Atman Electric Bike FAQ's
Thanks to all of you who have asked the interesting and useful questions on electric bikes that we can post here on our frequently asked questions page. Please let us know if you have any more to add.
- What is the range of an electric bike?
- How fast will an electric bike go?
- Do I need to pedal an electric bike?
- Are throttles allowed on E Bikes?
- How can I tell a good electric bike from a bad one?
- Does the battery recharge when I pedal?
- Are there any UK laws I need to be aware of?
- Do I need to wear a crash helmet for an electric bike?
- What servicing will my E Bike require?
- Does my bike come with a warranty
- Do I need road tax?
- How do I recharge my bike battery?
- Do I get a warning when my battery needs recharging
- How much will it cost to charge my bike battery?
- Where can I recharge the battery?
- Do I need insurance to ride my E Bike?
- Why not buy the ebike off the internet than Atman?
- Can I buy an E Bike through the government Cycle to Work scheme?
- Assuming I am over 14, what stops me from simply buying the e-bike and riding it straight away?
- How big a battery do I need?
- What battery type is best?
- What type of motor is the best?
- What should I look for when buying a good quality electric bike?
- What is a torque sensor?
- What are the second hand values like?
1. What is the range of an electric bike? The most common FAQ in the shop!
The truth is that the range varies on many different conditions but is usually between 12 to 30 miles [average around 20 miles] with “gentle” pedalling [lets keep this legal!] and also depends on the motor rating. Motors with a high nominal power are great for off road with high torque but reduce range and vice a versa.
Also, the range depends on the weight of the rider and baggage and any little help on the pedals preserves battery power to extend range.
Because of the small size and weight of new technology batteries, Atman can provide an additional battery which you can change over when needed [like filling up the tank!].
Please talk to us about what you need the bike for and we will point you in the direction of the bike that fits the bill.
2. How fast will an Electric Bike go?
The law restricts the maximum speed to 15 miles per hour to gain acceptance of a vehicle that does not need tax, insurance, helmet MOT etc, but this can be exceeded using hills and/or pedal power.
As in previous questions, there are factors that also govern speed such as motor type and the condition of the battery.
Atman can help with advice on how to prolong your battery's life depending what battery type you choose.
3. Do I need to pedal an Electric Bike?
The latest regulation is that the bike can achieve 5mph without pedalling and then with just a gentle "windmill" of the pedals you can use the throttle up to 15mph.
5. How can I tell a good electric bike from a bad electric Bike?
Phone or visit us and we will help. Clearly you can spend thousands buying what appears to be the ultimate E Bike but the truth is price is no verification the bike is any better than a low cost bike. We demonstrate the things you should look for, Puncture resistant tyres, Crank size, Spoke size - the list is endless but you MUST know what is NOT needed and just adds to the price!
6. Does the battery recharge when I pedal?
No the bike will not charge when you pedal [regenerative system] but pedalling does assist the battery duration.
We have found regenerative systems are of little use. Look at this web site www.ecospeed.com/regenbraking.pdf and you will see that the amount one of these systems can put back into the battery is so minimal compared to other factors that it's just not worth it.
7. Are there any UK laws I need to be aware of?
The UK law differs slightly from the EU law and hence there is some confusion, but the UK is looking at harmonising with the EU.
Therefore ALL bikes sold in the UK must have the EU stamp which shows it conforms to EU approved standards. More accurate information can be found in the European standards -
http://cyclurba.free.fr/image/Projet de Norme VAE.pdf
But if you adhere to the following you should be acting within our current regulatory guidelines.
- Average continuous motor power output no more than 200 watts.
- Maximum speed under power 15 mph, motor cuts out after 15mph.
- Must have functioning pedals.
- Weight must not be more than 40 kg unless a tandem or tricycle.
- Rider’s age must be at least 14 years of age.
8. Do I need to wear a crash helmet when I ride my bike?
No, but we strongly recommend it!!!! Atman also advise you to wear other protective clothing e.g. gloves, knee protectors and elbow protectors.
It is worth spending as much as you can afford on good quality protective clothing since it could save your life if you were ever in an accident. There is no legislation pertaining to the electric bicycle but once again you are advised to take all precautions against personal injury.
9. What servicing will my E Bike require?
Our electric bikes come with the first service free, but we do recommend regular servicing thereafter to make sure the bike is in tip top condition and safe to ride.
10. Does my bike come with a warranty?
A very important question - a warranty is only ever any good if you can use it. Each week we find people who buy on the internet and have a simple problem but its too much hassle to box it up and send it back each time. Others find the supplier asks for payment as the problem is "outside of the warranty cover".
Our advice is get at least one year FULL warranty on all parts including the battery. Simple and no confusion, with everything in writing.
We also provide a FREE first service after a month to check everything as a well set up bike generally lasts longer.
12. How do I recharge my bike?
Your bike comes with a mains charger that simply plugs into any mains outlet. A quick charge takes around four hours and will fill the battery up to approximately 80% or a full charge will take 8 hours. There are some cities that are installing "Park and Charge" points where you can as the name suggests park and charge your bike. It is advisable to leave your bike on charge whenever you are not riding it.
13. Do I get a warning when my battery needs recharging?
Your bike has a battery gauge very much like a regular fuel gauge. When the indicator is pointing to E for empty your bike has approximately a 5-8 mile range remaining.
14. How much will it cost to charge my bike battery?
A full re-charge will cost approximately 7 to 8 pence from a standard mains socket. This is because electricity is charged in kWh (Kilo-Watt-Hours) and you use less than 1kWh to fully charge the battery.
15. Where can I recharge the battery?
Charging can be carried out from a normal UK electric supply point [the same as you would re charge your mobile phone] but the charging adapter is not waterproof so you should ensure you are re-charging in a covered area. You should always make sure your adapter is in a well ventilated area when re-charging your bike/scooter.
16. Do I need insurance to ride my E Bike?
NOT A LEGAL REQUIREMENT, however, Insurance is a good idea for all vehicles on public roads. You should get the type of insurance most relevant to you, third party, third party fire and theft or fully comprehensive. It is advisable to get the best insurance you can afford just in case. We recommend www.electricscooterinsurance.co.uk as our preferred supplier.
17. Why not buy from the internet and get servicing from Atman?
Like everything, you can probably [but not always] buy through other sources and if we can help with maintenance we will try.
The problem is that not everybody who sells Electric bikes (including some of the very big shop front names!) worry about after sales service as much as we do, and so you could very easily find the reason why we do such a good business.
PLEASE be careful and remember, Atman have been in business over 30 years and our reputation is for quality, so spares, accessories and repairs are guaranteed if you purchased from us.
Finally, we stock spares up for the future when we sell a bike range, those spares are for our customers only and we remember who we sell to, we cannot sell those dedicated spares to anybody else [but we will try and source parts to re fill our stock and in that case sell our parts]
You are welcome to look at our workshop and the massive spares holdings, try gauging that against the largest shop anywhere and you will see that we are truly dedicated to our clients.
Here are some examples we have come across:-
- The chrome comes off on cheap bikes - Can we repair? Not really.
- The motor burns out - Many bikes are built on a limited production run and spares are not kept in the UK if at all, so if you didn’t buy from us, we may not be able to get the parts
- Battery lost power - If it’s a battery we can source [if we sold you the bike, we can get parts and batteries no problem!] we will get it for you, but bikes not sold by us may have been a small limited production run and the batteries [even new bikes!] cannot be made again...BE AWARE!
- Bike parts such as chains, wheels, brakes - most of these parts are universal so we should be able to help you out.
18. Can I buy an E Bike through the government Cycle to Work scheme?
See the Cycle to Work scheme.
19. Assuming I am over 14, what stops me from simply buying the e-bike and riding it straight away?
Nothing, legally you can ride an e-bike straight away, but Atman recommend thay you:-
- You wear a suitable bike helmet s
- Decide if you need training and highway code
- Decide if you want insurance.
20. How big a battery do I need?
The capacity of the battery is usually measured as the amount of current it can supply over time (defined as amp/hour). However, this is useless on its own, because you'll need to know the voltage too. By multiplying the two figures together, we get watt/hours - a measure of the energy content of the battery. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple... but you didn't think it would be, did you? In practice, you're unlikely to get results that match the stated capacity of a battery, because battery capacity varies according to the temperature, battery condition, and the rate that current is taken from it.
Lead/acid batteries are tested at the '20-Hour' rate. This is the number of amps that can be continuously drawn from the battery over a period of 20 hours. However, an electric bicycle will usually exhaust its battery in an hour or two, and at this higher load, the battery will be much less efficient. So the figures for lead/acid batteries tend to look optimistic.
On the other hand, Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries are rated at a 1-Hour discharge rate, so although the stated capacity of a NiCad battery might only be half that of a lead/acid battery, performance on an electric bicycle will be much the same. Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries (NiMH) are measured at the 5-Hour rate, so their performance tends to be somewhere between the two.
The capacities of typical bicycle batteries vary from Atman bikes watt/hour giant (36 volts x 14 amp/hours) to the tiny 84 watt/hour pack on the early model.
It's best to choose a package that will provide twice your normal daily mileage. It's difficult to guess the mileage from the watt/hour capacity, because actual performance depends on the bicycle and motor efficiency, battery type, road conditions, and your weight and level of fitness.
21. Which battery type is best?
Lead-acid batteries are cheap and easily recycled, but they are sensitive to maltreatment and have a limited life.
Weight for weight, Nickel-Cadmium gives more capacity, but it's expensive and the cadmium is a nasty pollutant and difficult to recycle. The life is greater, which tends to compensate, but disposal problems mean that Nickel-Cadmium has more or less been phased out.
NiMh is theoretically more efficient still, but these batteries are more expensive, and because the capacity is measured at the more generous 5-Hour rate, the advantage is not what it appears to be. Our experience is that NiMH offers little, if any, improvement in range. They are, however, easier and safer to dispose of when they eventually fail, and the good ones will last for a considerable time.
Most modern lightweight bikes come with Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. These are more weight-efficient than the other types, and are supposed to have a longer life, but can do some odd things. Charging and discharging must be carefully controlled to prevent the cells going into terminal meltdown, so either the charger, the battery or both will be packed with electronics. Fires are now rare(!), but initial hopes that costs would tumble proved unfounded, and these batteries are currently very expensive. Cheaper ones abound, but their life can be very limited. Despite these problems, the Li-ion has become the default battery.
Lithium-ion Polymer (usually called Li-Pol) does not really offer any performance advantage in terms of weight or range of Li-ion, but is safer and can be moulded into interesting shapes. No-one really knows what the life of the Li-ion battery will be, but early signs are not good.
22. What type of motor is the best?
Generations and innovation.... At first there was the front wheel brushed motor, then came a rear wheel motor, then a CRANK motor (that sits in the middle of the bike behind the pedals such a Bosch and Yamaha) and now the very latest is a rear wheel Sine Wave motor and controller!
The Crank motors (some call them Bosch) always look unsightly, having a large motor that easily identifies the bike as electric. These are really expensive to replace if you get a failure after the warranty expires.
The Sine wave motors on the other hand provide a very small, VERY powerful "grunt" when going up hills, quick and easy to replace and far less expensive. The reliability is also far greater than the Bosch as there are few moving parts
The new Sine wave motors are a game changer!
23. What should I look for when buying a good quality electric bike?
- Battery - Long warranty, 36 Volt and at least 375Amp
- Range - Measure by "unassisted range" for apples to apples likeness - most batteries ride from 30 miles to 90 miles depending on size
- Motor - Must be a high quality Sine Wave motor
- Wheels - Thick spokes and good fitting
- Frame - Well made, Aluminium with 5 year warranty
- Brakes/Gears - Hydraulic Disc brakes front and back (E-Bikes need more braking power) and at least 7 gears
- The typical price for a good quality bike is around £1,300 to £1,900 for a top of range, torque sensor, large battery bike. Anything more and you’re looking at paying higher for the name or items that are not needed
- Torque sensor if needed
- What design, how does the bike look? Are the parts such as the battery, motor and wiring hidden, does the bike fit well, what size of wheels (24”, 26” or 28”?) the best thing to do is come in and let us explain.
24. What is a torque sensor?
A torque sensor is fitted to the pedal crank, it measures how hard you push on the pedal and with the help of a Candance sensor produces the correct amount of power to the motor. For example, push hard and it shoots off, press lightly and the bike will move off gently.
The advantage is a smoother ride and improved battery management, generating a longer ride
25. What are the second hand values like?
Lots of factors effect second hand values from the time of year you sell (Easter is the best time), if it’s a crossbar or step thru, the age, warranty remaining, condition and even as time goes on social circumstances, for example the increase of cycle paths.
Generally, E Bikes have kept their value. Look on the internet and you will see many E Bikes around one year old at around 80% value - we have even had a 7 year old E bike sell for 80% of its original value!
Our only other warning is that if you are contemplating buying a used E Bike, remember, if its “had a low usage” then the battery may have been adversely effected and a “high usage” may have had battery and other problems.
*Reputable dealer - Someone who can prove they can support your bike in the future, do your homework!