Electric bikes have many benefits. They get all kinds of people outside and exercising, and opting to cycle instead of drive reduces emissions and also reduces traffic congestion. But have you ever wondered: “How do Electric Bikes Work?” This post explains the basics of how electric bikes work, using an animated infographic that explains exactly how electric bikes work, a video that shows how easy they are to operate, and a video to show how they help you to get up hills.
An electric bike is – at its core – a bicycle, but it has a motor, battery, and (sometimes) a throttle that standard bikes do not have. These bikes are either retro fitted with a kit to become motorized, or can be purchased new and already modded to be electric. Almost all of them require pedaling, as reflected in the term “Pedelec.” With Pedelec bikes, the amount of assistance is linked to your pedaling.
Pedelec systems either use a torque sensor or a cadence sensor. A torque sensor reacts to how hard you pedal, and adjusts accordingly. A cadence sensor simply reacts to whether or not you are pedaling. Once you start pedaling, there is a two second delay, and then the motor starts up. With a Pedelec system using a cadence sensor, the level of assistance is controlled by the level of assistance you have chosen on the console, not by how hard you are pedaling. Torque sensors are more advanced, and some people say they provide a more natural feel while cycling by mimicking your exertion level.
This video show how easy it is to operate a typical electric bike:
The benefit to riding with a motor is you’ll be able to handle obstacles better such as hills, or headwinds. Using a pedal assist, or electric only mode, it will be less tiring to get through hills and headwinds, allowing you to ride for longer periods of time and travel farther too. According to one of our recent articles, this is especially true with women. This video shows how relatively easy it is to get up a very steep hill with a 350 watt e-bike:
For an animated, and more detailed depiction of how electric bikes work, see the graphic below from EVELO.com, a producer of electric bicycles:
You can also see the original animated graphic on EVELO’s blog, plus more information on what an electric bicycle is, including choosing and riding the perfect bike.
Thinking of buying an Electric Bike? Check out my new edition of How to Buy the Best Electric Bike! Buy it here.
Read all about How to Buy the Best Electric Bike here.
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