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Always On: Why an e-bike could be your next ride

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Always On: Why an e-bike could be your next ride

6:00 /

Electric bikes are a hot new cycling trend; you get the benefit of a little motor helping you up hills, but all the traffic-free health benefits of riding a bike. Molly Wood takes a few out for a test ride.

-The number one selling electric vehicle in the world might come as a surprise to you. It's a bike. Electric bikes are a hot new cycling trend. You get the benefit of a little motor helping you uphills, but all the traffic-free health benefits of riding a bike. --This is amazing. We can try to keep up with what we have a little extra power. -Not all e-bikes are created equal, but they all share similar tech. It has a motor, a battery, and a control system. The two main types of e-bikes are pedal-assist, which provides an electric boost to your own pedaling and power-on demand, which operates via a twist throttle kinda like a moped. Most are designed to go about 20 miles per hour and a good one can last 60 to 70 miles on a single charge. At San Francisco-based Faraday, they've created the Porteur which is a pedal-assist e-bike. The Faraday Posteur costs $3500. It has a 250-watt motor and a 195-watt hour battery. It has a range of 15 to 20 miles with pedal-assist riding and it weighs 39 pounds. -It's effortless. It just feels you're riding a bike, but if you decide you want that assist ride, you can switch it on into kind of a normal mode right there and what that'll do best is measure how hard you're working and match that. And that's pretty awesome. We will cruise along, kind of I'm gonna flash to you like this at 17 to 18 miles an hour. One of the really cool things you can turn it off completely and ride it like a regular bike. -Wow! I feel like I can't shift back and I have to keep up with that almost-- -Wow! I feel like that girl. I feel like I'm gonna tell more on this bike. It's totally noticeable when it kicks on. -Oh yeah. -Like there's that 1, 2 paddles where you think I'm riding a bike. -And then it's there. And then the cool thing is that it's just goes fast. The faster you go-- -Yeah. -the faster it wants to go. -The more it-- I know. Oh, full power. -Full power. -Boost mode. This bike is so fun. -There are dozens of e-bike manufactures making bikes for millions of riders all over the world from Grace to Baroni to Hero Eco and the bikes range from Elegant Cruisers to this All-Terrain Monster called the Stealth Bomber. The Stealth Bomber cost $10,000 to $14,000 depending on the options. The motor is 4500 watts. The battery is a whopping 1500-watt hours and the range is 40 miles on a single charge. It weighs a surprising 116 pounds. -Tell me about the Stealth Bomber. What is this in the nutshell? -The Stealth Bomber is a kind of a hybrid between a motorcycle and a traditional bicycle. -Uh huh. -And what makes it more bicycle like 'cause it has a 9-speed sequential gearbox and what that does is basically gives you the ability to pedal it like a normal bike in gears 1 and 2-- -Uh huh. -wherein the gear line, the top highest gear, the hardest gear to pedal, you can still pedal faster than a motor can go. So in all the way from 0 to 45, 55 miles an hour, you as a rider is still pedaling the bike, unlike a motorcycle where you just basically along for the ride. -All right, but I wanna see you tear up on this. -Okay, I'll do my best. -Of course, most people are not going to be riding the Stealth Bomber. If you're like me, you just wanna know if e-bikes can handle the hills. We visited the new wheel, which is an e-bike only shop in one of San Francisco hilliest neighborhood. They told me they had the perfect bike for going up one of the steepest hills around, the German made Kalkhoff. The Kalkhoff Tasman Tour C8 Premium cost $3399. The motor is 250 watts and the battery is 396-watt hours. Its range is 40 to 70 miles and it weighs 55 pounds. -So, it senses how hard you're pedaling-- -Uh huh. -which I've heard before, but it does more than that? -It does more. It also takes into account the cadence of your pedaling and the speed of the bike so that it has a more complete picture of how you're riding. So, you turn it on there and then you set a power level from low to high, but you can set it all the way to no assist, but no light eco, which is very, very low-- -Uh huh. -and then power which is gonna take you of absolutely anything quickly. -I can't lie. I really like the sound of absolutely anything. So, I'm gonna start by attempting to ride a little way up this hill on a regular bike with no assistance just for, you know, purposes of comparison and pain to see how far I get. Okay. I'm on the lowest gear. Okay. Okay. Here I go. This is gonna be no problem. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. I can do it. Oh my god. Ouch! Yup that hurt. Okay. I'm ready for electric. Now that we painfully determined that it's not a good idea to try that hill on a regular bike, let's try it on an electric bike. You'll pardon me if I'm slightly skeptical, but I'm willing to give it a go because I have assurances that this bike can handle any hill even this one. Oh. Oh, it's helping. It's helping already. Oh, I feel it's helping. Know what they say when you fell off you ride back on. Oh my god, it's really helping. This is amazing. Oh wooh, you guys. I own this hill. This bike is awesome. See, this is how you sell electric bikes in San Francisco. -E-bikes are a technology that Europe has enthusiastically adapted as an eco-friendly alternative to cars. I can only hope the U.S. will catch up in the future.
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