What is an Electric Bicycle?
An electric bicycle (e-bike) is essentially a regular bicycle with the added benefit of an electric motor to assist you to travel further and ride longer while using less physical energy. Electric bikes work much like a regular bicycle in that the user can pedal the bike and steer like any other regular bike. However, with an e-bike, the user has the option of engaging the motor when assistance is desired. E-bikes typically function in the following three ways:
- Electric Only – this function allows the rider to operate the bike on battery power only. This is commonly referred to as “on-demand”, “throttle-only” or “twist and go”. The rider simply engages the throttle (similar to the operation of a moped or motorcycle). No pedaling is required when using the bike in this mode.
- Pedal Assist – This function is a combination of pedal-power with motorized assistance that can be controlled by the rider. Once the pedals are rotating, depending on the model of bike, the user can opt for higher or lower levels of assistance using the bike’s onboard computer located on the handlebars. This mode makes it easier to pedal up hills, against the wind, or go at a faster pace when on flat ground, simply by engaging the motor when needed. When the motor is not engaged, the user rides the bike like a normal bicycle. Using this mode prolongs battery power and extends the riding experience.
- Pedal Only – In this mode, the bike is powered by the rider only and is ridden just like a normal bicycle.
To allow for these features, the electric bike has 3 main components in addition to the bike itself:
- The Motor – this provides the bike with the ability to travel without energy output from the rider.
- The Battery – this provides the motor with the power it needs to work. The battery is removable from the bike, and replaceable. The battery must be charged using electricity regularly in order to power the motor.
- The User Controls – Each electric bike comes with control options on a digital screen. These allow the user to control the bike’s speed, how much assistance they require from the motor, and can inform the user how much distance has been traveled, how much battery life is left and much more.
How Fast Can an E-Bike Go?
Most e-bikes can travel a maximum of 20 to 25mph depending on the motor. You will find specific info about each particular e-bike in its dedicated page.
How Far Can an E-Bike Travel on a Single Charge?
An electric bike can have a range of anywhere between 20 and 70 miles on a single charge depending on a number of conditions. These conditions include the battery size, terrain, weight of the rider and cargo, the level of pedal-assist used, weather conditions such as head wind and many other factors).
How Long Does it Take to Charge the Battery?
Depending on the type and size of battery and charger, it typically takes between 3 and 6 hours to fully charge an empty battery.
How Long Will the Battery Last?
Most e-bikes are equipped with a lithium ion battery, similar to the battery found in a cell phone. Like a phone battery, lithium ion batteries can lose their charge capacity over time and may need to be replaced. Typically, a battery will last greater than 2 years and withstand a minimum of 500 full charges. You should be able to get between 15,000 to 30,000 miles on your e-bike before needing to replace the battery.
In order to fully extend the battery life, it is recommended to recharge the battery every 2- 3 months when not being used or stored. Additionally, while the lithium batteries do not need to be charged immediately after a ride, it is recommend doing so as this will extend the battery life. For more information on batteries, you can access the owner’s manual for the product you are interested in on the product’s webpage.
What if the Battery Runs Out?
The great thing about an electric bike is that they can still be used as a normal bicycle. If the battery runs out, it can still be pedaled. It is important to note though that electric bikes are heavier than standard bikes due to the added weight of the extra components, such as the battery. For this reason, in standard pedal mode, it may require extra effort to travel up hills and in headwinds.
What Does Ah Mean?
Ah stands for “Amp hours” and refers to the capacity of power that the battery can hold. The higher the Ah, the more charge the battery can hold, and therefore, the longer the battery can power the bike. This means you can ride farther on a single charge. Most e-bikes have batteries between 8 and 13 Ah. Batteries with a higher Ah are often larger in physical size, therefore adding more weight to the bike.
What Does V (Volts) Mean?
V stands for Volts and is a measure of how fast the battery sends electricity to the motor. Therefore, it is indicative of how responsive the bike will be when the motor is engaged. The higher the volts, the faster the bike will respond to changes in the throttle (note, this is not the same as bike speed). Generally electric bikes come with 24V, 36V or 48V batteries.
Why are Watts Important?
In very general terms, “watts” can be thought of as the “strength of power” that an e-bike has access to under stressed conditions (taking off from a stopped position, going up a hill, carrying a heavier load etc.) and when under non-stressed, or normal driving conditions (even terrain).
E-Bikes are usually between 250 and 750 watts. Higher watts will increase acceleration and power but will also consume more energy (i.e., decrease the battery range per charge).
When looking at the different e-bike products, here are some things to consider about watts:
Higher watts (500W +) may be more desirable where:
- Increased torque and power are desired for ascending hills;
- the electric-only feature will be used often
- higher cruising speeds are desired;
- the rider’s weight is over 200 lbs.
Lower watts (250- 350W) may be sufficient where:
- the majority of traveling will be flat with few small hills;
- motor power will be used primarily to complement/assist a rider who prefers to pedal;
- the rider’s weight is under 200 lbs.
Can I Ride an E-Bike in the Rain?
Yes. Electric bikes can withstand normal raining conditions. Avoid deep puddles or submerging your bike under water, but typical rainy weather or spraying your bike with a garden hose to clean it is perfectly fine. Just be careful not to soak your electrical components.
How Much Does it Cost to Charge the Battery?
This depends on the cost of electricity in your local area, but typically costs range between 5-10 cents to fully charge the battery.
Throttle Power or Pedal Assist?
Electric bikes typically offer the choice of engaging the motor through pedaling or through turning a throttle on the handlebar (like a motorcycle). If you are contemplating purchasing an e-bike that offers only one of these options, it is important to think about what you are looking to get out of your e-bike. Will you prefer to primarily pedal the bike with the option of power-assist when needed, or are you looking to get the most out of power-assist with the option of not pedaling at all. Fortunately, many e-bikes have both options.
How Much Does an E-Bike Weigh?
Most e-bikes weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. Removing the battery may make the unit easier to lift if needed.
Do I Need a Permit to Ride an E-Bike?
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Act states that electric bicycles are not considered motor vehicles if they have fully operable pedals, an electric motor of less than 750W (1 hp), and a top motor-powered speed of less than 20 miles per hour when operated by a rider weighing 170 pounds (Note: bikes may go faster than this if pedal power is used in addition to motor power, if the rider is lower weight, and if road and weather conditions support it). Electric bike laws in different states may vary however. You are encouraged to check your local state laws and requirements as they differ from state to state.
Do I Have to Assemble an E-Bike?
E-bikes come 90% assembled. We recommend that you contact a local E-bike professional to get the remaining 10% assembled to ensure proper alignment and functioning of parts. More information can be found on our Assembly page.
What if I Need Components or Parts for my E-bike?
We list some of our e-bikes' components on our store. If you are unable to find what you are looking for, please Contact Us and we will help you get the component/part you are looking for.