What is an electric bike and how does it work?

An electric bicycle is a normal everyday bicycle that is equipped with an electric motor that helps to move. These motors are limited by federal law to 750 watts and a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.

Most e-bikes are built to meet these requirements, but some exceed them. An electric bike can be assembled from kits for about $500-$800 or purchased new for $400-$3,500. Electric bikes are powered by a battery(s) and have an average range of about 20 miles. The range can vary greatly depending on bike and rider weight, wheel size, riding style, and terrain.  E-bikes do not require licenses or insurance to operate, but many states have age restrictions.

The most common type of motor used in electric bike is the hub motor. They can be used on both front and rear wheels and do not require chains, belts, or gears. Essentially, the motor is a wheel hub and contains two concentric rings of opposing electromagnets. When battery power is applied to the motor, an opposing magnetic force causes the wheel to rotate. This type of engine is almost completely silent and requires no maintenance. The higher the engine power, the more power it provides. However, one caveat. There is no standard for measuring power. Many marketers of these products use their peak performance figures as opposed to working performance figures. A motor rated at 1000W peak power may be a 500W motor at standard operating power. Be sure to find out which one. Only standard operating output can really be compared.

Batteries are also very important for these products. The most common sealed lead-acid (SLA) battery is the least expensive and provides the most ampere-hours (ah).  The LiFePO4 lithium battery is the most expensive low ah battery but is by far the lightest and longest lasting. You would have to purchase, install, and dispose of 12 12-volt SLA batteries before you get anywhere near the life of a single 48-volt LiFePO4 battery. Nickel cadmium and other batteries are somewhere in between. The lightweight lithium battery usually slides out of the battery rack for easy indoor charging instead of searching for an outlet to plug the whole bike into. Lithium batteries are currently the most environmentally friendly of all available batteries.

Kit-built e-bikes are often the best choice in terms of price and performance. Most of the bikes that people already own are better machines than many that were designed as electric bikes. If you choose your kit carefully, you’ll get a more powerful motor, a better battery, and many other features you won’t find on a factory bike, and your converted bike will often weigh less. A good kit should have the motor pre-installed in the wheel (a front wheel kit is much easier to install), a dual motor brake cut-off, a rotary or large throttle, a motor controller, a wiring harness, and a battery mount with a locking mechanism.

A really good kit will also have wiring diagrams, mounting hardware, wire ties, and full instructions. Very expensive factory electric bikes tend to be more like motorcycles, they are very heavy and hard to turn, but they don’t go any faster or any farther than inexpensive bikes or kit bikes. They look cool though! Also, you’ll want to purchase your kit from someone who can help you with the installation process remotely if you have a question or problem. If you’re going to convert your existing bike, make sure it’s in good working order, and if you’re going to build a bike from a kit with 500W or more, go with a bike with a steel front fork. Very powerful front wheel motors can loosen or damage aluminum forks and suspension forks. You won’t need a lot of gears on an e-bike unless you’re going to use it as a mountain bike. For street bikes, six or seven gears are more than enough. If you decide to buy a factory bike, look for one that you can fully control, feel comfortable riding, and that has all the features you’re looking for.

With an electric bike, you can pedal independently of the motor, pedal with the motor for increased range and exercise, or use power alone. They are almost silent, require no fuel or tuning, emit no emissions, and can very often be used where other motorized vehicles are prohibited. You can take Hovsco anywhere a regular bike is allowed, including many subway and bus systems, bike lanes, and bike lanes. Electric bicycles can be stored indoors, which cannot be done with vehicles running on liquid fuel.

Anyone who knows how to ride a bike can ride an electric bike, and anyone with basic tool skills can install an electric bike conversion kit. For those who struggle with two-wheeled bikes, there are adult electric tricycles and adult tricycle conversion kits. They work the same way and can help provide great transportation options for seniors and people with disabilities.

Electric bicycles are real ecological transport. They can be very real alternatives to cars for short distances and help reduce congestion, air pollution, dependence on imported fossil fuels and give you a bit of exercise in your daily life. It won’t solve all our problems, but it’s a good start.

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