It’s a different experience, but nothing that you can’t get used to after a few rides. Time to develop some new muscle memory.
How is Riding an eBike Different?
There are a few parts that are different than you may expect. To start, it all depends on what type of electric bike you have in the first place.
These types of ebikes have a throttle on the handlebar. If you converted your own bicycle to an ebike, then you’ll know this as an extra part that you had to put on the handlebar during conversion.
This does all the work for you. It enacts the motor to push and cover 100% of the weight, so you don’t have to pedal at all. This is borderline riding on becoming a motorbike or motorcycle, so you have to be careful with the level of power that you allow when you convert or buy an electric bicycle.
Eventually, it becomes a street legal motorbike and you have to be careful.
This is the most common type of electric bicycle. You pedal, and the motor kicks in to offer some level of assistance that will pull the bike and make your pedaling easier, but the key here is that your pedaling is still required.
That’s the distinction between pedal assist and full power/throttle. You’ll feel a much easier, smoother ride than a manual bike when you have pedal assist, so you won’t become fatigued during commutes.
The entire goal here is to make your bike more viable and reliable to get you to work in a specific amount of time without having the variable of fatigue on the line. You know, it also helps so that you don’t show up to work with pit stained clothes as well, which can be super helpful.
Pedaling vs. Riding on Electric Power
WIth a standard, manual bicycle, you’re relying entirely on the kinetic energy that you put into the chain. But here, a motor helps when the pedaling begins.
Think of it as a boost, or an added bonus. Like the bicycle is matching your kinetic energy input with electrical energy to supplement what you provide. If the bike takes one unit of energy to move one foot, you only have to supply between 50% and 70% of that energy depending on how powerful your pedal assist is.
So what’s the real benefit when it comes to pedaling versus having electric pedal assist?
Your Bike Becomes Reliable Transportation: Right now, a bicycle is going to provide you with a way to get from A to B a lot faster than walking, but how much faster? How much time is it going to take you? Are you tired, or did you not get enough sleep? Sick? There are so many life variables that directly affect your ability to pedal a manual bicycle, which will affect the time that it takes to get there and get back. With an electric bike, all of that becomes easier, and it means that you can use your bicycle even when you’re not feeling 100%.
Uphill Climbs: We mean that literally. There’s nothing worse than already being a few miles into a ride, and then there’s a hill. It’s steep, it’s hard to maneuver, and you’re already feeling your muscles asking you for a rest, but you have to proceed. Manual pedaling is difficult, because your kinetic energy is meeting a stronger, opposing force. WIth pedal assistance, the electric motor kicks in as much as needed, so it can generally match you for about half of your input when you’re making difficult climbs uphill.
Different Levels of Assistance: Some brands, such as Story Electric Bikes, allow you to choose your level of pedal assistance. This is important for your ride, your uphill climbs, but it’s also important for your battery life. If you’re having a day where it feels good to proceed without a lot of pedal assistance, you can turn it down. With many electric bikes, you can’t just shut it off since it’s integrated into your bicycle, but having the ability to change the pedal assist levels and contour your bike to your ride is intuitive. This changes the riding experience from manual pedaling in every single way.
There are a lot of differences between the two, but it’s not all sunshine and daisies. We have a few things that we want you to keep in mind while you’re riding an electric bike.
Things to Keep in Mind When on the Road
Before you take off and decide to zoom through the streets on a full power or pedal assist electric bicycle, we want you to keep a few things in mind.
Wattage Equals Power: The low your battery is, the lower your level of pedal assistance is going to be. Even if you have a variable speed that you can set it to, it’s not going to be exactly where you need it to be if the battery falls under 50%. This is different for every single bike brand, the battery brand, and the age of the battery, but variables aside it’s going to happen no matter what. Keep it fully charged and try to ride above 50% for it to maintain its proper output.
Downhill Pedal Assist is a Thing; If you’re pedaling, it’s going to kick in with that assistance no matter what. If you’re going downhill and you pedal, you make it harder to stop properly. When you kick the brakes on and stop pedaling, it will stop the electric assist, but that momentum doesn’t just disappear like an electric charge.
Your Rider Weight Matters: If you’re bringing a lot of stuff with you or you wear heavy clothes, it’s going to weigh down your bike and lower its efficiency. For rider weight, be sure to try and match it to the maximum weight allowed by the bike, and offer a 10% to 20% buffer. If the maximum bike weight is 300 lbs, riders should try to be 240 lbs or under, for example. This is how you’ll get the most out of your pedal assist and not drain the battery before it’s supposed to be.
Your Bike Might Have Bluetooth: Seriously, it might. Some manufacturers, such as Shimano (a golden brand among electric bikes) will have motor bluetooth configuration. This means that you’ll be able to control how much the motor outputs without having a linear 3 or 5 settings at your disposal. You can fine-tune when the motor kicks in, and this will help you with battery retention.
The number one goal you should have while riding is maximum battery retention. This leads to fewer charges, elongating the battery’s life cycle, and it ensures that you never run out of energy while you’re out on the road.
Safety Tips for Riding eBikes
Before you go, keep a few safety precautions in mind when operating an ebike.
Speed Difference: This isn’t going to feel like your average bicycle, so don’t treat it like one. Understand the maximum speed that your bike can go up to without pedal assist, and then try to find a way to test your highest speed so you know what it is, and what it feels like. Built-in speedometers are available with many conversion kits, so give those a shot.
Brake Earlier Than You Think You Need to: It’s as simple as that. If you know you need to brake, brake as early as possible and come to a slowdown instead of an abrupt full stop. It’s another reason why you should test out your electric bike before taking it on the road.
Crashes Suck, But Now You’re Faster: We’ve all taken a spill off of a bicycle before, but now there’s a motor, and a heavier frame, and more speed. One fall could be serious even if you’re just going 28 MPH on a class three electric bike. Suit up with the appropriate safety gear beforehand.
A Little Different From Your Childhood Huffy
You’re going to feel right at home on your electric bike, and with the assistance of that electric motor, you’ll be zooming through anywhere you need to commute without getting pit stains on your way to work.
Riding an electric bike is simple once you get the hang of it, you just have to understand what to expect from the motor, and what to expect from yourself in terms of operating power.
Noel Joseph has been in the world of motor vehicles for a long period. Currently, he is enthusiastic about Electric & Hybrid Motors and is an independent researcher. He advocates for a clean and sustainable future and envisions utilizing his years of experience in mechanical engineering. His new venture here at CompactPower.com is to organize and simplify knowledge on Electric vehicles. He wants to build a space where people can talk about EVs and associated technologies with freedom.