The pedelec as an environmentally friendly alternative to the car or to public transport
The days when bicycles with an electric motor were considered unsportsmanlike and their owners were pitifully ridiculed by "real cyclists" are long gone.
Since their market launch in the early 90s, pedelecs have enjoyed rapidly increasing popularity. Residents of topographically demanding regions with challenging gradients to overcome and especially older people are increasingly switching to pedelecs: as an environmentally friendly alternative to the car or public transport or simply because it's fun.
A pedelec has a powerful, battery-powered electric motor that supports the pedalling power of its rider as soon as and as long as he or she pedals. The maximum legally rated power of the drive is 250 watts, and more than the permissible speed of 25 km/h can only be reached by pedalling harder or when going downhill. Unlike an e-bike, a pedelec does not require a driving licence or an operating permit. There is also no obligation to wear a helmet.
With a range of 50 to 100 kilometres per battery charge, pedelecs are not only suitable for shopping in the city, but also for day trips or cyclotourism. Simple electric city bikes are available from 600 euros; more exclusive models can cost 12,000 euros and more.
Pedelecs are powered either by a bottom bracket motor or a hub motor. While with a bottom bracket motor the power of the rider and the motor is transmitted directly to the bicycle chain via the pedals, the hub motor is located in one of the two wheels and can convert the generated energy into electricity when riding downhill and feed it back into the battery.
The fact that the drive, battery, frame and wheels are often robuster and that pedelecs, unless they are made of expensive carbon, weigh a few kilos more, is more than compensated for by the electric drive. Nonetheless, their extra weight certainly plays a role in transport on buses and trains or on the roof of a car.
Pedelecs have long been available in all common bicycle variants, as city bikes, touring or trekking bikes, as mountain bikes, racing bikes or folding bikes. Electrically assisted cargo bikes effortlessly carry children or transport loads and can be used commercially.
Purely mechanical bicycles can be transformed into pedelecs by using a wheel with a hub motor or a middle motor, provided you can find a place for the necessary battery, for example on the luggage rack.
In addition to normal pedelecs, there are also S-pedelecs. These vehicles are equipped with a much more powerful, 500 watt electric motor and can reach considerably more than 25 km/h. Like e-bikes, they can be recognised by a small number plate on the back, which indicates that they are subject to compulsory insurance.