The Electric Bike Motor: An E-Bike’s Heart
In many ways, traditional bikes and electric bikes are a lot alike. They both have two wheels, they don’t require gasoline, and they offer a nimble, active option for transportation. There’s one big difference between the two, however, that makes a world of difference—a motor.
A motor provides e-bike riders with an extra boost of power to help them charge up hills, coast when they choose and ultimately provide flexibility in how they want to ride. It makes riding the easy choice, no matter the destination.
All electric bike motors aren’t the same though. Before you choose your e-bike, it’s important to take a look at the type of motor that powers it as well as how it works within the bike’s complete system. And don’t worry, you don’t need to be a mechanic to get this. Here, we break down the basics so they’re as easy to understand as our bikes are to ride.
Why a Motor Matters
In the simplest terms, a motor lets you make each ride on your bike as easy as you want it to be. Feel like getting your workout on and pedaling away? Go for it; you can pedal your e-bike just like a traditional bike.
If, however, you’re on your way to work and want to show up looking (and smelling) fresh, kick in your motor and coast right in. Want to mix it up and do some pedaling, but say to hell with hills? You can alternate between how much power you want at any given time during any given ride.
A motor gives you ultimate flexibility in how you want to get where you’re going. All of our bikes have pedal-assist, which is powered by the motor. How much assistance you want is up to you.
Our City and Comfort electric bikes also feature a throttle. When you kick that throttle into gear with your thumb, you get an extra burst to power your pedaling, or you can kick back and let the bike do all the work for you, no pedaling needed. It’s a great option for those times you just don’t want to sweat it.
Hub-Drive vs. Mid-Drive Motors?
When you’re shopping for bikes, you’ll likely come across two types of motors—hub-drive and mid-drive motors. The primary difference between the two is where they’re located. Hub-drive motors are located in the center of the bike’s front or rear wheel, while mid-drive motors live in the center of the bike, concealed within the bottom bracket.
In general, mid-drive motors tend to feel the most like traditional bikes, and those who want ultra performance tend to prefer bikes with them, like our Charge XC. Built to handle off-road challenges, its mid-drive motor gives the bike the torque and power necessary to tackle tough terrain like sand, gravel and dirt, but it also handles beautifully on city streets when the toughest terrain may be a speed bump.
Hub motors are generally less complicated and less expensive, as are the bikes that use them. Both our City and Comfort bikes feature hub motors. They're both still nimble, powerful and easy to ride, but offer a more simple and cost-effective option if most of your riding is going to be done on city streets rather than off roading. They’re also generally better for covering lots of miles at higher speeds.
Electric Motor Power
Our electric motors are powered by rechargeable batteries. These removable, yet lockable, weather-resistant batteries, come with all of our bikes—Comfort and City bikes feature 418WH Lithium ion batteries while the XC boasts a Shimano E8035 504WH integrated battery.
The batteries’ charging time depends on how much power is left. The City and Comfort bikes each take about 3 hours to reach 80 percent capacity and 7 hours to fully recharge. The Charge XC bike reaches 80 percent capacity in about 2.5 hours and requires approximately 5 hours for a full charge.
As for how far you can go on a single charge, that depends on a variety of factors that include how much throttle and pedal assist you use, the type of terrain you’re riding on and a rider’s weight. In general, though, you can go nearly 50 miles without having to recharge the battery.
And don’t worry about keeping track or running out of power mid-ride. Each of our bikes is equipped with an indicator built into the handlebar that lets you know just how many miles you have left.
How fast will you get where you’re going? That also depends on some varying factors, but our bikes are pretty darn zippy no matter the circumstances. With pedal assist you can push up to 20mph. It’s up to you and your legs to push beyond that if you want to go faster, but at 20 mph you’re going at a pretty nice clip to get you where you’re going.
A Ride for Everyone
The best thing about motors is that they make biking a great option for almost anyone. You don’t have to be super fit or fixated on crossing finish lines in record time. Even if you haven’t ridden a bike since you were a child or have bad knees, an e-bike is a great way to get back in the saddle. Riders of all ages find them to be practical, safe, comfortable, fun and energizing.
Whether commuting to work, heading out to pick up groceries or exploring your area’s trails, it’s your ride, your way. There’s no searching for a parking space, no valet parking attendant to pay and no worry that you’ll be too tired when you get where you’re going. That motor is there to help you out when you want it to.
People from all walks of life—from retirees to busy parents, office workers and adventurers—are realizing just how much of a difference a motor makes when it comes to biking.
An e-bike isn’t a car, but there are few things you can’t do on an e-bike that you can do in a car. On the flipside, however, there are a ton of things that you can do on an electric bike that you can't do in a car.
To name a few… you can’t fold your car up flat for easy storage and transportation like you can an e-bike. You can’t ride to a trailhead then ride right on that trailhead with a car, but you can with an electric bike. You can’t feel the wind whip through your hair, the sun on your face and get a workout in while you go in a car, but you can on an e-bike.
While both will get you to your final destination, the journey on an e-bike is more peaceful and more pleasurable. Electric bikes provide a lifestyle change in all the best ways, including more fresh air and active exercise in your daily routine.
But what about a trunk? No, our bikes don’t have trunks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your groceries, gear or most anything else you want along for the ride. All of our bikes feature integrated rear racks to help carry what you want. You can strap baskets, bags or other items right onto the rack, or if you often haul a good deal, you want to purchase a set of panniers, which fit over the rear rack and let you haul even more.
Have kids? With the extra-tough XC model you can haul them with you! Put a rear-mounted child seat on the back of your bike and you’re ready to go with kids up to 40 pounds. For older children, you can attach a pull-behind trailer or tag-along bike.
So yeah, motors matter when it comes to biking. They’re at the heart of e-bikes, and what sets them apart from other two-wheeled rides. But it’s the overall integration into a bike and how everything works together that really matters for riders. So, take time to look at all of a bike’s features, including the feel, fit and other factors beyond the motor.
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