What Is An Electric Bike?

Last Edited
October 24, 2021

What is an Electric Bike?

Christian Angelo 

An electronic bike, or e-bike, is basically a bicycle that is integrated with an electronic system, composed of an electric motor, a battery, a sensor, and an electronic display. The motor is activated when the pedal-assist feature is used, giving the rider a boost. An e-bike looks just like a regular bike and its parts function similarly.

Nowadays, electronic bikes, or e-bikes, are becoming more common and affordable. So what’s so interesting about e-bikes? To start with, they offer low-cost, energy-efficient transportation and give a whole new riding experience. In this article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about electronic bikes.

How does an e-bike work?

The pedal-assist feature, or ‘pedelec’, only activates when you push the pedals, giving you a boost so you can easily ride up the hills or cruise in the main streets. Other e-bikes have a throttle mode that functions similarly to that of a motorcycle or scooter. Activating the throttle will engage the electric motor and provide power to move the e-bike forward.

E-bikes vs Standard bicycles

E-bikes and standard bicycles differ in certain aspects. The most obvious difference is that e-bikes have an electronic system while regular bikes do not. You will also notice that e-bikes have additional components on their handlebars like an LCD display and a throttle.

In terms of repair and maintenance, both bicycles will need the same services except for the electronic components on an e-bike. In general, you can take both bikes to the same repair shop. The prices on repairing the parts are pretty much alike unless it's the electrical system you’re talking about. 

E-bikes offer a whole new riding experience that a standard bicycle could not offer. Yes, the cycling motion is the same but the effort you exert is not. With the adjustable pedal assist, you can literally change how the ride feels. There are roads that you can easily conquer with an e-bike but are much more difficult with a regular bike.

Depending on the class, an e-bike could reach a maximum speed of either 20mph or 28mph. Once the maximum speed is reached, the e-bike motor stops and you will need to cycle on your own. That is far above the beginner average cycling speed of 12 mph. So if you do not plan to race, e-bikes will give you a more effortless ride and allow you to maintain longer durations without getting exhausted.

Different classes of e-bike

E-bikes are determined in classes to implement traffic rules and regulations. In the United States, 22 states acknowledge the three common classes - Class 1, 2, and 3. It is very important to check your local laws first before riding an ebike through the main streets. Here is a breakdown of the three classes:

  • Class 1: 20 mph maximum assisted speed, pedal assist only, allowed in bike lanes and paths
  • Class 2: 20 mph maximum assisted speed, throttle assist, allowed in bike lanes and paths
  • Class 3: 28 mph maximum assisted speed, speedometer required, may have throttle or non-throttle, allowed in bike lanes and paths

Again, make sure to check your local e-bike laws and regulations because they vary depending on location.

What are the capabilities of an ebike?

Battery Voltage

Nowadays, electric bikes are commonly equipped with 48V and 52V Lithium-ion batteries that are lightweight, durable, and easily charged. Power and performance differentiates the two batteries. Higher-voltage means greater efficiency and better performance. When halfway discharged, the 52V battery experiences less power drop than the 48V battery. In short, 52V is better than 48V.

It usually takes 3.5 to 6 hours for a fully depleted battery to recharge. However, batteries with partial charges could only take about 2.5 hours or even less. 


There are different factors that affect the amount of distance your ebike could cover in a single charge. On average, you can reach 22-50 miles with a single charge. Other factors include terrain, weather conditions, battery capacity and age, use of pedal assist, and even certain parts of your ebike like tires.


Ebikes are pretty durable. They actually last longer than 10 years if properly maintained! Here are some of the common parts and their average lifespan:


The battery is estimated to properly function for 3-5 years or until it reaches 500 charge cycles. After that, the battery performance starts to decline and there will be a noticeable difference in range. The battery will then require more charging time.

Basic battery maintenance tips include keeping it away from cold temperature, storing it at room temperature, keeping it tucked in the ebike unless you’re charging it, and keeping it warm by purchasing battery covers.

Electric Motor

The electric motor of ebikes is very reliable and would not require too much maintenance. Avoid putting too much pressure when washing, and do not drive into places where it would get submerged in water - rivers for example. The motor is likely the last thing you’ll need to replace, and when it breaks easily the warranty may have you covered.


The lifespan of your brakes would depend on how you use them but you can expect it to reach 2000 miles before wearing out. Riding downhills will cause you to break excessively and this could be a factor for the tear and wear of your brakes.

Chain and Gears

The chain of your ebike is connected to its gears so it would be likely that you will have to replace them simultaneously when the need arises. However, properly maintaining the chain would prolong the lifespan of your gears. Chains on most commuter ebikes could withstand 3.5k miles before demanding a replacement. 


Tires could last for up to 3k-5k miles per set. There are times when the back tire would have to be replaced first since it typically wears out faster because it takes more strain than the front tire.

A great riding experience

A study in 2020 shows that people who buy ebikes doubled their use of bicycles as a mode of transportation. People who purchased ebikes had an increase of 7.1 kilometers per day of bike travel. They also decreased their time spent in walking, public transport, and car driving.

Frequently asked questions about e-bikes

What is the average cost of an ebike?

The general price range of e-bikes is $600 to $8000. More mainstream types cost around $1500 - $4000.

Are ebikes safe to use?

Yes, they are as safe to ride as traditional bikes. Even safer when precautionary measures are observed and extreme vigilance is practiced. However, elderly people aged 65+ have a slightly increased risk of danger. 

Are ebikes difficult to use since they're heavier?

It is true that e-bikes are heavier than regular bikes. However, the pedal-assist makes up for the added weight, even making it easier to ride than traditional bicycles.

Can I still get exercise from riding an e-bike?

The short answer is yes. Although the pedal assist helps you with some of the cycling work, riding an e-bike still counts as an exercise. Studies show that riding an e-bike provides moderate intensity levels that are recommended to avoid serious health risks.

The takeaway

E-bikes are just like regular bicycles but with an integrated electrical system that assists the rider in pedaling. Electric bicycles are becoming more common and affordable nowadays, and they are durable too. Traffic rules and regulations for e-bikes vary depending on your location so make sure to review them. 

It is always recommended to wear safety gear when riding an electric bicycle. If you’re a beginner, try practicing in small distances first before taking long rides or using it regularly. When you’re finally comfortable and confident in using it as a means of public transportation, be sure to be extra vigilant on the road.

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