An electric bike is a regular push bike, with a battery and motor to assist. This allows the rider to still get a workout, but with an added boost to make their ride easier.
WHAT IS AN E-BIKE?
An electric bike, or e-bike or pedelec, is a bike with electrical components - it does what it says on the tin. They're typically built just like standard bicycles, but they have electric motor power to help you out with the pedalling. How do you use an electric bike? Just as you would a regular bike!
Electric bikes are relatively new and the technology is constantly changing with new innovative ideas to make them more efficient and affordable options for everyone. On an electric bike, you'll find a number of extra components in comparison to a regular bike; a motor, a battery and a controller all integrated into the design. It's just like a regular bike in that you still need to pedal and steer with the handlebars. The idea of the electric motor is to assist, not completely replace pedalling. It means that hills and headwinds are much more approachable and manageable, meaning you can travel further without getting tired and sweaty – perfect for a morning commute!
If you're considering buying an electric bike but aren't sure where to start, head to our e-bike buying guide for our expert tips and advice on choosing the best model for you.
HOW DO ELECTRIC BIKES WORK?
Each e-bike motor system we have on Raleigh bikes has different pedal assist parts, but the way the motor systems work in general is very similar. All our e-bikes are simply activated by pedalling. The motor will kick in when you start to pedal - which triggers a sensor on the bike (this might be found in different places depending on your bike's system). There are two main types of e-bike sensors: cadence or torque. Each e-bike will have a chosen sensor that is ideally suited to the type of bike and its usage. The battery on the e-bike gives consistent electrical energy to the motor.
We understand that people still want to know a lot about e-bikes and our aim is to answer all your questions so you can make an informed decision on which electric bikes you'd like to purchase. Read more below as we answer questions about electric bikes!
Electric Bike Components
An electric bike relies on components that work together and allow it to operate:
Electric Bike Motors
There are different placements for an electric bike motor. Each has its benefits; front hub, rear hub and mid-drive motor. The main aim of the motor is to provide torque when you pedal. The more advanced the electric motor, the more torque it offers. The more torque you have, the more power you can get out of the bike. Simple, right?
Electric Bike Batteries
An electric bike battery might be found in different places, often dependent on frame type and size. Each battery make, model and type means that they will need to charge for different times. An average charging time is five to six hours. Charging your battery is easy: just like a mobile phone you plug it into the wall! Find out more about how much it costs to run an electric bike.
Electric Bike Sensors
The sensor on an electric bike is an important component. There are two types of sensor used on different e-bikes; a cadence sensor or a torque sensor.
The cadence sensor immediately engages the motor once you begin pedalling which gives you the ride assistance. The torque sensor is a little smarter. It responds with just a small amount of assistance to match your speed when you're moving. It's much more responsive and helps with speed and manoeuvres.
How electric bike components work together
The key to any good electric bike is ensuring that all of the components work together. The battery, motor and display combination will provide all of the assistance required for a smooth ride. The battery provides power to the motor which powers the drivetrain to give you all of the assistance you require to tackle hills and long rides. The display allows you to control how much assistance is provided and what power is sent from the motor to the drivetrain.
How does an electric bike controller work?
Not all of our e-bikes have the same motor system, meaning they don't all have the same controller. Whilst looking different they all have the same primary functions of turning the system on and off and setting the motor assistance level.
Do E-bikes work without pedalling?
Yes. Under UK law, all electric bikes must use pedal power to work. You can read more about this on our electric bike laws page. That's exactly why we believe using electric bikes counts as exercise, you still need to put in some pedal power!
How fast can electric bikes go?
According to UK law, e-bikes aren’t allowed to travel faster than 15.5mph using pedal assist on UK roads. If you’re just pedalling the bike and not using the electrical motor assist, you can go as fast as your legs can take you! Of course, make sure to check the local guidelines on speeds in case certain parks or other spaces have cycle speed restrictions.
How do you charge an electric bike?
Charging an electric bike is super simple - just like a mobile phone or laptop, you'll just need to plug it into any wall outlet. Batteries can take from 2 to 8 hours to charge; the time it takes is dependent on the make and model of the battery. Raleigh bikes use either TranzX, Suntour, Ebikemotion or Bosch motor systems. Each of these will have different battery types and sizes. You can find out more about these individually on our electric bike batteries page. Most of our electric bike batteries will last up to 1,000 charge cycles.
Is braking harder on an electric bike?
Electric bikes are typically heavier than non-electric bikes so the added weight needs to be considered in stopping distance and safety. However there is no direct impact on how hard you have to use the brakes on electric bikes due to the power when compared to non-electric. Any assistance provided by the motor is cut out as soon as you stop pedalling.
How do you ride an electric bike?
The answer to this question is very simple: just like a regular bike! Electric bikes are essentially regular bikes with the added boost of the motor and battery. This means that the actual cycling technique itself is pretty similar to that of regular riding. The main thing to note is that e-bikes are heavier than normal bikes, which can take a bit of getting used to when you first start.
Our advice is to start slow and get to know the feel, handling and weight of your electric bike when you first start riding. Get used to using the electric assist, and before you know it you’ll be conquering hill climbs like they’re nothing and powering away from traffic lights with ease!
How can I optimise the range of my electric bike?
There are a couple of tips and tricks that can help boost the range that your bike will take you.
Cadence: Slow pedalling is costly in terms of energy, whereas keeping your cadence above 50 revolutions per minute can optimise your drive unit.
Weight: Carrying less luggage with you will keep the total weight of the bike down and keep your e-bike running for longer.
Starting & braking: Just like a car, when riding an e-bike it's more effective to travel a longer distance with a constant similar speed, versus stopping and starting.
Gear shifting: Staying in the correct gear will ensure the bike is more efficient.
Tyre pressure: Always inflate tyres to the maximum permissible tyre pressure for the smoothest and most efficient ride.
What motor is used in electric bikes?
The motor used in electric bikes will vary depending on the brand/manufacturer of a specific model. For example, the Raleigh electric bike range uses a variety of motors including rear and centre-mount motors from a range of manufacturers such as Bosch, Suntour, TranzX and Ebikemotion. Centre mount motors such as those on our Motus and Centros range provide a greater level of power and are perfect for climbing long, steep hills.
What Types of Motors Do Raleigh Electric Bikes Have?
The Raleigh electric bike range uses a variety of motors including rear & centre-mount motors from a range of manufacturers such as Bosch, Suntour and TranzX. Centre mount motors such as on our Motus and Centros range provide a greater level of power and are perfect for long, steep hills.
The Raleigh electric range incorporates motors from a number of manufacturers, depending on the needs and requirements of the rider and bike model. The Bosch system uses cutting edge components to create precise motor control and lower noise output than other motors. Suntour motor systems are used on the Raleigh Array range to create an affordable mid-drive motor system that provides 3 power levels. The Stow-e-way folding Raleigh electric bike uses a TranzX motor system as it is a compact and simple solution to be used on the go with the folding bike.
What size motor is best for an electric bike?
The best size of motor for an electric bike will always be determined by the bike that it is designed to help power. For example, the Stow-E-Way TranzX motor we’ve mentioned above is 250w - that’s perfect for a smaller folding bike. For something bigger like a Motus or Centros, we use a Bosch motor which can range from 400-625w.
How long do e-bike hub motors last?
In general, an e-bike hub motor should last roughly 10,000 miles. That does assume that you’re taking care of your hub motor properly though. The most wearable component of your hub motor will be the bearings (assuming you’re not using a brushless motor). Aside from rusting, the risk of which you can minimise by storing your bike inside, your hub motor could last a very long time.
Which is better - hub motor or mid-drive motor?
When it comes to hub motor vs mid-drive motor, ‘better’ is usually down to the type of electric bike you have and how you’re using it. Hub motors are super low maintenance - they’re just a sealed unit so there’s less for you to worry about; it’s the reason that they’re so popular. However, they’re typically more suited to flatter riding as they only allow a single gear ratio.
Mid-drive motors, on the other hand, don’t have a single gear ratio. This makes them better suited for tackling hillier routes on a regular basis. You’ll also typically find that they’re lighter than hub motors which can be important if you’re worried about the overall weight of your electric bike. If you’re also concerned about looks, the mid-drive motor has you covered - they can be a bit more discreetly placed than a hub motor. Oh and if you ever need to change a tyre, you don’t have to worry about dealing with the weight of a motor attached to a wheel.
In summary, when deciding between a hub motor or a mid-drive motor, the best choice is entirely up to what you intend to use your electric bike for.
Are e-bike motors AC or DC?
Electric bike motors are usually DC. This is down to the simplicity of their design and how readily available they are
Do electric bikes use brushless motors?
A lot of modern electric bikes use brushless motors (also known as BLDC motors). BLDC motors don’t use brushes to control the flow of electric currents to the motor. Brushes are one of the components of a motor that can wear over time, so removing them reduces the risk of wear on your motor and can prolong its lifecycle.
What are the disadvantages of a BLDC motor?
The main disadvantage of a BLDC motor is cost. They’re more complex than your average motor and the price tag reflects that. However as we’ve mentioned above, they tend to wear less quickly than motors with brushes which gives you a bit more peace of mind. If you ask us, that’s worth the extra cost!
Is a 250W motor enough for an electric bike?
Yes, a 250W motor is definitely enough for an electric bike - it also happens to be the maximum that you can have on your e-bike here in the UK. Many of our electric bikes (such as the Motus and Centros) use 250W motors and they’re perfect for both leisurely and more adventurous rides!
How do I choose an e-bike motor?
Choosing an e-bike motor doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, you’ll find that all of our electric bikes come with motors that help you to get all you need (and more) out of your bike. For example, our Stow-E-Way folding electric bike uses a simple TranzX quick stop motor, while the Centros uses an advanced 250W Bosch Performance Line motor. Both motors are perfectly suited to their bikes - that’s one less thing to worry about!
Do Bosch e-bike motors need servicing?
Like any other part of your e-bike, your motor needs to be serviced. Bosch recommends that an initial inspection of your bike is conducted after 4 weeks (or 300 miles) and then at regular intervals after that.
Electric Bike Laws
Do you need a license to ride an Electric Bike?
In short - no. As long as your electric bike meets EAPC standards (as all Raleigh bikes do) then you don’t need a licence to ride an electric bike. According to government regulations, EAPCs can be used by people aged 14 and over. You also don’t have to register or tax it. We do recommend insuring your electric bike though - more to protect your investment than anything.
Why are electric bikes limited to 15 mph? What is the legal speed limit for an electric bike in the UK?
Electric bikes are limited to 15.5 mph for safety reasons. Your own pedal power after this limit can increase your speed, of course. Using this 15.5mph limit is designed to reduce the risk of accidents. Remember that anyone from the age of 14 can legally ride an e-bike - a speed limiter means that inexperienced riders may find it easier to control the bike.
Are 1000w e-bikes legal in the UK?
1000w electric bike motors are not permitted in the UK according to EAPC guidelines. The maximum wattage for an electric bike motor in the UK is 250w.