Jason Leeman

Electric bikes are motorized bicycles that have become one of the most utilized forms of transportation in major cities across the globe.

They are eco-friendly bikes equipped with an electric motor, rechargeable battery, and sensors, which removes the stress that comes with riding conventional bikes and replaces it with comfort.

Electric bikes come in either pedal or throttle-assist functionalities. They have two types of electric motors (Hub-drive motor and Mid-drive motor) which power the bikes to a speed of 15 to 34mph.

Buying an E-bike can dramatically increase how often you ride. Its equipped electric motor allows for easy and long distance commuting.

What is the point of an electric bike?

A lot of conventional bike riders and motorcyclists ask these questions, and here are a few answers;

  • An electric bike removes the barriers associated with biking especially for older people, people who suffer from joint pains, and beginners. Also with electric bikes, you require very little effort to climb steep hills and ride off-road.

  • They are also for people who want to beat traffic and arrive at work on time without the added stress of having to pedal all the way to work.

  • Electric bikes are easy to use, fast, flexible, and have much lower maintenance costs than cars.

In a nutshell, electric bikes are energy-efficient, emission-free, and provide physical and health benefits.

How does an Electric Bike work?

Electric bikes come in pedal assist (more common) or throttle-assist functionalities. However, electric bikes don't function merely on the twist or push of throttles nor does it assist solely on the push of the pedals. You still can ride it by pedaling just like you would with a regular bike.

 Other components work together to allow electric bikes to operate smoothly. These are; 

  • The Electric motor
  • The battery 
  • The Sensors(Torque sensors and cadence sensors)

Pedal and throttle assist

Pedaling the bike activates the bike sensor which then sends an impulse to the electric motor, whose main purpose is to provide torque when you pedal and the more torque your bike has the more power you can get out of the bike. This is usually a smooth transition.

This also applies to throttle assist except you won't be pedaling, you will only be twisting the throttle of the electric bike.

Do you still need to pedal an electric bike?

In general, Yes, you still need to pedal a pedal-assisted electric bike, and no, you do not need to pedal a throttle assist electric bike.

Pedal-assist: If you don't pedal, there's no chance the electric motor will provide power to make riding easy. Pedaling extends battery range, motor life, and keeps you healthy.

Throttle assist: Unlike pedal-assist, throttle-assist electric bikes activate on demand of the user. Twisting the throttle engages the bike's motor.

Difference between an Electric bike and a normal bike

Electric bikes and normal bikes are very similar. Both have a handlebar, wheels, pedals, brakes, body geometry, are eco-friendly and they both exercise some parts of the body. Electric bikes are equipped with the following;

Electric motor 

Electric bikes have two types of motors which are Hub-drive motors and Mid-drive motors. These motors require the rider to pedal or twist the throttle for them to function.

Hub-drive motors and Mid-drive motors in ebikes are two types of electric bike drive systems. that operate differently.

Hub-driven ebikes have a motor that attaches directly to the front or rear wheel

On the other hand, a Mid-drive motor is located inside the frame just below the saddle or down tube of your ebike frame with one end protruding outside so that you can connect it to your chainring or sprocket.

Hub motor has a few advantages over the Mid-drive.  

The hub motor is simpler, lighter, more powerful, less expensive, and easier to install than a mid-drive system. 

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks: hub motors are not as efficient at climbing hills or going up long grades because of their large rotating mass and they don't have as much traction on slippery surfaces like snow or mud because they power the rubber tires instead of chains which makes them a little louder than mid drives motors.

Electric motors boost the bike to reach speeds of 15 to 34mph and make pedaling easy and comfortable. This also helps older people with joint pain cycle with less stress on their knees and less sweat.

Battery, Sensors, and Classes

Electric bikes come in Lithium-ion batteries or lithium polymer batteries. These batteries have an average charging time of 5 to 6 hours.

Sensors

There are two types of sensors on an electric bike, they are; torque sensor and cadence sensor. The torque sensor measures how hard you pedal to power the electric bike while cadence sensors detect if you are pedaling.

Classes of an electric bike

So what are the different Classes of electric bikes? 

The three most common types of electric bikes are Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Each class has its own pros and cons.

-Class 1: pedal assisted only, no throttle. Battery power kicks in when riders start to slow down and stops assisting when speed exceeds 20 mph. (Speed assist range is from 0-20mph) 

-Class 2: Pedal assisted with throttle activation up to 20mph. Throttle does not activate once speed reaches over 20 mph. (Speed assist range is from 0-20mph) 

-Class 3: Throttle activated or pedal assisted up to 28 mph without any pedals being used. This class was designed for people who desire a more manual bike feel but want the assistance of an electric motor for those strenuous hills or just don't feel like pedaling all the

Maintenance and Repairs

You can always take an electric bike to a normal bike repair shop when it develops regular faults in handlebars, wheels, brakes, etc but you must not take it to any repair shop when something goes wrong with the electric component. Faulty or damaged electric components can only be fixed by an e-bike specialist.

Disadvantages of Electric bikes

Electric bikes come with a lot of advantages that some riders ignore their disadvantages. Some of these disadvantages are;

  • Electric bikes weigh more than the regular bikes
  • The time required to charge the battery is too long
  • Electric bikes are more expensive than conventional bikes
  • Maintenance and repair of electronic components is costly
  • Poor riding range, as most electric bikes, cannot exceed 30 to 34miles
  • When the electric motor runs out of power, you will need to pedal all that weight mentioned above with your legs unless you are close to or come across a charging station.

Do electric bikes charge when you pedal?

Electric bikes do not recharge while you pedal, but a few electric bike models can recharge when you apply brakes. 

The energy captured when brakes are applied is fed back to the battery and only 5-10% of energy is captured using regenerative braking on bikes.

Regenerative braking is not so popular in electric bikes because regenerative brakes require a Direct Drive Motor. This motor tends to be larger, heavier, and so much different from the motor you see in normal electric bikes. 

Direct Drive Motor provides more resistance when you pedal without electrical assistance. 

How hard is it to ride an electric bike?

Riding on an electric bike is a lot similar to any regular bike. The moment you get on and start pedaling or twist the throttles, the electric motor kicks in, which makes cycling more comfortable and enjoyable.

How long do electric bikes last?

What is the lifespan of a typical electric bike? How long will it last before you need to replace parts or invest in repairs? 

With an average lifespan of about 4-6 years, a more precise answer depends on how much your e-bike gets ridden and what type of terrain it is used on.

It is important to understand the factors that contribute to the longevity of your ebike.

Batteries last for around 1,000 charges which can be estimated to be 4-5 years. Do not be in despair! E-bike batteries can be easily removed and replaced by the user.

Other components of electric bikes that do not last so long are chains and tires. Cyclists who ride their ebikes often will need to clean, lubricate and do some regular maintenance.

Is an electric bike worth buying?

You have been thinking about getting an electric bike for a while now, but you're not sure if it's worth the money. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to buy one, including your budget and how often you will use it.

So one of the first things you'll want to consider is whether an e-bike will fit your budget and needs. The price range varies greatly depending on where you shop and what features are important to you.

Some people want the extra help as they bike uphill or with heavy loads. Others enjoy that it can make biking more accessible because they don't need to worry about getting sweaty or tired while riding. If this sounds like something that would work well for your lifestyle too, and If you're looking for a way to combine exercise and transportation, an e-bike might be perfect for you.

About the author 

Jason Leeman

Jason Leeman is an engineer, tech geek and personal electric vehicle enthusiast. He loves testing the latest in urban personal transportation and sharing his love of wheels with his kids and his blog readers.