How Do Electric Bikes Work?
Breaking Down E-Bikes: How do Electric Bikes Work?
Bikes have been around since 1817 when German Inventor Karl von Drais invented "The Swiftwalker." But, they've never before been as easy, accessible and fun to use as this newest iteration that recently hit the mainstream - the e-bike.
Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard about e-bikes. But many people still haven't experienced the shock of smoothly pedaling for miles without breaking a sweat.
No loud motor, no confusing controls and no bulky machinery. It almost seems like magic. So how do e-bikes work, and why did this clever invention flip the cycling industry on its head?
Let's talk about it!
Here is a breakdown of e-bikes and everything you need to know to make the most of your cycling adventure.
What is an Electric Bike?
An electric bike, or e-bike for short, is an umbrella term for a bike that leverages a battery to assist in the pedaling and propulsion of the bike.
What is the Difference Between Standard Bikes and E-Bikes?
Standard bikes have been around for about 200 years and entirely depend on the rider to propel the bike. While cyclists can leverage momentum and downhills to take breaks from pedaling, it's up to you and your quads to make the trek up steep hills and long stretches of trail.
E-bikes leverage an electric battery to either partly or wholly take the brunt of the effort propelling the bike across flat trails and up hills. Different e-bikes offer different levels of assistance as you take on your bike route.
Why Are Electric Bikes So Popular?
There are many great reasons why e-bikes have become quickly popular - here are just a few!
There are so many people out there who love cycling but have to stop because of aging, injuries or fitness levels. With an e-bike, people who had to walk away from cycling can hop back in the saddle thanks to the much easier-to-ride pedal assist or electric motor assist.
A 20-mile cycle route on a standard bike can feel overwhelming. On an e-bike, people of all ability levels can take it on without exertion. Riders can cover long distances quicker, climb hills more efficiently, and commute across town without breaking a sweat.
Riding an electric bike is a productive form of exercise when the rider pedals to activate the motor. This is a great way to improve cardiovascular health, increase muscle strength, and reduce stress levels without quickly running out of energy.
Electric bikes are a more environmentally friendly alternative to cars or motorcycles, as they emit less carbon dioxide and other pollutants. So if sustainability is on your mind when choosing a form of transportation to navigate the city, an e-bike should be at the top of your list!
How Do E-Bikes Work?
Different Types of E-Bikes
Electric Motor E-Bikes
Also known as throttle-assist e-bikes, these e-bikes have a motor that provides power to the bike regardless of whether the rider is pedaling. The rider can use a throttle to control the motor and accelerate the cycle without pedaling. These bikes are similar to mopeds or electric scooters in the way they operate.
In some countries or states, electric motor e-bikes may be classified as mopeds or electric scooters and may require a license, registration, or insurance. Pedal assist e-bikes, on the other hand, are usually classified as bicycles and do not require any special permits or licenses.
Pedal Assist E-Bikes
Pedal assist e-bikes, also known as pedelec e-bikes, have a motor that assists the rider only when pedaling. The motor is activated by a sensor that detects the rider's pedaling motion and boosts the power generated by the rider. The amount of assistance the motor provides is usually adjustable and can be controlled by the rider.
Pedal-assist e-bikes are usually classified as bicycles and do not require any special permits or licenses.
Main Components of an E-Bike
The battery is the power source of the e-bike and provides energy to the electric motor. While each bike may have a different location, the battery is usually located on the downtube or the bike's rear rack and can be easily removed for charging.
The electric motor is usually located in the hub of the rear wheel or the bike's bottom bracket and provides pedal assistance to the rider. These motors are controlled by a throttle or a sensor that detects the rider's pedaling motion.
The controller regulates the flow of electricity from the battery to the motor and monitors the speed and power of the motor. The controller is usually located near the bike's handlebars and can be programmed to adjust the level of assistance the motor provides.
The display is a screen that shows essential information about your e-bike, such as:
- Battery level
- Mode of operation
The display is usually located near the handlebars so you can easily and safely monitor your bike's status while riding.
The sensor detects the rider's pedaling motion and sends a signal to the motor to assist at a certain level of exertion. Different types of sensors, such as cadence, torque, and pedal sensors, measure different aspects of the rider's pedaling. Cadence sensors are like cruise control: once you start pedaling at all, the motor will engage and get you up to speed. A torque sensor is like a gas pedal, it measures the pressure you place on the pedal to determine how much motor assistance to give, so it feels much more natural to ride.
E-bikes are usually equipped with hydraulic or mechanical disc brakes that provide stopping power for the bike. Some e-bikes also have regenerative braking, which uses the motor to slow down the bike and recharge the battery.
Frame and Components
The frame and components of an e-bike are similar to those of a standard bike but may be reinforced or designed to accommodate the weight and power of the electric motor and battery. E-bikes may also have specific components such as a kickstand, lights, or a rear rack to make them more practical and convenient for everyday use.
How Many Miles Does an E-Bike Charge Last?
There isn't a universal answer to this question, and the range is wide. The lasting power of a charge can vary greatly depending on outside factors, like:
- Weight of the rider
- Make and model of the e-bike
- Strength of the battery
- The difficulty of the trail
- The efficiency of the e-bike
When all conditions are excellent for a highly efficient e-bike, it can travel over 100 miles before the battery hits empty. However, most bikes may need a quick charge between 25 and 40 miles.
Our bike rentals can last, on average, about 40 miles before they run out of batter and require a charge.
How Fast Does An E-Bike Go?
While we don't recommend testing absolute max speeds on your e-bike, you can undoubtedly hit higher speeds easier than on a standard bike. This is helpful when commuting through the city and sharing lanes with cars, but we will always prioritize safety over speed.
Our bike rentals can safely get up to 20-26mph on a well-maintained road or bike path.
How Many People Can Ride On An E-Bike At One Time?
Most e-bikes are built for one person and have a max of about 200-250 lbs for an efficient and safe commute. Some bikes have a higher weight max and even offer extra seat space for a secondary rider.
All of our e-bike rentals are built for one rider. Want to test out an e-bike with kids in tow? When you rent a bike with Rides N Motion, you always have the opportunity to add on a child carrier trailer during the checkout process.
Do You Have To Pedal On An E-Bike?
That depends on the type of e-bike you use!
Pedaling is optional on throttle-assist e-bikes, and the electric motor can fully propel the bike. However, these bikes still have pedals, and many have a pedal assist option if you want to switch up your biking style.
On pedal-assist e-bikes, pedaling is required to activate the motor assist. Once the sensor notices that you're exerting a certain amount of effort while pedaling, the motor assist will kick in and keep the pedaling difficulty from increasing.
If you want to try or purchase a specific type of e-bike, reach out to our team! We would happily direct you toward the perfect e-bike to test, rent or buy.
How Do You Start An E-Bike?
Depending on the e-bike's make and model, you may need a key to power the battery and get moving. The key offers an extra level of security to a parked bike. Others have buttons to turn on the battery and display monitor.
How Do You Lock An E-Bike?
Understanding how to lock your e-bike is essential to keeping your e-bike secure if you leave your bike unattended.
E-bikes with keys should be switched to the "off" or "lock" setting, which can also lock any steering capabilities. Some people bring their batteries with them when leaving their bikes in public places to avoid battery theft.
No matter what type of e-bike you use, the bike frame should be chained to a secure location using a quality bike lock if you plan to walk out of sight from the bike. We recommend only leaving your bike in places you know or trust and never leaving it for too long. If it's possible to keep it in view as you eat or lounge, even better!
Thank goodness we live in the era of e-bikes! Are you ready to experience the simplicity and fun of biking through town on an e-bike? Stop by Rides N Motion or visit our website for demos, rentals and sales of the most current e-bikes.