With more and more cars crowding our streets, traffic jams have become worse. And with increased traffic, our cars are also burning more fuel without getting you anywhere. The more fuel burned, the more harmful greenhouse gases emitted, the poorer the air quality we breathe in. What used to be a simple traffic problem escalated to become a health and environmental issue.
Luckily, there are electric bikes to solve these problems. Electric bikes, or e-bikes, have been the latest trend nowadays. So, you may feel pressured to buy one for yourself. But before committing to its hefty price, you should at least have some idea of the product.
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about e-bikes. First, let’s talk about what an electric bike is.
What is an Electric Bike?
An electric bike looks just like an ordinary bike. It has two wheels, pedals, gears, a seat, and a handlebar connected by a mainframe.
However, unlike other bikes, e-bikes can run on both mechanical and electrical power. Mechanical power comes from your pedaling, while electrical power comes from the battery attached to the bike.
So, an electric bike has extra components, namely the battery, console, throttle, controller, and motor.
The battery is usually the most expensive addition to e-bikes. Electric bikes now use lithium-ion batteries, which are lighter yet more reliable and more powerful than older battery types. The batteries usually come in 300–800 watt-hour capacities.
Your e-bike battery can get you as far as 20–80 miles when fully charged, depending on the battery’s capacity and your reliance on it.
Your e-bike uses an electric motor to turn the battery’s stored electrical power into mechanical power.
There are two types of electric motor, namely, hub and mid-drive. Most manufacturers place the motor at the bottom crank of the e-bike for efficiency and stability(mid-drive motors). Some manufacturers also place the motor at the hub for its cost-effectiveness (hub motors). In general, electric bikes equipped with mid-drive motors offer higher power output than hub motors.
Aside from its type, it would help to consider the motor’s winding constant or the rotational speed per voltage (RPM/V). The higher the winding constant is, the more power you can from your motor, the faster you can go.
You also need to control the amount of power you can get. That’s why electric bikes have controllers and throttles. The throttle allows the rider to set how much more or less power they need from the motor. The controller then converts this input into a signal that the motor and battery can understand.
You also have the display, which shows the battery level, speed, and level of assistance.
Some electric bikes also feature pedal sensors. Some sensors allow an increase in deployed power as you also increase your pedaling. Others simply work by providing power once you start pedaling.
Like traditional bikes, e-bikes also come in three different classes. Here’s everything you need to know about these classes:
- Class 1 e-bikes provide power only when the rider is pedaling. Class 1 e-bikes only reach up to 20 mph.
- Class 2 e-bikes have throttles, so riders can get additional power even when they’re no longer pedaling. It also has a maximum speed of 20 mph.
- Class 3 bikes may or may not have throttles, but should have speedometers. Their speeds can go as fast as 28 mph.
There are different e-bike regulations for different states so make sure to check in your area what current laws you have for electric bikes. To know more about the legality of electric bikes in the United States, check out What States Are Electric Bikes Legal?
As electric bikes become more and more popular, many types of them also emerge. For different trails, environments, and purposes we can guarantee there’s an e-bike for every specific need. So if you are looking for a particular feature in an electric bike, here’s a guide for you on what each type is all about:
This electric bike’s main feature is its long-range battery with an average capacity of traveling 40 to 80 miles on a single charge. Electric road bikes have a sleek and sturdy frame with conventional road tires that make rides smoother and faster. Just like a typical road bike, these electric road bikes are ideal for paved roads.
Perhaps the most common type of electric bike, eMTBs, are made with high-strength materials inside and out. Typically seen with fat and grippy tires, electric mountain bikes feature a robust motor and high-capacity batteries. Electric mountain bikes are perfect when you are up for a thrill since they are specially made for outdoor adventures and challenging trails.
Folding Electric Bikes
Have a problem with parking or storage space? Worry no more! Folding electric bikes feature cutting-edge technology with their convenient folding mechanism that saves you so much space! Folding e-bikes have a lightweight frame that makes them handy and easy to transport. So if you’re living in a city with limited apartment space, here’s the type of e-bike you might want to get.
If you are the type of person who likes to travel naturally here and there, here’s an ideal e-bike for you. Step-thru or sometimes spelled as step-through electric bikes, feature the classic step-through frame that makes it easy for you to get on and off the bike. This type of electric bike is mostly used for casual city rides and short-distance trips.
Need extra power and space for carrying loads? Cargo electric bikes have much more power in-store than regular e-bikes. They are designed with an extended rear rack or spacious front storage. Electric Cargo Bikes have higher carrying capacity than other e-bikes, making them ideal for loading boxes and even an extra passenger.
Probably one of the most powerful types of electric bikes, electric hunting bikes have unmatched strength and style. They are designed to triumph over harsh environments and the wilderness. These electric bikes feature a whisper-quiet electric motor, impressive top speed, a durable frame, and a pair of premium quality tires.
Benefits of Getting an E-Bike
Now that you know what makes up an e-bike, you may be wondering why invest in it when there are alternatives like traditional bikes and electric vehicles (EVs). So, in this section, you’ll learn about the benefits of an electric bike.
First, let’s discuss the health benefits. Cycling is a well-known form of aerobic exercise that can strengthen your cardiac muscles while also burning some calories. Studies also suggest that riding bikes can improve the circulation of blood and oxygen.
Since electric bikes also come with throttles and pedal-assist features, you can also set the level of help you need. If you feel like you need a breather from your workout, you can ask for more power from your battery.
For example, you overexerted yourself while climbing a steep slope. You’re already out of breath, but you can’t stop and get down because your legs may cramp. The battery power can then come in handy.
And because of this added power, you can also avoid giving your joints unnecessary stress.
Overall, riding e-bikes can have long-lasting benefits for your respiratory, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal systems.
The best selling point of e-bikes is their eco-friendly nature. Your e-bike battery can carry you for over 80 miles without releasing any greenhouse gas emissions. And compared to electric vehicles, e-bikes need less energy for complete charging.
Aside from being clean and green, e-bikes also give you the luxury to avoid traffic. Many cities nowadays have dedicated bike lanes. So, all you need to do is speed down this lane, and you can avoid traffic. If your city doesn’t have these lanes, you can still cruise between cars or ride near the sidewalks.
One last thing—e-bikes don’t need large parking spaces. So, you can’t save up your money and your mental energy since you won’t be stressing over parking spaces, fees, and tickets. As long as you bring your locks with you, you can bring and park your bike anywhere! Just make sure you park them somewhere with high traffic to avoid theft.
To summarize, e-bikes have complex components working together to solve traffic, health, and environmental issues. They also come in different classes and types to give riders the best and most convenient experience. Lastly, e-bikes offer better health and transportation benefits against their old and traditional counterparts and other transportation means like EVs.
Buying e-bikes can be tricky. Once you get yourself one, it can be too heavy on the pocket but trust us. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Since e-bikes run on clean energy, not only are you helping yourself get fit and healthy, you also contribute to a greener environment.
And now that you know everything there is to know about electric bikes, it’s time you decide whether or not it can be a new adventure worth choosing.
By Trevor Fenner
About the author:
Trevor Fenner is the founder and owner of Electric Bike Paradise, a one-stop-shop for all your electric bicycle needs. He has been selling bicycles, electric bikes, and electric scooters online since 2010 and eventually established Electric Bike Paradise in late 2013 when he happened to meet a seller from Craiglist that introduced him to electric bikes. Ever since Trevor spent time searching for electric bikes online but couldn’t find a single website that offers a wide selection of bikes and informational articles. That is why he decided to start a website where everyone can shop conveniently, browse buying guides, and read educational posts. The website is called Electric Bike Paradise.