Demystifying The E-Bike / Electric Bicycle
If you ever wondered what's all the fuss around the electric bicycles or as they are popularly known as e-bikes, read on.
The bicycles' popularity has soared in recent times for several reasons. It completely fits in with today's need for a non-polluting vehicle, aids in decongesting roads, and supports a healthier lifestyle. Cars and other fuel-powered motorized vehicles are considered as major pollution contributors, cause of traffic congestion, and don't do any favour to their users on the health front. Vehicle manufacturers are now turning their focus towards EVs or electric vehicles which have lower emissions than the fuel-run ones. However, EVs don't make any difference in contributing to a healthier population, or even at decongesting roads which is a concern in most major cities around the world.
Even the humble bicycle has got its electric version, popularly called the e-bike. Unlike fuel-powered vehicles, they are not only a replacement to the bicycle but also a step-up version and an alternative to fuel-powered two-wheelers and four-wheelers.
How does an e-bike work
An e-bike, also known as a pedelec (pedal electric cycle) is a bicycle with a battery power assist that kicks in once the rider starts pedaling. A casual glance and there is no apparent difference between a regular bicycle and an electric one. Besides the similar components of a regular bicycle, an e-bike has a connected electrical system of a motor, a rechargeable battery, a sensor, and controls with an LED display. Additionally, you would have a key lock switch to turn on the battery, similar to most motorized two-wheelers, and a battery charging point conveniently placed on the frame of the bicycle.
When a rider starts pedaling an e-bike, the pedaling activates the motor and the rider gets a boost. The transition is so smooth that the rider doesn't even realize that the motor has started. Most e-bikes have a throttle option where the rider gets the same power minus the pedaling.
Let's explore the unique additions to the bicycle that makes it an e-bike, starting with its motor.
There are mainly two types of motors that are used on an e-bike. The more popular of the two is the hub motor which is integrated at the center of either the front or the rear wheel. They give the rider a pleasant and effortless ride with hardly any exertion on pedaling. They are popular since they are reliable, with no or little maintenance, and are perfect for city roads and regular commutes.
The other option is the mid-drive motor positioned in between the pedals at the bike's bottom bracket and transfers its power to the rear wheel via the bicycle's chain drive. This design works better for rough terrain and mountain bikes since it works synergistically with the bike's gears for higher efficiency.
Electric bikes need charging like any other battery-powered device similar to a mobile phone and charging can take anywhere between 2-8 hours. The battery is the core to the working of an e-bike. It has an impact on the range, weight, and style of the bike. There are mainly 2 types of batteries used. One, the SLA or Sealed Lead Acid, popular and cheap but on the downside, they are heavy and bulky, have a low riding range, and shorter life spans of about 100-300 full cycle charges.
Besides needing more maintenance they also have to be charged immediately after use. A better option is the lithium-ion battery which is maintenance-free and lighter in weight, and best of all it has a longer life span of about 800 charges or daily use of 3 years. Additionally, its riding range is better and one can travel longer when using the pedal-assist.
The sensors play an important part in the experience of the rider. There are two options, torque or cadence or some e-bikes have both. The torque sensor is based on pedal force, or how hard the rider is pedaling and the cadence sensor picks up speed or how fast the rider is pedaling. This information is used to provide the rider with the optimum electric assistance by determining how much power to dole out. The torque sensor is considered the better of the two.
Controls & Display
The controls and the LED display can be a single unit or two separate ones placed for easy visibility and access on the handlebar. The information displayed is the battery power indicator and the automatic PAS levels.
There are control buttons to let the rider determine if and how much electric assistance is required from the motor.
So why should you choose an electric bicycle?
Multiple reasons, some of which we have listed here.
1) Simpler and Easier Pedaling
With an e-bike, the action of cycling still exists but it only makes it feel simpler and easy.
You can choose to dial down the pedal assistance from the motor where your legs will maintain the majority of the work. If you set the pedal assistance to maximum, while you still be using your legs to cycle it would be quicker and more efficient since the motor will be doing most of the work.
2) Faster & Easier Riding
A rider can move faster and with ease on an e-bike versus a regular bicycle. An e-bike cyclist can attain an average speed of about 22 kilometers per hour versus 15 kilometers with a standard bicycle.
That is a gain of about 50% thus bringing down your travel time considerably. An incline or a hilly terrain seems flat to ride on with an e-bike. A less fit rider can keep up with faster riding buddies by choosing a higher pedal assist.
3) No Requirement of License, Registration, Insurance and Road Taxes
Another great bunch of benefits that e-bikes score over fuel-powered vehicles is that since they are classified as bicycles, there's no need for a license, registration, insurance, road taxes.
4) Loads of Savings
You save on fuel and maintenance when compared with a motorized vehicle.
As they say, an e-bike is like a normal bike but only way cooler.
Intrigued by the amazing e-bike and eager to discover the next level of cycling?
Check out the Meraki, India's indigenously designed and manufactured e-bike with the best features to take your cycling experience up a notch.
Write to firstname.lastname@example.org and share with us your thoughts and experiences if any on the electric bicycle.
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