Start pedaling and the sensor tells the motor to turn on. Cadence sensors are more intuitive than a throttle, but have severe limitations. The ride can feel jerky, since the moment you start pedaling the motor wants to turn on at full power. Head up a hill and as your pedaling slows down, the cadence sensor tells the motor to give less power when what you need is more. All in all, a cadence sensor, while slightly more sophisticated than a throttle, is still far from an intuitive and elegant solution.
THIRD GENERATION: TORQUE SENSOR
The best electric bikes are the ones that form a seamless hybrid between your pedaling and the motor. The only way to make that happen is to have a torque sensor. Torque sensors measure how hard you are pressing on the pedals, and tell the motor how much to turn on based on pedal pressure. Head up a hill and the torque sensor knows you’re working harder and tells the motor to chip in. The true magic happens when a torque sensor is combined with a speed and cadence sensor. This trio is able to give the motor controller a complete picture of how you are riding so that it can give power in just the right amount at just the right time.
The Bosch mid-drive motor system has quickly become the leading motor system in Europe since its debut at Eurobike in 2010. Bosch's quick success can be chalked up to many things, but perhaps most important has been its renowned reliability and performance. By building on the middle motor pioneered by Panasonic in the mid-90's, Bosch started with an efficient and reliable design. But Bosch improved upon what Panasonic had been doing in important ways: adding more sensors (torque, cadence, and speed), a single chainring design like Impulse, for better reliability, and designing an advanced console for better control.
At Eurobike 2013 Bosch introduced a brand new drive with a number of key improvements, including lighter weight, smaller footprint, a direct drive design (like Impulse), and more torque. This new motor design eschews the standard chainring of earlier versions for a small motor sprocket that offers more power. Most importantly, Bosch will support its new performance series motor in North America beginning in early to mid 2014.
YAMAHA PW SERIES (MID-DRIVE)
Yamaha's newest entry into the electric bike market shows a lot of potential. It's no surprise: Yamaha has been building electric bike systems for more than 20 years, has millions of systems on the road, and produces nearly 300,000 units annually.
The new PW Series middle-motor system resembles the Bosch system in many ways. The standout feature of the Yamaha system is its ability to run a dual front chainring—unique among middle motor systems here at The New Wheel. This allows for a wider gear range on bikes equipped with a Yamaha PW system.
The PW System has been produced in Japan for some time, but it's relatively new to the European and North American markets.
We rode the Yamaha system for the first time in September 2015 at the North American trade show, Interbike. We were impressed with the ample power, the sensitive torque response, and the handlebar console. Not to go unmentioned, the Yamaha presents a unique value, as it comes spec'd on some of our lowest price point bikes for 2016. Don't let the price fool you—this system has the hallmarks of a great performer, albeit a great value too.
Quality service is important on a bike that gets taken out and ridden as much as an electric bike does. To keep you rolling safely and sustainably, we've got a full service shop, and a commitment to keeping up on all the latest technology to keep your ebike investment in top shape.
All new bikes come with a 6 month, "drop by anytime and we'll take care of what you need" service voucher.
By sticking with the most innovative manufacturers in the industry, we are able to keep service length to a minimum. The top shelf ebike makers we work with include extensive training and service documentation for us as dealers, which enables us to handle any problem that may arise, including warranty service and replacement of parts if needed. We are Bosch certified and have the right diagnostic equipment to fix your ebike.
We want you and your bike to ride happy, that's why we are committed to providing the very best service.
Due to the complexity of electric bikes, we can only service electric bike systems that we sell or have sold in the past. We charge a minimum of $60 for all electric bike troubleshooting, and bill at our ebike labor rate of $100 per hour thereafter.
-Slime those tires! We have a bad goat head problem here in Idaho and its good to take precautions against the doom of getting a flat.
-Take care of your battery. Batteries don't like extremes, that means if its in the triple digits or sub zero temperatures, bring your battery inside and give it a break.
-Get a good lock and use it, just sayin... " keeps honest people honest"
-Brake pads are going to need replaced more often that a regular bike. E bikes go faster therefore requiring more braking.
-Bikes can be customized, if you need a more comfortable seat or raised handlebars, we can do that. We want your bike to be perfect for you and your riding style.