Regular bike vs ebike
Regular bike vs ebike
Most ebikes look similar to regular bikes and advances in technology such as in-tube batteries and smaller motors make it more difficult to tell the difference. Some people believe that ebikes are more similar to motor bikes than to bicycles but this isn’t the case. This is because you still have to pedal with an ebike but the difference is that the motor will add extra power to your making peddling easier. Electric bicycles are similar to traditional bicycles and the only difference is the addition of 5 electrical components which are the motor, sensor, battery, controls and display.
This delivers the extra power to pedalling and you can control the assistance that the motor provides using the controls to switch between the different modes. Motors are either front mounted, centre mounted (or ‘crank driven’) or rear mounted.
The two types of sensor used on an ebike are ‘cadence’ sensors and ‘torque’ sensors. The tells the motor that you’re pedalling and that it needs to start add assistance. If your ebike has a cadence sensor, it will identify that the pedals are spinning and apply a level of assistance level determined by the controls. If your bike has a torque sensor, it will measure the amount of force applied by your pedalling and apply power to reach the determined assistance level. This results in a more natural feeling ride.
Ebike batteries have different capacities which will determine the range of your ebike on a single charge. Charging batteries is a simple operation - unclip it from the ebike and charge it using a mains socket. This will take between 3 and 6 hours with most batteries charging to around 50% in 1.5-2.5 hours.
Ebike controls are often integrated in displays. Generally they are small buttons located on the left hand side of your handlebars and allow you to move between the assistance levels.
The display shows information such as the battery level, range, speed, trip distance and selected assistance mode.
Riding an ebike feels very similar to riding a regular bike. Pedalling needs to be done but the difference is that it will feel a easier than usual. You are likely to find hills easier and travel longer distances before feeling tired, face stronger winds and move off from a standing start more easily.
Regular bikes usually weigh between about 10 and 16 kgs depending on the type and size and ebikes typically weigh between 18 and 25kgs but you are likely to find that riding with even the lowest assistance level on an ebike will more than compensate for the extra weight.
Are ebikes faster than regular bikes?
EU regulations mean that ebikes are only able to provide assistance from their motor up to 15.5mph, but with effort from peddling, higher speeds can be reached, but if you’re used to racing on a road bike at speeds of 25mph, an ebike probably isn’t for you and will do more to slow you down than speed you up – this is because ebikes are intended to make cycling easier and not to help you reach faster speeds.
You still get exercise on an ebike and a study has shown that ebike riders experience physical exertion 95% of the time. For more exercise the assistance can be completely turned off.
Ebikes are usually more expensive to buy than regular bikes but generally less expensive than fuelling cars or getting bus or rail passes. They also have positive environmental benefits.
Different types of electric bikes
Most ebikes are classed as ‘pedal-assist’, meaning the power is applied when you pedal. The higher the power setting, the shorter the range and some pedal-assist ebikes show the mileage range on the screen and some adjust this range based on the power setting selected. In most settings, you can between 20 to 40 miles before you have to recharge the battery.
Most ebike brands choose pedal-assist over throttle because in many countries, throttle ebikes are not legal. In the UK and Europe, a pedal-assist e-bike must have a motor with a maximum power of 250Wh and the motor must stop assisting when you get over 15.5mph. A throttle is only allowed for speeds up to a walking pace.
Ebikes may be useful when:
Commuting: You can choose to ride the whole way to work, or combine with public transport. A foldable electric bike will be particularly useful as you can fold it down and take it on the train with you.
Delivering: Small business owners can save on fuel, tax and insurance and have less noisy transport.
Considering the environment: Ebikes are eco-friendly and give off no harmful emissions. The maintenance and running costs are also very low compared cars.
When vulnerable: An ebike could help senior citizens to cycle again and prove beneficial to someone with arthritis or those who are recovering from injury or illness.
Riding for recreation: Ebikes are a great way to explore local areas and for riding around a park, breathing in fresh air, enjoying the scenery and getting some exercise at the same time.
Summary of ebike benefits
- They allow you to travel longer distances with hills more easily
- You can still exercise when using an ebike
- Ebikes are economical because they do not require a licence and insurance
- They are fun to ride!