Electric bikes are pretty much a norm in the commuter market at the moment, allowing us to get to work quicker and climb all kinds of terrains with ease if you are a mountain biker.
You might look at an electric bike and think, they just look like a regular bike, how do they work? Well, e-bikes are just the same as a regular bike but have the addition of a motor, battery and controller, which offers electric power to assist you when cycling and make the exercise easier.
For us to get into more detail about how these e-bikes work, the different types on the market, the benefits of using one and how to purchase the best model, we have put together an extensive guide below that will give you all the essential information you need to know.
So without further ado, let's get into it!
First of all, before we can understand how an e-bike works, let's get to know what one is.
An e-bike is essentially a normal bike, with gears, chains, seats and handlebars, however, what differs is that they can assist you with cycling, making you speedier and more able to tackle obstacles on your routes such as hills.
They do this with a battery-powered assist, which engages as you pedal or use the throttle, allowing the motor to give you help as you ride.
Ebikes get their power from the motor installed on your electric bike, this motor will be placed on either front, rear or mid of your bike, and gives consistent matched power to your pedalling as measured by the torque sensor on the bike.
The battery is what powers this motor and is often placed within the frame of the bike, this battery is typically able to be removed for charging.
To control the power that your e-bike gives you most bikes tend to come with a controller on the handlebars of the bike. This will normally allow you to pick from three different power assist levels depending on the help you need from your bike, some also offer a boost of power if you need a short amount of high energy to get you over hill for example.
Depending on the capacity of the battery that comes with your bike, it can offer assistance for up to 100 miles or less according to the battery range.
As we mentioned above, an e-bike will typically come with three different motor types, all work in the same way and provide your bike with power, but do come with their pros and cons.
If your e-bike comes with a front hub motor then it will be placed front hub of the wheel, where it will provide power to your bike. This means the front wheel of your bike will essentially pull you along while you drive the back wheel of the bike with your pedalling.
Rear hubs motors have a similar set-up to front hub motors except they are placed on the rear hub of your wheel. These style of electric bikes are the most popular on the market and push you along rather than pull you along.
Lastly, we have mid-drive motor e-bikes. These electric bikes have their motor located right on the crankshaft of their bike, balancing the weight of the bike and providing power from the centre of the bike. Those types of motors are not as popular as front or rear hub but do have some great advantages.
As you start doing more research into e-bikes and how they work, you will come across two types of assistance your motor can give, throttle assistance or pedal assist. Some e-bikes will come with the option of allowing you to use both options on your bike, but it's useful to know how each power assist works and when to use it.
Pedal-assist powered e-bikes only give power from the motor when you are pedalling, allowing it to feel very natural and letting you gain speed on a commute easily or tackle small inclines.
This PAS system works via a sensor in the bike and comes with options that allow you to change how much help you are getting from the bikes motor, useful if you still want to get a workout in now and then. Most PAS systems on an e-bike use a torque system that will match the pedalling on your bike.
Throttle powered e-bikes on the other hand are much like a motorcycle and when engaged (which is typically by twisting), will propel the bike forward without any effort required by the user.
These throttle powered systems usually come as twist or button style and are suited for getting over very hilly terrain or whenever you need a strong burst of power when riding.
Overall, the sweet spot to choosing an e-bike in terms of how it gets its power is by choosing one that comes with both PAS and a throttle option. Having both types of options on your bike allows you to get that boost from the throttle when you need it, and only choose to assist for normal riding.
Now we understand the inner workings of an e-bike and the different parts you can choose within one, let's get on to the different types which are the market so as you can see how their inner workings differ according to the style of riding they will be suited to.
Folding e-bikes are most suited to students and commuters as they come with a very lightweight and portable design allowing you to carry the bike anywhere you want and fold it up to a very small footprint for storage, letting it sit in places like under your desk.
Commuter e-bikes often are the most regular style of bike and tend to have smaller wheels than other e-bikes with accessories such as road lights and mudguards, which allow you to use the e-bike on the road safely. Most of these bikes are designed so the rider is sitting very upright.
For people who love adventure, mountain e-bikes are designed for just that; with large wheels, different suspensions and a durable frame. These bikes tend to be made just for the hard terrain, rather than tarmac and typically have a throttle option.
Hybrid electric bikes are a mix of commuter bikes and mountain bikes and are becoming more and more popular on the market as they give the user a choice to use the bike on different terrains. These bikes will often come with commuter accessories such as taillights but also multi-purpose tyres.
If you are on the edge of deciding whether or not you need an electric bike, we have put together a list of all the advantages you can gain by investing in one so as we can help with your decision.
Now we have discussed how e-bikes work, the different types and why you should consider buying one, it's a good idea to familiarise yourself with the best features you should be looking out for in one, so as you can ensure your electric bike will work efficiently for you when it's used.
Now you know how an e-bike works in comparison to a normal one, you may have the question of, can't I make my old bike into an electric one by adding a motor and battery?
Well, the answer to that is, yes! You can buy a rear-wheel, front-wheel or mid-drive conversion kit for your bike if you don't want to buy a whole new electric one. This can save you money and also recycle your old bike rather than locking it up in storage.
Do I need a driving license to ride an e-bike?
No, in England you do not need a license to ride an e-bike as long as it does not match the power requirements of a motorcycle, if yours is as powerful then you will need a license.
How fast can an e-bike go?
It all depends on the model that you buy but on average an electric bike can reach speeds of 15mph by law in the UK, some can reach more however with the addition of throttles.
How much does an average electric bike cost?
This varies but can be within a range of £500-£1500 and above depending on the quality of the model you buy and factors such as its motor battery capacity.
Is an e-bike the same as a motorcycle?
No, if your electric bike has limits of 15mph and a 250W motor it is not considered the same as a motorcycle.
What does the Wh rating mean on a battery?
This Wh rating refers to how many watts of power your e-bike's battery can provide till it runs out, this figure is not always accurate to calculate from however as multiple factors will influence how long your battery lasts such as your weight and the speed you are riding at, as well as the assistance level that you have chosen.
Overall, an e-bike is the same set-up as a regular bike but is made electronic by the addition of components like the motor and battery which works to assist as you pedal and help you tackle inclines or ride further without getting as tired as you would on a regular bike.