What is an Electric Bike?

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Updated September 4, 2022

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric bikes use a high-grade motor to offer augmentation to physical pedaling, though throttle-only models do exist.
  • The key components of an electric bike are the motor and the lithium-ion battery pack, though modern brands offer many integrated accessories.
  • eBikes can be purchased as standalone models or as a kit that transforms a standard bike into an electric variant.

Today’s electric bikes, otherwise known as eBikes, have caught on as a unique and fun mode of personal transportation. Consumers who do not own one, however, may be wondering what all the fuss is about and looking for some key advantages to riding an electric bike over a traditional bicycle. If you have asked yourself, should I buy an electric bike, keep reading to learn more about what they are and see if your question is answered.

What is an Electric Bike?

An electric bicycle is just a traditional bike with some added electrical components, such as a motor and a battery. Generally speaking, an electric bike is not a scooter or an electric motorcycle, though they may each have some common features.

Tip: An electric bicycle is just a traditional bike with some added electrical components, such as a motor and a battery

eBikes Explained

When you imagine an electric bike, it is best to simply imagine a traditional bicycle with a number of additional parts and features. Here are some unique signifiers of electric bicycles and how they work.

Integrated Motor

Electric bicycles boast high-powered motors that work slightly differently than the motors that are found on scooters and motorcycles. These eBike motors are intended to augment human power and not completely replace it. In other words, most electric bikes still require you to pedal, they will just offer some help as you ascend steep hills and when you need a quick break from exercise. Along with the motor, depending on what type of motor you will have a speed controller that helps regulate your speed while riding. If you would like to know more about these, you can check out our article on electric bike controllers.

Tip: These eBike motors are intended to augment human power and not completely replace it

The most common type of motor found with these electric bikes is called a hub motor, which is generally integrated on the front or rear wheel. Though primarily intended to enhance human power via electrical input, some electric bicycles can be operated without the use of pedaling when necessary.

Battery Pack

Batteries play an important role in the inner workings of an electric bike. eBikes typically boast high-quality lithium-ion battery packs that can be recharged when the bicycle is not in use. These battery packs feed energy to the motor, allowing for pedal augmentation and independent movement. The maximum range varies from model to model, though modern eBike battery packs should last anywhere from four to six years. If you would like to learn more about how the batteries for these bikes work, check out our article, electric bike battery.

In the nascent days of the industry, many electric bikes used sealed lead acid (SLA) batteries. These types of batteries have been mostly phased out, due to being bulky and inefficient.

Electric Bike Kits

Most consumers purchase standalone electric bicycles, but eBike kits do exist and are a thriving segment of the industry. These kits allow consumers to essentially transform a traditional bicycle into an electric bike. The process typically entails affixing a motor and battery pack to a standard bike frame.

STAT:

By 2007 e-bikes were thought to make up 10 to 20 percent of all two-wheeled vehicles on the streets of many major Chinese cities. (Source)

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_bicycle_laws
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedelec
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0967070X07000169

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkrfCDjARQc

What is an Electric Bike FAQ

Why would I use an e-bike over a regular bike?

If you are looking for additional power while pedaling, an electric bike might be a good fit. eBikes make it easy to ascend steep hills and offer respite during intense exercise sessions. You just need to learn how to use an eBike and you’re ready to go!

Aren’t electric bikes heavy?

On average, electric bikes are heavier than analog models. This is due to the integrated motor and battery pack. Some bikes do feature carry handles.

What is the range on a single charge?

This metric varies from model to model, but you can usually get anywhere from 22 miles to 60 miles of use on a single charge.
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