eBikes have always been tempting, but a hodgepodge of Australian legislation in the past has meant that local offerings have been built from retrofitted, inefficient and legally questionable parts. New models are flooding into Australia now that Bosch has a local service centre for anyone brave enough to jump on a battery-powered electric bike.
As they're available now, ebikes are really quite similar to regular bicycles; they still have a standard frame and wheels and handlebars and pedals and gears, but pack a large battery pack (along the frame or under a rear pannier) and electric motor behind the crankset that drives the rear wheel. That motor -- now at the 250 Watt maximum allowed by Australian Design Rules -- is capable of propelling the bike to a maximum of 25km/h, beyond which riders will have to pedal.
Range from the 400Wh battery used by Bosch ebikes can be up to 90 kilometres from full to empty under ideal conditions, but a range of at least 40km under the most punishing conditions -- lots of hills, fast acceleration, a heavy rider -- is promised as a minimum. Charging from a completely flat battery to full takes around three hours and 10-15 cents of electricity (depending on your tariff). Batteries are warranted for at least 70 per cent charge after two years, but a full replacement can be picked up for $600.
Reid Cycles is selling 2014 and 2015 models from the German-made Corratec brand, which uses Bosch's tried-and-tested system currently in its second generation -- and which can also be serviced at the company's new Australian eBike service centre. Both commuter and off-road trail bikes are available. Prepare to open your wallet, though -- you'll be parting with the higher side of $3000 to get yourself onto a new ebike. [Reid Cycles]