The following information intends to give quick answers to the questions most typically asked about electric bikes, with links to relevant sections with more detailed information. Alternatively go to the Electric Bike Information page, or contact if you can't find the information you need.
What is an Electric Bike?
An electric bike is a bicycle that has pedals (just like a normal bike), but which also has an electric motor and battery. Riding one is a joint effort between the rider and the motor. They allow you to go further with less effort, therefore extending the possibilities of what you can do with a bike (regardless of levels of fitness or cycling capability).
What types are there?
Electric bikes can be either bought as an electric bike, or bikes can be converted into an electric bike. In both cases, the motor is either mounted in one of the wheels, or alternatively drives the bike via the chain and gears (mid or crank drive).
Can I convert my bike to electric?
While there may be specific aspects that need modification during installation on specific bikes, most bikes that are practical / utility / commuter in nature can be converted. Lightweight / road / racing bikes with narrow wheels, drop bars and / or carbon frame are less likely to be suitable. If you would like advice on a particular case then please contact.
Is it legal?
As long as the motor complies with certain limits on power and speed, then an electric bike is legally classed as a bicycle and can be used in the same way with no additional requirements. The only exception is that you have to be at least 14 to ride a bicycle fitted with any motor.
Is it Safe?
Properly used, an electric bike can be safer than a normal bike...the extra power allows the rider to better keep up the traffic speeds or get out of difficult situations faster, while the actual speeds the rider goes at are not faster than those typically seen with bikes (the electric bike can be thought of as having good acceleration, not higher top speed). Furthermore, having the motor makes it easier to be a safer / courteous rider...it is no effort to slow down and then speed back up for someone or to avoid a hazardous situation. The rider should however be aware of drivers perceptions, for example pulling out when
Does the battery charge while you are pedaling (or braking)?
The battery is charged in between uses from a charger that is plugged into the mains (just like a phone or computer battery, but bigger). Charging it from the pedals would be an inefficient process (you would end up getting back a lot less energy from the battery than the extra energy you had to put in pedaling) so no electric bike does this. Some electric bike motors feature regenerative braking, and can use the energy that would be wasted to heat in the brakes to recharge the battery, however this is a marginal benefit and unfortunately is only possible with relatively big / heavy motors. It is therefore not recommended as a key feature by Empowering E-Bikes.
How does the battery charge?
The battery is plugged into a charger that runs off the mains electricity...just like a computer power pack or phone charger, just a bit bigger.
How far can I go before the battery runs out?
This one is hard to answer, range depends on lots of factors: how much the rider pedals, hills, headwinds, temperature, how much weight, how aggressively the rider uses the system. The realistic range of the Empowering E-Bikes system is up to 60 miles; range may be reduced to around 30 miles if riding a heavily laden bike up a continuous series of steep hills. Note that many manufacturers grossly overstate the likely range; if comparing alternative systems, then, except and in so far as they have a battery capacity greater than 17 Amp hours, any higher claimed ranges are almost certainly just more optimistic in their assumptions of energy use.
How powerful is the motor?
The peak output of the motor provided by Empowering E-Bikes is 540 Watts, about equivalent to a high level professional cyclist helping you out.
Can it climb steep hills?
The BBS01 mid drive provided by Empowering E-Bikes is particularly suited to climbing steep hills, as it drives through the bikes gears making it much more efficient than hub motors at low speeds.
Will I get any exercise on an electric bike? OR Do I have to be very fit to ride one?
Its largely up to you. An electric bike works best as a joint effort, but its powerful enough that most of the time you don't have to pedal hard if you don't want to. In practice therefore, you tend work as gently or as hard as your personal preference / mood / level of fitness dictates.
Isn't that Cheating?
Unless of course you are pretending its not motorised to your friends or in a race or other such moral moral turpitude, then clearly not! As electric bikes become more common hopefully you won't hear this comment so much. Its generally offered light heartedly, but is a depressing reflection of the tendency to reject anything that doesn't exactly fit the existing boxes. Electric bikes are not entirely bikes and not entirely motorised vehicles but a great combination of many of the better points of both.