How Electric Bikes Work: Its Benefits and Applications Explained
Electric bikes are the latest buzz in the cycling industry, and they have won the heart of millions ever since their introduction in the market. Thankfully, the electric bikes with their motor-power and rechargeable battery have made cyclist’s life easy and fun.
But the real question that often many people ask is how does an electric bike work? Do e-bikes work differently than the traditional bikes, or do they have different functions?
The short and concise answer is electric bicycles also work much like regular bikes with pedal-assist mode. But it comes with an electric motor, which is powered by the lithium batteries. So, riding this electric vehicle becomes fun.
Also, it brings about many benefits, including sweat-free cycling, quick off-trail ride, and enhanced safety and comfort on the road.
What Is An Electric Bike?
In a recent report, Mordor Intelligence showed that the electric bicycle market is expected to expand 11.86% in 2022 due to continuing pandemic situation. The report also suggested that during the 2019-2020 fiscal year, an estimated USD 23.89 billion worth of e-bike was sold alone in Europe.
The statistics show that electric bikes are gaining more popularity day by day. But what is an e-bike? Many people keep asking us this question.
An electric bike equips a powerful motor. It assists you during paddling, and a battery generates the necessary electric power for the motor. The battery is mounted on the e-bike frame(it could be internally housed or removable) and is rechargeable, much like mobile phone batteries.
Also, note that the motor needs to assist you in paddling. It shouldn’t propel you. So, you must pedal the bike to get the required assistance from the motor. E-bikes come with different levels of assistance, and electric assist system which will combine with the human power pedal strokes.
The electric assistance level refers to different riding modes that reduce or increase the assistance. Also, the force needed for paddling depends on the type of e-bike you have.
The average speed of an e-bike is from 15 to 25 miles per hour. However, some high-quality e-bikes may go up to 40 miles per hour. So, you have to keep the speed limit in mind too.
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How Electric Bikes Works?
Electric bikes work the same way as the normal bicycles work, except that e-bikes come with a battery-assisted motor that helps in paddling the bike. Therefore, an electric bike has three main components that include-
- The E-bike motor
- The E-bike battery
- Controller or assistance
You have to understand all these components and their functioning to know how does an electric bike work.
Anatomy Of An Electric Bike
1. Types Of motors
As a thumb of rule, the motor is housed within the electric bike. Its mounting position will vary from one bike to another, and the motor function also varies depending on its mounting position. The two common places to house the electric bike motor are-
- Crank motors: The mid-drive motor sits on the crank of the bicycle. It offers the most authentic cycling experience with improved level of assistance from the motor.
- Hub motors: The motor sits either in the front or rear hub of the axle or wheel. The hub motors were the first to be introduced in e-bikes and has a simple design with lots of power.
Now, let’s go deep into the drive system discussion-
Crank motor/Mid-drive motor:
Crank motors on the e-bikes actually assist the pedals. As you pedal the e-bike, the mid-drive system generates power, and in turn, it moves the wheels. Since the electric power from the motor goes directly in the crank section instead of coming from the wheel, crank motors are highly efficient. Also, it has a better power conversion to energy which helps in long rides with minimum paddling.
Thus, the mid-drive motor appears to be more natural than the hub motor. Also, it provides extra push and an authentic cycling experience.
The best benefit of crank motors is their improved torque and power output. It allows better control. Also, you will see these powerful type of motor mostly in high-end and e-mountain bikes.
Hub motors are older than crank motors. Also, it has a simpler and easy design, and the motor will drive the wheel.
The major difference between the crank and the hub motor is in their ability to sense how much power you put in the pedals. The crank motor senses the power input in the pedal using the torque sensor. But the hub motor doesn’t have such sensing ability.
The two common modes of the motor are- On and Off
Also, the motor is mounted at the rear wheel commonly. It makes any puncture repairing of the wheel harder and time-consuming. Since the motor sits either in the rear or front wheel, the weight distribution and overall balance of the e-bike are heavily disturbed.
Due to all these inconveniences, most manufacturers these days avoid using front or rear hub motor. However, these common type of motors are highly inexpensive and budget-friendly. So, you will see its uses in low-end electrical bikes.
2. The Battery:
The next main component of an electric bike is its battery. It could be permanently mounted on the bike frame or may be removable. Also, commonly these batteries use lithium-ion cells as the main material. The electric bike’s battery life is important since it generates the essential power to the motor even if you don’t pedal the bicycle.
The power generation of these batteries is around 350Watt hours to 500Watt hours. If you convert it to AMP hours, it would be roughly about 10Amp and 30-50 volts.
Theoretically, you can use any kind of battery on e-bikes. But this is not a practical idea. Most e-bikes have rechargeable lithium-ion batteries since it is easy to charge and is lightweight. It is necessary because a heavyweight battery will consume huge power, which you generate through paddling. So, it won’t be an efficient idea.
That’s why lead-acid batteries are ruled out from the equation due to their extra weight. However, some mountain e-bikes still prefer them for sheer power generation ability. Furthermore, single charge cycle of the battery usually provides 15 miles to 45 miles of average riding capacity. However, some high-end batteries these days may even go up to 50 miles per charge. But these batteries will increase the e-bike’s price quite significantly, so many manufacturers prefer keeping the battery range fairly moderate.
As a rider, you can increase the battery range in two ways. Firstly, free-wheeling allows the bicycle to move its wheel without the use of motor power. Secondly, pedal power will assist you in improving the battery range as it needs less power from the motor systems.
Also, the battery can be of two types-
- The removable battery allows you to charge it while the e-bike is in the garage or away from the charging port. You can easily detach the battery, charge, and connect it.
- Some bikes come with a non-removable battery. You have to put the bicycle close to the charging port to recharge these batteries. This is a precarious condition, and most e-bike manufacturers tend to avoid it for its difficulty level.
3. The controllers:
The most important fact about electric bike’s functioning is their controller or pedal-assist mode along with the display. The electric assistance segment comes with different speed settings. These settings include-
- Eco-mode: It is the lowest setting on motor power, and you will have to depend mostly on paddling power to move the cycle forward. The feel of riding the e-bike on eco-mode is much like riding a regular bicycle without electrical energy.
- Trail/Tour mode: The tour or trail mode is the middle power mode and is sometimes called the STD mode. It comes with 120% electric assistance which means you will actually get a 20% increase in its overall capacity.
- Boost Mode: In boost mode, you can expect 250% to 300% increased assistance from the electric bike. It is ideal for mountain and off-trail riding. However, you have to be on your toes to control the bike since boost mode provides it the highest speed. Hence, we recommend the boost mode only for expert cyclists.
Also, the model name can vary from one brand to another. Some high-end mountain e-bikes come with up to 5 assistance levels. You can expect better assistance and control from these bikes.
The next important segment of the electric bike is its display. It allows you to choose the assistance level using a display or button. Also, the display will showcase a few things-
- Selected assistance mode
- Battery capacity and remaining power
- Driving speed of the electric bike
- Advanced display with sensors also showcases fitness tracking along with GPS navigation.
Therefore, the display permits the E-bike riders to look at his riding speed, how much battery is left, his riding distance, and physical conditions. It is a great help for them, especially with the battery power since it is limited.
So, now come to the main answer of how do electric bicycle works in a nutshell-
As you turn on the motor, it generates power from the battery. Also, the paddling assists in improving the power. When you select the assistance mode, the electric bicycle gets a boost in its paddling and moves forward with each stroke. The assistance level will depend on the mode you have chosen for the bicycle. It also has a display where you can see all the activities from battery power to speed and the mode you have selected to drive the e-bike.
Types of E-bikes
Depending on the working process of the motor, electric bikes are classified into two different categories. The classification is done based on the power assistance of the bicycle.
1. Pedal-assist e-bike:
The pedal-assist e-bikes are also referred to as power-assist bikes. Cyclists often compare them with hybrid cars, thanks to equivalent functions. Likewise, the modern-day motorized vehicles, the pedal-assist electric bikes, run both in battery and muscle power. You can easily pedal it as long as you want. And when you feel tired or need assistance, you can turn on the electric bike motor and generate power from it.
It is particularly helpful for technical terrains such as going uphill or on off-trail roads. These bikes don’t come with a hub motor. You will find the motor mounted on its rear wheel. It drives through the gear socket, or it presses the rear tire to move forward. The manufacturers don’t use hub motors in pedal-assist bicycles since you can’t move them without any power. So, it is not ideal for riding without the motor and battery.
On the other hand, the power-assist motor has little or almost no resistance from the pedal while moving along with the wheel. Since you can effectively pedal the e-bikes and also may shift to the power assistance whenever necessary, it improves the bike’s actual range considerably.
You can expect pedal-assist bikes to cover 50-90 miles (75-140 kilometers) easily. Hence, it is an ideal option for weekend tours.
2. Full-power e-bike:
If you are looking for electric road bike to ride short distances and relatively less muscle exercise, full-power bikes are the right option. These e-bikes run fully on their motor power and so, you won’t have to depend on their pedaling capacity. Hence, many people choose it as a good option for offices since it doesn’t require any physical exercise.
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- The hub motor: Full power bikes come with a hub motor, unlike the pedal-assist ones.
- Larger battery: Since the bicycle runs solely on battery power, it has a larger battery.
Since it has a large battery and motor, these road riding e-bikes are also heavier and larger. The overall construction is sturdy, and the motor is housed safely for durable use. The bike is the right fit for those who hate pedaling but still want to enjoy cycling.
The range of this type of motorized vehicles is pretty limited, ranging from 10 miles to 20 miles per charge (16-30 kilometers). It happens because it isn’t assisted by the pedaling, and the battery is responsible for generating all the power for riding.
Benefits of riding e-bikes
By this time, you must have realized that electric bikes are the new revolution in the cycling industry, and they will stay. But what are the benefits that make these bikes so popular? We have tried to find the answer for you.
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1. Easy pedaling experience:
Electric bikes come with a battery and motor assistance to help riders out in the paddling. Sometimes it also uses a throttle to assist the pedaling. In a pedal-assist bicycle, the motor comes with a boost and makes pedaling the bicycle easy.
If you dislike pedaling, you can also opt for full-throttle bicycles. Although these bikes won’t offer an actual cycling experience, you can confidently ride through them for daily commutes.
2. Eco-friendly riding:
Just like a regular bike, electric bikes are meant to be eco-friendly. It runs on without any fossil fuel and has rechargeable batteries. Therefore the overall performance of the e-bikes is pretty eco-friendly. Also, it won’t release any harmful fumes or gases into the atmosphere, which is another positive advantage.
3. Ride fast and energy efficient
If you want fast riding without disturbing eco-friendliness, folding e-bikes can be seriously a good option. The e-bikes are fast enough to take you to offices or meetings timely. Also, you won’t have to spend much energy and muscle power on it. Therefore, you can ride faster with improved control and remain as fresh as a lemon.
4. Easy and effective usability
Anyone can master riding e-bikes quicker than a normal bike. Since most e-bikes come with thicker tires, controlling the bike gets easier even for beginners. Also, you can ride through difficult terrains with e-bikes easily.
Particularly, electric mountain bike is made for riding through off-trail and mountain roads. It could be a great fun ride for weekend activities.
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Frequently Asked Questions About E-Bikes
If you buy a pedal-assist electric bike, you may want to pedal it. However, the throttle e-bikes are known as mopeds and don’t need any pedaling at all. You can depend on its motor power for riding.
The charging ability of the electric bikes while pedaling depends on the model. Some models in the market offer the charging ability of the battery as you pedal the bike. But it is not essential since most batteries will recharge quickly with the electric connection.
Yes, electric bikes are worth buying. Although its initial cost may seem a bit higher, its maintenance cost is seriously lower than standard bikes. Also, the recharging cost of the battery is minimal.
If you consider physical effort, riding an electric bike is the easiest. It helps you with improved assistance level and less physical requirement. So, you will find riding e-bikes easier than regular bicycles.
Final Words On How Electric Bike Works
Electric bikes are the next game-changer in the cycling industry. These bikes are meant to make your life easy and fun. We have included a detailed discussion on how electric bike works along with what is an e-bike. As you turn on the motor, the battery produces the necessary power to it. Also, with different electric assist mode, you precisely know its speed and controls.
Also, you may pedal the bike to generate additional power and assist the motor better. It is important for boosting the battery range and for physical activities. And if you aren’t a fan of physical exercise, choosing a full-power or throttle e-bike will be handy.