How do electric bikes work?

by Ruaan Nelson 

February 12, 2023

Why do we use this archaic means of getting around in the first place? When cars, buses, trains - hell even our own two legs offer an option to get where we need to? The answer is pretty simple, lets break it down.

Cycling is an awesome way to get around a big city, it's economic, good for your health but it's not without its wants.  If you have a long commute or a commute with steep inclines you’ll leave yourself tired, sweaty and all-around drained in most cases. However, since the introduction of the e-bike, many of these problems have been solved for commuters, and now a means for transport with the added health benefit of traditional cycling has arrived!.

So for the newbies out there who want to get into the world of versatile travel but have no idea how this wizard cycle works, we have created a guide and provided an info-graphic to help educate those who have their interests perked.
E-bike horizon

E-bikes vs Regular bikes: How do they stack up?

Most often people ask, “you know, how does this bike even work?” or “ how much is it and how do you decide which one you want to get?”. Well, let's get stuck in and illuminate these queries!

Why do you ride that that electric bike versus a regular model? So let us just start out with the main reasoning we cycle in the first place. I ride my bike to work back and forth every day in part, because a bicycle doesn't require insurance, doesn't require gas and doesn't require expensive parking. It's good for general health, and it is a great social means to hang out with friends. For all those reasons I enjoy the best parts of being a cycling commuter, but over time if you ride every single day you begin to feel the cons of this ‘almost’ perfect transport.

I discovered electric bikes a couple of years ago, and it sounded amazing (as do flying cars), but as with all relatively new (and real) technology, it was tricky because there are so many options, they seem very expensive, and I wasn't quite sure where to start.
E-bikes vs Regular bikes

So let us talk a little bit about the electric bike and why it makes so much sense.

So this is my hypothetical electric bike (for discussion sake) it's a full suspension mountain bike with big tires and what that does is it smooths out my ride.

Now, this bike was not cheap, it was around the $4,000 mark, but that’s not that the standard. Electric bikes come anywhere from $600 up to $10,000 depending on what you want, and you’ll be able to justify the cost.

Because I ride it every single day, and again I don't have to use gas now since it uses electricity, I can monitor my charging costs, and the cost for charging it like this day-to-day is less than 10 cents, which I mean is super cheap!  

The battery it just fits right on to the downtube, and it works on any standard wall outlet, so I can bring this to work if needed. It feels great knowing you’re able to charge on the go and that parking the bike inside where I work, is safe and very convenient. E-bikes are relatively light to boot so carrying it up some stairs isn’t a massive chore either.

Let's go through my typical commuting day, it's a beautiful morning, and we're in Oslo Norway. It’s a tad bit chilly this time of year (haha), and my commute distance is around 13-15km, should I want to head over to my coffee stop. I’m going to cover that distance in an amazingly short amount of time and of the big benefits of riding E-bike or an electric car, is that you're tapping into a source of energy that gets cleaner and cleaner over time.

Here in Norway, the collective conscious of staying clean and being unattached to the fossil-fuel guzzling transport means of old isn’t a question or bother, people just make the move, and it makes things like E-bikes, so simple to get behind. Since fossil fuels don’t come into the equation when the community use ‘clean’ transport, you don’t create smog and other pollution-like elements that so your lungs don’t have to take the permanent hit of exhaust fumes we all know and hate!

 I used to live in LA and also lived in San Francisco and parking, just as you well know is always a horrific hassle. More services are emerging like a car-to-go and so on, but personally, I like to have a vehicle that I can hop on anytime, and that's what this is right here.

The Inner-workings: Functionality in motion

Attached below from Evelo, is a brilliant info-graphic on E-bikes portraying very clearly on how they work. Take a look before we continue on!

The Components and Modes: 
So, as illuminated in the info-graphic above, E-bikes come with 3 standard modes. Pedal only, Pedal Assist and Electric only.

The great part is if I want to avoid a hot or humid days commute, coming into work looking (and smelling) like a swamp I can just switch the mode to electric-only. The mode provides the awesome flexibility one needs, allowing you to now sit back and take a break and let the motor put the grunt that you would normally have to! Keep the throttle engaged, and you’ll fly along until you decide to either start pedaling again or to stop altogether.

E-biking and the Law: Where does it stand?

Electric bicycles are still a relatively new concept in both the United States and the rest of the world. Therefore there's a good deal of confusion regarding how the law perceives them.

Federal law sees E-bikes as the same class as traditional bicycles, provided they fulfill two conditions: (1) the highest top-end speed in the "electric only" mode is 20 mph, not including if you yourself exceed that limit by peddling. (2) The engine power has to be no longer than 750W. Every bike we at review and recommend of course all meet these standards.

Thus, electric bikes don't require a unique registration, permit, or insurance to function. Furthermore, they enjoy the very same privileges as regular bikes, for example being permitted to travel in accessible bicycle lanes. However, different nations or countries have their particular requirements, regarding electrical bike usage. While many follow the standard lead, some do change.

For those who have questions about the way electrical bicycles operate in your area or country, contact with us, and we'll guide you in the right direction. For your security, we strictly urge the use of helmet, lights, and reflecting equipment, even if the law doesn't expressly require them you just can’t take that chance!

Get More from us!

Now that your eyes are open and the Electric biking world is at your finger tips, its time to dive in! 

Here at the Electric Biking Home, we offer tons of reviews, guides and tutorials, be sure to check them out!

If you think you're ready for a great new commuting partner we would recommend taking a look at our Best Fat Tire E-bike review page. See what takes your fancy from the best we have to offer! 


Ruaan is an electrical engineer born in South Africa and currently working in Oslo, Norway. He loves tech and gadgets and owns an electric car (Tesla) as well a front-wheel-drive electric bike. He rides his bike all year, even through snow and ice covered roads in the cold winter.

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