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.
When someone hears electric bicycle, the first image they imagine may be a scooter or electric motorcycle – but they actually look pretty different. Just picture a regular bicycle, then add several electrical components to it like a motor, a battery, and a controller – all seamlessly integrated into the design. These items make up the fundamentals of all electric bicycles on the market!
How electric bikes work
Electric bikes pedal and handle just like a regular bicycle. By and large, an electric bike will use the same parts too. The electric component is meant to augment human power, not completely replace it. It makes obstacles like hills and headwind more manageable and allows you to travel further without getting as tired.
See our diagram for a more detailed look at how electric bikes work including the motor, battery, drivetrain, and charging process: