Technology

Technological advances in batteries, motors, and drive systems have made electric bikes more reliable and energy efficient than ever before. The seamless integration of this technology into popular frame styles has made the bikes more attractive from a design perspective.

What is an electric bike?

Electric bikes and scooters are a low cost, environmentally friendly, mode of transportation that utilizes batteries as its power source. The batteries power a quiet hub mounted motor. They can be used as a regular bike, totally power driven, or with a power assistance while pedaling.

What are power-on-demand bicycles?

Most of the E-bikes and e-scooters sold in North America are throttle controlled, much the same as a motorcycle. Unlike pedal assist, throttle powered bikes do not require the rider to pedal at all.

What are pedal assist bicycles

Pedal assist E-bikes utilize a torque sensor that triggers the motor to kick in and "assist" the rider when pedaling. These are great for longer distances.

What types of batteries are available?

The largest, single cost component is the battery. Today's bikes are typically built using sealed lead acid or lithium-ion batteries.

Batteries

Sealed lead acid batteries offer more power for your money but they do not last as long and are considerably heavier than the alternative. However, they are great for heavier E-bikes because the extra power is extremely useful and the weight of the battery is not an issue.

Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are by far the highest quality battery available. Their higher cost is offset by a lighter weight and significantly longer lifespan. Li-ion is a generic name with 3 main subcategories that are used in electric bikes. Make sure you ask what type of Li-ion battery is used as their performance and cost varies significantly.

  • Li-Manganese (LMO) batteries are the most common and most affordable type used. It is almost always referred to generically as Li-ion. This type will usually get around 500-800 charge cycles.
  • Li-Polymer (LiPo) batteries are slightly more expensive than LMO and perform for much longer. They will last for around 5,000 charge cycles.
  • Lithium-Iron-Phosphate (LFP) batteries are the latest and greatest in lithium technology. By far the longest and lightest available. LFP is a very expensive technology that will last about 1600-2000 charges. They have the most equalized discharge rate of any type of battery, which means that they perform at full power throughout most of their life and do not weaken towards the end of a charge.

Battery Power Ratings

Batteries are rated in voltage (V) and amp hours (AH) with higher power batteries usually letting you reach higher speeds. A general rule is that 24V will achieve a tops speeds of 15-18 MPH, while 36V will get you to 20 MPH. Heavier E-bike rated scooters typically have 48V systems, which is needed to carry the extra weight to 20MPH. AH is the measurement of a battery's capacity and will affect the range that you can travel on a single charge. Factors such as terrain, rider weight, and input will also affect range. A general rule is that a 36V 10AH battery will achieve a range of 20-25 miles for the average rider.

Motor types

Most of today's bikes are built with maintenance free, brushless hub mounted motors. There are, however, lower cost bikes on the market that use externally mounted, chain driven motors that are both noisy and require maintenance.