We have a new tool in our mapping kit, and it's quickly becoming our favorite. BH Easy Motion Bicycles asked us to test one of their Mountain e-bikes this season. We didn't know anything about e-bikes, but we use several types of bicycles in our field work, so this was a perfect opportunity to learn about this new ride in the world of cycling.
There are a few flavors of electric bicycles in the market today. The Rebel Lynx is a Class 1 electric assist (e-assist) bicycle which means there is no free ride - you have to pedal it, and it provides an assist based on how hard you pedal and what setting you choose. The assist comes from an electric motor that is part of the pedal system. A Yamaha e-motor is geared to the bottom bracket spindle, so as you pedal it can 'assist' your energy output with some of its own. The result is a very smooth, seamless enhancement of your pedal stroke. The bike never jumps forward; there is no sensation that it can 'get away from you', it just calmly delivers a helping hand (or leg, in this case) as you pedal away. It makes no noise - this is a silent assist, and it cannot spin the wheel or otherwise impact the environment in a negative way. When you reach 20 mph the motor stops assisting, and you can pedal the bike freely if you want to maintain a higher speed. You can pedal the bike freely from a dead stop as well, the bicycle works just like a regular bicycle when the electric motor is turned off.