What is an E-bike?
An e-bike also called an electrical bicycle is a bike which helps you pedal and driving you forward.
An e-bike uses an electrical motor to help you pedal. An electrical motor is a small motor which uses electricity stored in the battery to power it and give you momentum.
There are several different types of e-bikes on the market. Typically you’ll find bicycles which were designed to be an e-bike from the get-go, but there are also many retrofitted e-bikes on the market which had an electric motor installed on a normal bicycle.
The motors in e-bikes may vary a lot in size and power.
You’ll come across e-bikes that have smaller electrical motors which are only designed to assist in pedalling, and you’ll come across e-bikes with larger motors which can drive you forward without help.
The batteries in an e-bike
The batteries found in an e-bike resembles those found in electric cars.
They are powerful rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and some can even hold the capacity for you to drive up to 128 miles (200 km).
How do I charge an e-bike?
You can charge you e-bike anywhere with an outlet. The charger which typically is included with the e-bikes will be fitted to your local standards.
Living in Europe it’s typically a 220v AC and living in the USA it’s typically a 120v AC. The charging times are very similar.
Typical charge time from 0 to 100% is 8-10 hours so you can safely leave your e-bike to charge overnight.
Charging overnight will also be the cheapest option compared to charging throughout the day because the demand is low and therefore the price is low.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot of third party charging stations for e-bikes. Electric cars are super easy to charge anywhere because so many charging stations are popping up, but it’s not the same for e-bikes.
A fast-charger for e-bikes could be a lovely thing when you, for example, are in getting your groceries or in the movie theatre, your e-bikes might as well charge up.
I do think it’s going to take some years before this is going to happen.
Luckily if you are buying an e-bike it’s probably not because you want to take on crazy long trips where more frequent recharging will be needed.
Probably you are just needing it for commuting to work, school or to your friends, this is what the e-bike is perfect for.
I think you have to see an e-bike as something in between a bicycle and a scooter.
A vehicle which you can easily take anywhere but also something you can get from A-B very quickly without getting sweaty or exhausted.
Bosch-e-bikes have made this incredible helpful visual guide to how far the e-bike can go depending on your speed, riding mode, weight, effort and cadence.
Check it out, it’s really helpful in understanding the range limits.
You can find it here: bosch-ebike.com/en/service/range-assistant/
What affects the battery range of an e-bike?
Several different factors play a big role in how the battery performs and how long-range you’ll be able to get out of it.
The first being the size or capacity of the batteries and how many you have, or rather how large the cells are.
That may sound weird to say batteries in plural because you typically say an e-bike battery.
But this is because unlike your phone’s battery which is just a single unit, the battery of EVs and that includes e-bikes, are made up of smaller cylinder shaped batteries compiled into cells which all-together is your e-bike battery.
The capacity of these batteries and how many you’ve got will greatly impact your range.
The second thing will be the age of the battery. The older the batteries get and the more times it has been discharged and recharged the more they degrade. So you’ll over time have less and less range.
With typical everyday usage and a nightly recharge, your battery should still have +50% or it’s total range after 5 years.
Luckily you can easily buy a new battery pack for your e-bike, just contact your manufacturer or your seller and they can get it for you.
The third thing is the pedal capability. Do you e-bike have the capability for you to pedal and assist the motor, or vice versa the motor assist you in your pedalling?
This will have a great impact on the range you can travel because by pedalling you’ll greatly reduce the energy it is consuming from the battery.
Some pedal-assist e-bikes even have the capability to recharge while you pedal, for example, down a hill if you pedal or use your pedal to brake, the energy from this will go back into the battery.
Think of it this way, if you give 50% of the energy in pedalling and the electric motor is giving 50% you’ll actually be able to increase the range by 50% also.
Like with an electric car there are also several other factors that come into play when talking about range.
Like temperature and wind resistance so it’s really hard to get a definitive answer on what the actual range is.
I think you’ll learn the range depending on different scenarios and situations over time.
How fast can you go on an e-bike?
The speed of e-bikes varies a lot, especially depending on if it’s a pedal-assist only or throttles only.
The speed of a pedal-assist e-bike is, of course, dependant on your own cycling speed, but a pedal-assist e-bike can easily get you to 20 mph or around 30 km/h.
Most pedal-assist e-bikes will stop assisting you at some point, the maximum speed will vary from a class 1 to a class 3 motor.
A class 1 will typically only get you to 20 mph while a class 3 can get you to 28 mph where class 2 is pretty much in between.
A throttle only e-bike can get you much higher and are often speed limited according to local/national regulations and is actually only limited to how powerful the motor is and how too the batteries are.
How do I drive an e-bike?
Driving or cycling on an e-bike is quite easy, but can be a little intimidating for some.
With the pedal-assist bike, there should be a handle on either the right or left side of the bar which will indicate the level or percentage in assistance.
It works just like gears actually, when you need more help you just turn it up and if you need less help you just turn it down.
It won’t go at itself it’ll only activate when you start pedalling. Just try it out on the lowest mode at first and play around with it, you’ll learn quickly I assure you.
The power-on-demand e-bikes which don’t need you to pedal also come with a handle on the right side that functions as the throttle.
Often then function just the same as with motorcycles or scooters, you rotate the throttle and the e-bike will move forward.
There are no gears to take care of or anything it’s just forward or brake, that’s it.
Some times the throttle is also a handle with level control, much like cruise control in a car.
Still, no difference, if you need to go forward you just pull it up and if you need to stop you just pull it down or start braking.
Even though it is very easy to start learning how to drive an e-bike, I still recommend that you read the guidelines of your particular e-bikes, because there can be individual rules and guides your specific model.
Is getting an e-bike worth it?
If the same question was answered to me in 2010, I would have said no.
But today I’m stoked about e-bikes and I immediately say YES it’s totally worth buying an e-bike.
They are fun and a joy to ride every day. They are easy to take care, easy to ride and just makes the smaller everyday things so much easier.
A study shows that you would probably start riding a lot more by getting an e-bike because.
55% of nearly 1,800 e-bike owners in North America said they rode their bike daily or weekly and that percentage rosed to a staggering 91% after they bought an e-bike.
E-bikes can in a lot of scenarios replace your car. So it’s even better to get an e-bike if you currently have a gasoline car.
Smaller trips don’t do too well for gasoline cars, they typically are better of on longer trips where the engine gets warm.
Buyers in the study listed reasons for buying an e-bike. Some of these reasons were carrying groceries or other cargo, transporting kids, avoiding traffic and parking and of course environmental concerns.
An e-bike functions pretty much like a normal bicycle so any wagon attachments or cargo bags you can get for normal bicycles you can also get for an e-bike.
E-bikes are still relatively expensive to just a normal city bike. But they aren’t expensive at all compared to a small second car that you would get instead.
E-bikes are getting cheaper and cheaper by the day because the mass production of e-bikes is just getting started. And battery prices are also getting lower and lower, probably half the price of what they are now in the next 5 years.
The technology is booming. That might also make you consider not to buy an e-bike straight away because the e-bike coming to market in a year might be twice as good.
While that to a point is true, it’s like with smartphones. If you need it, you need it, so it’s pointless to look too far ahead in the future and just wait.
Technology will always keep getting better, no matter if you wait a day or a year. I think the technology has come far enough for the e-bike to be worth its price.
Morten has been working with technology, IoT and electronics for over a decade. His passion for technology is reflected into this blog to give you relevant and correct information.Read more...