EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT Electric BIKES
What Are E Bikes
Not quite a scooter, nor a motorbike. Is it really cycling? What is an Electric Bike? They've grown in popularity in Europe and have since made their way into the Australian Market. There is a still a lot of confusion as to how they work and the actual difference between an E Bike versus a regular bike. In the simplest sense, an Electric bike is an electric bike that will provide extra power when you're pedalling. Electric Bikes are commonly referred to as E Bikes, Electric Bicycles, Electric Push Bikes or Motorised Bicycles.
Given that they provide more power, they are heavier, more expensive and somewhat more complex than your average push bike. They weigh in at more than 15kg, making it difficult to push uphill without motorised assistance. Some models do have a walk mode, be sure to check the specifications when purchasing an Electric Bicycle.
The Main Types of Electric Bikes
There are two types of Electric Bikes:
- Pedelec (Pedal Assist)
- Power on Demand (Throttle Based)
What is the difference:
Pedelecs are Electric Push Bikes that assist you only when you pedal. They make for an easy ride and automatically turn off when you stop pedalling or hit the brakes. Pedelecs are also compliant with Australian Regulation as they closely resemble a standard bicycle with pedals.
In contrast to Pedelecs, Throttle Based E Bikes require no pedalling. You would have the option of cruising along with pure motor power as the pedals and the motor have been designed independent of each other.
Popular Styles of E Bikes
They come in a few different shapes, sizes and models, but the same principle applies as when choosing a regular bike; make sure it is comfortable and it suits your style of riding.
Electric Mountain Bikes:
Don’t dismiss them so easily, at least try them out! Electric Mountain Bike are a great option for a more enjoyable ride on the trails. Extra power means that uphill trails are now a breeze and basically feel like descending the entire time. Their ease of use won’t have you huffing and puffing on trails, giving you more time to enjoy the views. They are designed with more durable frames, stronger wheels, treaded tyres and come in both Hardtail and Full Suspension Models.
Electric Hybrid/Urban Bikes:
One of the largest segments of E Bikes, the Hybrid is often seen as the city alternative to the car and the perfect solution for getting around town easily. They are seen as lean, green, commuting machine; a new age solution to catching public transport and getting around a congested city with ease.
Electric Bikes usually come with the following motor types:
- Mid Drive (Crank)
The two main motor types found on E Bikes are commonly Hub Motors or Mid-Drive Motor. Even though the difference between the two continues to narrow with advancements in technology, there are a few notable variations.
Mid-Drive motors are known for higher performance and torque as it drives the crank instead of the wheel, allowing it to take greater advantage of the bike’s existing gears. This in turn delivers more power and range.
Maintenance on mid-drive motors are simple and easy. The motor can be removed by taking out two bolts without affecting the rest of the bike; this means any regular bike shop can perform maintenance. Hub Motors on the other hand, are complex.
Mid Drive Systems:
Bosch Performance Line
Designed with functionality and aesthetic appeal in mind, the Performance Line brings a mass of energy to street, dirt and single trail riding alike.
The Performance Line is made up of:
- The Drive Unit
- Cruise (25km/h) or
- Speed (45km/h)
- Compact Charger
Built with a combination of powerful electronics as well as low weight and volume, The Cruise Drive Unit enables performance up to 25km/h whilst the Speed supports up to 45km/h. The Intuvia Performance acts as a central control system, switching between five riding modes with the addition of Walk Assistance at the touch of a button. The Performance Line come with either a 300Wh or 400Wh Lithium-Ion Battery Power Pack, both offering a full charge in under 3.5 hours.
The Total Electric Power System from Shimano brings effortless performance with a natural feel. Essential electronics are incorporated within the drive unit creating a weatherproof system. Controls are handled by an Intelligent Power Management System, allowing to transfer to Walk Assist Mode with the touch of a button. Not only is STEPS a silent drive system, it is also one of the lightest units on the market weighing in at a mere 3.2kg. The Lithium Ion Battery Pack has a 418Wh capacity and will have your bike charged up in 4 hours.
Bosch Performance CX
The CX Performance line from Bosch brings increased performance on off-road e-biking. With notable power on uphill acceleration, the CX Line provides an exceptional pedelec experience.
The Performance CX Line is made up of:
- The Drive Unit
- Cruise (25km/h) or
The CX Line ensures significant acceleration off-road with an optimised Drive Unit for improved uphill flow. Also featuring Intuvia Performance acts as a central control system, switching between five riding modes with the addition of Walk Assistance at the touch of a button. The Performance Line come with either a 400Wh or 500 Wh Lithium-Ion Battery Power Pack, both offering a full charge in under 4.5 hours.
Designed for the modern E Biker, the Active Line is ideal for recreational rides with a city/touring bike. The Drive Unit on the active can assist up to 25km/h with a torque of 48Nm. The Active Line is made up of:
- Cruise Drive Unit
The Active Drive Unit enables performance up to 25km/h with Intuvia Performance acting as a central control system with the touch of a button. The Active Line come with either a 300Wh or 400Wh Lithium-Ion Battery Power Pack, both offering a full charge in under 3.5 hours.
Electric Bike Service, Warranty & Maintenance
In terms of maintenance, given that it is looked after in the right way, it should not need any more maintenance than your regular push bike. The two main components of an E Bike, the battery and the motor are not serviceable as they are sealed systems. Therefore, any issues regarding these two components would be replaced under warranty rather than repair. Be sure to check the warranty policy of the bike you wish to purchase.
Frequently Asked E Bike Questions
Batteries have a limited life span, ability to store and deliver electric energy diminishes with time. Most brands use an intelligent battery management system, which allows for protection from excessive temperature, overcharging and discharging.
How long does the battery last?
A few factors come into play regarding battery charge:
- The size of the battery
- The weight of the bike
- The terrain
- The rider’s weight
As a rough estimate with Bosch motors, they expect riders under 80 kg to get around 80 km of riding at 20km/h when using it in Touring Mode or 140km in Eco Mode.
In terms of lifespan of the Battery the rough estimate is around 3 years. Shimano expects the battery life to be good for 1000 charges (60 000 kms).
How Do I Charge It?
Newer models allow you to remove the battery and charge in a main power sprocket, that way you don’t need to have your bike near a power point every time it needs a charge.
How Long Does It Take to Charge?
A full charge normally takes up to 4 hours.
Legislation & Australian Regulation
According to legislation throughout most states in Australia, no Registration, Licensing and Third Party Insurance is required for Motorised Bicycles with a motor size under 250 watts (for Pedelecs). However, riders are bound by the same rules as that of other bicycles (eg. Wearing a helmet, effective brakes etc) There is also a maximum speed of 25km/h.
Further defined legislation can be found here: