What is an electric bike?
In simple terms, an electric bike is a regular bicycle but with the addition of an electric motor and battery.
The battery supplies the power to the electric motor, which in turn provides power assistance when the cyclist pedals, meaning that less effort is required and therefore less stress and strain put on the body. The cyclist has the option to choose how much or how little assistance they want at any given point by selecting the power level on the display unit attached to the handlebar. If you want more of a workout, then of course you can switch off the power and just cycle under your own steam.
With the addition of a battery, motor and its components, electric bikes are obviously heavier than a regular push bike – generally around 8kg heavier.
In the UK, an electric bike is only road legal if the assisted power is restricted to 15.5mph, the motor is no more than 250w and you are 14 years old and over. Some electric bikes come with a throttle – in the UK these must be restricted to 3.7mph to be road legal. Ebikes that meet these requirements can be ridden where bikes are normally allowed and you don’t need a licence or need to register or tax your bike. It’s worth considering getting your ebike insured against theft though.
Electric bikes can be hugely beneficial on many levels, eg. enabling people with mobility/health restrictions to cycle, a quicker way to commute or run certain errands, no more struggling when cycling up hills or into headwinds, an enjoyable means of getting out and about exploring new places with family and friends, the list goes on…
The setup of an electric bike
e-Ranger Electric Bikes require very little assembly – if you purchase one of their folding ebikes, you’ll just need to secure the handlebar into position, put the pedals on and lock the battery into place. With their other models, you just have the additional step of putting on the quick-release front wheel.
As with any bicycle, the handlebar and saddle should be adjusted to the correct height for the cyclist.
Throttle controlled electric bikes
From 1st January 2016 the only throttles legal within the UK’s EAPC legislation are ones that assist the rider without pedalling up to a maximum speed of 3.7mph. If the cyclist is rolling (not pedalling) faster than 3.7mph then the throttle cuts off. The purpose of these restricted throttles is only to provide starting assistance or help manoeuvre the bike if needed.
Regenerative braking system on electric bikes
The rim or disc braking systems that most of us are familiar with on ebikes does not harness kinetic energy, whereas a regenerative braking system does and then converts it into electrical energy before feeding it back to the battery.
Whilst very few ebikes currently have a regenerative braking system, as technology improves over the coming years, we may well start to see more ebikes using braking systems that convert energy back to the battery.
Electric bike batteries
It’s likely that most electric bikes you come across in the UK will have a lithium battery. How you look after the battery is important – you can expect it to last between 3-5 years if well maintained, or a far shorter lifespan if not!
You will usually find the battery is placed in the middle of the bike above the pedals or on a rack above the rear wheel.
The following can play a major part in getting the maximum lifespan from a lithium battery:
- Keep the battery in a cool, dry environment and away from extreme temperatures.
- Keep the battery partially charged but DO NOT let it get too low as it may cause irreparable damage to its cells. Also, storing your battery at or close to 100% will reduce its life so don’t leave it on charge for long periods of time. Ideally, if the battery is being stored for a long time, it’s best to keep it between 40-80% of full charge. Many electric bike batteries come with an indicator so you can check levels at a glance.
- DO NOT fully discharge your battery on a regular basis. This shouldn’t matter on the odd occasion, eg. after a particularly long bike ride, but it’s better to charge your battery every few rides rather than every ride.
The batteries on e-Ranger Electric Bikes are Lithium 36v / 10ah, with a charging time of around 4-5 hours and weigh 3kg. You can expect a range of 30-50 miles per full charge, depending on weight of cyclist, terrain and how much pedal-assist power is used. If maintained correctly, the battery should provide you with over 500 recharging cycles. The input voltage of the battery charger is AC 110v-230v and has a 1.8amp draw.