The standout feature of any electric bike is its motor. Taking a traditional bicycle and making it motorized has these vehicles replacing their pedal-powered brethren the world over.
These devices can’t work all on their own. If you’re looking into purchasing an e-bike yourself, here are the basic features and components that make these machines worth owning.
The first thing to look at is the motor. While this seems straightforward, there are differences in e-bike designs that are worth noting, specifically the motor’s placement on the frame.
A front-hub motor propels the leading tire forward and can feel like a front-wheel-drive car. These tend to power more quickly as it’s easier to push the bike forward than to pull it. Alternatively, rear-hub motors work with the gears located on the back wheel, making it a little more stable as well.
The central-drive motor is usually found on some of the best electric bicycle brands on the market. Since the added weight is at your center of gravity, it feels most like a standard bicycle. The positioning also allows for you to add your own pedaling to the motor’s, giving you more power as a result.
Sensing a Difference
In order for any motor to be responsive, it needs to have some way to communicate with the rest of the bike as well as the rider. That’s where the sensor comes in. A basic model will use a speed sensor, which can tell when you’re pedaling and turns the motor on to assist. This can feel like a definitive on/off switch like pressing or releasing the gas pedal.
Alternatively, torque sensors are continuously monitoring the state of the bike and its wheels, giving a much more free-form approach to motor ignition. It will match your pedaling and speed, allowing you to maneuver easily in city traffic while also letting it all out on open roads.
Taking the Train
Another important component is the drivetrain or the gears and chain dedicated to moving the bike forwards and adjusting its speed. Standard bikes use a derailleur, a device that switched the chain mechanically between gears. Many e-bikes continue to use this conventional method, acting as a hybrid bicycle that gives you the same control as a regular one.
Internal gear hubs are the direct alternative, taking a cue from cars and the prevalence of automatic transmissions. In these systems, all of the gears are hidden within a housing and change automatically without the need for a derailleur, and some even include automatic shifting.
The final component is the battery, keeping the motor powered and ready for use. These are usually located towards the center or rear of the bike to better distribute weight since these are often the heaviest part of the entire setup. A standard battery charges for about six hours and many electrical cyclists carry extra for longer trips.
There is no such thing as the best electric bike, only ones with different features that make riding more enjoyable. As you search online for deals and reviews, look for a bike that fills all of your needs so you can enjoy an electric ride as long as possible!