Put simply, an eBike (or electric bicycle) is a bicycle that has an electric motor and battery. The electric motor allows the rider to travel faster and further than they could go on pedal power alone. EBikes help riders climb hills, carry heavy loads, and tackle terrain that might not otherwise be possible.
EBikes work by using sensors that measure speed, pedaling cadence, torque from pedaling input, and other factors, which feed that data into a controller. The controller (the "brain" of the eBike) turns the electric motor on and off based on the rider's input and input from the sensors.
Most better eBikes offer a handlebar-mounted remote, allowing the rider to choose a pedal assist level, engage the throttle, turn headlights on/off, and control other features.
Two common types of electric motor assist are offered on eBikes:
- Pedal assist (called "PAS"), in which the motor turns on to provide assistance when the rider is pedaling. Most eBikes allow the rider to select a PAS level, ranging from no assistance to lots of assistance.
- Throttle, in which the motor turns on to provide assistance when the rider is not pedaling, i.e. the eBike can travel on its own. Most throttles are operated via a button, lever, or twist grip.
- Some eBikes offer both of these assist modes and allow the rider to use one or both.
Most eBikes have a digital display that shows speed, distance, time, remaining battery level, and the level of pedal assist that the rider has selected.