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How do Electric Bikes Work?

Words by Stuart

on 27/05/2021 13:32:01

2021 Riese and Muller Homage white lady side shot

Yamaha..... when you think of Yamaha, you may think of Motorbikes or possibly keyboards. But in 1993, Yamaha brought the very first Electrically Power Assisted (PAS) bike to the market. The E-Bike was born!!! The idea really caught on, and today, millions of eBikes have sold worldwide, many of them powered by Yamaha.

Electric bikes work a bit differently to regular pushbikes. This article will look at these differences in a bit more detail and answer some frequently asked questions.

THE BASICS

An electric bike is a regular pushbike at its heart, except eBikes, have a few extra parts that work together; the battery, an electric motor, a sensor, and the electric display. Most electric bikes use pedal assist, where the motor is only activated when the rider starts pedalling. This means the rider still has to put effort into cycling, getting a great workout, but with an added boost from the electric motor to make the ride much easier.

THE THREE MAIN COMPONENTS

As just mentioned, an electric bike has three main components that all work together. :

THE MOTOR

There are slightly different types of electric bike motor, and each has its advantages front hub, rear hub and a mid-drive motor. The main aim of the ebike motor is to provide torque. The more advanced motors usually offer more torque, and the more torque you have, the more power you can get out of the bike.

Which ebike motor configuration is best depends really on what you plan to use the bike for, followed by your budget.

  • Front hub motors are generally the most affordable option and shine in the urban environment providing plenty of power for getting around town.
  • Rear hub motors have a power advantage, as the rear of the bike frame can tolerate greater torque that more powerful motors offer; this extra power is a real plus. The way power is applied directly to the rear wheel makes rear motors ideal for use with a throttle. Rear motors are best for riders wanting or needing more power with many eBikes capable of nearly 30mph.
  • Centre-drive systems are widely considered to be the best option offering a number of advantages. Typically centre-drive systems are much more energy-efficient, with many pushing into 75-plus miles per charge in their lowest mode. Since they drive the cranks, just like a human-powered bike, they offer the most natural-feeling pedal assist, making them the obvious choice for more performance-oriented ebikes, especially given their lighter weight. Unfortunately, centre drives are the priciest configuration and typically require more regular maintenance.

THE BATTERY

The eBike battery can be located in various places on the bike depending on frame type and size. Charging times can differ slightly depending on the battery make, model, but the average charging time is generally four to six hours. Charging your battery is easy: just plug it into the wall like your mobile phone.

How much does it cost to charge an electric bike?

From empty, a typical 500W capacity ebike battery will take about 4.5 hours to charge to full, using a standard charger. You dont have to wait until the battery is empty you can charge it any time. The price of electricity varies depending on your supplier but you are typically looking at a rate of 10-15p/kWh. That works out to around 5-10p.

What is the range of an electric bike?

The range of your ebike will vary depending on your battery capacity, how you ride, and the terrrain. The Cube Kathmandu Hybrid Pro 625 equipped the new Bosch Gen 4 Performance CX motor and a 625Wh battery, gives the eBike a massive range with many riders able to cover over 70 miles on a single charge.

THE SENSOR

The boost you get when riding an electric bike is made possible by the motor, the battery and the sensor. The pedal assistance only starts when the sensor gives a signal that engages the motor into action.

The Electric bikes have two types of sensors a motion sensor or a pedal force (torque) sensor.

  • The motion sensor immediately engages the motor once you begin pedalling which gives you the ride assistance.
  • The pedal force sensor is a bit smarter. It registers the amount of force you put into pedalling and responds with just a small amount of pedal assist to match your speed when you're moving. The harder you pedal the faster you go. The pedal force sensor is much more responsive and helps with speed and manoeuvring.


TEAM WORK

The key is making sure that all of the components work harmoniously together. The battery powers the motor which controls the drivetrain to give you that boost you require to tackle hills and long rides. The display is the brain of the electric bike allowing you to control how much pedal assistance is provided from the motor.

HOW TO RIDE AN ELECTRIC BIKE

Riding an electric bike is great fun. But despite the apparent similarities, riding an electric bike can provide quite a different experience to riding a regular bike. As a result, you may have wondered how to ride an electric bike.

We are all used to peddling really hard to get up to speed on a regular bike, but it's a very different feeling to have a motor pull you quickly up to speed with little effort on your part.

Some e-bikes feel a lot like ordinary bikes when riding. Torque-based sensors tend to deliver a more natural feeling. It's still a good idea to start with a low assistance level, so you can expect an experience not too dissimilar from what you are already familiar with.

If your electric bike has a cadence-based system, that's when you may need to take a little more care at first. Some cadence assist systems will propel you up to speed as soon as you start pedalling. On flat ground, even with a low assistance level, you could quickly reach a speed of around 12mph/20kph. This is the easiest to cycle in terms of physical effort, but it takes a bit of getting used to the power.

If you have never ridden an electric bike before, it would be a good idea to start in an open, flat area. ebikes are a bit heavier than regular bikes, so take a little time to get the bike's feel; it may be a good idea to start with little or no assistance at first. Then, as you get more comfortable, turn on the assistance; this will help you feel in control as the power kicks in. Get used to changing gear and breaking, also familiarise yourself with the controls and display before heading out on the open road.

 

Some electric bikes you will love

2021 Haibike HardSeven 5 500Wh Electric Mountain Bike

2021 Haibike HardSeven 5 500Wh Electric Mountain Bike in Blue

Tour or trail? Uphill or downhill? With the new HardSeven 5, there is no need for tradeoffs because this is a versatile and agile eMTB.

With 120mm travel, snappy disc brakes, nimble 27.5" wheels and a powerful Bosch Performance Line motor with a sleek, integrated 500Wh battery you will have a huge amount of fun on and off the trail. Adventures - here we come!

Features:

  • Frame material - Aluminium
  • Drive unit - Bosch Performance Line, 65Nm, 25km/h
  • Battery - Bosch PowerTube 500Wh
  • Fork - SR Suntour XCM32 Boost DS, Travel: 120mm

    2020 Raleigh Motus Tour Low Step Hub Electric Bike in Grey

    Raleigh Motus

    The 400WH battery will allow you to ride for up to an impressive 108 miles on a single charge*. The incredible Active Line motor from Bosch is lightweight and virtually noise-free so that you can be fully immersed on your ride. What's more, with a maximum assistance output of 250% you can travel further and explore more. The refined Intuvia Display offers maximum clarity and convenience, with the sizable display screen placed in the centre of the handlebars for easy readability. The control unit is placed safely on the left of the handlebar. The gear shift indicator ensures you're riding in the correct gear to optimise battery consumption to increase your bike's range, and the intelligent Intuvia can even charge your phone!

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