A beginner’s guide to the e-bike world
In the late 1900s, bicycles were at its boom and gave people an alternative form of transportation to fully maximize their quality of life and standard of living. People would ride their bikes and enjoy a sense of freedom and adventure for every distance traveled. Although bikes generally improved the lives of many, technological upgrades to these outdated inventions are inevitable.
Throughout the years, many innovations have been made to the traditional bike that we are used to. Modern technology paved a way to the discovery of electric bikes, which made cycling a lot more convenient and useful. While many people find e-bikes a bit overwhelming and confusing, it still has shown great popularity over the years due to its convenience. Remember, what sets apart an e-bike to a regular bike is the presence of the electric motor, the battery, and the display and control system that makes pedaling easier and hassle-free. While these might sound intimidating, keep in mind that you are still riding a bike – only better. Keep on reading to find out more about how to properly use your e-bike to maximize your riding experience.
Different classes of e-bikes
Most people think that all electric bikes are the same as motor vehicles with full throttle control wherein you can either press a button or conventionally twist grip to start and keep you moving, but it’s not entirely true. Different e-bikes have different capabilities. They are classified according to their maximum speed and the way they operate. In the US, there are three classes of e-bikes:
*In Europe, the use of Class 3 speed pedelecs require a special driver’s license and license plate
Get to know the parts of your e-bike
To fully maximize your e-bike use, you must first familiarize yourself with its main components and their respective functions. This way, it would be a lot easier to address your own needs and preferences.
There are three main parts of an e-bike:
1. Motor - this is the main part that makes an E-bike different from a regular bike. Powered by battery, it is important what kind of motor that makes your E-bike run. There are two types, such as the Hub Motor where the motor is located on the front or rear hub, and a Mid-drive Motor that may be seen in the middle part of the E-bike’s frame. Identifying these two should be easy when looking at your E-bike.
Rear Hub Motor of BEST Low Step 48V 500W Fat Tire Folding Ebike
Mid-Drive Motor of Rambo Bikes The Rebel 48V 1000W Electric Hunting Bike
2. Battery - Batteries are said to be the priciest part about owning an E-bike because it holds all the Ebike’s power. By average, a battery can last up to 5 or 6 years, depending on the usage. Most batteries are made from lithium-ion, similar to the batteries used in smartphones and laptop computers. Battery capacities can range from 24V-72V, but the best and safest capacity recommended must only range from 36-52V - this range is not too low to require more wires and connectors, and not too high to cause electric shock.
Two kinds of batteries are:
External Batteries – these are batteries that are detachable and can be charged separately from the bike’s frame. It is flexible to use and easy to change.
Integrated Batteries – are also called internal batteries. These batteries are made with the bike itself and are not easily detached like the first kind. To charge, you must attach your bike to a power source using a cable, or however, your specific bike model instructs you to do so.
No matter what kind of battery your E-bike has, it is important to always check its battery health and not overcharge. Make sure to consult your bike’s manual for extra care and precautions.
3. Display and Control System
Controller - the controller is typically placed inside an aluminum box. It adjusts the voltage from the battery to suit different demands from the pedal sensor and other parts of the E-bike. This is normally located inside the hub motor (for hub motors) or externally mounted (for mid-drive motors).
Display - technology has made the displays more understandable in the form of digital screens from its predecessor - the led lights. Nowadays, most electric bikes are already equipped with LCD display screens that show you how fast you’re going and how far you’ve come. Both LCD and LED displays can provide a detailed dashboard about your battery’s health, your chosen level of pedal assistance, and more.
Smart LCD Screen of Ecotric Seagull 48V/13Ah 1000W Electric Mountain Bike
LED DIsplay of Ecotric 36V 500W Fat Tire Portable and Folding Electric Bike
Throttles - Like the display, throttles give you the option to personalize your preferred power given by the motor anytime you want, no matter how much effort you exert on pedaling. Throttles should be easy to spot on the handlebars and can be identified either as thumb throttle or twist-grip throttle.
Maximize your e-bike’s potentials
And now for the most exciting part, taking your e-bike for a spin. I’m sure you already have a lot of questions in mind about how exactly do you use an electric bike, hold those thoughts, and we’ll try to answer them one by one. It is now time to hop on your e-bike. Keep in mind these four easy tips to ensure you’re getting the most out of your electric bike.
1. Make sure your battery is sufficiently charged for your intended ride. You can check the remaining power, usually through the display system or sometimes on the battery itself. Some recommend that you purchase an extra battery when you are bound for extra-long and challenging rides. With the battery, a spare charger is also suggested in case you suddenly forgot or misplaced the other.
Battery level display of Green Bike Electric Motion Classic LS/HS 46V 350W Folding Electric Bike
2. Activate the motor. Given that the battery is already sufficiently charged, turn on your electric bike by pressing the power button for 3 seconds and wait for the LCD screen to light up. Activate your electric bike's motor by either pedaling or via throttle, depending on the class of e-bike you have. Again, for Class 1 and 3 pedelecs, you have to keep pedaling for the electric motor to stay activated. In contrast, for Class 2 throttle-only electric bikes, a button press or a grip twist alone will keep the motor working and your electric bike going.
3. Familiarize yourself with the electric pedal assistance feature of your e-bike. The levels of electric assistance provided by the electric bike’s motor can be adjusted through the right-hand shifters or depending on the control and display system your e-bike has. Different manufacturers of cycling components have different terminologies when it comes to electric assistance systems. Shimano, for example, makes use of the terms: Off < Eco < Normal < High. On the other hand, Bosch uses the electric assistance levels: Off < Eco < Tour < Sport < Turbo. Some simply have levels 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, while others have Low, Med, High. Even though different bike companies have different terminologies for their pedal assistance system, the basic principle of providing you the most suitable pedal assistance level to ensure efficient biking experience remains the same.
Electric pedal assistance levels: Low, Med, High of American Electric Veller 36V 350W Cruiser Electric Bike
To also understand more how to control your speed while pedaling, it is essential to identify two kinds of sensors that influence how your E-bike gauges the level of assistance it gives you.
Torque Sensor – this regulates how hard you hit or put the weight on the pedal. So if you pedal really lightly, your e-bike will only give you little support, but if you’re trying to go up and climb a steep hill, the more weight you put on every pedal, the more power your e-bike’s going to give you.
Cadence Sensor – which works according to the speed of your pedal. It’s basically just counting the number of rotations of your crank, and from that, the level of assistance your e-bike provides will adjust accordingly.
Note that when you reach the maximum speed of 20 mph (for Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes) or 28 mph (for Class 3 e-bikes), your-ebike will no longer provide you with any assistance. Once you familiarize yourself with all these concepts, you can now be more in control of your own rides.
4. Pay attention and give clear signals. While it is tempting to be lost in the music from your ear pods while enjoying the wind against your cheeks as you straddle in panoramic nature sceneries, it is still best to focus on your surroundings. The road also has its own music. It would be best if you were more alert, especially when you are approaching different lanes and taking different turns. Pay attention to the sounds around you and sense your next move. While you dissolve yourself in the lanes, it is also important to learn and give proper signals for other motorists and cyclists. This way, you can communicate your next move and avoid conflict on the road.
Beginner tips to make your e-bike last
Start from the lowest setting and work your way up
When you’re fairly new to E-bikes, it might be tempting to test every speed it has to offer. But first, you must familiarize yourself with the settings. Always remember that an E-bike accelerates faster than a regular bike and that you will always be getting more from the effort you exert from pedaling. Be sure to start first from the lowest setting in the throttle and work your way up as you get comfortable about riding on every level.
Take a gentle grip on your brakes
When you have already been cycling before, you must already know that you must always keep at least one hand on the brake. This gives you more control whenever you need to stop. No matter what kind of brake you have in your E-bike, may it be a Rim Brake or a Mechanical Disk Brake, the same rules still apply – and you need to be extra gentler at squeezing. E-bikes are faster than a regular bike, and not using your brakes with a light hand will potentially cause you to jerk forward, crash, or even damage your bike’s brake. Apart from gently gripping it, it would help if you also started pulling the brakes a few moments before you would normally do. This gives your bike more time to adjust and results in a smoother, more controlled ride.
Check your batteries
You must always check the charge level of your battery to make sure it’s more than enough to reach your target destination. In the case of charging, do not overcharge the battery of an electric bike and avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures. A spare battery and charger are advisable, so you don’t get caught up with an empty charge in the middle of your ride. Unless you want to spend at least $600 for a battery replacement, then taking proper care of your electric bike battery should be on top of your list.
Schedule frequent maintenance checkups
You can only do so much when it comes to taking care of your bike. While you are aware of your E-bike’s condition from time to time, it is important that you still seek help from experienced bike mechanics for more complex parts like cables, derailleurs, spokes, and bearing surfaces. These parts cannot be checked by mere observation and might cause more severe problems when dealt with alone.
It is advised that you take your E-bikes to a mechanic at least two times in a year. However, the frequency of your visit depends on how often you ride your E-bikes. So make sure to keep track of your mileage.
An electric bike does not take away the experience you have on a regular bike; rather, it makes it more fun and exciting. It can give you a unique sense of independence and enjoyment that already stood the test of time. However, there are several things that you need to pay more attention to because E-bikes are essentially faster, heavier, and are built on a slightly different mechanism. This development on bikes just needs you to take the extra time to familiarize yourself with to ensure a safer, more controlled, and enjoyable experience. Besides, all good things in life require at least a little grain of patience. Happy pedaling!
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