Learn a New Skill During the Pandemic: How to Ride an Electric Bike

With many individuals and businesses still affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic, we are all looking for ways to make more of the downtime we are experiencing. While learning to make sourdough bread from scratch and endless hours of streaming movies were great during winter and early spring now is the time to look towards activities we can do outside while safely social distancing. 

Learning how to ride an electric bike is a near-perfect venture during these unusual times we are living in. Electric bike riding offers all the advantages of non-assisted bike riding plus several benefits that make it even more accessible to more people. 

In this blog, we answer questions about electric bikes and explore how you can learn to ride an electric bike. This way, you can start enjoying these benefits too. For the purposes of this blog, we will be focusing on pedal-assisted e-bikes but will also touch on e-bikes with a throttle. 

Is Riding an Electric Bike the Same as Riding a Traditional Bike?

In almost all ways, yes. If you can ride a traditional bike, you should easily be able to pick up riding an electric bike. The primary difference is that an electric bike, when you engage the assist mode (more on that in a minute), will feel much easier. 

The look of an electric bike is almost identical to a traditional bike as well. All of the parts and general dimensions stay the same. However, the major difference is in the form of an electrical system complete with a battery and a display screen. 

How Riding an Ebike is Different than a Traditional Bike:

While an e-bike experience is very similar, there are some things you should consider if you are transitioning from a traditional bike to an e-bike:

Faster Speed Equals Greater Efficiency

The rate you pedal your bike, also known as cadence, affects how efficiently your battery operates. You can pedal at any rate that you are comfortable with but the faster you go, the smoother your ride will be. 

Get a Feel for Your Brakes

When you are new to e-bikes it can be surprising just how quickly they can go and the ease of pedalling. While this makes for a more enjoyable riding experience, it also contributes to the bikes needing more room to slow down. When in doubt, brake sooner than later especially if you are going fast. 

Assist Mode Will Turn Off at Higher Speeds

For pedal-assisted bikes, the assist mode will turn off if you are pedalling at around 32 Kph. This is not a bad thing. This is just the point where your electric system cannot provide any additional power to make you go any faster. 

Different Levels of Assistance

E-bikes typically provide at least 3 assistance modes while some provide more. At the highest level, you will receive the most assistance from your electric system. This will allow you to go faster with less effort. 

Start With Lower Assistance

It can be tempting to start out your e-bike adventure on the highest level of assistance for the fastest riding. However, this can take some getting used to and it is safer to start out at a low or medium setting. 

Other Safety Considerations

Ultimately, an e-bike requires the same precautions you would take with a traditional bike but with even more diligence due to the higher speeds.

  • Consider protective gear like a helmet and elbow pads. 
  • Make sure you start biking in an area with few people or obstacles until you get the hang of it. 
  • Practice getting on and off your bike. While the look of an e-bike is very similar to a traditional bike, the added weight from the battery will affect how the bike is balanced. If you are used to traditional bikes, this may change how you navigate getting on and off the bike. 

Is an Electric Bike Faster Than a Traditional Bike? 

A recent study shows that e-bikes are faster on average. However, a pedal-assisted e-bike is not like a car where you push on the gas and the speed increases. E-bikes work by giving your pedalling a boost. You, the rider, still control how fast you go, but the assist-mode makes it easier to pedal. 

Eventually, you will be able to go faster and accelerate more quickly with less exertion. Lessened fatigue and easier mechanics allow you to go faster, but speed is still based largely on your personal ability.  

Do I have to Pedal With an Electric Bike?

Yes, pedalling is a requirement for pedal-assisted electric bike riding. However, when you engage the highest level of assist-mode, pedalling is much easier than a traditional bike. If you are wondering whether to buy an electric bike based on your experience with pedalling a traditional bike, you should give it a try. An e-bike can take significantly less strength!

Do E-Bikes Have a Throttle?

E-Bikes with a throttle are in a different classification from pedal-assist bikes. A throttle is a component of the bike’s engine that manages power with the press of a button. Instead of speed dictated by your pedalling ability, the throttle controls the engine directly. 

While e-bikes with a throttle can be great for many uses, including off-roading, they are not legal in many cities. This is because they can achieve greater speeds than a pedal-assist e-bike and pose a greater risk of more serious injuries and crashes. 

Is an Electric Bike the Same as an Electric Scooter?

The idea that an e-bike is the same as a scooter is a common misconception. They are two entirely different animals. With a scooter, there are no pedals and most are intended to be ridden without any manual pushing the way a non-electric model would be. 

An e-bike, on the other hand, does have pedals and can be operated with or without the electric component engaged. Though they require the extra work of pedalling, e-bikes are faster than scooters and provide more calorie-burning while still requiring less exertion than a traditional bike. 

That being said, it is important to note that an e-bike with a throttle and no pedals can sometimes meet the definition of a scooter. However, this type of e-bike is quite different from the pedal-assist bikes we are considering here. 

Can I Manually Pedal an Electric Bike?

All pedal-assist e-bikes and many throttle e-bikes have pedals you can use without assistance from the motor. Some throttle e-bikes do not include pedals and will provide a riding experience closer to that of a moped. 

If this is the type of e-bike you are looking for, look into the laws regarding this in your area. Depending on where you live, this pedal-less e-bike could require licensing, insurance and additional restrictions.

How Do Pedal Assisted E-Bikes Charge? 

Charging With Pedaling

One of the coolest features of pedal-assisted e-bikes is that they can charge while you ride. Your pedalling creates kinetic energy which helps to recharge the battery. 

Your battery’s ability to be recharged through this method will depend on the age of the battery and how intense your use of the bike has been. Generally, your e-bike will no longer be able to recharge sufficiently from pedalling once it gets to the 5-year mark. 

Electric Charging

While pedal charging is a great feature and can help extend your battery’s charge, an electric charge is still needed. For a full electric charge, your battery will need anywhere around 3.5 to 6 hours. 

Regenerative Braking

With some bikes, you can regenerate your battery with braking. This can be a great feature but is not offered on many bikes for several reasons. Namely, regen braking requires a heavier motor type known as a direct drive motor. This extra weight can slow you down and the regen feature will not necessarily give you back that much more of a charge. 

Can I Ride an E-bike Without a Battery?

If you have decided that you do not want the pedal-assist or if your battery has worn out but you still need to use your bike, you can ride without the battery. Your bike will now provide the same riding experience as a traditional bike. 

Is Riding an Electric Bike Good Exercise?

Yes! While you will burn fewer calories per hour than you would on a traditional bike (around 440 calories/hour on an electric bike vs 550 on a traditional bike), many riders can use their electric bikes longer and more often with less fatigue.

Additionally, because you do not have to work as hard, most riders will find they sweat less. This is an important advantage if you plan to ride your e-bike to work or to any social gatherings (whenever we’re able to have those again, that is). 

E-bikes also allow many more people to enjoy cycling. Those who have physical limitations or who are new to cycling can find a traditional bike difficult or intimidating. E-bikes make it easier to pedal but also offer the option to reduce electric assistance. This means you can use the assist-mode less as you get more comfortable. 

Find Your E-Bike

E-bikes come in a variety of styles with different features. Many are designed for specific purposes such as commuting and mountain biking. Some are built for speed with lighter frames while others are heavy-duty to allow for cargo. 

To get started finding the right e-bike options for you, browse our e-bike selection or contact our Epic Cycles team. 

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