An electric bicycle is about as simple as it sounds. It is a standard bicycle in every way, except it also has a battery, a electric motor and a controller system. The motor activates and regulates the electric-assistance delivered to the bicycle from the electric engine.
The key defining feature that sets an electric bicycle apart from all other similar vehicles is this “electric-assistance”. The electric motor does not drive the bicycle gears on its own, but only assists gears that are already turning under normal pedal-power. This classification makes electric bicycles a unique vehicle on the road that uses an engine, yet does not require special licensing or insurance, which is why they are such a popular means of transportation.
Ok, Now How Does an eBike Work?
The process begins when you first start to pedal, and the wheels of your bike turn. You learned this as a child and it’s no different on a electric bike. Part of the controller-system is composed of a pair of magnetic sensors, one in the spindle of a wheel and the other in the frame. These sensors read the rate of wheel revolutions whenever they cross paths, and then feed this information back into the controller system. The controller system then automatically activates the engine and sets an output that is directly related to the rate at which the wheels are already turning, which then augments your existing pedal-power by also turning the gears with power from the engine.
This is the standard and basic set-up required of any electric bicycle for it to work. However, within these basic requirements are several additional options and variations that can alter the performance of an electric bicycle.
Differences in Electric Bikes
The biggest variation in design comes from the different methods of reading the bike’s existing movement and regulating the corresponding power output.
Bracket-based assistance: this is the standard control system described above. Sensors in the wheel and frame feed information to the engine, which then sets the appropriate assistance level.
Pressure-based assistance: this system reads activity from the pedal itself. The harder the rider is pushing down on the pedal, the more assistance is delivered.
Chain-based assistance: this is the most responsive system as it starts to work as soon as the chain is tensed, and delivers power according to the degree of tension in the chain.
The other main area for variation is in the additional features that are powered by the battery.
Electric brakes: this is an optional feature where the engine also has the ability to slow or stop the gear mechanism based on a control attached to the handlebars.
Lights: everything from hazard lights to headlights can be powered by the bike’s battery.
And some bikes come with advanced control systems.
On/Off switch: some bike’s have the additional option of only turning the entire electric mechanism on when desired.
Speed regulator: an extension of the on/off switch, these advanced versions allow the user to select exactly how much assistance they want from the engine at any time.
Electric bikes are cheap, simple and relatively easy to use. Electric motor conversion kits are available for your existing bikes. There are many different types of electric bike models, kits with battery, and electric bikes for sale today. Look for our article breaking down the best electric bikes for 2019.
The great appeal of electric bicycles is evident from this look at just how simple they really are. They provide a steady boost in power using a system that rarely breaks down, is cheap and easy to fix, and provides decent speed.