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How do electric bikes work anyway?

Posted by Barshawn Lopez on

        Confused about Electric Bicycles?  Ever wonder how do they work exactly?  Well they work surprisingly as straight forward as the name implies.  It is just like any other bicycle except that there is also a battery.  A battery on a bicycle you say?  That's right, a battery-powered (electric) engine and a controller system that activates and regulates the electric-assistance delivered to the standard bicycle from the electric engine.

       Electric bikes pedal and handle just like a regular bicycle and  generally will use the same parts. The electric component is meant to augment human power, not completely replace it.  It makes riding up hills or mountainous trails more manageable, or overall just being able to travel farther while reducing fatigue.  

      The key components of an Electric bike are the batteries, the motor, the sturdy frame and spokes, and the brakes. The batteries are the most important part of the bike, because (if you don't do any pedaling) they contain all the power that will drive you along. Typical electric bike batteries make about 350–500 W of power,  which is about a quarter as much as you need to drive a small household appliance such as an electric toaster.  The battery that you would want to use  is one  that stores lots of power without being too heavy—or you'll be using half your power just moving the battery along!  Lightweight lithium-ion  batteries, similar to those used in laptop , computers, mobile (cellular) phones, and MP3 players, are now the most popular choice, though they're more expensive than older rechargeable battery technologies. Typical batteries will give your bicycle a range of 10–40 miles between charges (depending on the terrain) and a top speed of 10–20 mph (which is about the maximum most countries allow for these vehicles by law). You can extend the range by pedaling or free-wheeling some of the time.

      The next component is the Electric motor.  Most e-bikes  have compact electric motors built into the hub of the back or front wheel (or mounted in the center of the bike and connected to the pedal sprocket). Take a look at the hub of an electric bike and probably you'll see it's much fatter and bulkier than on a normal bike. 

    The frame of an electric bike is slightly different, it has to be to The main part of the frame  is usually made from lightweight aluminum alloy: the lighter the frame, the lighter the weight of the bike overall, and the further it can travel before you need to recharge the batteries. The spokes on the wheel also have to be stronger than the thin spokes on a traditional bicycle. That's because the electric motor in the hub spins the wheel with a lot of turning force (known as torque) and, if the spokes were ordinary lightweight ones, they could bend or buckle.

    Last but certainly not least we have the braking system.  Some electric bikes claim to use a neat trick called regenerative braking. If you start pedaling the bicycle or going downhill, the spinning wheels turn the electric motor in the hub in reverse and start charging up the batteries. In practice, regenerative braking is nowhere near as useful on an electric bicycle as it is on an electric train or car. An electric bike has much less mass and velocity than either a train or car, so it never gains (or loses) anything like as much kinetic energy when it starts and stops. You'd have to go down an awful lot of hills to charge up the batteries completely and that's usually not practical.


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