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The electric bike, sometimes called an e-bike, is in many respects a regular bicycle. The exception is that it is fitted with a motor and a battery. The battery powers the motor which is attached to the rear wheels. This system gives the rider an assisted ride which can be set to different levels depending on what’s required. The lowest setting offers a little assistance, but the highest can power the bike without the need for peddling.
If you are considering investing in an electric bike, then there are a number of features to look for when choosing the best one. This guide is designed to give you all the details about electric bikes and the range of features they have to offer.
Electric Bicycles – Various Types
There are different types of electric bike available depending on what you are looking for. Although many of them have the same features, there are often differences in power or speed.
- One type of electric bike is the pedelec which is the slowest of the different types. It is only fitted with a small motor and offers only a little assistance. It is ideal for those who only travel short distances and those who need a lighter bike.
- Another type of electric bike is a mountain bike style. This has larger wheels and has a stronger frame design. They also typically have a more powerful motor and larger battery.
- There are also moped-style electric bikes which are the most like electric motor bikes. They have the ability to power the bike without any peddling from the rider.
- You can also get electric bike conversion kits that attach to an existing bicycle. They can often be a cheaper alternative to buying a separate electric bike.
These are all different from an electric motorbike because they can still be peddled. Depending on the country they are used in, there are different laws governing their specifications and limitations.
Types of Electric Motor
When it comes to driving the bicycle, there are different types of motors and drive chains used in them. They range from simple attachments or those that are conversion motors, to more complex drive chains.
- The most common types of motor are brushed and brushless motors. They are often used in conjunction with other units to drive the wheel hub of the bike.
- In terms of driving the wheel, you can find direct-drive as well as geared motor units. The geared units can offer a smoother ride as well as having less of a strain on the battery and motor.
- Hub motors are a common design and have the motor inside the wheel hub of the bike. Magnets are fixed to the inside of the wheel hub and are used to provide the drive to the wheel.
- The mid-drive system is becoming a more popular method of transferring drive to the wheel. It is attached to a sprocket and a chain to the peddle side of the bike. This is a method often used by the electric bike conversion kits.
The range of power the motors can generate varies and is sometimes limited depending on the country it is sold in. Usually they are limited to under 750 watts, but many generate much less than that.
Controlling The E-Bike
There are two types of controller that can be used to vary the speed of the bike. They control many aspects of the bikes electrical systems and the motor.
- The brushless motor controllers measure the speed of the motor and the force needed to keep the bike in motion. They can be complicated and as such, more expensive than the other type used.
- The controller for the brushed type requires less components and therefore are cheaper to manufacture. However, they are less efficient than the brushless types and so are being used less often.
Although the types of controller used on the electric bike might not seem like a consideration, it has a big part to play on the efficiency and power use of the bike.
There are many types of battery that are used in e-bikes. The type used determines the bikes ability in terms of distance covered and top speed along with the motor. Advances in battery technology continue to make electric bicycles a viable alternative to other motorised vehicles.
- Sealed lead Acid (SLA), Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) as well as Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Ion Polymer (Li-ion) are the main types of battery used in electric bicycles.
- The limitations with each type include weight, charge time, total voltage output and the number of times they can be recharged.
- Li-ion batteries are typically the best type to use as they hold charge longer and can be recharged quickly.
- Some motors charge the battery while slowing down the bike to prolong the battery life.
Batteries are not the only consideration when it comes to distance. Other factors come into play such as gradient, wind resistance, weight, and the efficiency of the motor. These considerations as well as the type of battery used, should be considered when choosing an e-bike.
Accessories and other Features
The various types of electric bike available have different features depending on the manufacturer and the intended purpose of the bike. Many have lights fitted to them that are powered by the battery. These are generally LED type and as such are very efficient.
Many also have on board computers and LCD displays to help the rider determine various information. Typically, it will give you battery status, distance travelled, the mode you are currently using and light indication.
Which Type to Consider
The type of electric bicycle toy choose will depend on many factors. There are many variations out there to suit any situation or need.
- Depending on what you are going to use the bike for, there are folding variants that can be a good choice for those travelling by train or bus.
- Mountain bike variants are stronger and can be a good idea if you are travelling on tracks or uneven terrain.
- Longer distance journeys may require an electric bike that has a higher level of assistance to make the trip easier. It may also need a bike that has a long lasting battery.
Whatever type you choose, the electric bicycle is a great way to get from A to B with less effort than peddling alone. It also maintains a lot of the health benefits of cycling, especially for those who need to build up their exercise gradually.
There are many other factors involved when choosing an electric bike and many other features depending on the manufacturer. However, this guide shows some of the things to look for when think about the version you need.
The inside of an e-bike hub motor, with planetary gears.