What Is An E-Bike? Here’s Everything You Need To Know About Buying Electric Bikes

Looking to enter the world of e-biking, are you looking to get your first e-bike and not sure where to start?

Well, good news, my friend, this is e-bike 101, and I’m here to answer all your questions.

You’ve probably noticed that electric bikes have massively grown in popularity, especially in the past 3 years. But get this, e-bike sales have jumped 145% between 2019 and 2020 alone and continue to grow increasingly.

Still, lots of people see the rise of e-bikes as a threat to the regular bike industry, but this is definitely not the case, they make riding much easier, and popularity has gone crazy for commuting and cities provide electric bikes to hire to offer an environmentally friendly way to get around.

But what should you look for in an e-bike?

To make things easier for you, I have gone through everything you need to know about e-bikes, as well as some tips for your buying journey. The extra boost electric bikes will change your riding game.

Here’s a tip before we get started: when looking for an electric bike, it is important to not only find one that is right for you, but you should also consider the laws and regulations in your state.

Electric bikes will change your life.

So First Things First, What Is An Electric Bike?

Before we jump into anything you may be asking yourself what even is an e-bike? They are conventional bikes with a rechargeable battery and motor. They provide you with power and take most of the energy out of pedaling.

The motor is designed to help you pedal rather than just provide power on its own, you need to pedal in order to engage the motor and get the assistance. The amount of power you get is based on how hard you are pedaling and the type of electric bike.

Electric bikes come with a number of modes to choose from so you can balance the amount of power you need for that given time, also lower modes extend the range and battery life of the electric bike.

Electric bikes were designed to replace fossil-fuel mo-peds and offer an environmentally friendly way to get around, e-bikes are battery-powered through either being recharged or replacing the battery.

Some e-bikes even come with a throttle that engages the motor with the press of a button, these are pretty fun to ride but they tend to be illegal in some states. So if you’re looking for an electric bike I would recommend checking your state regulations before you buy.

If you pedal a little bit, the motor will engage and give you a boost; they take the hassle out of climbing up hills; you also control your speed with your feet, just like with a regular bike. There are many laws and regulations around e-bikes, but as they become more common, the laws have changed and adapted, making them easier to use than ever.

You may be asking do you need to pedal with an electric bike?

Yes, you do; even for e-bikes that have a throttle, you will still need to pedal when going up long, steep hills; you won’t need to pedal as hard as you would on a regular pedal bike but to extend your battery range and extend the life of your motor.

How Does An Electric Bike Work?

So now we’ve established what an e-bike even is, you may be wondering how an electric bike even works? Well, let me tell you.

An electric bike will have a motor housed typically in the center of the bike (also known as the mid-drive motor), powered through the cranks or on the front of the rear hub.

You can also find hub-based motors which push the wheel directly, and the axle-mounted motor will work through the chain and gears.

When you pedal, a torque sensor will measure how much effort you’re putting in and match that to the motor’s power output. This allows the bike to have a more natural feel and have consistent power delivery without sending the lurching forwards.

The power comes from the battery, which in some designs is mounted on the outside of the frame but most commonly hidden inside to protect the battery.

The best kind of battery is removable, making charging easier instead of having to haul a bike to the nearest charging port. However, this is not the same for all e-bikes.

There is also usually a controller for the motor, which is usually mounted on the handlebar or integrated within the bike frame; this helps you decide how much assistance you need. It is also helpful for keeping an eye on the battery level.

You will most commonly find Bosch or Shimano motors on electric bikes, and they differ in the specifications, but they’re renowned brands and reliable ones. Some components are better than others, so you should look for the features you’d like to have before diving in.

How Do You Regulate The Electric Motor?

The majority of electric bikes come with between 3 and 5 levels of assistance; this is controlled with the controller. Some settings can give you a gentle push, while others can offer you enough power to get up a steep hill or cruise across trails.

Some even come with a ‘boost’ button, allowing you to increase the power output for short bursts of additional power. Some electric bikes even come with a walk assist mode, making pushing your bike with heavy loads much easier.

The controller is often found on the handlebars and helps you switch between assistance levels as you ride and give the option off completely and ride the bike like a regular bike.

electric bike

Three Classes Of Electric Bikes:

In the States, there are 3 classes of electric bikes you can use legally. E-bikes have been divided into classes to distinguish the level of motor assistance offered.

You should first work out what class of electric bicycles you’d like to go for before looking for certain types.

Class 1 electric bike: 

This is an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that assists only while the rider is pedaling. It can reach maximum speed limits of 20mph and has a power output of 750W.

Most new riders start with a class 1 electric bike as they are the most affordable; they’re also universally accepted by law. You’re legally allowed to ride on city streets and many bike paths.

As electric bikes are becoming more and more popular, it is becoming more common that you’re allowed to ride on traditional mountain bike trails. While this may not be all it is a start, be sure to check before you go.

Class 2 electric bicycle: 

This is an e-bike equipped with a motor that can be used exclusively to propel the bicycle; it doesn’t assist when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20mph.

Class 2 e-bikes are typically allowed in the same places as class 1 as they cannot really exceed 20mph of motor assistance. They’re not as commonly made by manufacturers like REI and TREK, so I recommend getting either class 1 or 3.

Class 3 electric bike: 

This e-bike is equipped with a motor that assists only while the rider is pedaling. It stops assisting when the bicycle reaches 28mph, and it is equipped with a speedometer.

Class 3 e-bikes are more commonly found in commuter e-bikes as they’re much more powerful and faster than the other two classes. These are popular for commuters as you can keep up with traffic easier.

Class 3 electric bikes can also climb hills better and make it much easier to carry heavier loads; the only downside is that you can’t ride on most bike paths or mountain bike trails.

If you’re a commuter looking to make your daily commutes much more of a breeze, then class 3 electric bikes will be the ideal one for you, but class 1 or 2 is your best bet for recreational riders.

If you are worried about the regulations or laws for your state, you can check out the People for Bikes page as they go through all the bike regulations around the country.

Benefits Of Using E-Bikes:

So now you know what an e-bike is and how it is used, you may be wondering to yourself, what are the benefits of using an e-bike, or is an e-bike worth it?

And to answer your question absolutely and here’s why:

They make pedaling easier:

One of the major benefits of e-bikes is that they make pedaling much easier on your legs. Since electric bikes come with a battery-powered ‘assist’ electric power motor that engages when you pedal, it makes pedaling easier.

It gives you a little boost when you’re going up a steep hill or just when you’re traveling long distances, such as commuting to work and back; the electric assist mode helps make these rides a breeze.

Some electric mountain bikes can even be used to cruise across tough terrain without losing energy, no more huffing and puffing trying to make it up the steep climb.

Even though you’re going much faster, you’re less likely to break a sweat making pedal-assist electric bikes a dream for commuters; they don’t need to worry about getting to work early to shower or clean themselves up from the commute.

This definitely beats regular bikes.

They’re pretty speedy:

The more pedal power, the bigger the boost you get from the bike motor to a point (legally). Electric bikes can allow you to go faster, but they’re not like motorcycles or mopeds; the motor and battery are designed to stop propelling when you hit a certain speed.

Legally in the US, the electric motor will stop propelling when you hit between 20 and 28 mph, depending on the bike. You’ll definitely still shave time off your commutes as well as having time to enjoy the scenery without getting sweaty and flustered when you get to work.

There is an e-bike for everything:

Just like with a regular bike, there’s now an e-bike for everything, they were first created as road or commuting bikes to replace fossil fuel mo-peds, but they’ve taken the world by storm that you can find them anywhere.

As the rules are changing, there are more and more electric bikes in the cycling world, even electric mountain bikes and trail bikes, although you will need to check if your local trail allows them.

E-bikes are now available in fat, cargo, commuter, recreational, hardtail, full-suspension mountain, and even performance bikes. If you’re a commuter that hauls heavy loads, you’ll love cargo electric bikes.

Electric bikes can even replace driving as some Class 3 commuters can get up to 28 mph which is fast enough to keep up with traffic; it is an environmentally friendly way to get around and reduce pollution.

Still a good form of exercise:

Some people seem to think that since the bike is electric, you’re not exercising as you would with regular bikes, but this is completely not the case. They still count as exercise, don’t you worry.

Some researchers found that e-biking can massively improve cardiovascular fitness and blog sugar levels even after just one month. You’re still getting a significant amount of exercise, but it’s much easier as it’s less intense than riding regular bikes.

After all, you’re still pedaling, but you don’t feel the strain as much as you’re getting that little boost from the motor to help keep you going for longer.

The battery capacity is good:

Since there is a higher demand for e-bikes, the battery capacity is getting better and better; you have more battery range on an e-bike than ever before.

Now I know it can be a pain to try and remember to charge your battery constantly, but it’s better than forgetting to fill your tank up on fuel and having to rush to the nearest gas station; some batteries are even recharged in 3 hours, it’s super easy, plug in and forget.

They don’t cost too much either; it up to 10 cents for a whole charge; it definitely beats $60 on gas, am I right? Batteries can also take from 3-6 hours to charge, which is pretty impressive considering the number of miles it offers.

Most batteries will do between 35-100 miles before they need recharging, but it also depends on how much power you’re using; if you’re using it full-blown, it may not last as long.

Some long-range bikes are more near the 100-mile mark, but if you’re looking for a higher quality battery, then you have to expect to spend more; the more you play, the better the battery you get.

But don’t let that put you off. I’ve found some pretty amazing budget-friendly options that will still kick out a fair few miles before needing to recharge.

electric bikes

Different Types Of Electric Bikes:

As e-bikes or pedal-assist bikes are becoming more and more common, there are many different types of e-bikes n the market to choose from, and just like regular bikes, they have different purposes.

Road E-Bike:

If you enjoy riding on roads and want that little bit of help keep you up to speed for the short sprint rides, going up hills, and maintaining overall performance for long periods, then e-bikes are brilliant.

They have drop-bars, and many of the batteries are subtle, too; one thing I love about electric road bikes is that they’re almost silent, so you don’t feel embarrassed that you’re using an e-bike; most people won’t be able to tell.

You should go for a Fazua or a Bosch motor system; these are best for road e-bikes. You may be adding more extra weight, but there are some pretty incredible lightweight options.

Electric Mountain Bike:

Some mountain bike options are available on the market nowadays; these are designed for rugged conditions and make riding up rough hills to get to the thrilling descents that much more fun and easier.

It also gives you that little extra range to explore new terrain and push further than you ever would on your regular bike. Plus, some mountain bikes offer easier handling and flat-out fun on the trail.

But again, adding an electric motor and battery system means that there’s extra added weight while riding, which isn’t always ideal.

Electric Hybrid Bike:

Hybrid bikes are often much heavier out of the lot because motors are less complex as they’re more designed for robustness than lighter weight.

Hauling them upstairs can be quite a challenge and can be quite awkward, so if you live in an apartment where the elevator is constantly broken, I wouldn’t recommend getting a hybrid e-bike.

However, most hybrid ebikes are designed for commuters. They even come in cargo options, which I thought was pretty cool; you can haul around heavyweight without feeling the toll on your body.

Summary:

All in all, if you’re looking for an electric bike that will allow you to go faster, explore a wide range of terrain, or just a human looking to replace their car with a more sustainable option, then electric bicycles are brilliant.

There are so many benefits and many options for you to check out—happy e-biking, my friends.

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