How They Work
Electric bikes can be pedaled like a regular bike, throttled like a dirt bike to expressly engage to motor and move the rider without the need for pedals, or a combination of the two called pedal assist. Pedal assist engages the motor and the mechanical gears with the same movement of the pedals, making a very powerful and fluid experience for the rider. Electric bikes don’t charge themselves as they ride. The battery is charged (like a phone or laptop) at home after a certain number of miles. The electric system will last for several years (backed by warranty) and the mechanical system is tuned like a regular bike.
An electric bike will operate the same as a traditional bike, albeit one rather large exception: electrical propulsion. Given an electrical motor and a battery, a traditional bike is now able to go much faster, therefore, much further. Most eBikes have pedal assist modes where you pedal to reach the speeds you desire, while others will add a throttle similar to a motorcycle or dirt bike that directly engages the electrical motor to push you.
There is an electric bike for every kind of riding style: road, mountain, commuter, cargo, fat, folding. For more on different types of electric bikes and the ways that they are propelled, such as hub motors and mid drives, see our Types of eBikes page.
Watch while we debunk some electric bike myths