What is an e-bike and should I buy one?
Announcement posted by Crooze 19 Aug 2021
All you need to know about e-bikes
Electric bikes are a great investment because they are not only easy to ride and maintain but they are versatile in terms of different terrains and purposes. The best e-bike for you will come down to what you’re using the e-bike for and there are a range of brands out there that offer high-quality electric bicycles!
What is an E-bike?
An e-bike is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor offering some form of assistance to a rider in propelling the bike forwards. Depending on the type of model the e-bike can reach a range distance up to 60-70km before needing to charge again, and a speed of up to 25-45km/h. However, most countries have a speed cap of 25km/h -- meaning it has a maximum power output not exceeding 250 watts without consideration for speed limits or pedal sensors.
There are different types of e-bikes depending on your riding style. The most popular types of electric bicycles include urban bikes, mountain bikes, road bikes, and city/folding bikes.
Electric Bike Motors
Electric bikes come mostly with hub or mid-drive motors. In a rear hub motor, the motor is located in the hub of the bike wheel. While mid-drive motors house the motor closer to the centre of the bicycle and transfer power to the chain which in turn drives power to the wheel.
Hub motors have the advantage of requiring little or no maintenance, as all of their components are inside the motor casing. The hub motor and the pedal drive system are completely independent, meaning you can lose the chain and still be able to ride home on just the electric power. Disadvantage of the motor is that it only allow a single gear ratio. While this is normally not a problem for flat road riding and a lower speed but higher torque gear would be preferable for hill climbing.
In general, mid-drive motors offer a more comfortable, balanced ride that can feel more natural as you pedal. The biggest advantage with mid-motors over hub motors is their gear ratio. It enables the rider to power the back wheel via the same chain and gear set as the pedals, which means that a low gear is available for steep up-hills or accelerating from stand-still with massive torque. This means the mid-drive can climb steeper hills in low gear than a hub motor of similar power. Additionally, mid-drive motors are known to be lighter and smaller than a hub motor of similar capabilities.
The disadvantage is that mid-drive motors can be harsh on your drive system, and snapped chains is probably the most frequent maintenance issue on mid-drive e-bikes.
The different Assistance Modes available
Most e-bike models are programmed with various levels of assistance, from standby levels where the bike will operate naturally like a traditional bike, to high assistance levels that make fast work of steep gradients. Generally, assistance levels will include the following settings, and sometimes more.
No Assist: The bike will operate normally with no assist.
Economy Mode: This mode offers assistance from 25-80% of maximum, and is ideal for long range rides.
Normal Mode: This mode offers standard assistant levels and can match 100-150% of pedalling output. Noticeably increased torque.
High Mode: High mode will provide assistance up to and in excess of 200% of pedalling output. This mode is ideal for making steep hill climbs a breeze, however the increased power output may reduce range in some cases.
Battery Range and Charging
Battery range is key for going the distance without losing power. Long distance rides on high assist will require more battery power (although note that power is capped at 250 watts unless on private property). Like other engines, more torque means more power and a higher boost to pedalling. Many e-bikes offer a range extender or piggyback battery to keep your e-bike moving for longer. Some premium models also provide mission control software that handles battery management to ensure batteries last as long as they need to. An e-bike battery will generally last up to and in excess of one thousand discharges before it requires replacement.
90% of electric bikes in the market use lithium-ion batteries to power their bikes. The batteries produce more power output for their weight than other alternative batteries.
How does a person choose the right type of e-bike for them?
When it comes to choosing the right bike for you, it all depends on what you want to use your bike for. If you want to go long distance road biking, you are looking for a bike with a long battery capacity, swift, aerodynamic design with enhanced pedelec power.
While if you are looking for a -mountain bike, it needs to be equipped with sensitive handling, strong suspension, excellent tyre grip and a motor that has powerful torque.
Or, if commuting to and from work is your ideal use, you need a bike with features such as lightweight frames, entry to mid level group-sets, wider tyres to avoid punctures and disc brakes, along with the usual bicycle features like kickstands, racks and chain guards.
Ebike Rules and Regulations
Whether you need a license to ride an e-bike depends on the laws and regulations of your country. In Australia, an e-bike is considered a bicycle because it has a speed cap of up to 25km/h.
Once the speed of your e-bike exceeds the legal limit of 25km/h, you’re no longer riding an electric bicycle in the eyes of Australian law. You’re operating a road vehicle which is considered the equivalent to riding a moped or motorcycle, and means you must comply with different legal requirements for various states and territories when travelling on public roads (meaning you need a license to ride).
Why invest in an electric bike?
You want to save money on petrol
Getting around on an electric bike is a great way to save money on petrol costs. Most car owners spend an average of $71.50 a week but you won’t spend a cent on petrol with an electric scooter.
You want a more eco-friendly way to get around
With zero tailpipe emissions, eBikes offer a far more eco-friendly ride than cars and other road vehicles and don’t add to traffic congestion.
Motorcycles, cars, trucks and buses make up about three quarters of global transport greenhouse gas pollution levels so you’re doing a good thing for the planet by jumping on an electric scooter instead.
You want your own mode of transport - but not a car
An eBike is a great compromise for personal transport (no more waiting for the bus) without the commitment of a car. You’ll have the freedom of personal transport minus the expense and maintenance of a car.
Do you want to boost your fitness?
If you’re swapping the car for an electric ride to work on your fitness levels, the eBike wins.
You need to physically pump the pedals on a pedal-assisted eBike to engage the motor which gives a boost to your pace as you pedal along. The pedalling motion can get your heart rate up and help burn calories! Studies have likened the difference in energy exertion of a regular bike vs an eBike to running vs brisk walking.