How Does An Electric Bicycle Work?

How Does An Electric Bicycle Work?

Electric bicycles have become increasingly popular for those that want to get around town with minima effort. The idea of commuting on a regular road bike can seem like hard work, especially if you are not that physically fit, to begin with. An electric bike, on the other hand, sounds like the perfect way to cruise around. However, there are some misconceptions about the purpose and function of e-bikes.

So, how do e-bikes work and what impact does that electronic system have on the ride? Is it is a case of just turning the bike on and letting it do all the hard work, or is that too simplistic? Below, you will learn more about the different components that go into these bikes and how they help riders.


How do electric bicycles work?

The simple answer here is is that these electric bikes offer a little helping hand to riders via three key features: the motor, the battery, and the sensor. These sit on the frame of a pretty traditional bike and are there to take over when they need too. You can ride the bike normally as you would any road bike as you travel around town. But, you also have the safety net of this power-assist if you get tired before the end of your journey.


Ebikes are better named as electronic-assist bikes.

You can sit there and do nothing and expect the bike to carry you around. There has to be some forward momentum from the pedals to engage the wheels and keep moving. The difference with these bikes is that you can turn on the power-assist function to get the motor running. This means that you have this reliable component giving you that extra push. This can increase the output while pedaling for a stronger, faster ride with less of the effort.

This system is ideal for difficult parts of the ride, like that steep hill close to home that you don’t fancy tackling alone. You can turn it on and off as you choose so you don’t become too reliant on the motor or use up too much battery life.


It all comes down to three key components.

An e-bike wouldn’t work at all without the battery and motor to keep it running. A sensor can also help high-end bikes react better to the movements of the pedals. This is how these components work.


The battery:

You can’t expect anything on the electric side of this e-bike to work without a reliable battery keeping it all running. The battery provides power to the motor, sensor, and any display that the bike may have. The better the bike, the longer this battery will last and the more reliable it will be. The best bikes also place the battery pack in a location that won’t affect the balance of the bike too much. Charging the battery shouldn’t be too difficult as most plug into the wall and are back to full power in about six hours.

Be aware that battery life does vary and will depend on how often you turn the power assist on, as well as the settings used. Therefore, you could go out one day on easy, flat terrain for hours on end and then find the battery dies much faster on tougher rides. That is why it is important to plan your route. If you know you probably have 5 hours of battery life, don’t use it all up heading away from home. You still need something in the tank for the journey back.


The motor:

Then you have the motor. This is the crucial feature that helps to drive the bike when you struggle to put in enough physical people yourself. The motor controls the torque for the right amount of assistance on your ride. Some motors are better than others and can provide greater torque and assistance. Make sure to check the specifications of any e-bike you are interested in to get a better idea of the capabilities of the motor. The last thing you want is to climb a steep hill and find the motor is too weak to help you. 

There are two types of motor: the crank motor and the hub motor. The hub motor typically sits on either the front or rear hub to drive the wheels. This is a direct way to help get a little more power and speed into a ride and they are more common on lower-end budget bikes. Then there are the crank motors on the pedals. Some riders prefer this because it is more responsive and in-tune to your own actions on the pedals. This improved power transfer is why you tend to see these motor on more high-end bikes.


The sensor:

Then there is the sensor. This feature is important for controlling the output of the motor and getting a more efficient ride. The more efficient the bike, the less likely it is to run out of battery or try and put too much power behind your pedaling. 

There are two types of sensors to look out for. The first is the speed sensor. This is the most basic of the two as it simply tells the motor when you are pedaling and when you are not. This means that it can bring in the motor assistance without you having to worry about it. It then shuts it off when you stop pedaling. This is helpful, but not as effective as the torque sensor. This one works by controlling the amount of assistance from the motor to match your speed. So, if you start pedaling hard to try and increase your speed or get up a tough hill, the motor will respond in kind. You will get the right amount of help for a better experience.


Options and designs vary across different bikes and brands.

In addition to all this, you should have a little display on the bike that shows you your status and lets you turn on the power-assist features. This should be user-friendly and easy to read as you ride. Remember that any extra component, either the display, battery, or motor, adds to the weight and handling of the bike. They should be in just the right place not to be too detrimental.

You may also find that there is a choice of assistance modes for the bike. Some will have a normal mode and then an Eco mode that helps you save a bit of battery life. Others will go with the normal mode and then a Turbo mode for a boost in difficult places. You may even find a bike with a combination of the three or perhaps some extras.

There are also advanced electric bicycles that make even better use of this electric power with more complex consoles and features. Some consoles on the front of these bikes allow for apps, fitness tracking, and GPS. This could be ideal for competitive road riders looking to improve on their performance. But, these features won’t be cheap.


In all other ways, your ebike is a lot like a regular bike.

When you take away the battery, motor, sensor, and display, you end up with a normal bike. Everything else about the way that e-bikes work is as standard. You still need a good set of pedals for that reliable motion and forward momentum. There are still the same tires and wheels because you need that responsiveness and grip regardless of any power-assist features. You should also find the same gears and quality brake system as you would with a normal bike from the brand. 

Therefore, if you wanted to go out riding while your battery charges up, or you simply found that you forgot to charge it, that’s no problem. You will still be able to enjoy the same great benefits as other road bikes and get to your destination. You just might have to put in more effort than you are used to.


You can even get electric bicycles in different styles. 

The other great thing about the way that electric bikes work is that manufacturers can add this technology to a range of different bikes. So, it isn’t just your commuter bike that could get a boost. There are also electric-assist mountain bikes. These are great for those that want to go exploring over longer distances but doubt their stamina, or those that want to tackle bigger climbs.


Knowing how do electric bicycles work let’s us use them to our advantage.

In short, while you still have to put in a lot of work to ride an e-bike, these models do offer a lot of assistance to make things easier for riders. The right crank motor, torque sensor, and long-lasting battery can turn a road bike into something a lot more helpful for longer rides or training sessions. With the right bike, we can get out on the road or into the countryside with a little more confidence to travel further and get fitter. E-bikes do work to make things easier, just not in the way you make have suspected.

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