How do electric bikes work?
And what’s so great about them?
How do electric bikes work?
Electric bikes have a battery and quiet electric motor that helps push the bike along. You plug the battery into the wall to charge. To use the motor the system will start automatically when you start pedaling, or you can push a throttle and ride the bike like a motorcycle. This makes cycling very easy regardless of your physical capacity.
How fast do electric bikes go?
In New Zealand the legal power output for a road going electric bike is 300 watts. A 300 watt electric bike will go about 32-35km/h unassisted. Hence most NZ production electric bikes go about this fast.
You can go faster by pedaling also.
Can I ride the bike without using the electrics?
Yes. All electric bikes can be ridden as a normal bike with out using the motors. You can ride them even with the battery removed.
Most motors have a freewheeling system meaning you are not turning the motor when it is not in use, the bike rides as normal.
Most systems have a throttle so you can ride the bike like a normal bike then press the throttle when you need a boost to climb a hill or pass a young man wearing lycra.
Does pedalling charge the battery?
Surprisingly, this is one of the most common questions. While it is possible with systems with regenerative breaking, it would be very hard to pedal to produce enough power to charge the battery. It is much more efficient and cost effective to plug your bike in and charge it than to use pedal power. 20c of electricity would be about $20 worth of food if you were to pedal! Pedaling reduces the load on the battery, so any pedaling you do will make you go further and faster!
How far can I go on a single charge?
The range of electric bikes can vary, but most riders are able achieve around 40km per charge with a 36v 13ah battery. One of the main factors in determining how far you can travel on a single charge is how much assistance you provide. Obviously, the more pedaling you do, the less strain on the battery and the more range you’ll achieve. Keep in mind, ‘pedal-assist’ bikes have higher ratings and achieve more range than throttle-controlled bikes because the rider is required to pedal at all times.
Another factor that can have a big impact is terrain. If you live in a hilly area or have lots of steep inclines – expect less range from your e-bike. Larger riders or people carrying heavy loads can also expect reduced output.
Speed is another big factor. Above 30km/h wind resistance takes a large toll on range. You are likely to do twice the range at 25km/h than at 35km/h.
Battery capacity is measured in Watt Hours, as a rough guide 100 watt hours will give you 10km of riding. A 36v15ah battery gives you (36×15=) 540 Watt Hours, so you could expect around 54km of assisted range.
How long does it take to charge the battery?
Most e-bike standard chargers charge at a rate of 2 amps. So, if you had a 10 amp hour battery that was flat, it would take 5 hours to charge.
Normal practice is to ride your bike during the day, and charge over night. This gives the battery time to charge and continue to trickle charge to “balance” the battery, ensuring all cells are completely full.
What is the battery lifespan?
Battery life will vary depending on your riding style and charging practice. Typically, Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) batteries last around 600 charges where the capacity has decreased to 70%.
This can be extended by following a few rules.
‣ Never leave the battery in a flat condition, always recharge after the battery is flattened.
‣ Store your battery in a cool place.
‣ Charge your battery every 2 months if it is not being used.
‣ Avoid running your battery flat. Aim for 70% discharge.
‣ Ride a a speed that draws lower watts from the battery. (avoid long high power situations)
There are improvements in cell quality and charging happening all the time, so when it is time to renew your battery there are sure to be larger capacity and longer lasting packs available.
Can I ride my electric bicycle in the rain?
Generally, yes. Though as a rule of thumb, if you’re not enjoying the rain, the bike may not be as well.
Light rain is fine, heavy pouring, driving rain can cause issues.
Currently all plugs are IP67 rated and electronic components are sealed or potted to avoid water issues.
We encourage you store your bike out of the rain where ever possible or invest in a light weight rain cover if you’re leaving it on the street.
Will I get fit or fat riding an electric bike?
Electric bikes are an ideal way to enter back into exercise and improve fitness. A common misconception is that electric bikes are for lazy people and that a rider wont get any exercise. The reality is that electric bike owners spend multiple times more time on their bikes than regular bike owners. E bike riders still pedal as much as they want and with the increased time on their bike, build their fitness. And with riding an e-bike being so much fun you don’t even notice you’re exercising!