There are benefits and drawback to both gas powered motor and electric motors. This article highlights the pro's and con's of both technologies to clarify which is the best option for you. If you are considering fitting a bicycle engine to your ride, or purchasing a complete bike this is essential reading
We have been tuning bicycle engines for more than two decades. If you are interested in getting more from your gas bicycle engine then go no further. We provide details of how to get more from your engine covering everything from simple tips on how to adjust your ignition timing to how to tune your engine with reed valves and expansion chambers.
We explain the problems that are not obvious if you have not owned one. There are many common issues that you are likely to encounter with e-bikes and we explain the actions you can take to prevent them.
We explain the problems that are not obvious if you have not owned one. There are many common issues that you are likely to encounter with ebikes and we explain the actions you can take to prevent them.
Electric vehicles reduce carbon emissions by less than 30% compared to comparable internal combustion engine vehicles. If we want to save our planet from the ravages of global warming, 2-stroke vehicles are the bestoption.
The worrying speculation about climate change catastrophe has been driving the uptake of e-bikes around the world. Suddenly, COVID 19 is escalating demand for clean air. We link to this interesting article about how COVID is pulling e-bike adoption forward.
As industry experts with extensive history in all forms of bicycle engines, we are often asked “What do you think is the best bicycle engine?”
I am immediately tempted to push my preference for a motorized bicycle, but of course there are many factors involved in the ebike vs motorized bike choice.
We have to explore the many valid reasons why a rider would choose either an electric bicycle or motor bicycle as their preferred bicycle transportation.
Sports Bicycle Enthusiasts
The first thing that I have to clarify is that I am not advocating that powered bicycles are in any way a substitute for traditional, leg pumping, pedal power. On the contrary, the bicycle community, by and large, are doing a great job of reducing pollution and traffic congestion to benefit everyone.
Riders also benefit from exercise which improves their mental and physical well-being while extending their life expectancy.
Over all, sports bicyclists are a fantastic benefit to the environment and the larger community in many ways. In promoting the uptake of powered bicycles, I seek to increase the number of bicycles on the road rather than discourage the pure sport of pedal biking.
My point is that a huge number of additional commuters can be encouraged to use pushbikes rather than cars if their bikes become a palatable proposition. In other words, fuel efficient personal powered bicycles can often be a substitute for a road hogging, gas guzzling, automobile.
Gas Powered Bicycle Engines
First and foremost, I have to express my adoration for small, simple 2-stroke engines.
The mere mention of a bicycle with gas motor can evoke thoughts of environmental disaster in many.
The reality is that far from being a pollution hazard, they can be very environmentally friendly – Especially when riding a gas bike keeps a car in the garage.
Environmental issues are far more complex than the smoke that can be seen from the tail pipe of a motorized bike.
Pollution is a deep topic which we cover, in some depth, in associated articles.
Getting back to why I am sold on gas powered bicycle engines. A simple, gas powered bicycle engine is low cost when compared to other forms of motorization.
Not only is a 2-stroke motor for bicycle cheaper, but it is straight-forward to install on the majority of bicycles.
The complexities of installation involved in both electric motors and gas engines are not obvious until you have tried to install the two alternative technologies.
One of the great appeals of an electric motor for bicycle is that it seems very straight forward. You remove one of the bicycle wheels (using either front or rear wheel electric kits) and replace it with a motorized electric alternative.
In reality, the challenges of installing a rear wheel drive electric motor usually require relatively good DIY ability and access to a number of different tools.
By comparison, gas bikes usually encounter fewer complications and engines bolt on to most bicycles using a 10mm spanner and a screwdriver.
Gas motorized bicycle engines provide a lot of “Bang for Buck”. An 80cc bicycle engine kit can usually be purchased for less than $200 compared to the $600 or so that a far lower powered electric bicycle engine and battery will provide.
The greater power offered by gas powered bicycle engines and ease of installation are only the start of the advantages. The massive, stand out benefit of gas powered bicycle engines is the range that the petrol engine provides. Typically, most gasoline bicycle engine kits are provided with a 3.8 pint (1.8 litre) gas tank.
With the typical 80 cc engine returning around 105 MPG (US Gallon), this provides a range of 60 miles before the rider needs to pull into a gas station. Once pulling into a gas station, the rider is able to carry on his journey a few minutes later.
Compare this with the limits of electric bicycle engines: A low powered 250 watt electric motor is, typically, more expensive than a gas powered engine 80 cc bicycle engines produce around 1,800 watts of power). With a reasonable size, 12 Ampere Hour battery, the electric engine will be motionless within 12 miles. Finding a charging point is the next challenge and, if one is available, the rider will have to wait 8 hours or so before obtaining anything approaching a good battery charge.
The case for electric bicycles
Over the years, I have owned several electric bicycles as well as gas powered bikes.
Although I favor gas motors, this is not to say that an electric motor for bicycle does not have a place. The noticeable benefits of electric motors for bicycles is that they are quiet, clean, and discrete.
The power components and batteries of many electric motor bicycles can be concealed from site which appeals to many users.
The benefits of stealth appeal to a greater proportion of Europeans and Australians where “politically correct” activists can press government into dictating what is acceptable for commuters to use.
Although views have changed, originally, Australia dictated that an electric bicycle motor kit was dangerous because pedestrians couldn’t hear them.
Overnight, a change of government mandated that electric bicycles were to be introduced around the country as they were suddenly seen to be environmentally friendly. Legislation was re-written to allow the use of electric bicycles while introducing legislation to restrict the use of gas powered bicycle engines.
Some very discrete bike electric motors are available. Some have electric motors and batteries embedded in their frames. The average person would not notice that these bikes are battery powered.
A warning to those of you who are about to purchase an electric bicycle: China is the worlds largest manufacturer of electric bicycles and, unfortunately, there are many issues with their production practices, quality control and retailer support.
Your retailer will be your principle point of support but they will often be unable to provide comprehensive backing or spare parts.
Chinese ebikes have differing wiring, controllers and throttles. Even if the model style remains unchanged, wiring varies for each batch and controller wiring and throttle connections are usually different Chinese manufacturers do not supply their outlets with wiring schematics and, as components change regularly, obtaining the correct spare part is next to impossible.
There is, thankfully, a solution to the inaccessible and unnecessarily complex ebike wiring. Convert your own pushbike to an electric powered bicycle using an electric conversion kit.
This not only simplifies the wiring connections but also the number of controller variants. This means that replacement parts are easily obtained when required.
Electric bicycles present themselves as an eco friendly alternative to petrol. On closer analysis of total pollution and greenhouse gas production, ebikes are not as “green” as the market present them.
Ebikes offer a great option for personal transport but are poor in many respects when compared with gas powered bicycles.
To compete with gas powered bicycles, ebike batteries need to improve substantially in reliability and power capacity. In addition, the cost of ebike batteries needs to reduce substantially.
Currently, an ebike battery is likely to last around 2 years before replacement is required. This often puts the ebike owner in a position where it is often more economical to replace the whole bike rather than replace the battery alone.