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What is an electric bike? How do they work? And are they the future of cycling?

An electric bike is a bicycle with an electric motor used to power the vehicle, usually via a battery. Electric bikes have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they offer a way to travel without the need for petrol or diesel. Electric bikes are also much cheaper to operate than cars, and they emit no pollutants.

Some e-bike facts

  1. An electric bike is a bicycle with an electric motor used to assist the rider.
  2. The motor is usually integrated into the frame of the bike, and the rider controls the motor with a throttle on the handlebar.
  3. Electric bikes are becoming increasingly popular as they offer a way to travel without getting sweaty, and they’re also environmentally friendly.
  4. Most electric bikes have a range of 20-40 miles and can reach speeds of up to 15.5 mph.
  5. Electric bikes are generally more expensive than regular bicycles, but they can save you money in the long run as you won’t need to buy a car or public transport, saving you gas and petrol money.
  6. Electric bikes are also low maintenance, as there’s no need to tune the engine or change the oil.
  7. You will need to charge the battery regularly, which takes around 4-6 hours.
  8. These bikes have zero emissions. Therefore, they combat pollution and are sustainable.
cityscape of ebikes

Who invented the electric bike?

The electric bike was invented in the late 19th century by English inventor H.K. Thorne. The first electric bike was powered by a lead-acid battery and had a range of about 30 miles. You can find out more about this on our history of electric bikes post here.

The electric bike was not commercially successful at that time due to the high cost of the batteries and the lack of infrastructure to support it. In the early 21st century, electric bikes began to gain popularity in China and other countries as a clean and efficient mode of transportation.

How does an electric cycle work?

An electric bike, also known as an e-bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. E-bikes can be operated without pedalling, by a throttle on the handlebar, or by pedalling like a traditional bicycle using a pedal assist mode. 

The motor on an electric bike is usually powered by a rechargeable battery and can provide power to the bike for a certain distance before the battery needs to be recharged.

They are a relatively simple technology. Most have a motor, a controller which is kind of the brain of the bike, along with an LCD display for functionality enabling you to switch between the modes of pedal-assist (pas). It also has a torque sensor around the pedals, so when you pedal it tracks your cadence, torque sensors are used to let the motor on the bike kick in.

The battery is obviously the main part of the whole thing. There is a dazzling array of battery types. Sometimes they will have a key, so you can lock the battery to the bike. Often they will have some kind of battery level button you can press, so you can see how much charge is left. 

How are they powered?

Electric bikes get their power from batteries. The batteries are usually located in the frame of the bike, and they provide power to the motor. The motor then turns the wheels and the bike moves.

Motor types

There are two main types of motors, a hub motor, and a mid-range motor; hub motors are at the rear wheel of the bike and are the most popular motors.

Mid-drive motors are where the pedals are. These are supposed to be more efficient but also more expensive and not as reliable.

There are some front wheel-mounted motors too, but these provide less power and can be less stable to ride.

Motor power can range from as low as 200-watt motors, to 500, 750, 1000 and 2000 watts motors.

You can find out more about electric motor tech here.

How far can you travel on an e-bike?

This is probably the most important of all the questions: how far can you go in one battery charge of your bike? The answer is it depends on a lot of factors.

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, including the type of electric bike, the terrain, the weather, and the rider’s fitness level.

Other factors, such as the weight of you and the bike itself and different pedal styles, every bike is different as they all have a variety of different power. If you use a higher speed setting, the battery will drain quickly.

The average electric bike has a range of 20-40 miles before it requires a recharge, but some models can travel much further. For example, the Pedego Stretch electric bike has a range of 100 miles! 

If you want to figure out how far an ebike can go, you can use our distance calculator.

Why choose an electric-powered bike over a regular bike?

This is a great question and I can answer this because I took up cycling again in my 40s. I enjoyed riding. I live in a very hilly city called Sheffield, and I relied on human power. However, after I was totally knackered, it was probably doing my health good, but I was unable to function after that.

Electric bikes allow you the freedom to turn on the electricity when you are out of energy, or you come to a big hill you would normally avoid hill climbing is actually great fun on an ebike. Should you rely on them all the time? Of course not, but if your alternative to using an e-bike is not to use a bike at all, then it’s a great option and I think they are amazing.

You also control the assistance levels, which are like gears, so when you get to a hill you can just select level 1 or up to level 5, which will get you up the hills at various different speeds, which means you can gauge your effort.

I can now go out and enjoy my rides, you are still getting fit as you are still pedalling. Admittedly, it can be easy to get lazy, but if you are out and about, you still get the benefit of fresh air and exercise.

E-biking cycling is also a greener way to travel it’s fun, charging batteries is very cheap, it’s faster than walking and some local transport options, better for the environment, and a good way to avoid the traffic.

A lot of traditional pedal cyclists see electric bikes as cheating though, but most of this is just banter. Don’t let this put you off from joining the cyclist brigade.

What are the benefits of an ebike?

Electric bikes offer a number of advantages over traditional bicycles.

Most of us used to cycle when we were kids and have not been on a bike for years. Getting an electric bike can make you feel young again.

 Perhaps the most significant advantage is that they can make cycling easier and more enjoyable, especially for people who might otherwise find cycling to be difficult or uncomfortable. 

For example, electric bikes can be a great option for people who have joint pain or other mobility issues that make pedalling a traditional bike difficult.

There are also environmental factors to consider: they are zero emission transport, which means no burning petrol or oil, while they are not totally emission-free, as you still have to charge them which takes power, they are cleaner for the environment and do have some surprising environmental benefits as you can read here.

We have a post telling you the top 10 benefits of owning an ebike.

Are there any drawbacks to riding EBIKES?

There are a few potential drawbacks to riding an electric bike. One is that they can be more expensive than traditional bikes. Another is that they can be heavier and more difficult to transport. Additionally, electric bikes can have a shorter range than traditional bikes, and they may not be able to go as fast.

How fast can electric bicycles go?

All legal bikes in the country can only go 15.5 mph by law. As they are limited to this in the UK, you can derestrict your bike usually to make it go faster.

However, there are some electric bikes that can go up to 40 miles per hour, but these would be classed as illegal in the United Kingdom.

E-bikes that go faster than 15.5 are often referred to as pedelecs, which is basically another name for an electric moped.

In the uk, each vehicle has its own class, which all have their own insurance needs and regulations, mopeds have class 1 and class 2, electric bikes have similar classes, for the 250-watt motor types, and large motors have a different class.

Are there any special considerations I need to take when riding an e bike?

Yes, there are a few special considerations you need to take when riding an electric bike. First and foremost, always wear a helmet! Electric bikes can go much faster than traditional bikes, so it’s important to protect your head in case of an accident. Secondly, be aware of your surroundings and be cautious of potential hazards. Electric bikes are relatively new, so not all drivers are aware of them and may not yield to you as they should.

What types of different electrical bikes are there?

There are quite a few different types of bikes out there now. There are traditional road bikes and mountain bikes. You do not see many electric road bikes though. The ones that we do see have very small batteries.

We have fat bikes, which look cool. They are often called snow bikes or cruiser bikes. Often, these bikes are folding bikes too. The fat bikes are very good for people with bad backs as the handlebars are up high, and the design allows you to sit in an upright position.

There are hybrid bikes which are a cross between mountain bikes and racing bikes. You see a lot of hybrid electric bikes in stores like Halfords now.

There are folding electric bikes or bikes people use on their commute to work that are light and you can get on and off the train like a Brompton bike. There are quite a few cool-looking small electric bikes like this now.

In fact, the commuter has been one of the massive areas of growth for cycling. As petrol prices and the cost of living have increased, people have been looking for ways to save money. Many choose a motorcycle or even an electric scooter. The benefit of using a bike is you will get some fitness and burn off some unwanted calories.

There are some really impressive cargo bikes too. E-cargo bikes are pretty expensive and very large bikes, but you can carry lots of cargo on one of these bikes. Many riders who use these kinds of bikes use them for shopping trips or adventure weekends away.

I must also say most bikes have different electric setups. For example, most have a different display. You can see which level of pedal assist you are at, there is a wide range of different motor powers and the same goes for battery capacity.

How much does an electric bicycle cost?

The cost of an electric bike can vary greatly depending on the type of bike, the features it offers, and the quality of the components. A basic electric bike with a small motor and battery can cost as little as $500, while a high-end electric bike with a powerful motor, large battery, and premium features can cost upwards of $5,000.

Costs usually vary for a number of reasons:. It can actually be pretty hard to choose the right bike as there are so many different options on the market, with many different power systems, performance, bike sizes, drivetrains and power delivery settings.

Who is the biggest manufacturer of E-Bikes?

The biggest manufacturer of electric bikes is undoubtedly Yamaha. They have been in the business for many years and have a vast array of experience when it comes to electric bikes. 

Their products are reliable and well-made, and they have a wide range of prices to suit all budgets. Yamaha is a trusted name in the electric bike world, and its products are sure to give you many years of happy riding.

Can you ride electric bikes manually?

Yes, you can actually turn off the electricity and just pedal the bike normally as you do with a non-e-bike. However, it does tend to be harder to pedal. It all depends on which bike you have. Some are easier to pedal than others.

Where do you buy an e bike?

There are many places to buy electric bikes. You can buy them online, at bike stores, or at some sporting goods stores. You can also find electric bikes at some car dealerships. Or you could buy one from our site.

There are many different manufacturers, and we get most of our bikes from suppliers in China, which is where most imported bikes come from and are made.

Where do you store an electrical bike?

Assuming you don’t have a garage or shed, the best place to store an electric bike is in your home, preferably in a room that you can lock. 

If you have a basement, that’s a great place to keep it since it’s usually out of the way and not too hot or cold. If you have an upstairs apartment, try to keep it in a closet or somewhere where it won’t be in the way.

You need to keep your bike away from the elements, and also safe from theft.

Are they the future of cycling?

The sheer number of bikes sold tells us this is the future of cycling, with bike motors having better efficiency, battery life and capacity improving every year.

You can expect to see cycling being a more prominent part of our lives, with the costs of running cars and motorcycles increasing each year, you can even go on an electric bike holiday now find out more here.

I expect to see more bikes that have regenerative braking, and options to pair your bike with your mobile phone in the future. Maybe even bikes that do over 100 miles per charge as a regular selling point.

Please check out our store for best electric bikes and scooters reight good bikes

Answers to Common Questions with Explanations

Can you ride an e-bike in the rain?

Yes, you can, most ebikes are very well insulated against the rain. I have ridden many ebikes in all kinds of weather and never had any issues. I am sure there is a limit but generally, this is not an issue even in the UK’s changeable weather. In fact, my MCM Moscow electrics were sealed in a kind of silicone so no water could penetrate the wires at all.

Can you take an electric bicycle on a train?

Yes, you can take one on a train. However, sometimes you will need to book in advance. Generally, if you ask the guard on the train they will advise you what to do, Generally if you use your common sense and do not try to board in rush hour, you will have no problems getting your bike on a train.

Can you take your ebike on holiday with you or by plane?

The answer is not really, because you will not be able to transport the battery on the plane itself, you will have to send the battery by post in advance, which is not really practical. However, the bike itself can be transported by plane with no problem. Obviously, it will cost you extra because of the weight of your bike, Generally a good idea to ask any provider before you plan to take your bike abroad with you. Pro cyclists do this all the time, it’s just the additional battery that is an issue, as obviously, if there is a fire on a plane you will be in big trouble if you survive ha

How do you charge an electric bike? When your out traveling?

All bikes come with their own charger which allows you to charge it via your mains, you can upgrade your charger if you wish you just have to make sure the adaptor is the same, as a lot of chargers have different plugs that you use to attach the charger to your ebike, it does not cost a lot to charge an ebike.
If you are going on long journeys often a stop at a friendly pub or cafe will let you charge your bike for a few hours, you can just tip them when you leave.

How long does an e-bike take to charge?

It really depends on the size of the battery and how depleted it is, Some can charge in only a few hours but most larger batteries can take 4-8 hours to fully charge, you don’t have to fully charge each time you use the battery.

Should I put the battery on charge after each use? or run the battery down before I charge it?

From my experience it does not really matter, batteries on ebikes are the same as any other battery, they slowly lose their ability to hold their charge over time, you should do whichever suits you best.
I have tried both ways it did not make the battery last longer, so in the end, I used to just put it on charge after each use.

Are e-bicycles good for seniors or older people?

They are perfect for older people who struggle with the rigours of normal cycling but still want to enjoy the benefits, they make you feel like a pro-cyclist and when you’re in your 50s like me that feels pretty amazing, They are perfect for older people but actually, you can be any age to enjoy the benefits of ebikes.
I am 51 and it’s a godsend riding a normal bike is very tough, especially in Sheffield!

Why are e-bikes so expensive?

This is a tough one to answer, as there are cheaper ebikes that work just as well as the expensive ones, it comes down to the motor and the battery for the most part, especially larger batteries which are incredibly expensive, often if you take away the battery the bike will cost the same as the battery itself, the motors to are pretty expensive to buy on their own.
Other than that you are paying for components and the higher-quality ones cost more.

Can electric bikes get up really steep hills?

You bet your bottom dollar they can, I live on Jenkin Road which was on the route of the Tour De France, Chris Froome struggled to get up my road, but I breeze up it, and on every ebike I have had I have made it up there, 250 watts 500 and 750 all can climb it no problem at all and while you may feel it a little you will not be out of breath if you choose a higher setting on your bike, now admittedly you don’t go fast going uphill, it’s a very slow uphill climb around walking brisk pace, but I have NEVER found a hill I could not get up on an ebike, this is not something you should ever worry about.

Do e-bikes help and give you exercise or have any health benefits?

Of course, you are still pedalling so its still exercise, If you go on long rides you will still get tired as you are still having the pedal, as most bikes are pedal-assist I was very fit when I was delivering food on my ebike, so yes just because its electric does not mean you won’t get the health benefits, I saw a documentary that said if everyone used an ebike everyone would be more healthy and the NHS would have far fewer patients, you can still track your routes and calories with a fitness watch and Strava has an ebike setting on it.
Often I was burning 400-600 calories per ride in only 3 hours so they are effective for people wanting to lose weight also.


Owner at Reight Good Bikes | Website | + posts

I'm the passionate mind behind this online web shop. As an avid cyclist, I have a particular fondness for electric bikes and scooters, believing they offer a unique sense of freedom and joy. Not only do I enjoy riding them, but I also take pride in reviewing and sharing my insights about these fantastic machines. Additionally, as someone who suffers from dry eyes, I'm committed to stocking products that genuinely enhance and improve people's lives. Dive into my shop, and you'll find a curated selection of e-bikes, scooters, and other life-enhancing products that I stand by.


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