An electric bike is simply a conventional pedal cycle that has an integrated motor and battery to assist the rider. This extra power enables the rider to perform above and beyond what they would normally be able to manage and as such confers a number of advantages. An e-cyclist is not deterred by hills or longer distances, because the bike provides a level of assistance as the user pedals. The level of power is up to the rider and normally controlled with simple handlebar mounted power settings. In this way electric bikes enable you to cycle with as much or as little effort as you like. With the motor off or on low power, you benefit from the same level as exercise as a regular bike, but when you are tired or come to a hilly area the bike can assist you. This is useful as it prevents overtraining and means you can get to work without breaking a sweat. It also means those with who are less physically able can enjoy regular cycling.
What are the typical features of electric bikes?
The bike responds either to pressure on the pedal or rotation of the pedals by delivering power to the motor. The bike is often equipped with a ‘twist & go’ throttle that will start the motor without pedalling, for hill starts and traffic lights. A dashboard display shows information like power level, battery remaining and distance travelled. Enough battery for a decent distance – Nearly all electric bikes have a range of about 20 miles minimum, and the latest bikes are able to deliver power for over 100 miles.
Do I still have to pedal?
On bikes with a twist and go, the bike will be able to take you along entirely under its own power, up to 15.5 Mph. This decreases the range of the bike as it asks more of the motor and battery. It would also struggle on steeper slopes – Even the mininum of pedalling is more significant than you may realise! The bikes are really intended to provide electric assistance to your pedalling as and when you feel is convenient, rather than take over entirely. However there are exceptions to the rule in bikes like the Ultra Motors Metro, which is built to be mostly throttle controlled and doesn’t offer pedal assistance. Without pedalling, a typical range will be around 15 miles, but this can be increased with larger or additional batteries available from some manufacturers. For example the Metro has a range of 20 miles and this can be increased to 40 with a rear-rack mounted battery addition.
Does it charge up as I pedal along?
No – The battery is charged from the mains, like a laptop or mobile phone charger. Typically it takes between 4 and 6 hours for a full charge from flat, but the Bosch system is a exception in that it can charge fully in 2.5 hours. As you pedal, the bike is expending energy to assist you. However, some bikes like the BH E-Motion have regenerative braking. Instead of putting wear on the brake pads, for gentle braking the bike uses the motor to generate power, which slows the bike.
What can an electric bike do for me?
Using an electric bike, you can help you:
reduce the cost of travelling to work, as a single battery charge costs 6 pence.
enjoy a healthier lifestyle and regular exercise, conveniently and without strain. Save on parking costs by using bike infrastructure – Or even the cost of a second car entirely.
take leisure trips through and up hilly areas to see new destinations.
Overcome barriers to cycling like sports injuries, minor disabilities, or asthma and similar problems.
Have a form of independent transport that’s there whenever you need it. 9 out of 10 car journeys in the UK are under 10 miles, an easy, enjoyable trip on an electric bike.