A Brief Introduction to E-bikes

The Go Plus gets you where you need to go

Electric bicycles -- e-bikes for short -- haven't quite caught on yet in the Upper Valley. That's probably because most people haven't been exposed to the e-bike experience. Neither have they seen many e-bikes on the road, save perhaps for a few intrepid riders brave enough to withstand the odd looks and endless stares, and the occasional "is that a motorcycle?"

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No, e-bikes definitely are not motorcycles. They're in a class of their own, and in 2017 they remain mostly a novelty "niche" vehicle for early adopters like myself.

I love my Go Plus e-bike, made by an obscure company in China, and use it on a daily basis getting around White River Junction, Norwich and Hanover, where the traffic congestion rivals that of a mid-sized city.

Fortunately for most newcomers to e-bikes, the learning curve is short and sweet. It took me less than a half hour to finish assembling the Go Plus and take it out for a test ride back in March.

For those considering getting an e-bike, and I am sure you're out there, here is a brief pictorial tour of the Go Plus and its main features.

The 20-inch, single-speed Go Plus is an affordable imported entry level e-bike that gets around 15 miles on a single charge at top speeds of 20 mph. It folds in half for easy transport and storage, and weighs around 60 pounds. The headlight is bright, allowing for safe riding at night.

Without the removable battery, the Go Plus is useless. Which means keeping an eye on miles traveled and battery drain is an absolute necessity.

The battery takes around six hours to fully charge and conveniently mounts under the folding seat thats allows easy installation and removal. The battery plugs into four electrical prongs and locks in place with a key. It helps to keep the battery compartment clean (unlike some people I know). The great thing is you can attach a carry-all bag onto the back of the bike and take the charger along with you for quick charging at coffee shops.

A view from the rear of the Go Plus. After a lot of use, the backpack leans to one side, but can be easily adjusted with straps. The rear reflector is a necessary safety feature for riding at night. The rear fender is a godsend for rainy commutes.

Another nice accessory to have is the front attaching case that holds your tire repair kit, small tools, and your smartphone. There are a number of great apps available that track and record your trips and mileage, and even keep graphic tabs on the slope and elevation of your daily rides.

The throttle allows you to accelerate without using the pedals that reduce the rate of battery discharge. Be careful, though. It delivers a decent thrust and drains the battery quickly.

Most e-bikes like the Go Plus are "pedal assisted," meaning they rely on pedal power to slow the rate of battery discharge. It's like peddling in first gear at all times, though. Easy. You can use the throttle to accelerate for short distances, but overreliance on the throttle drains the battery quickly. In most cases I can expect a travel range of 15 miles on a single charge. I use the throttle to accelerate in short bursts in tight traffic situations, which are frequent in downtown Hanover.

Located on the left handlebar, just behind the hand-operated brake lever, is a dual light button and horn assembly. A quick flip of the switch turns the halogen headlight on and off. The horn emits a loud but somewhat embarassingly high-pitched alarm. I try not to use it as often as I can.

What can I say? It's a cheap import -bike, and the manufacturer wasn't being too creative naming the battery meter. But it gets the job done. A full array of green lights signifies a full charge. The yellow light second from the left diode means the battery is running low. The red light tells you the battery is about to die.

So, there you have it -- the Go Plus in a nutshell. With a $450 price tag the Go Plus is a great starter e-bike, but forget about finding replacement parts. There is no corporate online presence, so you're stuck when the battery is no longer able to hold a decent charge. The battery has an expected lifespan of three years, but already I am noticing shorter travel ranges between charges. I would recommend a domestically produced electric bike such as the FRISCO Citizen E-bike, a 20-inch, 7-speed folding model that sells for $1,100 and offers great customer service.

Should you consider owning an e-bike?

If you are looking for a cheap and convenient way of getting around town -- one that eliminates carbon emissions and gets the blood running (a little), I would say yes, absolutely. E-bikes are second to none when it comes to sustainable transportation. 


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