Choosing the right electric bike can seem like a puzzle when you add up all the criteria to take into account and look at the technical details related to the engines.
To help you navigate through all the information provided by brands and dealers, and to familiarize you with these technical concepts, we offer an introduction to fully understand the essentials of electrically assisted bicycles .
What does the pedal assist motor of an electric bicycle consist of?
- A motor : the heart of the electric bicycle
- A battery : seat of the autonomy of the bike
- A console : the control station
The motor of an electric bicycle
The motor is the heart of the electric bicycle. It is this which allows the cyclist to feel supported in his pedaling effort .
The motor voltage of an eBike is calculated in volts , it can be 26, 36 or 48V.
There are several types of engines , each with its subtleties that go beyond the characteristics (power and amperage) announced by the manufacturer.
- Front wheel motor : it is located in the hub of the front wheel. It gives a feeling of traction. It has a simple operation: the assistance is linear because the drive is directly on the wheel. However, this does not take into account the pedaling force and the bike may lack grip on some terrain.
- Rear wheel motor : this motor located in the hub of the rear wheel is mainly installed on E-MTBs because it gives a strong impression of power and propulsion.
- Crankset motor : it acts on the crankshaft. It is a block encompassing the engine, sensors and electronics. Less exposed and more compact than the others, it is less subject to risk such as the cutting of cables. The frame of bicycles with this type of motor are often specific because they are primarily thought of as electric bicycles and therefore suitable for this use. It gives a finer and more responsive feeling in the assistance provided and adapts more to pedaling. This is the preferred type of engine for E-MTBs.
The controller and the software, seat of the intelligence of the Electric bike
The controller, along with the built-in software configuration, constitutes the electronics of an electric bicycle. It is the "motherboard", its artificial intelligence. It can be located in the motor box or else deported, depending on the type of motor.
Linked to the eBike motor, they are what determine the performance of your electric bike:
- Torque developed by the motor
- Responsiveness of assistance
- Management of assistance levels
- Managing display settings
- Battery life display
- Possible diagnostics (to be carried out by the bicycle operator or cyclist)
Electric bikes are bikes that provide additional pedaling assistance. The sensor is the essential element by which the assistance will be started and adapted to pedaling.
Several sensor technologies exist:
- Torque sensor (or power sensor) : located inside the engine, it calculates, by pressing down on the pedals, the force exerted by the cyclist, and accordingly adapts the power to be returned by the engine.
- Cadence sensor : located in the motor (in the case of a crank motor) or between the bottom bracket and the crank (in the case of a wheel motor), it allows to moderate the power offered by the assistance, depending on the cyclist's pedaling rate, namely the number of pedal turns per minute.
- Speed sensor : located in the wheel (in the case of a wheel motor), or on an external speedometer sensor with magnet on the rear wheel (in the case of a crank motor), it restricts the speed of the assistance at 25km / h, in order to comply with the Law in force in Australia.
- Force sensor : it can be found mounted at the rear, on the frame at the level of the derailleur hanger, for example. This assembly often lacks reliability because this part is thus exposed to micro-deformations generated by the pedaling force.
What is the torque of an electric bicycle?
The torque corresponds to the actual mechanical power of the motor and not to the electrical power. The measurement is given in Newton-meter (Nm).
The same electric power of 250 Watts will, for example, give maximum torques for the Ausstech Active motor,
The general computation for torque:.
Torque = Force multiplied by Distance
Electric bike laws Australia on engine power
The power of the motor is expressed in Watts. The Australian legislation for an electric bicycle stipulates that the motor must be of 250 Watts maximum . The engine should stop at 25 km / h and stop as soon as you stop pedaling.
To date, for an electric bicycle, there are 2 powers:
- 250W: maximum power for an electric bicycle according to European legislation. This corresponds to assistance up to 25km / h .
- More than 250W: present on high speed electric bikes or speedelecs: assistance is authorized up to 45km / h. This power means that these electric bicycles are then classified by Australian law which requires additional obligations: registration, insurance, wearing a mandatory approved helmet. Initially, only motorcycle helmets were suitable, but today, manufacturers have adapted and offer specialized helmets for speed pedelecs: light and yet with a high level of safety. The speedelec makes it possible to meet specific needs: long distance journeys or those requiring more power. With speedelecs, it is forbidden to ride on cycle tracks and lanes, and for those born after 1988, it is compulsory to pass the required clearance.
What are the characteristics of electric bicycle batteries?
In the early years of e-bikes, in the late 90s, batteries were lead acid. Since then, technological developments have made it possible to switch to Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cad) then to Nickel Metal Hydride (Ni-Mh) to arrive at the most widespread technologies today:
- Lithium Ion (Li-ion)
- Lithium polymer
Thanks to these latest technologies, the batteries are now less heavy and always more efficient (autonomy, charging time, etc.).
They have no memory effect (there is no longer a deep discharge problem as it can be on lead batteries, such as we find on cars) and offer a better lifespan.
Positioning and recharging
Depending on the electric bikes, the batteries can be positioned:
- Inside the frame tubes
- On the frame
- On the luggage rack
The location of the battery does not influence the assistance but changes the behavior and aesthetics of the bike: the more the battery is integrated into the shape of the frame, the more it will be discreet in terms of harmony and ergonomics. This is the trend observed among most manufacturers in recent years.
In addition, the central positioning of the battery and the motor make it possible to feel less of the additional weight when pedaling or when maneuvering the bike on foot.
When the battery is positioned on the luggage rack, this inevitably induces a little more torsion on the bike. If the engine is also located at the rear, then we will have a less precise bike, therefore less maneuverable.
The ideal for this type of user is that all the assistance mass is centered under the pilot .
Note that when the battery is removable, it is attached to the bike by a lock which prevents theft.
Electric bike charging details
The battery is recharged using a charger supplied with the electric bicycle. This is to be connected to the mains like any other electrical device.
The duration of a full charge is between 2h 30min and 6h depending on the battery technology and the type of charger.
Charging is not linear because Li-Ion batteries charge quickly in the first phase and more slowly in the final phase. This allows for example to charge 80% in 1h 30 min while the remaining 20% will take another 1h on a LG Power Pack battery.
Some brands are also developing chargers that allow the batteries to be charged more quickly, which is particularly useful for travelers on bicycles, who wish to "recharge their batteries" during a lunch break.
Finally, cycle routes are starting to be equipped with charging stations for electric trekking bikes , either with electrical outlets that line the route, or with specific stations including dedicated chargers, as Ausstech is experimenting in Australia.
The capacity determines the autonomy of an electric bike - this also remains a function of other criteria:
- The weight of the cyclist, the bicycle and the equipment carried on the bicycle
- The relief of the course
- Outside temperature
- The mechanical condition of the bike (tire pressure, condition of the transmission, etc.)
- The way of pedaling (adaptation, finesse, knowledge of the bike, excessive braking, pedaling cadence, etc.)
Capacity is calculated in ampere hours (Ah), ranging from 8 to 17.5 Ah for most models.
Remember: the higher the amperage, the more autonomy the battery has.
However, you will find regular action Watt-hours (Wh) - which is the product of the motor voltage (V) by the rating of the battery (Ah) . This measure provides more details.
Ex: 36 V x 15 Ah = 540 Wh.
The battery life is calculated in number of complete cycles (full discharge and recharge), which does not require you to completely empty the battery each time since there is no memory effect on the batteries. Lithium-Ion batteries.
The best battery capacity is obtained between 15 and 25 ° C. Below and above these temperatures, the battery capacity is reduced (up to 15%) but this is only a momentary loss. As soon as the temperatures return in the meantime, the capacity returns to normal.
In winter, when not in use, it is important to take the battery home and store it at room temperature, at 60% of its charge.
The price of the charge for 100km is anecdotal (a few cents of AU$).
The price of a replacement or additional battery varies between AU$ 1,500 and AU$ 1,800 depending on its model.
Regarding the wear of a battery: if you use it according to the recommendations given by the manufacturer, it will be at least 70% of its initial capacity after 2 years of use and approximately 50% after 5 years.
A good quality battery is guaranteed by the manufacturer for 2 years. Read More: 9 Ways to Charge Your Ebike's Battery While You Are On The Go
Called in various ways - display, console, and selector - this is the control screen that sits on the handlebars of your bike.
More or less sophisticated (with LCD screen, LED box, integrated counter, indication of the battery charge level, etc.) depending on the brand and model of your bike, it allows you first of all to choose the assistance mode (aid level) and check the gauge for the level of the remaining autonomy.
If it is removable, it also serves as an electronic key since you can no longer use the bike without the display. The other side of the coin is that you have to take it with you to avoid any risk of theft.
More and more manufacturers are moving towards more connectivity with the use of the cyclist's smartphone as a console, as with the Ausstech Ebike system.
Levels of assistance
Also depending on the manufacturer, the number of assistance levels is on average 3:
- Economy mode: minimal assistance that provides approximately 50% more force than your pedaling
- Intermediate mode: medium assistance that offers approximately 100% more force than your pedaling
- High Mode: Powerful assist that delivers around 200% more force than your pedaling
The level of assistance chosen influences the assistance power and therefore the battery life.
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