Electric bikes are taking the world by storm. There has been a recent boom of people seeing the benefits of riding an electric bike. Whether they ride them for fun or commuting, you cannot deny that electric bikes are fantastic and here to stay. In this post, we will go through the benefits of riding an electric bike, and we will be answering the question of, how do electric bikes work? By the end of this blog, you will be fully up to date on everything you need to know about electric bikes.
Benefits Of Riding An Electric Bike
The first thing you need to know about electric bikes is that they make pedalling easier. Electric bikes amplify the effort you put into the pedals using an electric motor. This assistance makes it super easy to climb steep hills and tackle rough terrain with much less effort than a traditional bike.
But, before we get on to the technical side of how electric bikes work, we will highlight the benefits of riding an electric bike and why they are becoming so popular.
A Fast Way Of Getting Around Town
One of the key benefits of an electric bike’s technology is that you can cover a long distance with minimal effort. Most electric bikes are eligible to ride on traffic-free cycle paths, allowing you to get around quickly and safely by using your city’s infrastructure.
If your route to work doesn’t have cycle paths, there is a good chance that you will still be able to beat the traffic. While everyone is sitting in their cars in gridlock, you can just ride past them. This slashes your commuting time, but the electrical assistance also means that you arrive at your destination looking as fresh as when you started.
Some people think that riding an electric bike is cheating. But studies have shown that they are just as effective at improving fitness was a regular bike. Don’t forget, you are still exercising, and the pedal assistance just means you can ride for longer. Electric bikes allow you to change the level of assistance you require; therefore, you can go for a leisurely ride, or turn your commute into an excellent workout.
Electric bikes also benefit older people that want to ensure that they maintain an active lifestyle. They also help people that are receiving form injuries. Riding an electric bike means that they can run errands, exercise, and rehabilitate without the fear of overstretching themselves.
The Future OF Transport
Electric bikes are improving every year, as manufacturers develop and leverage innovations in technology. But in the grand scheme of things, electric bikes are still in their infancy. However, many people are selling their cars in favour of electric bikes. We are already experiencing improvements in battery technology. These improvements are extending the range of electric bikes, while gradually reducing the battery size, and we will see more of this as the innovations continue.
Electric bikes are still more expensive than regular bikes, but buying an electric bike is much cheaper buying a car. They are also much less expensive to run than a car. When you combine these savings with health benefits, electric bikes are clearly the future of transport.
They Are Fun To Ride
Life is always better on a bike, and an electric motor makes a bike even more entertaining. The first time you jump on to an electric bike, you will be hooked, as your pedal power is seamlessly amplified. This is an odd feeling at first, but you will love how the wave of electrically generated torque carries you along once you get going.
The more effort you put into the pedals, the faster you will go. However, electric bikes are limited, as the motor will stop helping you at a certain speed (depending on your local laws), even at the highest assistance level. This is a safety thing and to solve the debate whether you are riding a bicycle or an electric motorbike, which you would need a licence for.
Electric mountain bikes are super fun to ride too. They allow you to get to terrain that you would not usually be able to get to. For some, this may be a steep backcountry alpine descent that takes too long or is too difficult to reach on a regular mountain bike. For others, this may be an easy off-road trail you want to get to quickly in your lunch break. No matter what your fitness level or rider skill, you will be able to have fun on an electric mountain bike.
It is no secret that our pollution is having a negative effect on the environment, and we all need to do our bit. Electric bikes put out less pollution per kilometre than motorised vehicles. You can help the environment by using an electric bike instead of a traditional petrol or diesel car. Therefore, the increased use of electric bikes will improve our air quality immensely.
There As An Electric Bike For Everyone
No matter what you want an electric bike for, there will be a perfect solution for you. Whether you are commuting or looking for an easy way to explore local mountain bike terrain, you will be able to find an electric bike that will do the job. You can get electric bikes designed for carrying cargo, riding over snow and sand, commuting in busy cities, and looking good while cruising the seafront. You can even buy electric folding bikes that are perfect for people that need something that doesn’t take up too much room.
They Are Becoming More Readily Available
Manufacturers have recognised that there is a huge demand for electric bikes. This demand is growing, as fewer people are using their cars while others are looking for low-cost travel with a low environmental impact. Therefore, manufacturers are stepping up production of the different types of electric bikes. This means that they are easier to buy. You can also be assured that there is a ready supply of spare parts.
how do electric bikes work?
Now you have a ton of reasons why you should buy an electric bike, it is time to answer the question of, how do electric bikes work? This will help you understand what to look for when buying an electric bike so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing one.
Types Of Drive
There are two main ways that an electric bike is driven by its motor.
The most common one you will come across is what is known as “pedelec”. An electric bike with a pedelec system uses a sensor that monitors your pedalling speed, rate and force. The bike’s controller uses this information to add the required amount of motor assistance.
In some countries, electric bike motor’s are limited to a maximum speed of 25km/h. So when you get to 25km/h, the motor assistance cuts out. You can buy electric bikes that top out at 45km/h, but you need a licence, number plate and insurance to ride them. However, electric bike rules and regulations are different in every country. So before you buy your electric bike, check out what is legal in your part of the world.
The other type of drive is activated when the rider uses a switch. By twisting the throttle or pressing a button, the rider can ride along using the motor power alone, or while pedalling.
However, there are electric bikes that combine these two systems, which offer the best of both worlds. We will go into more detail on this later.
What You Need To Know About Electric Bike Motors
There are two different places electric motors are mounted on an electric bike that you need to know about. Where a motor is mounted makes a difference to a bike’s handling and its price point. So it is worth considering where a motor is mounted depending on what you are planning on using the bike for.
A mid-drive motor sits between your electric bike’s cranks. The motor’s torque spins a shaft connected to the chainring, so that it can add to your pedalling power through the drivetrain.
Mid-drive motors give an electric bike certain characteristics. The first benefit you get from a mid-drive motor is that they make climbing hills more efficient than hub-driven motors. The second benefit is that the lower centre of gravity creates a balanced ride, which is ideal for more serious mountain biking.
However, mid-drive motors do accelerate chain wear. This is understandable when you think about all that extra torque going through it. Manufacturers fit electric bikes with specific chains, but you still need to keep an eye on them.
Mid-drive electric bikes are also more expensive, due to the additional mechanical components and the higher gear reduction.
Direct-Drive Hub Motor
The simplest motors you will find on electric bikes are direct-drive hub motors. The motor’s shaft doubles as the bike’s rear axle. This means that as the motor spins, it drives you forward. These are great as they have high torque outputs, which is needed when riding at lower speeds.
Some direct-drive electric bikes have regenerative braking. This system recharges the battery when you apply the brakes. Don’t expect this to make a significant difference to your range, but in some cases, it may give you that little bit extra power to get home.
Gear Hub Motor
As the name suggests, a gear hub motor is also mounted on the bike’s rear wheel. But this type of motor spins much faster. The motor’s shaft runs through a series of gears, making the hub spin at a slower speed. This system gives you more torque, but a slower top speed.
You can tell the difference between a gear and a direct drive hub motor by its size. Gear hub motors are smaller in diameter, as they don’t need to be so big, due to the amount of torque they produce. However, they are much wider, so there is room to house the additional gears.
Hub mounted motors don’t wear down the chain and gears as quickly as mid-drive motors. The other benefit of these motors is that they make electric bikes cheaper. But, you will notice that they don’t climb as well as mid-drive motored electric bikes, nor do they have a particularly well-balanced ride. But this isn’t usually a problem for most commuters.
It is worth noting that changing a tyre on a wheel with a hub-mounted motor is a bit trickier, thanks to the addition of wiring.
Comparing the power ratings of different electric bikes can be super confusing. We will break it down to make it as easy to understand as possible. The reason for the confusion is that rated power is not the same as a motor’s actual power output.
An electric motor’s actual power output depends on how much load it is under and how much electric power the controller gives to the motor.
The power rating of an electrical motor just indicates how much power you get at a specific amount of time. However, there is no universal standard to make comparisons simple.
Motor manufacturers use the term “power” to indicate a measure of how quickly work is being done (stay with me). The other metric you need to look at is torque. Torque is the rotational measurement of force.
The power output of an electric motor peaks at a specific speed; therefore, to know what the power of an electric motor is in Watts, you need to know how fast it is spinning. This is so you can multiply the speed by the torque in order to determine the motor’s maximum power.
I really don’t think you will be making this calculation while you are riding around heavy traffic. To get an idea of the maximum power you can get from a bike’s electric motor, you need to know the battery’s voltage and the continuous current from the motors’ controller.
It is much easier to multiply volts by amps to get watts. So let’s look at an example:
Imagine an electric bike with 750W motor rating, a 52V battery and a controller that delivers 20A. This gives us:
52V x 20A = 1,040W
But, electric bike motors are not 100% efficient, they are generally 75% efficient, which brings the power figure to 780W. This means that when riding an electric bike with these characteristics, you can potentially reach a maximum power of 780W, which isn’t too far off the rated power. But, your bike won’t be able to maintain this power for an extended period of time.
If you are desperate to know how much power your bike can produce for a sustained period of time, the best thing to do is contact the manufacturer and ask them before you buy.
What You Need To Know About Electric Bike Batteries
Most electric bikes use lithium-ion batteries. The more you pay for your electric bike, the fancier your battery will be. More expensive batteries are lighter, charge quickly and have a longer life. In the worst-case scenario, you can get around 800 charges from lithium-ion batteries, but they degrade the more they are used and charged. You should get two to three years of weekday commuting from a decent lithium-ion battery.
But if you look after them, they will last longer, and you can expect around 2,000 half charge cycles. You can usually fully charge a battery in about two to six hours, depending on the battery you have. The difference in charging times is based on the battery’s manufacturer, its capacity and its chemistry.
Where a battery is mounted on an electric bike varies greatly. The different locations are determined by the type of bike, frame size and what the bike is used for. Manufacturers often place the battery under the seat or low in the frame to lower the bike’s centre of gravity. Bikes with a lower centre of gravity handle well and are more evenly balanced.
Batteries often lock into the frame with a key for security. Removing a battery makes it very easy to charge it by plugging it into the wall at home or work.
For many people, when riding an electric bike, the most important thing is its range. The range of an electric bike is how far you can ride before the battery runs flat. It is essential to know what an electric bike’s range is before you buy one. If your daily journey has a nasty hill to climb, the last thing you need is for the battery to go flat. Without the electrical assistance provided by the motor and battery, an electric bike is just a heavy bike.
There are a few factors that determine an electric bike’s range:
- The battery’s capacity
- The speed you are riding
- How heavy you are
- How hilly your journey is
- The level of assistance you choose
- How much you pedal
If you only have a short commute, you don’t need an electric bike with an extensive range. However, it is recommended that you buy a bike with a longer range than you think you need. The reason behind this is because as the battery ages, the range you get from it reduces, as it loses its capacity over time.
Electric bikes use sensors to work out the level of assistance it gives you based on your input into the pedals.
Cadence sensors (also known as speed sensors) give you assistance based on your pedalling cadence. This means if you want to go faster, you pedal faster, not harder, so acceleration is effortless and gives you a relaxed riding experience. You will find cadence sensors on hub-driven electric bikes.
Alternatively, you may want an electric bike with a torque sensor. Torque sensors measure how much torque you are putting into the pedals, so harder pedalling makes you go faster. These sensors are more common in mid-drive motors, especially on electric mountain bikes. The experience you get from a bike with a torque sensor is closer to a traditional bike, but obviously with more power. They offer you more control, as you don’t get a big chunk of power all at once. Instead, you get a more natural feeling but amplified input.
Do You Need A Throttle?
Earlier, we mentioned that some electric bikes have a throttle that allows you to ride under power without pedalling. Having this feature is all down to personal preference, but when riding an electric bike with a hub-driven motor, a throttle can be beneficial. For example, if your chain breaks or you have a mechanical issue with your drivetrain, you can still use the electric motor to get you to the nearest bike shop or home. They are also great if you are feeling a little lazy on your way home from work.
If you often ride in heavy traffic, a throttle can make your journey a little easier, as you can simply adjust your speed rather than changing the cadence of your peddling all the time.
Before you buy an electric bike with a throttle, you need to check your local laws to see how fast you can ride it.
Riding an electric bike is an excellent way of getting around. As you can see, there are many reasons why they are becoming so popular and why we will see many more in the future. Whether you need a low-cost way of commuting or want to add another bike to your collection, an electric bike is a perfect solution.
You are now armed with all the information to start looking into your options. Browse the electric bikes we have on offer to find your dream electric bike. If you need help in finding the best one for you, don’t hesitate to contact our electric bike experts.