HomeBike Buyer's Guidese-BikeA Beginners Guide To Electric Bikes (e-bikes)

A Beginners Guide To Electric Bikes (e-bikes)

We have read a lot of very complicated guides to electric bikes (e-bikes) and there are a lot of conflicting bits of advice around battery life, legal issues and basically the best e-bikes to buy. We decided to write this plain common sense guide to buying an electric bike to try and debunk some of the myths.

What is an electric bicycle?

An electric bicycle is a bicycle that uses a motor powered by electricity to aid with pedalling. They are also known sometimes by the term pedelec.Originally they were normal bicycles with motor’s added to the rear or front wheel and batteries bolted to the frame. Most modern e-bikes however are custom designed and have an electric motor that directly drives the pedals (crank driven) and integrated batteries.

Cube Reaction Hybrid HPA Pro 400 - 2016 Hybrid Bike

You don’t need any specialist equipment as all of our e-bikes will charge directly from a mains socket.

In the UK the motor is only allowed to help ease the burden of pedalling and cannot drive the wheels without the rider pedalling the bike. The assistance is also limited to a top speed of 15.5mph, you can pedal quicker than this but at this speed the motor assistance will cease.

As the power source, the battery is a critical component of your electric bike and an important criteria in your purchase choice.

What kind of batteries do e-bikes use?

Most modern ebikes use lithium Ion (Li-ion) batteries as they are super light and compact because of this can store a lot more power into a smaller space.You may find a few old lead acid (NiMH) batteries on older models (not on any of our bikes). These are cheaper but are also heavy, slow to charge and don’t last as long.

How far will a charge take me on an e-bike?

This is a real how long is a piece of string question as it depends on the size of the battery, the power of the motor and how much of the work you are doing vs the motor. A good rule of thumb is that an average rider on an average e-bike should get between 15 – 30 miles between charges. If you are in a hilly area then that number is more than likely to be closer to 15 than 30 miles as e-bikes really come into their own at helping you climb hills.

How often should I charge my battery?

Most people that ride their e-bike every day to work will simply charge the bike every evening and it doesn’t do the battery any harm. In short the time taken to charge the battery is related to how much charge it has left in the first place. Generally though the longest any battery will take to charge is around 5- 6 hours. Battery manufacturers (Li-ion) reccomend that to prolong battery life you should never let it fully discharge in fact for optimal performance you should recharge before charge drops below 50% capacity.

Where does the UK law stand on e-bikes?

There is a lot of misinformation from some disreputable sites out there but the law in the UK surrounding electric bikes is pretty simple.

The info below is taken directly from the UK Gov site…

“In Great Britain, if you’re 14 or over you don’t need a licence to ride electric bikes that meet certain requirements, and they don’t need to be registered, taxed or insured.
Electric bikes meeting the requirements are called ‘electrically assisted pedal cycles’ (EAPCs). They can be 2-wheeled bicycles, tandems or tricycles.”

EAPC requirements

  • The bike must have pedals that can be used to propel it
  • The electric motor shouldn’t be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph
  • The motor shouldn’t have a maximum power output of more than 250 watts
  • It must also display one item from each of the following:
    • The power output or manufacturer of the motor
    • The battery’s voltage or maximum speed of the bike

Where you can ride an EAPC

If a bike meets the EAPC requirements it’s classed as a normal pedal bike. This means you can ride it on cycle paths and anywhere else pedal bikes are allowed.

If you fancy making the most of the summer without breaking too much of a sweat why not have a look at our range of e-bikes all avalable at 0% finance.