A Closer Look at Electric Bikes
Back to Basics
The world of bikes can seem a complicated one and that is before throwing in electric bikes with their motor outputs and different battery specifications. We have stripped the electric bike back to basics to answer some of the most important questions out there. From addressing riding an electric bike in the rain to the subject of gearing, read on to learn more about this exciting bike category.
Do you still have to pedal an electric bike?
Electric bikes still require the rider to pedal. The electric bike's motor is designed to assist you, not provide 100% of the power. This is very important when it comes to laws of the road and what type of vehicle it is classed as. The bike uses a torque sensor to monitor your output and then the motor emits a certain amount of power to match this output.
Do electric bikes have gears?
The majority of electric bikes have gears, although there are some singlespeed options out there. Having gears is an advantage should you live in hillier areas and they allow you to use a lower setting on the PAS (Pedal Assist System).
The style of electric bike you go for will also dictate the gearing setup, with electric gravel and mountain bikes often choosing to run with a single chainring on the front and a larger range of sprockets on the back to reduce the chances of the chain skipping off over rougher terrain when changing gear. A hybrid or road electric bike, on the other hand, may opt for a double chainring setup on the front, as riding over rougher terrain is less of a concern.
Can I ride an electric bike in the rain?
Electric bikes can be ridden in the rain, just like a non-electric bike. The battery and motor units are both sealed to protect the mechanical components from getting damaged by dirt and water. Ensuring the bike is cleaned and dried post-ride is of paramount importance, whatever the bike, to ensure it works optimally.
Do electric bikes make noise?
You should not hear any untoward noises from an electric bike. The motor is relatively quiet, with just a slight hum evident. The only other noises you will hear will be from the tyres making impact with the road or trail and potentially a slight noise from the drivetrain. An electric bike with a direct drive motor (located for example in the front wheel) is the fastest kind, although it is heavy and produces slightly more noise than a gear hub motor, which is also smaller and more efficient.
Can you ride an electric bike as a normal bike?
You can ride an electric bike as a normal bike but you'll be in for a tougher ride. The combined weight of the battery and motor makes for a heavy machine. Weight over the years has been reduced on many electric bikes, with manufacturers looking to get as close as possible to the weight of a non-electric bike.
Is buying an electric bike better than a conversion kit for my existing bike?
It is generally better to buy a purpose-built electric bike rather than adapt your non-electric bike with a conversion kit. The advantages of an out of the box electric bike are that the frame and components have been specifically chosen to work with a battery and motor.
Should you opt for a conversion kit the chances are you will need to review your brake system and other component choices to accommodate the additional power and weight. Conversion kits can sometimes also look unsightly compared to an electric bike that will often use a more integrated design for housing the battery and motor.