Have you come to this site before owning an electric bike? No problem! We're happy to answer basic questions about electric bikes and why they're growing in popularity. Electric bikes come in many different forms. Many are standard bicycles that have been converted to electric bikes. There are hundreds if not thousands of kits available to convert existing bikes. Which type of bike is best, how far it will go on a charge, how fast it will go - is all up to you and your wallet.
Where can you ride an ebike?
Ebikes can be ridden just about anywhere. Generally speaking, most parts of the United States limit ebikes to have a maximum speed of 20mph. Recently California has passed new laws allowing ebikes that run on pedal assist (more on that in a moment) to run as fast as 28mph. Local laws about ebike use on roads, bike paths, or trails can vary. It's best to check local state and city laws.
How do they work?
Electric bikes generally use the same types of frames, wheels, tires, handlebars and brakes as their non-electric counterparts. The extra pieces are mainly the motor, controller, battery, and throttle.
Motor - 2 types of motors are common among ebikes, mid-drive motors, and hub motors. Hub motors are built into either the front or rear wheel. They can have a direct drive, or internal gears. Hub motors are relatively simple and reliable. Because they have few moving parts and no chain, they are inexpensive and work well. The disadvantage however is that they have essentially one point of maximum efficiency. A hub motor designed to run well at 20mph on flat ground, may struggle to go up steep hills. Mid-drive motors are mounted in the bottom bracket in between the cranks and pedals. Because of this, you can still use your existing bicycle gears to shift up or down. This gives them a very wide range of power use, so they're generally better for hill climbing or more varied terrrain.
Controller - The motor controller does exactly as it name implies - controls the motor! There is a bit more to it of course. The controller takes electrical signals from the pedal assist or throttle and lets power from the battery flow to the motor. Controllers are usually programmable with many settings. They may also have connections such as brake cutoffs (stopping the motor when brakes are applied) light outputs, or connectors for LCD screens. When purchasing a controller, you must keep in mind what motor and battery are going to be used. They all must work together.
Battery - Batteries are typically the most expensive part of any ebike. They are critical to the power, range and speed. They are three things to pay attention to: voltage, AH (amp hour rating or capacity) and quality. A higher voltage typically means higher speed. Higher AH rating means more range, and quality - well you know what that means! Lower quality will result in poor performance and a short lifespan. Most ebikes run around 36v - 48v. Higher voltage batteries from 72v - 100v are available, but are typically running much faster than legal limits. As a rough guideline, a 36v, 10ah battery might get you about 20 miles of range. This will vary on the rider weight, terrain, and bike.
Throttle - There are two distinct types of throttle input. Pedal Assist (PAS) detects your pedal motion or effort and tells the motor to spin accordingly. This may feel more natural since there's no difference from riding a normal bike - just more power than your legs can normally provide! The level of PAS is generally adjustable with a handlebar switch or LCD screen. Thumb or twist throttles are also available, similar to motorcycles or ATVs. These allow you to use the motor without pedaling at all.
Does Velomobile Shop sell ebikes, or just parts?
We're now selling bikes! Check out the awesome selection. We also sell a complete line of parts for all bikes we offer.