Electric bike conversion kits 2023 – Give any bike a boost. E assist bike

Demo Days Coming to Bicycle Garage Indy North

Interested in electric assist bikes but are overwhelmed by all the different information out there? Good news, we are doing Electric Assist Demo Days at our North location!

We will have lifestyle and hybrid style e-bikes from Trek, Giant, Electra and Momentum available for you to test out. If you’re interested in a bike to ride with family, around the neighborhood or even the park, these bikes are the answer.

In order to demo our bikes you will need to wear a helmet, sign a waiver (on site), as well as have an ID and credit card. You will be able to demo as many of the bikes as you would like. Each demo ride will be a MAX of 20 minutes long and you will be able to ride through a small course we will have set up.

Electric-Assist Bicycles Make Possible

E-bikes let you go farther and faster, and help you do more by bike. There’s an e-bike for everyone, no matter if you’ve never had a bike before, are coming back from an injury, want to keep up with faster riders, or just want to have fun on every single ride. E-bikes flatten hills, let you carry heavier loads, and help you cut back on car trips. The best part? You still get the benefits of a traditional bike, like exercise, time outside, and not having to sit in with traffic jams or find parking.

Sometimes you’ll ride for fun, sometimes you’ll ride for fitness, and sometimes you’ll ride just to get from A to B. No matter how you spend time in the saddle, e-bikes offer unique solutions to the challenges of any ride. These bikes are all about possibility.

Even if your ride varies from day to day, an electric bicycle always gives you the option to do and experience more.

Electric Bikes Are For Everyone

Ride with friends Farther. Faster. Don’t sweat the commute Climb any hill Have more fun A clean solution for a messy world No learning curve Get out there

The Federal E-BIKE Act is Back and Needs Support!

Action Item from League of American Bicyclists:

Let’s get more people on bicycles: the Electric Bicycle Incentive Kickstart for the Environment (E-BIKE) Act creates a tax rebate for people buying electric bikes similar to the tax incentive for buying an electric car.Use this page to encourage your federally elected officials to co-sponsor the bill. If your representative or senator is already co-sponsoring the bill, a thank you note will be sent instead! A bill introduced Tuesday, March 21, 2023 would offer Americans up to 1,500 off a new e-bike. The basics:? E-bikes, e-cargo bikes, and e-trikes are eligible? Bike price capped at 8,000? Max credit of 1,500 or 30% of purchase price? Income cap of 150k for singles or 300k for joint filers? Eligible e-bikes must be certified for safety (a nod toward fire risk from cheap, imported models)

E-Bike Articles

“We should invest in bike lanes, not subsidies. Indeed, safety is the biggest hurdle to getting more people to bike. But bike lanes are cheap! The biggest constraint isn’t money, but politics. e-bike owners.- people demanding bike lanes

“E-bikes are already popular. Why subsidize them?”.- Because not everyone can afford 1-2k to buy one.- Because they create positive societal externalities (lower emissions, better health, etc), so we should encourage their use

“Why not subsidize pedal bikes?” Pedal bikes are great. But in the US, adult pedal bikes are frequently used for recreation, rather than transportation. That limits their ability to replace car trips. E-bikes are more likely to do that.

“Won’t 1,500 off a new e-bike just make rise 1,500?” This is a fair concern, especially since many car companies jacked up EV after Biden signed the IRA. But the e-bike market is much more fragmented – which helps keep down.

“I can’t use an e-bike where I live. Why should I care about them?” Because e-bikes pollute far less than even an electric car. Converting car trips (including others’ car trips) onto e-bikes helps slow climate change, which benefits all of us.

Electric-assist bikes amplify your own pedal power. The electric-assist bicycles Bicycle Garage Indy sells are pedal-assist bikes, which means there’s a motor that helps the pedals turn when you’re riding, but no throttle like a motorcycle or dirt bike. When you’re pedaling, the e-bike gives you a boost. When you stop pedaling, the bike stops assisting.

Here’s what you need to know about how e-bikes work and the parts that make them unique.

electric, bike, conversion, kits, 2023

High Performance Motor

The e-bike motor is located around the pedals in the bottom bracket area. Depending on the model, the motor has a power output between 250 and 350 watts and provides assist up to 20 or 28mph.

Long Life Battery

Electric-assist bikes run off lithium-ion batteries. They’re waterproof, durable, and can be recharged on or off the bike at any household electrical outlet. How far it will get you depends on the level of assist, type of terrain you’re riding, and your weight.

Easy-to-Control Assist

A handlebar-mounted controller lets you choose your level of assist, plus it tells you how fast you’re going and how much battery you have left. You’re in control of the whole experience without ever having to take your hands off the handlebar.

Electric bike conversion kits 2023 – Give any bike a boost

Why pay for a brand new e-bike when electric bike conversion kits can easily give a boost to the bike you already have?

E-bikes have enabled people who need or want some pedal assistance to broaden the range and scope of their riding while making it easier than ever to choose sustainable and greener transport methods.

Whatever your reason for wanting pedal assistance — whether it makes cycling more accessible to you and your family, or you think you’ll have more fun with that boost. the e-bike market is vast and often requires a large upfront cost. So if you’re struggling to find an e-bike that suits you, and already have a bike at home, then you might consider an electric bike conversion kit instead.

Whichever option you go for, there’s no denying that the best electric bikes make it easier for riders to explore and experience different terrains and riding environments. Plus they offer a cheaper and greener form of transport to get you from A to B at a higher pace for less effort than a conventional bike, which is especially beneficial for those who are commuting or using them for work. The best electric bikes for commuting can make for a speedier and altogether less sweaty cycle to work, not to mention the money saved when compared to soaring fuel or rail fare prices.

But what if you’re not sure about which option to go for? If you’re weighing up an e-bike vs an e-bike conversion kit, consider whether you already have a bike that you love riding. Converting it means you can continue enjoying the same ride quality while introducing you to a new world of electrically-assisted fun.

To make all these decisions easier for you, we’ve outlined the key things to consider when fitting an electric conversion kit to your own bike, including the various motor and battery options available. We’ve tested as many as possible in real-world riding conditions, assessing how easy they are to fit, and what kind of electric assistance they provide.

So here are our findings, and our roundup of the best electric bike conversion kits you can buy right now.

Best electric bike conversion kits available now

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Reasons to avoid

A thorough purchase process ensures the product is easy to install, but it’s complicated so can take time

The first on our list is one we reviewed very recently and which really impressed us. The Cytronex electric bike conversion kit is extremely well thought-out, with great specs and top-notch engineering. You only need Allen keys to install it, it comes with an accompanying app to offer up basic diagnostics, and once it’s set up it’s a breeze to operate.

When purchasing, you’ll go through a thorough process, which can feel a bit over-complicated, but in doing so it means the actual conversion is a straightforward one. We tested out the Cytronex on a Brompton T-Line and found it delivered smooth and intuitive power. Plus, our hands-on time with it leads us to believe it’s strong and durable enough to use for commuting.

While it’s pricier than some of the options listed below, one thing to consider is that it comes from a UK-based company that offers comprehensive customer support. You can pay less for a Bafang kit on Amazon, but buying direct from a company that can support you if anything goes wrong, makes it a smarter choice in our view.

For an in-depth look, check out our Cytronex review.

Reasons to avoid

One of the easiest ways to convert a bike to electric is to swap out the front wheel for one with a front hub motor. This is the approach that Swytch takes, but there’s more to a good system than just a motor and battery. From our time testing and reviewing it, it’s clear to us that the team behind Swytch have considered the whole system in its design.

The battery mounts to the handlebars and we found that a really useful detail. It is easy to disconnect and take it away for storage, so it doesn’t get stolen when you are out and about, or to lighten the bike when, for example, it needs to be carried up a flight of stairs.

The 2022 Swytch system, which we tested, makes use of a neat handlebar-mounted LCD display instead of the buttons on the battery it had before. There’s also a cadence sensor that attaches to your bike. It’s a well-thought-out system that looks and feels great.

To read all about how it works, and find out why we gave it four stars, take a look at our Swytch review.

Reasons to avoid

If you’re on a tighter budget than the Cytronex or Swytch allow for, then as we mentioned above, getting a kit from Chinese manufacturer Bafang may be a better option. Plus, if you like the idea of an electric bike conversion kit but just don’t want to have to deal with the added complexity of a mid-drive setup, then the Bafang Front Hub kit makes things much easier.

Like the mid-drive system listed below, the Bafang Front Hub Motor kit covers everything required and gives tons of spec choices. We started by choosing our wheel size and display preference, then added the battery size and shape we wanted.

We did find it more of a time investment, given the installation process was more complex than the Cytronex, Swytch and Rubbee, but this did allow us to achieve a powerful, high-quality set-up.

To find out more about how we got on, read our Bafang Front Hub Motor review.

Reasons to avoid

There are a number of simple install options on the list but the Rubbee X takes it a step further. We were really impressed with how easy it was to attach the mount to the bike’s seat post and then click the unit into the mount. There’s no need to change the wheel like the Swytch system. Here the motor sits on top of the rear tyre and a roller pushes it around from above. There’s also a wireless cadence sensor, as this is a cadence-based system that adjusts based on pedalling cadence, rather than torque.

There is a slick-looking 250-watt motor with a single battery in the base kit. If the 10-mile range of the base unit feels a little constricting, another battery can be added to double the range. Rubbee also has a handy phone app that can be used to change assistance modes.

We’ve spent some time testing it out, so why not check out our Rubbee X e-bike conversion kit review for more details.

Reasons to avoid

Bafang is one of the largest and most well-known electric bike motor companies in the world. It’s been around since 2003, and in 2014 Bafang established a US arm to better support the US market. There are many well-known electric bike companies sourcing its components, so if you want to get in the game and source your own electric bike components, you won’t go far wrong with Bafang.

This particular option covers everything you need for a mid-drive motor conversion kit. As long as the bike you are starting with has a bottom bracket sized between 68 and 73mm, this kit will work. From there you can choose the front chainring size, the battery size, and what display works for you.

If you’re not sure whether or not a mid-drive motor conversion is what you need (or what other drive options there are), head down to our FAQs at the bottom of this article for an explanation of all the possibilities you can choose from.

Reasons to avoid

The most natural-feeling electric bike conversion kits are going to be those with a mid-mounted motor. If that works for you and you also like the idea of doing some pedalling, then the very best is a mid-mounted motor paired with a torque sensor.

Instead of the system knowing you are pedalling and adding power, such as the Rubbee X cadence-based system above, a torque-based system adds a percentage of power. The Max torque available on this TongSheng system is 80Nm but depending on your chosen assist level, that 80Nm will add between 36 and 300 per cent to your pedalling power.

To keep it simple, think about it as an amplifier. If you pedal harder you go faster, just like a normal bike, but now your muscles have extra support, so you can go further with less effort.

Reasons to avoid

If you like the idea of a mid-drive system and you want it to have torque-sensing pedal assist then you’ve got a few choices. The challenge with a system like that is complexity. For some people, it’s no big deal to take apart a bottom bracket, but for others, it’s a slightly more intimidating prospect.

The Pendix system does the same thing as other kits but there is a dealer network that handles sales, support, and installation. This comes with an extra cost attached, but the benefit is that you can feel comfortable that the system is correctly installed and ready to ride.

Types of e-bike conversion kits

Friction drive conversion

A friction drive e-bike conversion means there is a roller that pushes against the wheels tyre. So when the roller turns, the wheel turns. It’s not the most efficient strategy, but it’s simple and it works. There is very little involved with regard to making it work but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t work as well as other systems out there. The Rubbee X is an example of a friction drive conversion kit system.

Mid-drive conversion

The best electric bikes tend to be mid-drive because this delivers the most natural ride feel, and the same is true of conversion kits. The weight sits low in the frame and the power gets applied to the crank for a more natural power delivery sensation. The only downside is pricing and packaging, plus it can be complex to set up yourself. Different standards make it challenging to figure out exactly what you need, as well. The Bafang Mid Drive Motor Kit is an example of this.

Electric bike wheel conversion

Swapping either a front or rear wheel for one with a hub-mounted motor is a good balance. The conversion process is very simple and, depending on how the battery mounts, the weight distribution can be quite good. Powering the wheel does change the way the power delivery feels, and making the front wheel heavy can affect the handling of the bike. If mid-drive seems overwhelming, this is an excellent option. Cytronex and Swytch are examples of this.

How to choose the best electric bike conversion kit for you

If you’re interested in fitting an electric bike conversion kit to one of your own bikes, you should consider your own personal requirements first and do plenty of research. You’re in the right place, as this guide will help you with a lot of that.

Before anything, familiarise yourself with the laws regarding e-bikes in your region. Then you may want to choose a conversion kit based on your range and journey needs. If you live in a hilly city, for example, you may want something with a little more top-end power. Lastly, check whether or not the system is compatible with the bike you plan to fit it onto. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, think about getting a quote for installation from a reputable bike shop.

Do all electric bike conversion kits come with a battery?

The short answer is ‘not always’. You need a battery, of course, so when browsing online, make sure the kit you select has one included. Since not all kits include a battery, you might find yourself browsing through options and landing on something at an unbelievable price. If that’s the case, double check it’s got the battery included. If not, then it is possible to source the battery yourself, but be sure about what you are getting.

How fast do electric bikes go?

This is hard to answer specifically as electric bikes are, on the whole, designed to assist pedalling rather than replace it, and it is the same with electric bike conversion kits. The measurement of the power of the motors is in wattage and, in effect, the higher the wattage of the motor, the faster speeds it will be capable of achieving.

However, the speed is often limited as a result of country-specific regulations. In the UK, the assistance an e-bike can legally provide is up to 25kmph (15.5mph) and, after that point, the bike can go faster but without any assistance from the motor. Anything faster would not meet the UK’s electrically assisted pedal cycles (EAPC) criteria, would be classed as a moped or motorcycle, and need to be licensed and taxed appropriately. The laws are different depending on the country, with the United States, for example, allowing more powerful motors – although individual states have their own legal frameworks.

Which bike is best for electric conversion?

You should consider the condition and componentry of your old bike. With an electric motor dramatically increasing the torque, using a low-quality or worn drivetrain will result in poor performance, with shifting being affected and the chain skipping or even snapping. Another important consideration is the brakes, adding the extra weight of an electric bike conversion kit and increasing potential speeds will put more stress on the brakes as they try to curtail momentum. We recommend choosing to convert a bike that has disc brakes as they will provide far better braking performance.

I haven’t heard of a lot of these brands, are they safe to use?

In the world of electric bikes, there are a lot of brands you may not have ever heard of. There’s been a boom going on for a while, so new brands are popping up all the time. Not only that but Europe, and especially the US, are playing catch up to the trend of electric bikes. You will probably stumble across a lot of unfamiliar brand names.

Consumers have a tendency to look away when they encounter a new brand. It’s not a bad strategy most of the time but in the electric bike world, including conversion kits, you’ve got to be more open than that. If you aren’t open to names you’ve never heard of you will find the options limited. A lot of the names you may come across are unfamiliar to you but have a solid history behind them.

That doesn’t mean you should go forward blindly. Do your research and be careful with your money, like always. The only thing that might be different is the need for being open to new companies. At the very least be willing to look a little deeper, read reviews, and do some research. The brand you’ve never heard of might actually be a well-established brand from a different part of the world.

Is converting my bike to an electric bike worth it?

There are plenty of reasons to install an electric bike conversion kit to your current bike, but the question of whether it’s worth doing is going to depend on your circumstances.

For many kits, once the installation has been completed, it will be an arduous task to remove it again, so one of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to retain the ability to use the bike as a ‘normal’ bike. If you expect to be flitting between the two (powered and non-powered) then a kit that can simply be folded out of the way – like the Rubbee X – might be perfect, but you might instead prefer to simply buy a second bike for the convenience.

The second question is to assess the state of your current bike. If you don’t yet have one, then the cost of buying a bike, buying an electric bike conversion kit and then fitting it, is probably not going to be worth the time, effort, or money involved. However, if you have a bike that is in reasonable repair, then the value for money – and effort – will be greater.

Beyond the financial and practical element, the question of ‘is it worth it’ will also depend on the amount of use you get out of it. E-bikes can be incredibly motivating and enjoyable and if converting your standard bike to electric helps you to ditch the car on a regular basis, then the answer becomes clear.

If you want a monetary answer to this question, then there are ways to work out whether the investment is worth it. Take a moment to think about your current car usage and work out the cost per day/mile, including fuel, parking and running costs. Try to work out how many journeys, days or miles you will use the bike for after it is converted. Once you know this, you should be able to work out the reduction in car running costs per mile/day and, with that, you should be able to work out how many miles/days it will take for the electric bike conversion kit to pay for itself.

Should I just buy an electric bike instead?

Remember to consider all your options. You have a bike in the shed you haven’t touched for many years and it seems like a perfect candidate for conversion to an electric bike. It might be, but it’s also just as possible that it’s a better candidate for a sale. Sometimes it’s better to take the money from that sale and put it towards an electric bike someone else built.

As with anything, consideration for the end-use during design and build can have advantages. A quality electric bike conversion kit might end up being very close to the price of a complete electric bike. If a company starts with a clean slate and designs an electric bike, it’s easier to keep costs low and integration high. Really consider why you are thinking about converting your bike and whether it makes sense compared to what’s on the market. In some cases, it will but in others, it won’t.

Are electric bike conversion kits legal?

The kits themselves are entirely legal, and fitting them to your bike is equally so. However, the question of legality arises in relation to where you then plan to use your newly powered electric bike. The answer will vary hugely, depending on where in the world you’re based, and which kit you choose.

For example, in the US, there are different classes of e-bikes that vary by their power, speed limitations and whether or not they have a throttle, and each class is subject to different rules. Things are a little more simple elsewhere, with the UK stating that anything with a speed limiter of over 25km/h is classified as a moped, while anything up to 25km/h (15.5mph) is classed as a bicycle.

Before you complete any purchase, make sure you have an understanding of the local laws that govern electric bikes, which is where our guide to e-bike classes comes in handy.

How do you install an e-bike conversion kit?

Sadly, there is no single and simple answer to this question. Each electric bike conversion kit works in a different way and therefore fits onto your bike in a different way too.

The most simple options are the friction-drive kits, such as the Rubbee X, which place a roller onto your rear tyre. In the example of the Rubbee, you simply need to mount the device onto your seat post, with the roller placed against the tyre. However, more complex systems require the removal of drivetrain components and wheels, and the installation of wiring. These are far from impossible, but they may require some tools and a bit of patience.

How much does an electric bike conversion kit cost?

will depend very much on the conversion kit in question. Some are available for as little as £250 (350), while the more high-spec and integrated kits can fetch as much as £750 (900).

Will a bike shop fit my electric bike conversion kit?

It’s understandable that you might not want to take on the arduous task of fitting your electric bike conversion kit yourself. You might not have the tools, the know-how, the confidence, or simply the time to invest. Luckily, almost all bike shops will be happy to fit it for you.

Some systems, such as the Pendix kit listed above, are only sold via physical stores and the fitting is sold as part of the overall package. However, with kits bought online such as the Bafang kit, the shop will charge you for the time it takes, which will add to the cost of the overall conversion. In our opinion, knowing that it’s been done correctly and safely is worth spending extra.

Some bike shops or workshops also may refuse to install a conversion kit to a bike they consider unfit for purpose or potentially unsafe. If you plan to have your local shop fit a kit it may be worth consulting with them on the job first to make sure they are happy to do it for you.

Individuals carrying out the instructions in this guide do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement. There is a risk to safety if the operation described in the instructions is not carried out with the appropriate equipment, skill and diligence and therefore you may wish to consult a bike mechanic. Future Publishing Limited provides the information for this project in good faith and makes no representations as to its completeness or accuracy. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future Publishing Limited, its suppliers or any of their employees, agents or subcontractors shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information, provided that nothing shall exclude or limit the liability of any party for personal injury or death caused by negligence or for anything else which cannot be excluded or limited by law.

Electric Bike Modes: Throttle vs Pedal Assist (Pedelec)

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Understanding E-Bike Propulsion Methods and Which is Right for You

Depending on their designation, e-bikes and their motors work in two ways: they can either make your level of pedaling effort easier, or completely take over and simply carry you along for the ride.

When you’re considering which type of e-bike to purchase, it’s important to think about which of these methods the bike offers, the environment(s) you’ll be riding in, and your own abilities and preferences. In this article, the writers here at Electric Bike Report will help you to understand the pros and cons of throttle vs pedal assist electric bikes, and help you to determine which is best for you!

Defining E-Bike Throttle and Pedal Assist Terms

Before we get into the differences between throttle and pedal assist and how they relate to you, let’s define those terms more clearly:

  • Throttle: a handlebar-mounted device that can engage (and sometimes adjust) power output from the bike’s motor. Electric bikes with throttles can be completely self-propelled, since throttles tell their motors to dispense power without the need for any pedal motion or input from the rider.
  • Pedal Assist: the standard method of operation for e-bikes. As the term suggests, this method of motor engagement requires the bike’s rider to move the pedals, though depending on the bike’s gearing, type of motor, and type of sensor, the rider may or may not need to actually be engaged with the drivetrain.
  • Pedelec: This term is a synonym for pedal assist, and is an abbreviation derived from the words “pedal electric cycle.”

It should be noted that, in order to be classified as electric bicycles, all e-bikes must have operable pedals. As such, most e-bikes function through pedal assist, with some having additional throttles – though it is still possible to have a throttle-controlled motor mounted to an otherwise non-electric bicycle with a standard drivetrain.

Many e-bikes, like the Aventon Aventure 2, offer both throttle and pedal assistance for a range of applications in different environments.

E-bike Class System

At least in the US, e-bikes are separated into three classes or categories. This class system plays a significant role in regulating their legal use in specific areas or on specific paths. Their placement within this system is determined by the methods through which they employ their motors, as well as their maximum motor-assisted speeds.

This system, and much of the legislation related to it, exists largely thanks to the incredible, thoughtful, and intelligent folks at People for Bikes. Their work has helped to create a structure for the governance, safety, and consistency of e-bikes, in addition to promoting them as beneficial to the well-being of all. If you can’t tell, we’re big fans!

Let’s take a look at how throttle vs pedal assist ties into this 3-class system.

Class 1

A Class 1 e-bike has a motor that provides assistance only when its rider is pedaling, and is limited to motor-assisted speeds of 20 miles per hour. These e-bikes are capable of going faster than 20 mph, but only on human power beyond that point. These e-bikes do NOT have throttles.

Class 2

Class 2 e-bikes ARE equipped with throttles, and do not require human input to be propelled (though most do also offer pedal assistance). E-bikes in this category are still limited to motor-assisted speeds of 20 miles per hour.

Class 3

Sometimes known as S-Pedelecs or Speed Pedelecs (primarily in Europe), Class 3 e-bikes offer pedal assistance up to a maximum of 28 miles per hour. Additionally, Class 3 e-bikes are required to be equipped with a speedometer. Like Class 1 e-bikes, these can still be pedaled faster than their motor-assisted speeds, but only with human power.

Class 3 e-bikes can ALSO be categorized as Class 2 e-bikes if they feature a throttle that is limited to 20 miles per hour.

Thumb-operated throttle levers, such as this one on the Evelo Omega, are typically the most commonly-used variety.

Unclassified

Any e-bike that differs from the descriptions above falls into the “Unclassified” category. This could be for a number of reasons, such as including a throttle that reaches speeds above 20 miles per hour, or being equipped with a motor with nominal output beyond 750 Watts.

While laws and regulations still vary widely, e-bikes within this category are often only legal off-road or on private property without a license and registration.

Throttle Specifics, Pros, and Cons

As we established, an e-bike throttle is a control mounted on the handlebars that can control the motor. Throttles come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with differing degrees of functionality between them.

Most often, electric bike throttles come in two styles: either twist throttles or throttle levers. Twist throttles usually take up a portion of one of the handlebar grips, and are activated by rotating that portion (usually backward, for safety). Alternatively, throttle levers are a separate unit typically mounted next to one of the grips, and operated by thumb. We have occasionally seen button-style throttles as well, though these are less common.

E-bike throttles can apply their power in a couple of different ways. So-called “modular” throttles are adjustable, and apply more power and speed as they are twisted further, or their levers are depressed more. Others, usually the boost-button-style (but sometimes twist or lever-operated), function more like an on/off switch and apply power in an all-or-nothing fashion.

Additionally, throttles can sometimes be tied in with a bike’s electronic pedal assist system – we’ll cover more about that shortly – to set maximum throttle speeds below 20 miles per hour, if desired. This is a feature that we generally like to see, since keeping a twist throttle turned halfway or a throttle lever partially pushed down for a long period of time can be challenging.

Throttles are typically seen on bikes with rear-hub motors, though they do occasionally appear alongside mid-drives.

Some electric bike throttles come in the form of a twist throttle, like this one on the Lectric XPremium.

Pros of E-Bike Throttle Use

  • Since throttle engagement does not require pedaling, it places no strain on the knees and thighs. This makes electric bikes with throttles great for older folks or anyone with medical conditions that affect pedaling ability.
  • For cyclists who frequently find themselves in high-traffic environments, throttles can allow for swift startups that bring the bike up to speed quickly. This means keeping up with traffic more easily, and passing more safely through intersections.
  • If used on a Class 2 or 3 e-bike, throttle use allows riders to work less when encountering hills or headwinds, or to simply take a rest when needed.

Cons of E-Bike Throttle Use

  • Because the motor is the only thing powering the bike when the throttle is engaged, prolonged use can drain the battery much faster than when using pedal assist.
  • With throttles that are not tied into the bike’s pedal assist system, their speed may be difficult to keep consistent over extended periods of time.
  • When used with rear hub motors, throttles have fixed gearing that cannot be adjusted to suit the intensity of the rider’s environment.

Pedal Assist

Whether using an e-bike with a mid-drive motor or a hub motor, the bike’s pedal assist system (or PAS) will govern the amount of assistance the motor provides when pedaling. Generally speaking, this allows for an efficient system that divides the amount of work required to move the bike between the motor and the rider.

Pedal assist electric bikes typically offer multiple stages of assistance; most commonly between 3 and 5. The lowest settings are usually the most efficient and require less power from the battery, but this means that more human power is required to move the bike. Conversely, high PAS settings draw more power from the battery, but also require less pedal power as the motor dispenses a greater amount of assistance.

Depending on the size of the motor, the type of motor, and the PAS setting, using pedal assistance extends the limits of what a person can do on a bike. This can be as little as an additional 15-20% of what a rider is capable of, or it can skyrocket up to beyond 300%. This is what makes e-bikes so much fun!

Class 1 pedal assist electric bikes like the FLX Babymaker II do not include a throttle, and many are able to maintain a traditional non-electric bike feel.

Let’s quickly examine the types of motors, the different sensors they use to know how and when to provide pedal assistance, and how these things impact a bike’s feel.

Hub Motors

As their name suggests, these are motors mounted in the center of either the front or rear wheel. Rear-hub motors are most common, and typically produce a feeling of being pushed from behind, though the intensity of this feeling differs depending on the motor’s size / power level. Due to their positioning, the amount of rider input that is needed with hub motors varies greatly, though this is related to the type of sensor they use – we’ll go over that soon. For those who want to learn more, check out our complete guide to hub motor brands.

Mid-Drive Motors

Mid-drives are placed within a bike’s bottom bracket, and as such are tied directly in with its drivetrain through the cranks. These types of motors typically feature a much more natural ride feel much closer to that of a non-electric bike. They also tend to require a greater degree of rider input, which makes them typically more efficient than hub motors. Again, this depends on many factors, including their sensors. We go into more detail about this type of motor in our complete guide to e-bike mid-drive motors.

Cadence

Cadence sensors, which are mostly found on hub motors, typically use a series of magnets or an optical system to detect pedal motion, and direct the motor to dispense power in tandem with the speed of crank rotation (rotations per minute, or RPMs). The PAS settings on a system with cadence sensors commonly set a “top speed” within each level that can be maintained with or without engagement with the drivetrain. As long as the pedals move, the motor supplies power.

Mid-drive motors with torque sensors, such as this one on the Quietkat Rubicon, commonly offer a much more natural and responsive pedal assist feel than a hub motor with a cadence sensor.

Torque

On the opposite end of the spectrum are torque sensors, which detect how much pressure the rider is applying to the bike’s pedals – essentially, how hard they are working – and tell the motor to supply power to compensate. In these cases, a bike’s PAS settings dictate how much power is dispensed with each pedal stroke. This results in a more natural and responsive pedal assist feel that pairs nicely with the sensation provided by a mid-drive motor, so it is no surprise that torque sensors are commonly used with motors of this type. That said, the technology is becoming more common on hub motors.

Pros of Pedal Assist

  • On e-bikes with motors that have well-tuned sensors, using pedal assist feels intuitive and nearly identical to riding a non-electric bike. This makes riding an e-bike an easy and fun skill to learn!
  • Using pedal assistance can provide a great workout and all of the health benefits that come with it!
  • When compared to throttle use, pedal assist is typically more efficient, meaning that it requires less battery power and can allow a bike to travel farther.
  • Considering that most e-bikes have more than a single speed, pedal assist can take advantage of both a bike’s gearing and PAS to adapt its feel to its environment.

Cons of E-Bike Throttle Use

  • Using only pedal assist when starting can be much slower than throttle use, making city rides a bit more difficult.
  • Depending on the motor and the type of sensor it uses, the bike’s motor responsiveness can vary greatly.
  • Managing a bike’s gearing and PAS setting can take some effort and practice to master.

Where to Go Next

We hope that you have found this article helpful! When you’re considering the differences between a pedal assist electric bike and an electric bike with a throttle, you’re really only scratching the surface of what makes them unique.

If you’re interested in learning more, we recommend taking a look at our Buyer’s Guide to Electric Bikes and learning about these mistakes to avoid when shopping for electric bikes.

Happy researching and riding!

Reader Interactions

Комментарии и мнения владельцев

I have a Shimano-assisted ICE Adventure trike with torque-actuated crank motor which works well at only 250W. My objective is exercise and freshly polluted air, so I only use the assist when I have to, say road crossings and hills I can’t handle. When I hit the 3rd assist level (3 clicks of the proverbial button), the boost is more than sufficient, so I don’t need a throttle. The range is supposedly over 100 miles on assist 1, although I have never used more than 2 bars of juice on the usual rides around Ohio or Florida. My only gripe is that the front gearing is not sufficient for me to avoid the assist more. For some reason, the designers eliminated all but one sprocket on the front (I’d like to know why). My wife (80yr-old) has an aluminum Greenspeed X7 that is light and had 30 gears. I was able to maintain that bike at 12-15 mph for 15 miles without too much stress, but she needed help, so I installed a hubmotor kit (Burley) from Electric Bike Outfitters. Aside from some issues wrt the 16 inch wheels, it works as designed. The problem is that the design could use some help. I had to sacrifice the smallest front sprocket to get the pedal assist magnet disk on the Shimano Hollotech crank set. There is no torque sensor (which I am looking to correct (maybe with Juiced Bike or GRIN parts). The upshot is that I had to program in the lowest limits on current and voltage to tone things down so that there is sufficient pedal power required to get some exercise on assist 1. Assist 2 is sort of marginal, and for all intents and purposes levels 3-5 are just cruise levels. It only takes minimal cadence of 15rpm to get full power out of the motor. On the other hand, the throttle kicks in promptly and my wife can zoom across roads safely, hooting with glee. For someone who has yet to buy, I would recommend looking at GRIN. Buy something with 20-26″ rear wheels and decide whether you want to limit the mechanical gears to 10 and get a crank (mid-drive) motor with torque control. In order to install a torque sensor, either the sensor has to have room and design to be installed on the drive side of the rear wheel (axle strain measurement) or inside (or on) the bottom bracket crank (crank strain measurement). I believe GRIN has an electronics system that can handle pedal rotation and torque signals at the same time, plus provide for throttle. The display (that I have seen) provides a lot on info, but it is only a thing that an engineer could love.

PS. Your heading for the section detailing the cons of pedal assist systems is incorrect – bit of a glaring miss for the editor!!

Why don’t they just put torque sensors on all the bikes, it would be safer. Smoother transaction. cadence gives you a sudden lurch, a cheap unsafe design!

I still loved my old 21spd mountain bike converted to front hub electric drive, throttle only, with a regenerative capacity if you pressed the button, for braking and recharging the battery. It was direct drive, the ECU ran everything from Hill climbing to flat out commuting and it was quick off the mark in traffic, and I had all 21 gears to play with to add to its versatility. Flat out with me pedalling in top cog as hard as I could, 40kmh was possible with a range of about 55km at that speed.

I’ve recently forked out for a road bike (Scott Addict 30) and have had a Pedelec for about 7yrs. It’s a proper pedelec that keeps me pushing hard from start to stop – and I love it. Often strapped for time and I want to go somewhere fast – the pedelec is my preferred choice for that. However, a road bike is something I’m growing into, and will make increasingly more use of it. To get fitter quicker, I need to get off the pedelec and onto the Scott, I’ll be there soon but I suspect it won’t be a straight swap because the pedelec is simply so much fun on and off road.

What is an electric bike and how do they work?

Whether you’re ditching the car by cycling to work or want an easier ride to the top of trails, an electric bike can offer many of the benefits of a non-assisted bike, with motorised power on tap when you need it.

Electric bike technology has advanced at a pace in recent years and you can now find pretty much any type of bike with a motor. We have guides to the best electric road bikes, best electric gravel bikes and best electric mountain bikes.

If you don’t want to buy a whole new bike, the best electric bike conversion kits will transform your purely pedal-powered bike into an electric bike. In this general guide to electric bikes, we’ll explain exactly what an ebike is, how an electric bike works, how to ride an ebike and answer some of the key questions you may have before buying.

What is an electric bike?

An electric bike has a built-in motor and battery to assist your pedalling. Oliver Woodman / Immediate Media

An electric bike, or ebike, is a bicycle equipped with an electric bike motor to assist you when you’re pedalling. The motor will get its power from a rechargeable battery mounted on the bike. To classify as an ebike, the motor has to help you rather than propel you on its own. As a result, you need to pedal to get that assistance. How much power the motor delivers is regulated based on how hard you are pedalling and the level of support you have selected. Electric bike systems offer a number of modes to choose from, allowing you to balance the amount of power supplied through the pedals with range and battery life.

Electric bike assistance is restricted to 15.5mph in the UK, EU and Australia. Russell Burton / Our Media

Electric bike laws on how much help the motor can provide, and the speed at which assistance cuts out, vary around the world. But in general the motor is limited to 250 watts output and must cut out when your speed reaches 25kph/15.5mph, except in the USA where it can continue to work up to 20mph. You can go faster than that, of course, but only under your own effort – the bike’s motor will no longer provide assistance.

  • must have a maximum power output of 250 watts
  • should not be able to propel the bike when it’s travelling more than 15.5mph

How does an electric bike work?

An electric bike will typically have a motor housed either centrally on the bike (often referred to as a mid-drive motor, powered through the cranks) or on the front or rear hub.

Whereas a hub-based motor will push the wheel around directly, an axle-mounted motor will work through the ebike’s chain and gears.

When you pedal, a torque sensor will measure how much effort you are putting in and match that to the motor’s power output.

The idea is that the motor won’t completely take over; instead, you should get consistent power delivery that won’t send the bike lurching forward.

Therefore, one of many benefits of riding an electric bike is you still have to press on the pedals and get exercise. Riding an electric bike for fitness is eminently possible.

Power comes from the battery, which might be mounted on the outside of the frame or hidden within it.

Many batteries can be removed for charging, although others need to be charged on the bike. If that’s the case, you need to have somewhere to park the bike near a power socket.

There will be a controller for the motor, usually mounted on the handlebar or integrated within the frame, that lets you decide how much assistance you want, and to keep an eye on the battery level. Some will include a screen with navigation and other functions too.

Electric bike motors are held either in the middle of the bike, as shown here, or in one of the wheel hubs. Russell Burton / Our Media

Bosch, Shimano, Yamaha, Specialized, Mahle, FSA and Fazua all make popular ebike motors. Specifications can vary significantly and the type of motor found on a bike will depend on its price and the type of riding intended.

electric, bike, conversion, kits, 2023

For example, an electric road bike is more likely to favour a lightweight system with smooth power delivery, whereas a motor on a high-spec electric mountain bike is likely to offer more torque for off-road capability.

How do you regulate motor power?

You can usually alter the level of assistance with a frame-mounted button, as pictured here, or a controller on the handlebar. Russell Burton / Our Media

An electric bike will usually have between three and five levels of assistance, selected via its controller.

These can give you anything from a gentle push to lots of power for tackling steep off-road climbs, depending on the specifications of the bike’s motor.

Some will also have a ‘boost’ button, which you can use to increase the power output for short bursts of additional power.

Many bikes also offer a walk-assist mode, to make it easier to push when you’re off the bike.

You can change between assistance levels as you ride and there’s usually the option to switch the motor off completely and ride under pedal power alone.

Many ebike motors are designed to be drag-free when switched off, but there is still the additional weight to overcome.

How much weight do the motor and battery add?

Electric bikes are heavier than non-assisted bikes and there’s a wide variation in the weight of ebike motors and batteries.

The lightest systems come in at less than 4kg and are typically found on electric road bikes, but most systems weigh around 6 to 8kg – and sometimes more.

The additional mounting points and frame reinforcement required on an electric bike can add some extra weight, too.

The weight of your system will depend partly on budget, but also the intended use of the bike.

Bikes that require lots of power, for example, an electric cargo bike or e-MTB, are more likely to have a heavier motor and battery package.

An electric road bike requires less assistance and will prioritise lighter weight.

electric, bike, conversion, kits, 2023

The latest e-road bikes are near-indistinguishable from non-motorised bikes, thanks to the sleek, integrated design of the motor and battery.

The extra weight associated with electric bikes is worth bearing in mind if you need to lift or carry your machine anywhere.

If that’s the case, consider how much extra weight you can comfortably handle.

However, for day-to-day riding, the benefits of having a motor should trump any extra weight, particularly when it comes to climbing… unless you run out of battery.

How do you ride an electric bike?

Riding an electric bike is pretty much like riding a non-motorised bike of the same type.

You switch on the motor, select the assistance level you want using the controller, and then pedal. The motor will make initial acceleration much easier and then help you keep up to speed, particularly when you need to climb a hill.

However, because of the extra weight from the motor and battery, an electric bike may handle a bit more sluggishly than a non-assisted bike.

It may also have wider tyres to carry the extra weight and provide more grip, and it will usually have disc brakes because there’s more mass to slow down and stop.

What range will an electric bike have?

The motor type and battery capacity, plus your riding style and the terrain, all influence the range. Russell Burton / Immediate Media

Batteries on electric bikes can give you a range of anything from 20 to 100 miles or more on a full charge, depending on their capacity (measured in watt-hours and abbreviated to Wh). Batteries are expensive, so an ebike with a longer range will, in general, cost more.

You’ll usually get a battery-level indicator, while some control systems will give you an estimated range as you ride or regulate the power output to let you achieve your planned ride distance.

Some ebikes let you plug in a second battery, which might fit in a bottle cage, to up range. You can also lower the assistance level during a ride to help conserve the battery and extend the bike’s range.

While many brands will offer an estimated range for a particular model of bike, and it is possible to gauge a bike’s theoretical range based on its motor power and battery capacity, ultimately it depends on the level of assistance you’re using and the terrain.

Fully recharging the battery from the mains can take anything from around three hours up to nine hours, or more depending on the model, charger and battery capacity.

What types of electric bike are there?

We’ve got a separate guide to electric bike types, but you can find almost any kind of bike with a motor.

The most common types of electric bikes are hybrids and mountain bikes.

The best electric hybrid bikes have flat bars and chunky, puncture-resistant tyres, useful for biking to work, shopping and more leisurely rides.

They may also have mudguards (or the eyelets to add full-length mudguards), a rack and lights, and sometimes have a step-through frame design to make it easier to hop on and off the bike.

Electric mountain bikes normally have a beefy motor with a high torque output to help you get up loose off-road climbs and over obstacles. Once you get to the top, the motor can be turned off to enjoy the downhill ride.

There’s also a growing number of electric road bikes. With drop handlebars, they’re designed to ride fast and are usually relatively lightweight (as far as electric bikes go), to help with handling and hill climbing.

Electric gravel bikes are designed to be capable off-road and fast on tarmac. Russell Burton / Our Media

There’s an increasing number of electric gravel bikes, too. With wider tyres to enable you to ride off-road with confidence and drop handlebars for road speed, e-gravel bikes are designed to offer the versatility to really broaden your riding.

The best electric folding bikes will be designed for versatility and compact size. They can be folded up to take on public transport or for easier storage at home/work, so they could be the best bike for commuting for many people.

There are also electric cargo bikes, designed to carry loads for deliveries around town and other day-to-day tasks where they can replace a car or van.

Whichever electric bike you choose, we suggest you read our guides to electric bike insurance and electric bike maintenance to look after what’s likely to be a sizeable investment.

In short, if you want a helping hand on your ride, you can find an electric bike to suit your needs.

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Paul Norman

Paul has been writing about bike tech and reviewing all things cycling for almost a decade. He had a five-year stint at Cycling Weekly and has also written for titles including CyclingNews, Cyclist and BikePerfect, as well as being a regular contributor to BikeRadar. Tech-wise, he’s covered everything from rim width to the latest cycling computers. He reviewed some of the first electric bikes for Cycling Weekly and has covered their development into the sophisticated machines they are today, on the way becoming an expert on all things electric. Paul was into gravel before it was even invented, riding a cyclocross bike across the South Downs and along muddy paths through the Chilterns. He dabbled in cross-country mountain biking too. He’s most proud of having covered the length of the South Downs Way on a crosser and fulfilling his long-time ambition to climb Monte Grappa on a road bike

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