How do Electric Bikes Work?

Let’s face some realities – traffic is getting worse, gas is getting more expensive, and you could use some exercise. How can you take care of all these issues at once? With an electric bike (eBike.) eBikes offer a great way to cut down your commute, make quick local trips, see more sights at your vacation destination, and get off your butt.

If you’ve been interested in an eBike you might have a reasonable question – how do electric bikes work? Let’s learn the ins and outs of eBikes including what separates them from traditional bikes, what type of components are used, and the range of eBike features and options.

How do Electric Bikes Work?

How Electric Bikes Work: The Basics

eBikes work in the same general way as conventional bikes – pedals are turned, which drives a chain and gear system, which turns your wheels. The primary difference in eBikes is the bike’s motor can do some of that pedal turning work instead of the rider.

An eBike motor can be integrated directly into the crank and gears or ‘hubbed’ into the bike’s back wheel. During pedal-assist modes the cyclist works together with the motor to push the rider forward, making for an easier ride. The same way a motor can turn a cart into a Go-kart, a motor can turn a bike into an eBike.

The Modern eBike Motor and Battery

Take a normal bike, toss on a motor and battery, and you now have an eBike. The motor and the battery are the major dividers between conventional; and electric bikes, so let’s learn more about how they work.

  • The Motor

    Yesterday’s eBikes were gigantic. They had to be to house the big honking motors necessary to make an eBike practical. Thankfully, the last couple decades have seen bulky eBike motors shrink to more manageable packages. Today’s eBikes house compact motors that are still capable of throwing some serious power with up to 1,500W of power in some models. You can get much more power into a lighter and more compact package in large thanks to lithium-ion batteries.

  • The Battery

    The motor would never do anything without a great battery. Though eBikes have been around for more than one hundred years, the bulk, expense, and poor performance of traditional batteries made them impractical for most riders. That all changed with the introduction of the lightweight, affordable, and power packing lithium-ion battery.

    Lithium-ion batteries are rechargeable, last much longer than traditional lead acid batteries, and provide a serious power punch. They do wear out eventually but last much longer than any lead acid or other traditional battery. The motor gets all the love in eBikes, but the real hero is the battery.

  • The Controller

    Most eBikes come with controllers to help slow down, speed up, and customize your riding experience. eBike controllers are in charge of power mode, acceleration, governing speed, and help keep you safe by keeping you in control. You can use the controller to turn the eBike into manual mode or full throttle to truly enjoy your ride.

    Self-driving and pedal-assist with a motor is an obvious difference, but there’s more on the modern eBike that make it capable of taking you further than a traditional bike.

Other eBike Features

  • Suspension – Unless they’re high-end mountain bikes most traditional bikes provide little to no means of suspension. This is fine for most roads and paved surfaces but can be annoying if you’re riding on trails or unpaved paths. Because eBikes are designed for off road and trail use, they have much more capable suspension packages to keep you comfortable no matter where you go.

  • Tires – Let’s not mince words, eBike tires are fat – and that’s a good thing. While conventional bike tires measure anywhere from a half inch to two inches around, eBike fat tires measure up to five inches. Unlike most bike tires, eBike tires are only inflated to around 10-20 PSI. The fat, slightly underinflated tires give eBikes superior traction on a variety of trails in a variety of conditions.

  • Safety Features – eBikes go further and faster than traditional bikes but do come with unique safety features to adjust for the risk. eBikes are built with stronger brakes than traditional bikes and come with a kill feature to stop uncontrolled acceleration.

Get Going on a New eBike

The modern eBike uses a lightweight, compact, but powerful motor and battery to assist cyclists in a variety of different environments and for much longer than a conventional bike. eBikes have added features like better suspension and superior braking so you can control the horsepower. If today’s eBike sounds right for you contact or stop by Volta Cycles and start shopping for your eBike today.