How Do Electric Bikes Work?

What Is The Science Behind E-Bikes?

When you hear the words ‘electric bike’ you may start picturing a motorcycle or sedentary gym bike, but that is not what an electric bike is. Electric bikes are actually very similar to regular bikes and, they both have many of the same parts as a regular bike and they both operate in much the same way.

Cyclamatic Electric Bike Review 2015 - 2016The only difference is that electric bikes have extra electric components which allows the bike to assist you up hills, through difficult terrain and whenever you need extra power.  Electric bikes will give you extra power which can assist you with difficult tasks, but they will normally still require some effort on your part.

Electric bikes can also be used in the same way as a manual bike if you do not use the electric components or if the bike has run out of power. Electric bikes will be heavier than a regular bike as they have extra electrical parts which contribute to their overall weight, so if you use an electric bike without harnessing its electric components you can get a pretty intense workout.

So how do electric bikes actually work? There are different types of electric bikes available and these bikes will run a little differently depending on their design, but all electric bikes will need batteries and an electric motor in order to function.

A Short History Of The Electric Bike

Electric bikes are not a new idea, in fact, electric bikes were documented as early as the 1890s. These early electric bikes were propelled by an electric motor, but they obviously did not use the torque sensors and power controls which we have today.

These components were developed a century later in the 1990s and as a result, electric bikes became quite popular during the early 21st century. These bikes proved particularly popular in China and mainland Europe.


Electric bikes run on battery power.  Electric bikes are normally powered by Lithium-ion batteries as these batteries are generally seen as better quality and tend to be more popular than otherWest Hill PRO TERRAIN options, but you may also come across NiCadSLA and NiMH batteries.

In order to charge your bike, you will just need to plug the battery into an electricity socket and weight for it to fully charge. More expensive high-end batteries may take as little as two hours to fully charge, but lower-end batteries may take up to eight hours.

You will normally have a few options depending on how much effort you want to put into your bike ride.

The Motor

The motor is one of the most important parts of an electric bike as this is what will add extra power to your ride. The power comes through the motor and the motor can be found in the front, middle or rear of the bike.

Front Motor

Front motors can be found in the bikes front tire and they help to spin the tire. When you ride a front motored bike you will feel like you are being pulled forward and it will take some of the excess pressure off you so you can enjoy cycling for longer.

Rear Motor

Byocycle City SpeedBikes with a rear motor will have the motor located in the back tire. This will create the sensation that you are being pushed forwards. Some people prefer this sensation to the feeling of being ‘pulled’, but it all depends on your personal preference.


Mid-motors are powered by the bike’s drivetrain which is located in the middle of the bike. Thanks to the motors central location these types of bikes can make the cycling process easier whilst still maintaining a natural riding sensation.


Electric bikes are designed to make your cycling easier by adding its own power to your motion. Some bikes will include a torque sensor which can measure how hard you are pedalling and then add proportionate power to help you along.

Some bikes will allow you to control the level of power by a volume dial which you can use to select the amount of power that you want. They may well have a ‘throttle mode’ similar to how a motorbike is operated. The throttle will be on the handlebars and will allow you to control the motor. This throttle may either be controlled with a twist throttle (similar to the motorbike throttle) or a thumb throttle which allows you to control the power via your thumb rather than your whole hand.

Other bikes may include a rotation sensor which can tell when you are pedalling and it will add the same amount of power no matter how fast or slow you pedal.  The former option is obviously more sophisticated because it will adjust its power to your output, whereas the latter will give you the same power no matter what your output is.

Bike Options

There are quite a few different electric bikes which may give you no extra power at all or they may basically move the bike for you so you don’t have to put in much effort at all. Your options will West Hill PRO TERRAINinclude the following.

Pedal Only

This function means that the bike is being propelled by the rider only and it works just the same as a normal bike. You can use any electric bike like this if the battery is dead or if you choose not to harness the electrical components. Keep in mind that electric bikes are heavier than regular bikes and will be harder to ride in manual mode.

Pedal Assist

This function will activate the motor when you start pedalling. You will still get a workout, but the motor will take some of the pressure off so you can ride for longer without getting as tired out. You may also be able to control how much or how little assistance the electric motor gives you so you can push yourself and then rely more on the motor when you get tired out.

Electric Only

This option will make the bike power itself via the motor so you will only have to put in a tiny amount of effort in order to ride the bike. This option will drain the battery faster, but it will certainly make things easier. Remember that any e-bike which goes beyond the 15.5 mph limit cannot be used without the extra insurance, a license and tax which you would have to pay for a motorbike.

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