Electric bikes offer a great advantage to one of the most popular vehicles ever – bicycles. But how do electric bikes work?
It’s great that you asking this because I believe that everyone should learn how eBikes work before purchasing their first eBike.
Not only this can help with the decision, but it will also help you get the most out of your brand new eBike.
And it’s your lucky day because you’re in the right place. Down below, I’ll show you how electric bikes work but I’ll also answer some of the most asked questions – so keep on reading!
How do Electric Bikes Work?
I like to compare electric bikes to mobile phones. They almost work on the same principle, and almost everyone owns a smartphone, right?
Electric bikes work with the help of a battery that holds the capacity and the motor that outputs the power onto the wheels of an eBike.
It’s simple as that. Electric bikes come only with a couple of additional components in comparison to regular bicycles.
But you should keep in mind that even though there are electric conversion kits you can install on a regular bicycle, electric bikes are just built differently.
Electric bikes are based on the frame of bicycles we all know about, but they’re reinforced and are built to take full advantage of electricity.
Therefore, here’s the list of main components of an electric bike so you know what to expect:
- Motor (mid-drive or rear-hub)
- Pedal assist system or throttle
- Controler (LCD)
Other than that, some eBikes can come with additional components such as a torque sensor which is very common for eBikes that come with a throttle option.
However, everyone can agree that the main two components are the motor and the battery – so keep on reading to learn more about these two components.
How Does an Electric Bike Motor Work?
Two main types of an eBike motor are either mid-drive or rear-hub motor.
Mid-drive motors are placed in the middle of the frame and they can output the power to either the front or rear wheel. In some situations, mid-drive motors come with an all-wheel-drive option which means that power is available on both wheels.
Rear-hub motors are located in the hub of the rear wheel (hence the name) and they output the power only to the rear wheel. And if you ever test-drive a rear-hub-powered eBike, you’d notice it immediately because you’d experience the feeling of “push” from the rear.
Each one of these motors comes in different sizes and the most common power options range from 500W to 1000W. However, some advanced motors (such as Bafang) have the ability to output up to 1500W of power at the performance peak.
Also worth mentioning is that each motor type comes with its advantages and disadvantages so you should choose carefully.
How Does an Electric Bike Battery Work?
The two most common battery types are SLA (sealed lead acid) and a lithium-ion battery. A lithium-ion battery is the most popular battery type for a couple of reasons.
They’re lightweight which is important for eBikes, it can provide a better range, and has a longer lifespan. Even though they’re more expensive – it’s an investment that’s worth making.
However, no matter the type of battery you go for – both of them operate under the same principle which is holding the charge and working with the motor to produce power on the wheels.
So now when you know how do electric bikes work – it’s time you learn about the two most common eBike operating systems.
eBike Operating Types
I am often asked if electric bikes require you to still use the pedals – and that’s why I must explain the two main eBike operating types.
You might not notice this before you start browsing or testing out eBikes, but two main types eBike operating types are:
- Pedal assist system
How Does Electric Pedal Assist Bike Work?
A pedal-assist system (also known as PAS) is a system that utilizes the pedals to start the motor and to measure the amount of power required by the rider.
As you start rotating the pedals, the motor turns on (or “wakes up” from idle) and it starts generating the power. The faster you go and the more pressure you put on the pedals – the more power you will be able to get from the motor.
Therefore, with a pedal-assist system, you will have to use pedals at all times to “unleash” the power from the motor.
However, the benefit of this is that you will have both hands free as you won’t have to hold the throttle.
Some other benefits include the ability to achieve a better range while putting less pressure on the motor.
How Does an Electric Bike Throttle Work?
Throttle seems to be a more popular option and it works on the principle of a button or a wrist-activated lever that helps you precisely put the amount of power you require onto the wheels.
Therefore, you can output the maximum power right from the start. The downside to this is that your riding style will affect the range. The more power you use – the less range you will have.
However, the other downside to this is that you will have to constantly use one hand to control the throttle (whether it’s thumb-activated or wrist-activated).
On the bright side, with a throttle-operated eBike, you won’t have to use pedals and you will be able to get the maximum power in the situations you need it the most without experiencing any delay.
Can You Lose Weight on an eBike?
While you might not be able to lose as much weight on an eBike in comparison to a regular bicycle – you can still lose weight on an eBike.
eBikes still come equipped with pedals and if you choose a pedal-assist-powered eBike, you will need to use the pedals to generate power. Therefore, you will still be using the eBike yet you will have a little “helper” that will allow you to travel at a higher speed without putting as much effort as you usually would.
However, I still don’t believe that eBike should be the main way you use to lose weight. Instead, using weights and resistance training should be number one while being in a caloric deficit.
An electric bike can always be a light cardio exercise that can help you lose weight in combination with other ways.
Do eBikes Charge As You Pedal?
Unfortunately, most eBikes won’t charge as you pedal. Even though it’s a no-brainer idea that would especially benefit eBikes with a pedal-assist system – there are only a few eBikes that can re-charge an eBike with the help of pedals.
The reason why most eBikes can’t charge themselves from the pedals is because of the motor. You will need to use the eBike with power off to re-generate power and this will only make pedaling a lot harder.
And with the introduction of such technology, the most optimized motors might not be as beneficial as they currently are.
However, with the super-quick charging time and even the ability to have a replacement battery that will help you double the range of your eBike – I believe that eBikes might not even need the regeneration technology.
Also, you shouldn’t forget that there are manufacturers such as Bakcou that can produce a solar panel charger that can charge your eBike using renewable energy as quickly as the power outlet.
Are eBikes Worth the Money?
eBikes are definitely worth the money. Of course, I’m not going to pretend that they’re not pricey.
Quality electric bikes can be really expensive, but if you consider them as an investment that can potentially pay itself off if you replace your regular commute vehicle – the purchase of an eBike makes a lot more sense.
From electric hoverboards and scooters to electric bikes and even electric cars – there’s no doubt that electrically powered vehicles are becoming a standard.
With electric bikes, you can:
- Travel eco-friendly
- Fight wind and hills effortlessly
- Achieve decent travel speeds
- Benefit from the low charging cost and a great range
- Easily pay it off with a decent financing plan
Most known eBike stores such as eBikeGeneration provide a great financing plan with 0% interest that can help you pay for your eBike monthly (a couple of hundreds of dollars a month).
Not only this allows you to start enjoying the benefits of an eBike right away without breaking the bank – but it can also help you take advantage of an eBike to pay itself off.
And how do you do that?
If you stop traveling to work with a car and you travel to work using an eBike – you can easily save the gas money, pay the monthly eBike rate, and still have money left over at the end of the month (as charging an eBike isn’t expensive).
Do You Need to Register an Electric Bike?
Since electrically powered vehicles are still a “new” thing – laws are still in the making and each state or country has its own terms of conditions you have to comply with.
However, by analyzing all 50 states, it’s clear that most states don’t demand electric bikes to be registered.
But most states limit the top speed or even require you to use eBikes with pedal assists instead of throttle when you’re on the road.
Understanding how do electric bikes work isn’t science and as long as you know the main components and the difference between motor types and powering systems – you’re ready for your first eBike purchase.
With so many different options out there, the choice can be hard – but if you need any additional help, feel free to browse this blog for eBike reviews.
What is your favorite eBike benefit?