E-bikes are available in a variety of styles, with different features and options. Understanding how you will use your e-bike will help you choose the right model and features to fit your needs.

What is the range of an electric bike?

Most electric bikes have a range of 30 miles or more, but this is largely dependent on battery capacity and what power mode the rider chooses, so it can range from 20 to 100 miles. Factors that could shorten your range include carrying more weight on the bike, headwinds, and going uphill. If you use more of an assist and/or pedal less, your range will also be shorter.

What Kind of Battery and Motor Should My Bike Have?

An electric bike’s motor pulls energy from the battery and uses it to help move the bike forward. When making decisions about how fast you want your e-bike to be able to go, how much assistance the motor can provide, and how far it can travel, you should consider the capacity and voltage of the batteries, as well as the motor’s power.

Battery Capacity

When considering what battery capacity is right for you, consider how far you want to be able to bike and how much assistance you will need. If you want a longer range for your ebike and/or more help while you bike, a higher capacity battery can help make that possible. Battery capacity is the total amount of electricity that the battery can store, measured in watt-hours (Wh), a unit of energy equivalent to one watt of power expended for one hour. A typical e-bike battery holds around 400 Wh, meaning that this battery would store enough electricity to provide the motor with the equivalent of 400 watts for one hour, 200 watts for two hours, etc. The higher the capacity of your e-bike’s battery, the longer its range.

Battery Voltage

Voltage is what pushes current into the electrical bike’s circuits. Because a higher voltage battery can supply the motor with electrical current faster, the bike can accelerate faster and reach greater speeds than with lower voltage batteries if all else is held equal. Most electric bikes tend to be either 36V or 48V.

Motor Power

What does it mean for something to be powerful? In the world of electrical equipment, power how quickly a machine can do work. An e-bike’s motor does work by moving you forward, which is made more challenging if you are climbing steep hills, carrying heavy cargo, and/or pedaling less. Motor power is measured in watts. E-bike motors range from about 250 watts up to 500 watts or more. The nominal wattage for a motor is the maximum amount of power that the bike can sustain over longer periods of time. The maximum output is the number of watts a motor can use for a few seconds, which can help with rapid acceleration or climbing a steep hill. However, maximum power should not be used for longer because this would be a safety concern. There’s a trade-off, though – if a bike’s motor is more powerful, it will eat up your battery’s charge faster, using more energy. A higher capacity battery is needed to keep a more powerful motor running for the same amount of time, in comparison with a less powerful motor.

How heavy are e-bikes?

Most e-bikes weigh between 50 and 60 pounds, compared to between 25 and 35 for a conventional bike. Weight depends on the type, battery, and motor size, and what material the bike is made of, usually either steel or aluminum. Just like conventional bikes, lighter bikes require less energy to propel. Also, when you select a bike, keep in mind whether you will need to carry your bike up stairs, on public transportation, or into the office. Folding bikes are also available with electric assist capabilities, which may be preferred if you’re looking to take your bike on a bus or train or keep it inside.

What features should I consider?

Most e-bikes have a controller unit with a display to monitor battery life, assist mode, miles ridden, speed, and more. More expensive bikes have more sophisticated controllers and can track riding habits. E-bikes can come equipped with extras like a built-in rack, lock, or front and rear lighting (for visibility and when riding at night). Alternatively, these features and others like a child seat can be purchased as add-ons.

Should I get an e-bike with an integrated battery (fixed) or a removable battery?

E-bikes either come with permanently integrated batteries or external batteries that can be removed. There are pros and cons to each type of battery.

Integrated batteries are lighter and are usually placed lower on the bike, so they offer additional torque and, therefore, a more stable riding experience. However, an integrated battery could be challenging to charge because you must bring the bike to an outlet.

External batteries can be taken off the bike and brought inside for easier charging, to avoid theft, or to be stored around 68 degrees Fahrenheit, which increases the battery life. External batteries can also be replaced more easily and allow you to take an extra battery on your ride for additional range.

Does the location of the motor matter?

Sometimes the motor is placed on the bottom bracket, near where the crank arms (pedals) meet the frame of the bike. This is called a mid-drive motor. Mid-drive motors allow for a natural feel when using the pedal assist and the central weight of the motor provides a stable and balanced feel.

Hub-drive motors are placed in the wheel, usually on the back wheel, but sometimes on the front. When the motor is in the rear wheel it will give a feeling of being pushed along. Front-wheel hub-drive motors handle like a front-wheel-drive car. Each location offers the rider a different feel and is a matter of personal preference.

FPO

Charging an electric bicycle’s integrated battery

Electric bicycle with mid-drive motor

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