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How Do Electric Bikes Work

by Wheels Surfer

With the global awareness of climate change, many people are choosing alternative vehicles that are less relied on fossil fuels. Bicycles have been around us for more than centuries and still provide one of the best riding experiences. With the genesis of Electric Bikes, this experience has become much more soothing and convenient for us. In this article, we will discuss how the electric bike works.

Main Components of an Electric Bike

Essentially, electric bikes are very similar to your normal pedaling bikes that run on human energy. So, each bike has seat(s), wheels, handlebars, brakes, chain, gear (although optional), pedaling portions, and the mainframe body that keeps everything in their places. But since your electric bike runs on electricity it has some additional components that we shall discuss below. Let’s have a quick look!

e bike parts

1. Battery

Batteries are the main power source for your electric bike’s motor, sensors, lights, and horns or any other electronic part. There are mainly two types of battery attachments for Ebikes. External and Internal. These battery packs come with more than one cell and the voltage may range between 24 to 48 volts.

i) External

External batteries are seen in converted Ebikes. Some of the old models used to have external batteries. These battery packs are typically Lead Acid based. They are heavy and don’t last long. Many bikes keep the external batteries behind the seat. Nowadays many other batteries like Lithium-ion batteries also come in external options, mostly to converted-Ebikes. This option is easy to charge as you can just take them away to charge anywhere convenient.

ii) Internal

Internal battery packs are attached to the down tube of your bicycle. These are secured with screw attachments. In the past, we had Nickel Cadmium battery cells. But now most of the battery packs come with Lithium-ion based cells that typically last longer than other batteries. You need to plug your charger directly to the battery’s charging sections. Many models have portable options so that you can detach the battery on the go and charge wherever convenient.

2. Input & Output Ports

Each battery pack has a charging port and one or two output options that may include a USB port. These make the batteries easy to use and provide charges for your phone or other USB devices.

3. Motor

Motors are the horses that pull your bicycle. Motors are powered by your battery pack and have a mechanism to control the spin-flow. Generally, there are two types of motor setups.

i) Rear Hub

Rear Hub setup directly spins your rear wheel. This setup is quite old and can be seen in many converted bicycles. The battery charge goes through your control system to the motor and the motor simply spins the wheel.

ii) Mid-Drive

Most modern Ebikes have assisted pedaling. This means you have pedals to use and the motor will assist your wheels to spin along with the pedaling. For this reason, the motor is situated in the drivetrain of your bicycle.

4. Sensors

Modern Ebikes have more than one mode. For example, assisted pedaling, walk mode, and motor only mode. Based on the mode you choose your Ebike to go, there are sensors to control your riding.

i) Pedal Assist Sensor

Pedal Assist Sensor or PAS is a sensor that determines your pedaling speed to assist wheel spin. This sensor is placed in the pedaling area. 

ii) Gear Sensor

This sensor controls your motor based on the gear changes from your handlebar’s gear setup.

5. Handlebar Buttons

Handlebar buttons are easy to use for your ride. They are connected with your bike’s battery pack and other components.

i) Power Button

This button regulates the battery supply of your Ebike.

ii) Walk Mode

When you are walking and pushing your bicycle along with you, this button helps to control that.

iii) Motor Switcher

Assisted pedaling mode, non-pedaling mode, and terrain mode is controlled by this switch.

iv) Flashlights & Others

There are some more buttons for your frontal flashlight and horn.

6. Pedal & Throttle

Ebikes that are converted from normal bicycles typically have throttles that directly control the wheel’s spin or speed. Modern Ebikes have assisted pedaling that doesn’t require separate throttles although some bikes may have both!

7. Display Monitor

A small display monitor is attached with your handlebar to indicate speed, mode, battery updates, and other optional features. 

How Your E-bike Runs

The main principle for your Ebike is very simple and straight forward. You have a battery to power the motor and you have a controller to control the speed and modes. This is the gist of how your Ebike works. Let’s dive into some more details.

how e bike runs

1. Power Supply

The power supply comes from the battery pack. Whether it is an external or an internal battery pack, the power supply does not go directly into your motor. The controller is the middle man who plays with the speed and modes for your bicycle. You have gear and mode control in your handlebar and you have run control in your drivetrain. As mentioned before, a power button turns on the power supply for your Ebike.

2. Assisted Pedalling & Throttling

After the power supply has started your bike doesn’t just start running. You do require pedaling. The motor will assist the pedaling and there will be less energy flow from your body, but you do require pedaling for your Ebike to run. Some old models and converted Ebikes have throttles to spin the motor. These don’t require pedaling. But this is a less efficient option.

3. Gear

In your handlebar, you have gear control to control the gears. There’s also a sensor to assist the motor to adjust its spinning based on gear changes 

4. Walk Mode

When you’re walking your pedal is not turning, so your bike won’t move. For this reason, there is a walking mode to start the motor and match your walking pace.

5. Only Motor Mode

If you choose to fully relax and let the motor and battery do all the magic then you switch to the Only Motor Mode. This will turn off the assisted pedaling and rely on only motor power. But this mode consumes a lot more power.

6. Only Pedalling Mode

If you want to save energy and exercise more, then you can switch to Only Pedalling Mode where the motor is turned off, and the gear is shifted only to pedaling.


The modern Electric Bike riding experience is amazing in the sense that it not only is a riding of an energy-efficient vehicle but also it allows you to fully experience your traditional pedaling on your level of comfort. You don’t need to worry about sweating if you are on a motor-assisted pedaling because it will match your comfort pedaling speed and provide you better riding experience.

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