An electric bike is essentially a conventional bicycle with a motor and battery. Unlike conventional or non-motor bikes, electric bikes can give you the assistance you need when you need a break from pedaling.
Electric bikes, more commonly known as e-bikes, come in different shapes and sizes.
They differ not only in their appearance but in their mechanical aspect as well. And this leads to their own advantages and disadvantages.
Each bikers' needs are different. This is why there are different types of electric bikes.
Electric bikes can be classified into three types, based on the power assistance they give.
Class 1: Pedal Assist or Pedelec
When you're riding a pedelec or pedal-assist electric bike, you first need to pedal to engage the motor's power. But you don't activate the power yourself.
The e-bike comes with a speed sensor and a torque sensor. These sensors are located in the bottom bracket (the shaft where the two pedals are connected).
The speed sensor detects forward rotation and speed. It activates assistance when it senses you need power. But this power boost is limited to 20 mph, in compliance with most countries' regulations.
Because of their low speed, class 1 electric bikes are allowed on bike lanes or anywhere non-motor bikes can travel.
The torque sensor monitors the force of your pedaling to determine the power assistance it will engage to help you. When you're cycling uphill, it releases more power compared to when you're on a smooth road.
Class 2: Throttle assist
Class 2 electric bikes don't have sensors to automatically give the power you need. You'll have to engage the power yourself through a throttle.
Unlike class 1 e-bikes, you don't need to pedal first to engage the power assistance. You can do this by just turning on the throttle.
The throttle can be activated through a grip-twist, just like in a motorbike. Or it can be a button. But the speed limit is still at 20 mph.
In some countries, especially in Europe, class 2 electric bikes are considered motor vehicles because they can run without you pedaling. This means they may be subject to stricter regulations than non-motor bikes and class 1 e-bikes.
However, because of their low speed, they can still be used on bike lanes.
Class 3: Speed Pedelec
As the name implies, class 3 e-bikes use a pedelec system like class 1 e-bikes. You have to pedal so it can give you a boost. But they can go at a much faster speed.
Its speed can reach as much as 45 kph, or approximately 28 mph. The motor stops giving power assistance when it reaches this speed.
Class 3 electric bikes come with a speedometer so you can see how fast you're going.
In many places, they are considered motor vehicles and riders are required to have a license. Understandably, they're not allowed on bike trails and bike paths.