An electric bike or e-bike is a bike equipped with an electric bike motor to help you when you pedal. The motor will get its power from a rechargeable battery mounted on the bike.
To be classified as an e-bike, the motor must help you rather than propel you. Therefore, you will need to pedal to get help. The motor's power depends on how hard you pedal and the level of support you choose.
The e-bike system offers several modes to choose from, allowing you to balance the power provided by the pedals with range and battery life.
E-bike laws regarding how much help the motor can provide and how fast it can stop helping vary worldwide. But in general, the motor is limited to 250 watts of output and must cut out when you reach 25kph/15.5mph, except in the US, where it can continue to operate at speeds of up to 20mph.
Of course, you can go faster than that, but only on your own - the bike's motor will no longer help.
To classify a bike as an electrically assisted pedal cycle (EAPC), according to the UK Department for Transport, it must use pedals to propel it and meet the following requirements.
It must show:
- Power output
- Motor manufacturer
It must also show:
- Battery voltage
- The maximum speed of the bike
- Must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
- It should not be able to push the bike when traveling at speeds over 15.5mph.
How does an electric bike work?
An electric bike will typically have a motor mounted in the center of the bike (often called a mid-drive motor, powered by a crank) or mounted on the front or rear hub.
A hub-based motor will drive the wheel directly, while an axle-mounted motor will work through the e-bike's chain and gears.
As you pedal, a torque sensor will measure how much effort you put in and match that to the motor's power output.
The idea is that the motor won't completely take over; instead, you should get a steady power output that doesn't make the bike lean forward.
So one of the many benefits of riding an e-bike is that you still need to pedal and exercise. It is entirely possible to work out on an e-bike.
Power comes from a battery, which may be mounted on the outside of the frame or hidden inside the frame.
Many batteries can be removed and charged, but others must be charged on the bike. If this is the case, you will need to find a place to park the bike near an electrical outlet.
A motor controller, usually mounted on the handlebars or integrated into the frame, will allow you to decide how much help you need and keep a close eye on the battery level. Some will also include a screen with navigation and other features.
Freego China, Bosch, Shimano, Yamaha, Mahle, FSA, and Fazua all make popular e-bike motors. Specifications can vary widely, and the type of motor on a bike will depend on its price and the type of riding expected.
For example, electric road bikes are more likely to favor lightweight systems with smooth power transfer. In contrast, motors on high-spec electric mountain bikes may offer more torque for off-road capability.
How do you ride an e-bike?
Riding an e-bike is similar to riding the same type of non-motorized bike.
You turn on the motor, use the controller to select the desired level of assist, and then pedal. The motor will make initial acceleration easier and help you keep up with speed, especially if you need to climb hills.
However, due to the extra weight of the motor and battery, the e-bike may be a little slower than a non-assisted bike.
It may also have wider tires to carry the extra weight and provide more grip, and it will often have disc brakes because there is more mass to slow down and stop.
Types of electric bikes
The most common types of electric bikes are hybrid bikes and mountain bikes.
The best electric hybrid bikes have flat handlebars and thick, puncture-resistant tires for biking to work, shopping, and more leisurely rides.
They may also have fenders (or eyelets for adding full-length fenders), racks and lights, and sometimes a stepped frame design for getting on and off the bike more easily.
Electric mountain bikes usually have a powerful motor with high torque output to help you easily climb cross-country climbs and overcome obstacles. Once you reach the top, you can turn off the motor to enjoy the descent.
There are also a growing number of electric road bikes. Drop handlebars are designed for fast riding and are often relatively light (in the case of e-bikes) to help with handling and climbing.
Electric gravel bikes are also increasing in number. With wider tires, you can confidently ride off-road and lower the handlebars for road speed.
The best electric folding bikes will be designed to be versatile and compact. They can be folded up for public transportation or easily stored at home/work, so they may be the perfect bike for many people's commutes.
There are also electric cargo bikes designed to carry goods around town for deliveries and other daily tasks, and they can replace a car or van.
What is the range of an electric bike?
The batteries on electric bikes can travel 20 to 100 miles or more on a full charge, depending on their capacity (in watt-hours, abbreviated Wh). Batteries are expensive, so electric bikes with longer ranges are usually more expensive.
You'll usually get a battery charge indicator, and some control systems will give you an estimated range as you ride or adjust the power output to get you to your planned ride distance.
Some e-bikes allow you to insert a second battery (which may fit in a water bottle holder) to increase range. You can also lower the assist level during your ride to help conserve battery power and extend the range of your bike.
While many brands will provide an estimated range for a particular bike model, and you can gauge the theoretical range of your bike based on the power of the bike's motor and battery capacity, it ultimately depends on the assist level and terrain you use.
You can learn more about the features of electric bikes if you want to learn more about them through our e-bike product list, which is available through Product Details, where you can also see our various e-bikes. If you are interested in purchasing or becoming one of our worldwide distributors, feel free to contact Freego China.
Reprinted from Freego China - “What is an electric bike? Electric bike Quick Start Guide”