In recent years, electric bikes have gained more and more popularity as many people look to reduce their carbon footprint. With that in mind, we’d like to give a bit of a primer on electric bikes, while answering some frequently asked questions. If you’re looking to get your first electric bicycle, look no further than right here at The eBike Store. With a growing selection of electric bikes for sale or rent, we know you’ll be able to find the right ebike for you.
-Are Electric Bikes Street Legal?
Each state has different rules and regulations regarding ebikes, so there isn’t an all-encompassing answer to this question. While some states require some sort of license and a helmet, others are far more lax with their requirements. Here is a helpful chart that shows each state’s laws for electric bike riding, so consult it to see what may be necessary for you to start riding an ebike.
-Doesn’t The Motor Make It Harder To Pedal?
While the motor does add some weight to the bike that needs to be accounted for, it’s almost negligible. The fact of the matter is: the weight of a bike has little bearing on how it will perform. Your body weight is sure to be nearly five to six times that of the bicycle, so a heavy or light bike doesn’t really factor in. Sure, it may be a little bit more difficult to ride uphill and a little bit faster when it goes downhill, but on a flat plane it will travel the same speed with the same level of exertion as a non-electric bike.
When you add a battery and motor to a bike, you’re adding around 20-40 lbs to the bike, though it will have little to no effect on rideability. The only time you’ll really notice the heavier weight is if you need to manually lift the bike up for any reason. That weight can make it a little more unwieldy when picking it up as well, so it’s something to keep in mind. Weight issues are also negated because that added motor can easily be switched on if it becomes too tough to pedal, as it takes over the bulk of the workload.
-How Much Power Does It Take?
A typical rider on a standard bike generates about 150 watts of power or ⅕ of one horsepower. If you’re curious about how much power you generate, many newer exercise bikes will interpret the wattage you’re pumping out, and that can give you a good idea of exactly how much power your body can produce. An experienced bicyclist can get up to 350 watts for about 10 minutes and a high of 600 watts for a few seconds, so it really is incredible what can be achieved. With that being said, for riders of all skill levels, an average of 100-200 watts is normal.
That all might lead you to believe you would only need an electric bike to operate at 150 watts, but the truth is at that low wattage, it feels a bit lackluster. A good ebike can run at 400-500 watts (about ½ horsepower). When going uphill at this power level, you can travel over 18 MPH, while on flat ground you’ll be going nearly 25 MPH. A car engine, in comparison, uses hundreds of horsepower, while not providing that much greater speed, especially in the city.
-Does Pedalling Recharge The Battery?
This can be a bit of a tricky question. While pedaling can recharge the battery, it can only do this when traveling at a higher speed than the motor can reach on its own. As it stands now, pedal-based recharging is not really the intent of an electric bike’s drive like it would be with a hybrid car. Instead, you’ll use a certain amount of power from an onboard battery pack, which is then regenerated when you plug it into a wall outlet. Some bikes do have the possibility of regenerative braking, in which the kinetic energy you have built up will recharge the bike when you come to a stop. To use regenerative braking to stop the bike, you would need a two-quadrant motor controller, along with a drive train without a freewheel.
There are many other intricacies involved in electric bicycles that we will be exploring in depth in the future, but we hope this primer answered some of the questions you may have. Electric bikes are getting more popular by the day, so now is the perfect time to give it a try. At The eBike Store, we sell new models, offer rentals to try before you buy, and even run guided tours for outings that are fun for everyone. Give us a call to learn more about electric bikes and to get started with your new, energy efficient hobby. Get riding today!