Frequently asked questions:
DEBA - Dallas Electric Bike Association
1. How much does an electric bike cost?
That all depends on what you need or want and what you can afford. Electric bikes have price/performace
differences just like automobiles. The prices can range from $400 for a 300 watt chain driven motor
available at Wal-Mart to $8,000 for a specialized long distance heavy duty bike. We think the sweet spot for
performance vs. price is in the area of about $1500 to $2500. That price range will get you a very nice ride.
2. How long have electric bikes been around?
3. Where can I test ride or purchase one?
4. What is the best battery type available now?
LiFeP04 Lithium Iron batteries are fire safe, lightweight and very powerful. They can be discharged and
charged over 2000 times and do not contain heavy metals, acid or very toxic materials. These type
batteries are currently the state of the art for consumer use and are widely available. They are somewhat
expensive but value wise in the long term they are a good deal vs any other chemistry. Did you know that
lithium is one of the most abundant materials on earth?
The old lead acid battery types that are in similar to whats in your car are very heavy and contain toxic
materials. In addition, they lose their ability to hold a charge in less than 200 charge/discharge cycles.
The cycles could be reduced further if the battery is not charged immediately after each use or drained
below 80% capacity due to internal sulfation . These are also referred to as deep cycle SLA Sealed Lead
Acid batteries. These types are cheaper initially but cost much more in the long run because you will find
yourself replacing them every 6 months to 1 year. Besides that they are just too heavy to be on a bicycle
compared to LiFeP04.
5. What are watts and amp hours (AH)?
6. Should I buy a kit or a get one pre-assembled?
7. Are electric bikes legal on the road and bike trails?
You bet they are. There are laws about speed limits and maximum motor wattage in some areas though..
8. What are some suggestions as to what type of bike I should get?
9. How fast and how far will an electric bike go?
That depends on the voltage and AH rating of the batteries and the current carrying capability of the motor.
Anywhere from 15 mph to 36 mph. Some people are running bikes at 72 and 96 volts that can travel over
60 mph but that is VERY unsafe on a bicycle. Legally you should only travel below 20mph on any street or
trail especially if people are around. It would be awful if someone was seriously injured by an e-biker on a
trail acting irresponsibly. This would end up punishing all e-bikers because new restrictive laws could be
enacted in order to limit the use and protect the public from the few that ignore common sense and
10. What is the difference between the drive trains?
There are several different type of drive trains:
1. Brushless hub motor - quiet, fast, somewhat efficient. Very reliable due to few moving parts.
2. Geared brushless - More torque, efficient, low noise.
3. Sprocket driven - More torque, efficient, medium noise
4. Rear driven chain drive - Low wattage, noisy, less expensive, slower speeds.
11. What is a controller and what is its function?
12. Should I mount the motor on the front wheel or rear wheel?
13. How did you first get interested in electric bikes and where did you start?
I have enjoyed riding bikes since I was five years old. I was told you're too little to ride that bike when I was
five years old. Oh yea .. hold my milk bottle and watch this.. . I have a video of me riding a 10 speed when
I was 5 in 1970. I could not touch the ground with my feet so I had to jump off in the grass when I wanted
to get off. I was not going to let something as petty as not touching the ground with my feet stop me from
riding and It's a pretty funny video. If anyone wants to see it let me know and I'll post it on you tube with a
As I was growing up, I was always building electric motor projects with Legos. Elevator, cars etc. I would
take apart my toys that had those little electric motors in them. Then I would take the motor apart to see
how they worked and play with the magnets too. I had a bunch of those GE rechargable nickel cadmium
batteries you could buy at Target. Did anybody else have those? They were black and had a nice GE logo
on the sides. I did not know it at the time, but my interest in these things, was setting the foundation for
what would happen later in my life.
I found out about electric bikes in 2003. I noticed an article on the web about a woman who purchased a
Tidalforce bike and wrote a review about how she used it to commute to work in California. She described
the quality of the bike and told how much she enjoyed it. I then did some more research on google.
I discovered a forum that other Tidalforce users were posting reports and reviews on. They seemed like
very nice people and genuinely enthusiastic and excited about the technology.
There was also a detailed website with pictures and videos created by a woman about how she put
together a Crystalyte hub kit on a store bought bike. This website gave me the inspiration to put together
my own. I bought a Phoenix Racer 48V/40Amp 36 mph kit from electricrider.com in Kansas for a little over
a grand and the rest is history. The first night I rode it after putting it together, I felt like a kid again. It was
that much fun. I have put over 5,000 miles on that bike since then. "This is the best toy that I have ever
had and I have had a bunch of them."
"What are you waiting for. . . . Go on and get ya one!" You'll be glad you did.
14. What are the drawbacks of owning an electric bike if any?
Just like any other emerging new technology, there are problems and glitches with the first generation of
products. Many of these problems are working themselves out as more people join in and engineers
improve things. Motors generally require no maintenance and therefore hardly ever fail. Batteries,
chargers and controllers tend to wear out after awhile and will need to be replaced at some point. The
batteries today are to the point where the benefit is beginning to far outweigh the drawbacks. It used to be
that you had to worry about running out of battery power after only a short to medium ride. This is no
longer the case with the right battery.
The future is very promising with better batteries and more efficient motors and controllers. The future is
so bright in fact that you "gotta wear shades".