How do Electric Bikes Work – [ Simplified – 2022 ]

An electric bike is a modern and more advanced version of your regular road bike with some extra features that boost its power. If you wonder how electric bikes work, we will discuss them in detail in the following account. If you look at the electric bike structure, you may not tell it apart from the non-electric one. The only difference is its electrical parts. The speed and power of the bike are boosted by a motor which is driven by batteries.

You activate the motor once you start pedaling. The electric bikes are equipped with sensors that sense the pedaling and start the motor. Once you have started riding the bike, the motors will turn on and boost the speed of your bike with little effort invested by you. Moreover, they also come with an electric display that tells you about the mileage, speed, battery life, and much more. All the electric parts are very well insulated to make them flash proof. Now, let us see how the electronic components work in combination.

The Main Components of Electric Bike

As discussed above, the electric bike comes with three basic components that are motors that generate the actual power. The battery retains electric power and drives the motor till it lasts. Lastly, it is equipped with sensors that sense the speed to get to work. When you start pedaling the bike, the sensor immediately senses that and starts the motor. Now, let us discuss each component separately in the next section.

Motor and Its Types

The main power of the electric bike comes from the motor. The motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. It effectively maintains the torque of the bike and controls the speed. The motors can be placed at different locations in the bike. For instance, based on the placement these motors are called front, rear hub, and mid-drive motors. Each placement has its own benefits and uses.

Almost all of the bikes are pedal-assisted which means you have to start the pedaling to start the motor. It is the sensor that takes the message to the motor and gets it running. The motor boosts the speed and power with you putting in minimal effort. By that, we mean you still get to do leg exercise, just that you will get some help from motors and sensors.

What Type of Motor an Electric Bike uses?

For the past 10 years, electric bikes have resorted to BLDC motors also called brushless DC motors. The reason why they don’t use brushed motors is that the motor is not reliable and wears out in less time. In addition to that, brushed motors are less efficient as compared to brushless motors. The brushless motors are very effective in terms of producing torque that as a result gives pedal assistance. You can travel 25 to 45 km/h and retain your energy. Moreover, the motors give your bike a thrilling yet safe speed so that you can have a wonderful experience.

Motor Controller

Apart from all the electrical components, the E-bike also comes with motor controllers. The purpose of a motor controller is to balance out the amount of electric power rushing to the motor. Your electric bike will detect your pedaling speed also known as cadence which will then draw power to the motor.

Types of Motors According to the Placement

Not all of the bikes have motors installed exactly in the same place. As we know that, the names are given to these motor versions on the basis of the location. Now let us see what is the difference between these motor variants and how their placements determine their performance.

Mid-Drive Motors

As the name suggests, you will find mid-drive motors located amidst the cranks of the electric bike. This motor provides a boost to your pedaling by powering the chainring. It does so by producing torque which consequently spins the shaft of the chainring. These motors also come with gear sensors that protect your chain from breaking when you are shifting the gear. All in all, this motor boosts the speed keeping it comfortable and rider-friendly.

Direct-Drive Hub Motors

This motor has the most simple features, to begin with. In this motor, the outer case of the hub connects to the motor. Moreover, it consists of strong rare-earth magnets that produce strong magnetic fields. The motor is responsible for running the wheels directly and gives the bike a boosting speed. To simplify it further, the wheel of the bike is basically the motor with a shaft. When the motor runs, the wheel spins directly instead of spinning the shaft.

Geared Motors

The geared motor is popular for its small size however, it has a complex operation. The functionality of geared hub motors is pretty much the same as the direct-drive motors. The distinct feature of a geared motor is an electric motor that in the hub has a great spinning speed. It consists of gears that are attached to the main shaft, the spinning of the shaft spins the gears which as a result spins the hub. This motor generates more torque but the speed generated is rider friendly.

The Sensors

Sensors play a crucial role in the overall performance of an electric bike. Like we said, sensors send the signal to the motor to translate electrical energy into mechanical energy. There are two general types of sensors present in an e-bike that are; a speed sensor and a torque sensor. The role of the speed sensor is to signal the motor once you start pedaling. This sensor gives you assistance in pedaling and boosts the power so you don’t have to put in a lot of effort. On the other hand, the torque sensor helps in maneuverability and helps in boosting speed.

Battery and Charging

The batteries of the electric bike are not restricted to one or two brands. You can conveniently charge the batteries with a charger that comes with the bike. Typically an e-bike’s battery takes 3 to 5 hours to charge and provides backup for 25 to 45 km/h. Charging an e-bike is pretty simple, all you have to do is plug the charger into the socket and connect the cable to the bike.

How the Electrical Components Work in Combination?

So now, you have pretty much understood all the basic electrical components of an electric bike. You might wonder how these electrical components work together. Once you charge the e-bike, the battery retains the electric power which is then translated to mechanical power. Now, once you start pedaling, the speed sensors will engage the motor. The motor takes up the electrical energy from the battery and converts into mechanical and assist in pedaling. The speed is maintained by the torque sensors which makes sure the speed is within safe limits. The display of the electric bike shows the correct readings of battery power, speed, and much more.

Related Guides: How to Ride a Bike | Excellent e-Bikes Under $500 | Choosing an e-Bike


Is an electric bike worth the money?

An electric bike is definitely worth the money you invest because this bike possesses more power and cadence than ordinary bikes. As they come with pedal assist and motors, more power and speed are generated. You can still do leg exercise while cycling while experiencing thrilling speed.

Are electric bikes expensive?

Electric bikes are a bit pricier than regular bikes because of their electrical components and added features. They come with advanced design, sensors, motors, and display that adds to the price tag. Moreover, the bikes that are manufactured by well-reputed brands are equipped with safe batteries and chargers. The electrical components of such bikes have safety certification that also adds up to the price tag.

Is an electric bike hard to ride?

Electric bikes are as easy to ride as you would ride a regular bike. In fact, these bikes are easier to ride because you have to put little effort into pedaling which allows you to retain your energy. You have to start pedaling just like you do with non-electric bikes. Pedaling will start the motor which will result in boosting speed and power.

Are the batteries of e-bikes safe?

Nowadays, most manufacturing companies install safe batteries that hold electric safety certification. In fact, all the electric components are safe as they pass strict electric safety standards. However, it is recommended to always go for the product that is manufactured by well reputed and registered companies. That way, you wouldn’t end up falling prey to scams and frauds.

Do you need a license to drive an electric bike?

Electric bikes do not come under the category of vehicles that require licenses to be on the road. However, there is a strict law in some parts of the world that the rider of an electric bike must wear a DOT-approved safety helmet. The reason for that is because it has increased speed than the regular bikes.

Bottom Line

In a nutshell, electric bikes pave the way for technological advancement and thrilling adventures. They are equipped with modern technologies that allow for more power and speed generation. The motor turns the wheel at a higher yet safe speed that allows for a tremendous experience. In addition to that, the electric bike also comes with sensors, displays, and batteries that allow for great convenience. All the electronic components work in combination to enhance the performance of the electric bike.

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Sonia Seale loves to take her bike to the mountains near her place, the bike track has provided her the opportunity to go mountain biking since she was a child. That's where she developed a great deal of interest in cycling, no matter if it's electric or mountain bike, she's all over the place and loves to fix her own bikes along with exploring the new features coming along in the industry. That's why she's here, sharing her experience and learnings with you guys.