So, what exactly is an eBike and how do they work?

Cycling is a favourite past time for people of all ages. While traditional bikes are still used, eBikes are becoming more and more popular as they help you cycle further and with less effort. But what exactly is an eBike?


What is an eBike?

Ebikes are electric bikes. They look the same as a normal bicycle and can be ridden the same way, but they have a battery and a small electric motor which makes it easier to use the pedals. Ebikes can have 3 modes of operation.

  • Motor off. With the motor turned off the bike is ridden exactly the same way as it usually is. You pedal as hard or as lightly as you like and the bike responds.
  • Motor on, pedalling. This option allows you to pedal while taking advantage of the added motor. This can be useful for hills, where you can turn the motor on to help you get up and then turn it back off when you no longer need the help. It also helps those who are new to cycling as pedalling requires much less effort to move the bike. When you pedal you also recharge the battery.
  • Motor on, no pedalling. This option is for those who maybe cannot pedal on their own or who prefer not to. This option uses the battery to power the eBike, but it also wears the battery down quicker. You don’t have to pedal if you use this option, but remember your journey will be limited to how far the battery will take you.

You can also purchase eBikes which offer full power or power-assist. Full power is for those who prefer not to pedal, or who can only pedal for a short while. Power-assist is for cyclists who prefer to pedal but who would like a bit of a boost when they want a bit of a rest. You eBike supplier will help you choose the right model for you to ensure you get the most benefit from it.

If you’re looking for an eBike you can purchase one pre built, so all you have to do is charge it and ride it. For beginners there are lower powered eBikes which give you more control and help you build up your pedalling gradually. As you don’t have to pedal you can slowly build up how much you do without having to cut your journey short when you get out of breath. The battery can do the rest of the work for you.

More experienced riders may want to use an electric bike conversion kit so they can modify their existing bike to the specification which suits them. You don’t need any particular type of bicycle – a conversion kit will convert any bike to an eBike, but a bike with a lighter frame will give you better performance. With a kit you can choose how much power you need, from a standard kit to an off road kit or even a mid-drive set which gives you good hill performance. Each kit comes with different packs and batteries so you have a good choice for your requirements.

One good thing about an eBike is that you don’t have to buy a new one if you want it updated. You can simply purchase a new battery or kit and fit it in place of the one you have.

eBikes are a great way to travel and they run at the fraction of the cost of a car or motorcycle. As a bicycle, they do not need tax or insurance, and they can be ridden anywhere you can ride a bike, including cycle paths.


How do they work?

They work the same way as a normal bike: jump on and pedal. The big difference though, is the power.

With a normal bike everything you do requires you to pedal. With an eBike you can choose to pedal, just power the bike with the battery or use a combination of both. The advantage is that you don’t have to pedal quite so hard as the motor is doing some of the work for you. This is a great help to those looking to start cycling to get fit. You still get a good work out but you can travel further than you may be able to on a normal bike.

Essential reading: Compare connected cycling gear with our interactive tool

To keep the eBike running, you simply charge the battery in a normal electrical socket using a charger. A full battery if used without pedalling will allow for a journey of 10-20 miles plus, depending on the size of the battery installed. If you are on a longer journey you will need to pedal for part of it to make sure it doesn’t run down and leave you with no power.

In most cases the cost of an eBike or an eBike conversion kit is the same as the price of a good bicycle. Obviously the more you pay, the better the specification, but there is a good range available so everyone will be able to find the best eBike for them. Before you buy consider where you will be riding too, how often you will ride and your fitness levels. Remember you can always adapt an eBike as your fitness levels increase so it’s best to start with one that gives you more help when you first start.


What are the benefits?

An eBike offers all the benefits of a normal bicycle but with some added extras.

  • Like a bicycle, pedalling an eBike makes you fitter and healthier, but with an eBike you don’t have to pedal quite so hard. This makes it easier for the elderly or for those with muscle problems to start riding. Even experienced riders don’t enjoy hills and the motor is a great way to coast up hills with the minimum of effort.
  • Ebikes are cheaper to run and easier to use than motorbikes and mopeds, and far cheaper to upgrade. They don’t need petrol, tax or insurance and can be run on just a few pence a week, depending on how often you use it.
  • They are also easy to park, as they fit most bike racks and they are a good way to get the whole family out enjoying the fresh air.
  • And of course they are environmentally friendly with no carbon emissions.

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