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Frequently Asked Questions for our electrically assisted bike range
- What is an electrically assisted bike?
- What are the running costs for an Urban Mover powered bike?
- What range can I expect from a full charge?
- What are the main legal requirements in the EU regarding electrically assisted pedal bikes?
- Do I have to have a licence or road tax to ride an Urban Mover bike on a public highway?
- Are crash helmets a legal requirement?
- What is the maximum assisted speed?
- Do electric bikes recharge when freewheeling or coasting downhill?
- Which battery type is best?
- What is the best configuration for the electric motor – front or rear?
- Why does Urban Mover use brushless motors on all of its bikes?
- What happens when I use the brakes under powered assistance?
- Can I ride up hills and against strong headwinds on my Urban Mover bike?
- Is an electrically assisted bike safe?
- Isn’t riding an electrically assisted bike cheating?
- How do I repair a puncture or change a tyre/inner tube on the back wheel?
An electrically assisted bike is fundamentally a conventional bike that uses an electric motor to assist the rider either on demand or automatically via an electronic sensor system (such as Urban Mover’s cutting edge VPAC system – Variable Pedal Assist Controller).
You will have no worries about rising fuel prices at the pumps. All our electrically powered vehicles use cheap mains electricity, powering our digitally controlled chargers – that top up the bikes state of the artultra-light Panasonic Lithium ion battery packs. The average cost per full charge is about 8 Euro cents per charge, 8 cents ($USD) or 5p (GBP). This equates to more than 450km per litre of fuel (based on equivalent petrol cost) or about 1800 miles to a gallon of fuel!
You can expect a maximum range of up to 30Km per full charge under optimal conditions for our 26V models and up to 80km for all Urban Mover 36V Panasonic powered bikes. Range will reduce if the rider weight exceeds 70kg, road conditions are undulating or you encounter hills or headwinds along the route. The maximum we have obtained from our 26V models in Urban City conditions with an 70kg rider is 32km (using a standard UM36X) although many customers claim higher ranges.
All range statistics are gathered under optimum conditions and represent the maximum possible range per single charge at the average ambient working temperature of 20deg C. Each calculation is based on a 70kg person riding in pedal assist mode on a continual flat and smooth circuit, with no stops, on level ground and with no headwind. This is the only correct way to calculate maximum possible range and is the method used for all our bikes as a benchmark.
It must be noted that all new Panasonc Lithium batteries increase performance after the first 10 full charges, due to their charging and conditioning characteristics and this is perfectly normal. The tail off point of the charge curve on 4th generation Panasonic Lithium batteries is approximately 95% versus 85% for NiMh batteries and 45% for Lead Acid batteries. This is the point where the voltage starts to decrease on load below the stated 24-26V operational rating. You will experience similar characteristics with the 36V premium range of Urban Mover bikes.
Factors that decrease the battery range are:
- Higher or lower ambient temperature
- Gross rider weight above 70kg (including clothing and any additional baggage)
- All gradients
- Rough terrain
- Stop-start commuting
- Additional baggage on the rider, parcel rack and panniersWeather conditions EG. Snow, wind or rain will add to the load on the battery due to weakened traction conditions and/or low ambient air temperature.
- Using the throttle direct mode (optional kit) – this can decrease the range by more than 50%
- Frequent use of the brakes will shut down the motor and effectively operate subsequently in high load - start up mode – each time the brakes are disengaged.
- Starting off using the optional throttle will reduce battery range by up to 50%
- Starting off in top (6th) gear can reduce battery range substantially and put additional load, wear and tear on the motor and gear train. Always start off in 1st gear for optimum battery range and longevity of running gear.
Within the EU the following points are the main legal requirements of an electrically assisted bicycle:
- The bike (including the battery) must not weigh more than 40kg in total (the heaviest Urban Mover is 19.8kg)
- The motor must not have a continuous motor rating of more than 250W (200W in the UK) output
- Power assisted speed must not exceed 25kph (15mph)
- The motor must stop when you stop pedaling
- The bike must have fully functioning pedals
- Riders must be 14 years old or more to ride the bike legally on the road (Europe only - please check local laws)
No, unlike cars or motorcycles. In most countries like the USA (state laws vary), Australia and Europe, no licence is required to ride an Urban Mover bike. There is no requirement for an MOT test after 3 years and no road tax to worry about.
No not in Europe (please check local laws). But we always recommend that you wear a cycle safety helmet when riding any type of bicycle. However in some US states and some Australian States it is a legal requirement to wear an approved protective helmet.
In Europe, the maximum assisted speed by law is 25kph (15mph). All Urban Mover bikes are equipped with a state of the art Sensor that monitors and regulates the top speed of the bike automatically. If you pedal above 25kph (15mph) then the motor cuts out as a legal requirement. Outside the EU, this law varies from country to country and state to state.
Yes. The bikes do generate current when freewheeling, but generally speaking the amount of power produced is little more than a trickle charge and you would have to coast or freewheel for many miles to have a noticeable effect.
All Urban Mover bikes use the latest ultra lightweight 4th generation Panasonic Lithium-ion battery cells as standard. However, although older, much heavier lead acid batteries are cheaper, they are only good for about 200 – 250 full charges, whereas Panasonic's new Lithium-ion batteries have a life of at least 600 – 700 full charges. The newer 4th generation Panasonic Li-ion battery that Urban Mover uses, loses no more than 15% of their capacity if left standing fully charged for a 2 month period. Future upcoming technology is the Lithium Phosphate power pack (Li-Pho). Li-Pho is available in our new Lexola G3000Sx and demonstrates the highest current discharge capability of any commercially available battery on the market at the moment. The worlds first commercial bike to use the new Li-Pol (Lithium polymer) battery was the UM36L, launched in October 2006. These are the most weight efficient of all the current batteries, but were also the most expensive.
There are a few companies who claim to offer Li-Pol batteries on their bikes at the moment, but tests have found that these batteries are actually cheap Li-ion batteries similar to those used in mobile phones. A pure Li-Pol battery will specify a minimum of 1000 recharges. The cheaper Li-pol batteries actually specify well below this minimum range and typically quote 500-600 charges.
There are two main motor configurations found on the vast majority of electrically assisted bikes.
Front mounted hub motor or integrated rear wheel mounted hub motor.
Front mounted hub motor
The front mounted hub motor is the simplest engineering solution and is consequently found on many lower priced, lower quality electric bicycles. However, with smaller wheel base bicycles such as folding bikes, the loss of traction normally associated with front wheel drive is less apparant, due to a more even balance of the bikes centre of gravity. Therefore enabling the use of rear hub gears such as the excellent Sturmey Archer 5 speed hub gear set used on our premium folder - the UM26S.
- The main disadvantage of the front wheel hub is the lack of traction when tackling gradients (due to the bulk of the weight over the rear wheel). This can cause the front wheel to lose control and slip under power.
- The front wheel hub motor can also cause the front wheel to lose traction and spin in wet weather, which could be extremely dangerous in adverse conditions.
Rear Wheel mounted hub motor
The rear wheel hub motor is more of an engineering challenge and therefore not found on less substantial electrically assisted bikes. However, the main advantages of rear wheel drive are threefold:
- More balanced and superior traction due to the rear bias of weight distribution on all bike types.
- Superior handling in wet weather conditions
- Superior traction control when cycling up gradients
Urban Mover uses only the best and most technically advanced components in all their bikes. This is why we only use brushless maintenance free motors on all our bikes. The main differences between brushed motors and brushless motors are as follows:
Brushed Motors - Most electric bikes currently use the lower cost, high maintenance brushed motors, which use carbon brushes to make contact with the rotor of the motor. This results in constant contact and friction inside the motor and produces fine carbon particles within the workings of the motor that slowly reduces its efficiency and effectiveness as its life increases. The carbon brushes consequently need to be changed by a dealer at fixed mileage intervals. The net result of using brushed motors is that the range of the battery reduces as the motor deteriorates and they have to have replacement brushes at regular intervals. Because brushed motors are less efficient than brushless motors, bikes using this old technology generally need bigger batteries to equal the range of the more advanced Urban Mover range of bikes.
Brushless Motors are used on all Urban Mover bikes to maintain their high performance, with no deterioration of performance over time; they offer a constant maximum efficiency which equates to greater mileage versus brushed motors for the same size battery; they are generally much smaller and lighter than brushed motors. Finally and most importantly, brushless motors are maintenance free.
All our bikes are equipped with brake levers that have an in-built safety switch that automatically cuts off the motor power under normal braking conditions. This not only ensures a safe un-powered stopping feature, but also protects the motor under braking conditions so that it isn’t working against the brakes.
Yes. One of the main advantages of cycling on an Urban Mover electrically assisted bike is that it literally flattens hills and increases your average speed when tackling inclines and headwinds. You will of course still need to provide a reasonable amount of effort, but you should be able to tackle anything from a 1 in 10 (10%) gradient up to a 1 in 7 (14%) gradient with relative ease. As a new convert to electrically assisted cycling you will be amazed at the relative ease that your new Urban Mover can tackle some of the most arduous journeys. One of our UM36SX bikes won the road legal hill climbing class at the largest Electric Bike Rally in the World, held in Presteigne, Wales.
Yes - Probably much safer than a conventional bicycle.
For instance: if you are on a busy road junction with a steep incline facing you – you will now be able to pull out of that junction in a faster and much more controlled manner than you did previously on a conventional bicycle.
Of course a conventional bike will generally keep you much fitter, but that of course depends on how much – if at all – it is used. Research form the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK (Davis and Hartley 1998) has shown that 46% of conventional bikes are only used twice a week, with a further 30% of bikes used for only once a fortnight or less. However, a report from Leeds University (Neil Guthrie 2001) reveals that in a survey of electric bike owners – a third of respondents used their bikes typically at least once a day and 81% used their electric bikes at least once a week. Therefore an electric bike typically gets used at least twice as often as a conventional bicycle.
Moreover, riding an electric bicycle is more enjoyable in mountainous terrain and in windy conditions and users tend to make better use of them because the motor can provide half the normal effort of cycling taking the sting out of long runs. Therefore more regular use equals the same amount of physical effort required for a conventional bike due to more regular and longer usage.
Repairing a puncture on an Urban Mover electric bike is much simpler than other power assisted bikes. Because our bikes have been designed by engineers who listen to our customers and maintenance engineers, all Urban Mover bikes come with waterproof IP67 rated cable connectors close to the wheel. This simple design means that you can change the motor wheel as simply and quicly as a normal bike.