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How Do Electric Bikes Work and What is an Ebike?

We’ve all seen electric bikes, maybe not in person, but at least on television or online. They are quickly becoming popular and in demand as a great alternative to regular bicycles that require more effort as a way of commuting and getting around the city.

Perhaps you’re even considering trying them out yourself. After all, an electric bike is a great and environmentally friendly mode of transportation. But first, how do electric bikes work?

Well, here is a complete guide to answer all your questions when it comes to electric bicycles. We will talk about what an e-bike is, how it works, how much it usually goes for, how and how fast you can ride it, and how to charge an e-bike.

What is an e bike?

First of all, what exactly is an e bike, and what makes it so different from a regular pedal bike? At its core, an electric bike is really just a regular push bike with all the basic parts such as the frame and fork, wheels, pedals, and handlebar.

But, they do make use of several extra components that are geared to make your cycling experience much easier, since you don’t have to rely on your pedalling power alone in order to move forward.

These parts and components include an electric motor that helps you pedal the bike, a battery that powers the motor, a sensor that lets the motor know when to start functioning and how much power to exert, and an electric display that lets you control the bicycle.

side view of electric bike

How do electric bikes work?

So, how exactly do electric bicycles work? Basically, an ebike operates just like a regular pedal bike, but with an extra pedal assist. As a pedal assist bike, you are receiving a powerful motor assist that reduces your need to exert effort when pedalling, meaning, you can ride easier and faster for significantly less effort.

These pedal assist bikes make use of electric pedals. But, there are also throttle activated ebikes which resemble a motorbike more than a regular bike, and sometimes, they have no pedals at all.

As we’ve mentioned earlier, electric bikes are composed of various electrical components that help it operate, such as the motor, battery, and sensor. We’ll go into each of these in more detail.

Electric motor

First, the electric motor controls the bike’s torque, which translates into how much power you can get out of the bicycle, so you don’t have to do all the work and effort yourself when pedalling the bike. This motor can either be in the front hub, rear hub, or mid drive of the bike.

Sensor

Having said that, it’s actually the sensor that makes this possible, since it’s what detects your motion and speed, thereby letting the motor know when to start and how much power to give you. There are two sensors in an electric bike- the speed sensor and the torque sensor.

Battery

Now, what powers everything up is the battery that helps the motor’s engine run, as well as all the other electrical components of the electric cycle. All ebikes are battery powered, but this battery may come in different types and models, and may be located in various parts of the bike.

How much are electric bikes?

With all these great features, there is a catch. Unfortunately, when it comes to the cost, an electric assist bike doesn’t really come cheap, especially since they come with a lot of extra components that by themselves cost hundreds of bucks apiece.

The average price range of electric bicycles is around $2500 to $6000, and there are even higher end ebikes that easily run up to $10,000 or higher. The price of course largely depends on the brand, performance, and quality of the bicycle.

But, don’t you worry. You can also manage to find decent electric bicycles at around $1500 or slightly less, as long as you know where to look. While these don’t offer the same performance as their more expensive counterparts, they will do well for general use especially for beginners.

Clip on electric motor

One good option for you if you are on a tight budget and can’t afford even the cheapest electric bike out there, or if you would only like to dip your toes in electric bike cycling, is to purchase a clip on electric bike motor.

As the name suggests, this is a portable electric motor that you just attach to any regular pedal bicycle in order to transform it into an electric bike. It costs less since you’re only buying a motor, and if you decide you prefer good old cycling, you can always detach it from your bike.

How fast do electric bikes go?

cropped view of electric bike

Another common question about electric bikes is how fast they can go. You might know that a regular pedal bike has an average speed of about 10 to 19 miles per hour. Is it the same for ebikes, or is it lower or higher?

When it comes to speed, that is one advantage of an ebike to a typical push bike. Generally speaking, electric assist bikes are guaranteed to give you speeds of 20mph to 25mph, with 28mph as the government mandated limit.

However, the engines and motors of these ebikes, and the technologies that they are made with such as throttle activated rather than pedal assist motors, actually allow them to reach higher speeds of up to 30mph or even 40mph. That’s twice more than the average speed of a regular person, but just about half of the fastest cyclist in the world.

Pedal assist vs throttle activated

There’s actually a lot of debate about pedal assist electric bicycles and throttle activated ebikes. It seems that this mostly revolves on just how safe the bike is to ride, especially on bike paths and trails that, until recently, have been reserved for actual pedal bikes.

Sure, most of the people complaining have an issue against electric bicycles altogether, but arguably, pedal assist bikes are better and safer, since they are more true to “real” bikes as compared to throttle activated electric assist bikes that are more like motorcycles.

How to ride an electric bike?

If you are wondering how to ride an electric pedal assist bike, it’s pretty much the same as riding your regular old bicycle. But if you want to visualize it clearly, here’s a short video that shows you how to ride an electric bike.

Much like regular bikes, there are different types of electric bikes for everyone, so you can find one for regular commutes, for leisurely rides, for touring around the country and doing long distance rides, and so on.

How to charge an e-bike?

Moving on to the practical details, it’s also important that you know how an electric assist bike needs to be charged. After all, it’s the battery and the motor that makes an ebike, well, an ebike. The good thing is, it’s easy to charge the bike’s battery.

You simply need to plug it into the wall, much like any other gadget or electrical appliance. The question here is what’s the range the bicycle can go and how long it can last before it requires charging.

The answer really depends on the make and model of your bike. Some batteries have a range of 35 miles, while others, such as 2000 watt batteries, have a range of 100 miles. The battery may also require anywhere from 2 to 8 hours of charging time, with the average being 5 to 6.

Self charging batteries

One thing that’s really interesting in the advent of ebikes is the promise of a self charging electric bike, which supposedly works by your pedalling motion powering or juicing up the battery. So, as long as you pedal, the battery stays charged.

There are a couple of problems here. For one thing, it will take an excessive amount of pedalling to significantly power up any battery even if you don’t use the motor while you ride. And, these things are considerably heavier and bulkier than normal ebike batteries.

Final thoughts

E-bikes are fun and interesting inventions that make the world a better place by offering people with healthy and environmentally friendly ways to get around without exerting the kind of effort that a regular push bike demands.

When it comes to the question of “how do electric bikes work?”, it’s really easy. You pedal the bike just like any other bike, and the motor turns on to assist you so you can maintain your speed with half the physical work.

All things considered, ebikes have more pros than cons. They are fast, high performing, and eco friendly. They just require regular recharging, and a significantly larger investment, but that’s all worth it. If you want an easier pedalling but still get in some exercise, ebikes are for you.

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