Electric bikes are one of the most popular forms of transportation these days. They're trendy and revolutionizing the way people get around. They make riding a bicycle up hills as easy as riding them on flat. They can help you ride farther and faster with more ease than ever before. For some cyclists, the idea of an electric bike will always be considered cheating, but what if having a little help opened up a whole new world of cycling possibilities? In this guide, we explain the different types of electric bikes and help you make an informed decision on which bike suits you best!
How Does an Electric Bike Work?
An electric bike is simply a regular bicycle with a battery, motor, controller, computer, and switch integrated into the mechanics of the bike to offer an electrical assist and track performance.
Pedal Assisted Power
This option is included in almost every e-bike now as a standard mode of operation. There is a magnet sensor installed on the downtube and the crankset so that the bicycle controller will know when you start pedaling. After one or two rotations within a short period of time, the controller will tell the battery to send electricity to the motor and the motor will kick in. Some e-bikes have different levels of assist and some have just an on-or-off assist mode. This mode saves battery life and helps you ride further, but also lets you get exercise as your ride.
A bike with on-demand throttle-powered “twist-and-go” acceleration rides more like a motorcycle. Regardless of whether you pedal or not, the throttle triggers the motor and provides continuous power to move the bike forward.
Most electric bicycles allow you to turn off the electric motor and ride like you would a traditional bike. People use this feature to get the exercise of riding a bike but have the option to switch on the motor when they encounter a hill difficult terrain. Electric bikes tend to be a bit heavier than a normal bicycle.
Electric Bike Batteries
When considering electric bikes, there are two main types of batteries. There's lithium-ion batteries, which gets used in cell phones and laptop computers, and sealed lead acid batteries which are similar to the batteries under the hood of your car.
Some high-quality electric bikes like the Surface 604 Boar place the battery discreetly in the down tube, keeping the center of gravity low, improving balance, and all around aesthetics.
Lithium-ion batteries have many benefits including lighter weight, longer lifespan, safer to use, and the capability to charge faster. The only downside to this type of battery is the higher price tag. You'll find lithium-ion batteries in most high-quality electric bikes because of all their benefits. The price of manufacturing them has decreased significantly over the last few years.
Sealed Lead Acid
Sealed Lead Acid batteries are less expensive to manufacture and found in electric bikes under $800. They're much heavier and more dangerous due to the poisonous lead contained within the sealed cells. They're the same type that is under the hood of your car and requires the same safety precautions while handling. These batteries are less environmentally friendly and produce more waste after the batteries lifespan. The main benefit is affordability.
The battery voltage rating reflects how powerful the rush of electricity is sent to the motor. Entry level electric bikes typically come with a 24V battery, some people find this isn't enough to feel the "rush" of acceleration. Typically it requires 36V to give you a quick take off and give you that feeling of excitement when you pull the throttle. Some e-bikes come in 48 volts as well, which can give you great torque power for climbing hills, but 36 volts is all you need for a wide application of uses, hilly or flat.
The more amp-hours you have, the more range you will get with your electric bike, similar to a gas tank. The hours in amp-hours means how many amps there are per hour of usage. Often, you'll see 8AH, 10AH, 12AH batteries. We recommend a minimum of 10AH battery as this is enough to get your around 30-40 miles of flat or slightly hilly usage.
Electric Bike Motors
There are three main types of electric bike motors. Each design has its own strengths and the best option depends on your riding style.
Rear Hub Motors
This motor is located in the hub of the rear wheel and is the standard for electric bikes The motor powers the rear wheel of the bicycle by activating an electromagnetic coil of wire with electricity. This type of motor provides the most traction because the bulk of the weight on a bicycle is located in the rear of the bicycle. However, the rider must be conscious of which gear they're in to make the best use of the electricity in the battery. These motors can be powerful but are often not the most efficient use of electricity.
Front Hub Motors
Front Hub Motors are the same as a rear hub motor, but they are on the front wheel instead. These are used on three-wheel e-bikes and some e-bike conversion kits.
The mid-drive motor is located in the crankset of the bicycle where the pedals are. The electricity from the battery goes straight to the same place where the rider puts their energy to propel the bicycle. This doubling up of effort provides the best efficiency of the electricity used. Mid-drive motors offer the best torque capabilities for off-road electric bicycles as well.
A watt is a unit of power. You can determine the wattage of an electric bicycle by taking the voltage and multiplying it by the amps of the battery. They measure the potential output of a machine powered by a battery.
How Much Power Do You Need?
The amount of power you need will depend on your weight, terrain, and cargo. If you are 120-220 pounds and plan on riding flat terrain you can get a 300-watt motor. However, if you live in a hilly city you may want to upgrade to a 36-volt battery that puts out 750 watts of power to climb steep hills. If you are over 220 pounds a 500-watt bicycle will be sufficient in a flat city but if you want to climb steep hills a 1000 watt bicycle is what you will need to get you up effortlessly.
Electric Bike Consoles
The console is usually located on the handlebars and gives you valuable information about your electric bike’s performance. More advanced displays (images below in the center and right) come with LCD display, an odometer, speedometer, energy meter, and output indicator. On cheaper bikes (image on the left), these consoles can be as simple as a couple blinking lights to indicate battery life which in turn you can use to gauge how much distance or time you have left.
Different Electric Bike Styles
There are many different styles of electric bikes designed for different kinds of riders. We've provided a brief explanation of each below.
Commuter / City
This could potentially be the biggest e-bike segment of all. They're lean, green commuting machines. They'll get you from one end of a congested city to the other and free you from unreliable public transport and arrive at your destination with all the buzz of a morning ride, minus the sweat.
Folding electric bikes are perfect hybrid bicycles for the urban environment.For some commuters, this is the dream: an electric folding bike that can be compacted down small for storing in a small apartment, office, or the trunk of your car.
One of our personal favorites is Platinum e-BIKES 3OND folding bike with a mid-drive motor which improves frame balance and makes wheel maintenance easier. The 30ND delivers a quality experience, some great accessories and a nice aesthetic.
Cruiser electric bikes come with a big comfy seat and wide handlebars, both are provided to create a comfortable, upright riding posture and more enjoyable riding experience. Enjoy the benefits of an electric bike in style.
An electric mountain bike is a powerful, all-terrain vehicle that can expand your riding range considerably, and help you get more riding done if you're pushed for time. Only got a couple of hours to spare? An electric mountain bike will let you speed up the climbs, so you can enjoy more of the downs.
Fat tire electric bikes are designed for off-road. The idea of riding on sand, snow, gravel, and other all-terrain surfaces seems like fun, that’s when the electric motor steps into the picture to pick up the slack.
Straight Frame vs. Step-through Frame
Electric bikes come with two styles of frame. Straight frames have a high top-tube, and step-through frames have a low cross-bar or none at all. They accommodate ladies wearing dresses and help everyone with back pain. These step-through frames are easily mounted and dismounted.
With so many options it can be tough deciding on the perfect electric bike. By taking your size and riding style into consideration you will narrow down your search, by then the rest is up to personal preference! So have some fun with it, after all, purchasing an electric bike is an investment in yourself, and finding the perfect fit is key. Please feel free to call, live chat, or email our customer support team if you require assistance while shopping for your electric bike!
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