Electric Bikes are sweeping the markets! They are the new fashion in commuting! But before you ask yourself what are Electric Bikes and How they Work – you need to get a little understanding about Motor Bikes and Cars.
Motor Bikes were designed in the early 1900’s. Although they are very useful there are 2 major drawbacks to their use. Primarily they make the environment very polluted.
Cars are more convenient – but cramping spaces and parking issues add up to the above discussed problems. And both (Cars and Motor Bikes) are very heavy on your pockets. An average family can ONLY afford one of each.
Adding the luxury, speed and convenience of a Motor Bike and a Car – and subtracting the negatives that these two offer – a more economic range of commuting vehicles were invented – AN ELECTRIC BIKE. After its launch it successfully experienced rapid sales growth since 1998.
It is estimated that about 260,000 electric bicycles were sold to customers in the United States in 2017. Global sales of e-bikes are forecasted to reach approximately 40 million units in near 2024.
Asia, USA and Europe are counted among the most important manufacturers and sellers for this commodity.
These projections (based on market forecasts by Navigant Research) – show that the demand of e-bikes will continue to rise. Owing to its usefulness and most importantly health and environment benefits a lot of populations are making it a better choice for their day to day commute.
But before you look for forward to buy one – understand what an e-bike is and how it works.
What is an e-bike?
According to oxford dictionaries an e-bike is “A bicycle that can be run on electric power as well as by pedaling.”
Macmillan Dictionary describes it better. They quote it as “an electric bike which has a motor to power it or to help with pedaling.”
Electric Bikes are electrically assisted bikes. You can run them on electrical mode and can pedal them too.
So basically your bicycle is not just your gymnasium equipment anymore. It can be used as a super commuter option – which you can use to go for your work and your college, to complete your household chores, and sometimes even just for a recreational drive along with your friends.
A lot many bikes are available in the market. If you are ever looking to buy an electric bike – choose the best one. No doubt, that the best ones come with a price tag, but just imagine yourself with a punctured heavy bike on a mountain terrain! You will be definitely stuck!
One such experience is going to shell out all the money you saved while buying a low quality inexpensive e-bike. And you will be lasted with bitter and inconvenient biking experience for the life time. So better buy the best – the first time and enjoy it for life time.
Basic Parts (Components) of an E-Bike
An e-bike is a very simple yet incredibly clever invention. Any e-bike needs seven key parts to get going.
- Derailleur (Gearing System)
Let us look at each one of them in detail
This is the heart in the innovative design of an E-Bike. Basically the engineers have put a battery driven Electric Motor in tradition bicycles and given you this convenient tool – An ELECTRIC BIKE!
So what does a motor do?
Like any other motor driven vehicles for example cars and motor bikes – a motor rotates its wheels. An e-bike has compact electric motors built into the hub of the back or front wheel and sometimes mounted in the center of the bike and connected to the pedal sprocket.
Electricity produces rotational motion in the axle of the motor. This axle is connected to wheels. As it spins, it spins the wheels along. Simple Physics! A decent motor can provide you with 15-20 miles of speed per hour.
Electric Bike Motor can be placed in the front hub, rear hub and mid-drive portions of the bike. Each placement has its own benefits.
If you know a little bit of engineering you can design an electric bike for yourself. It never needs rocket science engineering.
In fact i myself has converted one of my regular bicycle into an electric bike. Amazon offers a lot many conversion kit. I am sharing below the link to the best quality conversion kit, if you want to check it out.
(My electric bike is converted by using the above linked Bafang’s conversion kit. It has a super power motor and a long lasting battery.)
To keep the motor running you need an electrical battery. If motor is the heart, than a battery is like lungs of your vehicle.
This is the equipment where your electrical energy is stored. E-Bikes are equipped with re-chargeable electrical batteries, which make about 350–500 W of power (that’s about 35–50 volts and 10 amps).
A good battery can last you an average of 35 – 50 miles. If you want to go on a long trip, you can carry additional batteries with you.
E-Bikes need light weight batteries unlike four wheel vehicles. This rules out the use of heavy lead-acid batteries like the ones that start cars.
Although some electric bikes do use them – but those are the least preferred ones, as half of your battery energy is used in carrying the weight of the battery itself.
Lithium-ion batteries which are generally used in computers and mobile phones are the most preferred ones. They can be easily plugged in and charged and do not need any other water or chemical replacements.
Although slightly expensive than the traditional rechargeable battery technologies such as nickel-cadmium they have become the popular choice – because they make your biking experience very convenient and pleasurable.
Preferably buy e-bikes having battery and motor of topmost quality. If these two are strong, you will always be content with your bikes’ performance.
Take utmost care of your electric bike battery. Electric Bike Charging needs to be perfect. Do not alter its charge cycles and store it properly.
And if possible buy plastic covers for your motor and battery – this protects them from showers in rainy seasons and from dew, moisture and heat in other weathers.
Sensors are very important especially in modern electric bikes. Sensors come in two types.
- Speed Sensor or a Cadence Sensor
- Torque Sensor
As you start pedaling your electric bike – a speed sensor commonly known as Cadence Sensor activates the motor of the bike.
Torque sensor is to match your speed when you’re moving. It’s much more responsive than a speed sensor.
Torque Sensor measures your actual force on the pedal. The harder you pedal more power it gives to the motor. If you pedal with less force, less power goes to the motor.
All these adjustment happen in real time. It samples your pedal stroke at 1,000 times per second. Your every input effects the motor.
Remember this one line which differentiates between these two sensors. A cadence sensor measures whether you are pedaling or not. A Torque Sensor measures how hard you are pedaling.
Frame makes the anatomical structure of your bike. Modern road bikes are made of one of these four materials: steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber. Some bikes have a blend of these.
Aluminum alloy is most commonly used because it is lighter in weight than steel. Titanium and carbon fiber being lighter and more durable than aluminum are used in high end expensive e-bikes.
Remember a thumb rule when you are looking for frame in a bike.
This is for multiple reasons – but the reasons which concern you the most are:
Lighter bikes are easier to ride, as they put less strain on your thighs, and they can easily reach top speeds.
And secondly the lighter the weight the more mileage it covers on electric mode.
Make sure that the material of your frame is anti-rust type, as rust is the most harmful enemy of these vehicles.
In traditional, not very high end, mid range e-bikes calliper brakes are used. You must have definitely seen them in children bikes’.
The working mechanism of these is very simple. Two arms having thick pads on their end rest on either side of the tires. When you apply brakes the pads wedge themselves against the rim of the tires – making them slow down or bringing them to a halt.
Modern, high end, quality e-bikes are installed with Disc Brakes. Disc brakes have rotors attached to wheel hubs. When a brake lever is used, it activates (by cable or hydraulic pressure) a mechanism that engages the pads and they get attached against the rotor, providing the stopping power.
Disc brakes are always preferable for two reasons:
Braking mechanism is very efficient – and if you are riding on highways or mountain bikes you need disc brakes. The traditional brakes can only work for street riding.
Disc brakes are good on your tires. Calliper brakes affects the rubber of your tires making them corrode, while disc brakes don’t.
Quick Tip – There should be at least 1.5 mm of braking material on either side of the rotor. If there is anything less – it’s time for you to replace the pads.
Tiresare a very important part of your e-bike. They are the legs of your bike and the ones which connect your bike to ground. They provide traction and suspension, and affect the way the bike feels and handles.
E-Bike tires matters more than regular bikes tires, because e-bikes are heavier than the regular ones and you will be travelling at high speed on an e-bike. Most probably you must be riding on difficult hilly and dusty terrains too.
So for all this – high-performance tires are essential to ensure safety and comfort.
Generally tires come in two sizes – 26 inches and 20 inches. 26 inches are wide fat tires which increases the ride quality and stability. Most importantly it enhances the gearing of your bike. So try to go for wide tires.
One hindrance to the pleasures of your overall biking experience is a puncture in tire tube. If available go for tube less tires, because it is very inconvenient to fix a puncture hole.
Derailleur (Gearing System)
Most of the websites will make you confuse about what exactly aDerailleur is. We will explain it to you in the easiest possible way.
According to Oxford Dictionary – a Derailleur is ” A bicycle gear which works by lifting the chain from one sprocket wheel to another of a different size.” Believe me this is the easiest definition on the web.
Modern e-bikes like motor bikes are equipped with gearing systems, which allow you to control your speed. Gearing system includes a shifter, a chainset and a derailleur.
Your point of contact in this whole gear changing system is with the shifter. As you click or move the shifter the derailleur derails and adjusts the chain to fit in the sprockets attached to the front and rear wheels.
Each shift-lever adjusts a cable that determines the position of the derailleur. And the chain in the sprockets controls the speed. If you prefer hill-climbing then this part is the most essential tool in your bike.
How does an electric bike work?
Simple Physics process will make you understand how an electric bike works. –
- The battery provides electric charge to the motor.
- Motor powers the drivetrain.
- You have the control to the outer parts like brakes and speed shifters.