Almost everybody can remember that first time they got on a bicycle. Most of us start out with a little bike, complete with training wheels and a full armor set of elbow guards, a helmet, and knee pads. It’s such a rush and marks and significant milestone in a kid’s life. It’s a sort of right of passage. And the first time you ride your bike without training wheels … oh boy. What a moment!
So maybe we can never quite recreate that unique experience again, and, instead, settle for the sweet memories. But you can reignite your passion for biking once again right here in Portland with a fantastic technology that fuses the joy of riding a bike with the convenience of power — the electric bike (or as we lovingly refer to them, eBikes!).
While eBikes have been slower to catch on here in the United States — where we still very much hold love for automobiles — eBikes are hugely popular in large cities across the globe, particularly in Asia where there are 200 million eBikes in use. That accounts for over a quarter of all bicycles on the continent!
Now we realize there’s a pretty strong chance you know very little about electric bikes, if you’ve even heard of them at all. And that’s OK! It’s one of our favorite things to introduce people to the amazing world of eBikes, and we bet once you learn a little more, you’ll be hooked exactly like us. To help you better understand what an electric bike is, The eBike Store wrote today’s post comparing it to a regular bike that you’re familiar with. We hope you find this information helpful, and of course, contact us today with any other questions you might have!
A Quick eBike History Recap
Before we dive into greater detail on electric bikes and how they differ (or remain the same) to regular bicycles, we first want to recap the history of eBikes to give you at least a base knowledge of them in case you’ve missed any of our previous blog posts.
Despite the fact that some form of the electric bike has existed since the late 1800s, we’re talking about modern, actually functional eBikes, which date back to about 20 years ago. Early eBikes suffered from the same issues most independent (i.e. cordless) electronics do in their early years: poor battery performance. They were heavy, clunky and died too quickly for practical use, not to mention they were super expensive. However, much like laptops and cell phones, battery technology has taken off with smaller, more powerful, and reliable batteries! Soon, you’ll see eBikes all over the place as they develop into an extremely efficient and reliable mode of transportation!
Honestly, the answer to this question is way easier than it might sound! An electric bike is very similar in almost every way to a regular bike, except that an eBike has the addition of an electrical drive system. A drive system consists of a battery, a motor, a way to transfer the motor’s power into the drive train, and a way to control the power it generates. The appearance is the same with handlebars, two wheels, body geometry, pedals, and brakes.
Motors come in three styles: front hub, mid-motor, and rear hub. The mid-drive motor is at the center of the bike where the pedals are located at the bottom of the frame. There are also front hubs (motor is at the front of the bike) and rear hub (at the back). So it’s not that much different than cars!
The battery is the component that powers everything and has ranges between 20 and 60 miles per charge. You can also pedal manually if desired or use the pedal assist, where you supply some of the power and the motor supplies some for an easier riding experience! Using the motor on its own is sort of like riding a moped and will drain the battery the quickest. To charge to the electric bike, simply plug it into a wall outlet! Charging times depend on the battery, but generally, it takes two to four hours for a full charge.
A drivetrain transfers all the power created by the other components and gives torque to manually turn the wheels of the eBike. A mid-drive motor sends this power directly and is the easiest way to crank the chain. The driveshaft also gives the rider the ability to change gears, which affects the resistance when pedaling the bike.
- An electric bike is similar to a regular bike, except it utilized an electrical drives system composed of a motor, battery, and drivetrain
- Motors can be mid-drive, front or rear hub, and that power is transferred to the drivetrain, which turns the wheels and allows you to change gears
- Batteries come in various qualities with ranges between 20-60 miles and allow you to ride without pedaling, pedal assist to use motor power and your power, or manually pedal with no motor assistance just like a regular bike
Bicycle! Bicycle! Bicycle! I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride my bike! I want to ride my bicycle. I want to ride it where I like!
We know the real reason you’re probably reading today is to find out exactly how the riding experience differs on an electric bike compared to regular bikes. And like Freddie Mercury and Queen so eloquently put it, we all want to ride our bikes where we like! The truth is, riding an eBike is very much like a regular bike in many ways.
You begin pedaling like usual and the motor activates so smoothly, you’ll barely notice. But you quickly realize you have power when pedaling is so much easier and you start cruising with much less effort than a regular bike. You can glide up hills without breaking a sweat or get from home to work without feeling exhausted and needing another shower! And as we mentioned before, you can have the motor do more of the work, blend them together or do all the pedaling yourself if you’re looking for a more traditional riding style. An eBike gives you so many options and versatility, which regular bikes certainly do not!
An eBike can help you go faster if you aren’t a powerful rider usually, but don’t expect it to make you travel at speeds like you would in a car or motorcycle. That’s not the design purpose of an eBike. They do help maintain a consistent speed and without the grueling act of pedaling ferociously. But they are built for comfortable riding, not speed racing!
Some rules and regulations you should be aware of in Oregon (and we can go into more detail in another post) would be that you are required to wear a helmet, but eBikes are considered bicycles, so you can ride on any roadway, lane, or path approved for regular bikes. Always be sure to check the laws and regulations in your area as they can change and may differ.
- An eBike riding experience is similar to a regular bike, but eBikes make riding easier and more accessible to everyone in addition to making travel more comfortable
- Electric bikes aren’t motorcycles, so don’t expect tremendously fast speeds, but instead, they create a smoother, more consistent riding pace for people of any ability
- Oregon state law considers eBikes to be bicycles and can be ridden on any path, lane, or roadway approved to regular bikes — and helmets are required
Maintenance and Repairs
Due to the fact that so many of the components of electric bikes are the same or similar to regular bikes, the maintenance and repair to eBikes are also not much different when it comes to the overall components of them. Those can be fixed or replaced by most any bicycle repair shop. However, there are more precise experience and requirements when working on the motor, battery, or drivetrain pieces of eBikes, and so we recommend you take your eBike somewhere that knows exactly what they’re doing!
Faults in the electrical system of eBikes are pretty rare and can be covered under warranty. More importantly, it’s a solid idea to keep routine maintenance and care of your eBike so to prevent more expensive issues from happening and ensure fantastic performance and riding experience for years to come!
- Since most of the parts of the eBike are the same as a regular bike, you can have those components repaired at any bike shop for the most part
- Any maintenance or repair to the electrical drive system should be handled by trained eBike specialists
- Faults in the electrical system of eBikes are very rare and can be covered by warranty, but you should keep up with routine maintenance and checkups to guarantee maximum performance and riding experience
Is An eBike Cheating?
There are of course your skeptics out there who will look at an electric bike and think to themselves, “Well, isn’t that cheating?” And our answer is a resounding, NO! If your goal when riding a bike, traditional or otherwise, is purely for the exercise, then perhaps an eBike isn’t the best fit for your needs in that particular situation. And that’s OK!
An electric bike may have a motor to help you, but you can still pedal your eBike manually just like a regular bike and get exercise when you want to. You can even blend both worlds and use the pedal assist to make the ride easier, yet still, get in physical activity. Think of it this way: maybe you don’t bike as hard for short distances but you bike less stressful for much longer distances, so in the end, it’s still great exercise. And if you’re encouraged to eBike to work (or errands) every day here in Portland, and not fall back on your car like eventually could happen biking traditionally each day, that’s way better in the long run!
- Electric bikes have a motor, but can still be pedaled manually or with pedal assist, so you can still get exercise in
- You can go considerably further on an eBike, so it might be less stressful in a short distance, but you can make up for it by going twice as long or more
- An eBike can keep you dedicated to commuting to work or for errands each day instead of falling back on a car when you’re not feeling it, so you can actually get more exercise in over the long haul
Why People Choose eBikes
The challenge facing eBikes remains the same as any emerging technology or variation of traditional methods — awareness and skepticism. People are slow to trust the reliability and effectiveness of electric bikes and don’t see the inherent advantage to them.
But we here at The eBike Store in Portland know from firsthand experience just how great eBikes are because of the way they enable anyone to ride a bike with more efficiency and you don’t have to be a fitness nut to do it! Hopefully, this post has given you a better sense of what electric bikes are and the advantages they bring to the table. If you use biking and a legitimate means of commuting and transportation, an eBike is a fantastic choice for you!
If you’re not as fit as you used to be or simply enjoy biking for a more casual, less work-intensive experience, then eBikes are your best choice because you get the same amazing riding experience but without the grinding sweat of pedaling around. Still don’t believe us? Fine, then get an eBike rental and see for yourself!
- Electric bikes are extremely reliable and effective for commuting longer distances but without the stress of traffic
- eBikes allow you to enjoy the experience of riding a bike without the grueling physical labor of pedaling long distances
- Trying an eBike rental is a great way to introduce yourself to them and see for yourself how great they are
Thank you so much for reading today’s blog post! We truly hope you found it helpful and informative so that you can get out there and try an electric bike in Portland yourself. We guarantee you, once you start, there’s no going back! Browse our selection of eBikes or book your eBike rental today!