The Ultimate Guide To Ebikes
Welcome to Sparque’s Ultimate Guide to ebikes, your comprehensive resource for everything about the exciting world of electric bikes. Whether you’re a seasoned rider looking to upgrade or a curious enthusiast exploring the possibilities, this blog is your gateway to unlocking the full potential of ebikes. We’ll discuss what an ebike is, how they work, provide some tips for maintenance and answer common queries. Let’s dive in.
– Basics Of Electric Bikes
What Is An Ebike?
Simply put, an ebike or pedal-assisted bike is a bicycle with a battery-powered motor that is engaged when the rider starts pedalling. The motor generates an added level of propulsion to the bike, making cycling much easier and far more fun. Ebikes combine the features of a traditional bike with the benefits of an electric motor, delivering an added boost for the rider and requiring less effort when pedalling.
Aside from the additional push provided by the electric motor, ebikes typically function the same as traditional bicycles, with pedalling, steering and operation of the brakes and gears being no different. The level of propulsion generated by the motor depends on the model of the bike and the assistance level you choose.
Ebikes allow for easier pedalling, making cycling accessible to a wider range of individuals. Additionally, they enable you to travel longer distances without experiencing excessive fatigue.
– Functionality And Operation
How Do Electric Bikes Work?
Electric bikes or ebikes work by combining the power generated from a motor with the propulsion generated by pedalling.
- The electric motor is engaged when you start to pedal, and the sensors detect the motion and signal the motor to provide assistance.
- You can choose your desired power level based on your preferences, the terrain you’re riding on, or the amount of effort you want to put in.
- The distance you can travel on a single charge depends on many variables, including the battery capacity, the battery’s age, the ebike’s model, the drivetrain brand and types, the support setting, the weight of the rider and any passengers/cargo and the terrain you’re riding on.
The battery attached to the bike is rechargeable and can be removed from the frame when charging. Ebikes also come with a charger – similar to a phone charger – which can be plugged into a regular power/plug point.
Do Ebikes charge by pedalling?
Generally speaking, electric bikes do not charge when you pedal. Although there are exceptions to this, most ebikes come with a lithium rechargeable battery pack attached to or enclosed in the frame and a charger – much like a phone charger – which plugs into a regular power point. The battery is generally secured via a key-operated lock. Most ebikes can also be charged while the battery is still mounted on the bike. Some very lightweight ebikes have their batteries fully built-in to reduce weight. These are removable only by a mechanic/shop and are charged directly from the bike.
Where Is The On/Off Switch On An Ebike?
The exact location of the on/off (power) switch on an ebike depends on its brand, model and type. For many ebikes, the power switch can be located on the handlebars or the display panel. Others will feature the on/off switch on the bike’s frame or on the battery. Always remember to consult the manual before using your new electric bike or ask for help in-store.
– Speed and Performance
How Fast Do Electric Bikes Go?
Generally speaking, an ebike will go as fast as you pedal; however, a 250W motor will deliver support of up to 25 km/h, with most models fading out between 25 km/h and 27 km/h. Street-legal pedelecs or pedal-assisted electric bicycles in Australia follow European safety standards (EN15194) for on-road usage. According to these standards, an ebike’s motor power should not exceed 250W continuous output, and the assisted pedalling speed should not go beyond 25 km/h. The peak power of some drive units can be up to 700W to help you accelerate or conquer steep inclines. Above 25 km/h, the motor cuts out, and only your pedal power (and gravity when going downhill) will propel the bike forward. Most modern ebike motors have a built-in freewheel mechanism to reduce the amount of drag experienced when the motor is not assisting.
Can Electric Bikes Go Up A Hill?
Yes, of course, ebikes can go up hills! The battery-powered motor can make tackling steep hills much easier, allowing you to conserve your energy and cycle for much longer. Also, the ebike motor provides different levels of support, so you can choose how much effort you would like to put into cycling up a hill. You can even switch off the support and tackle a hill unassisted if you’re feeling brave!
Does A 250W Ebike Provide Enough Power?
Yes, a 250W ebike provides plenty of juice to tackle most terrain at a more than respectable pace. For an ebike to be ridden on any public road in Australia (this includes off-road shared paths and trails on public land), it must have a motor that is no more than 250W. 250W is the Australian standard and will give you enough power to get from A to B and then some.
– Pricing And Cost
How Much Do Ebikes Cost In Australia?
In Australia, ebikes vary in price, and the cost depends on several factors, such as the make, model, features, and overall quality and design of the ebike system and other components. You can expect to pay anywhere between $1,000 – $20,000+, depending on how advanced you’d like your ebike to be and what purpose it will serve. Generally, a decent quality ebike with long-term local support available will set you back at least $2,500-$3,000. Don’t be scared off by the price, though. An ebike is a fantastic investment, and many retailers offer monthly payment plans, as well as salary packaging leasing options made accessible through certain participating employers.
Why Do Ebikes Cost More Than Traditional Bikes?
Compared to traditional bikes, electric bikes have additional components such as a motor, battery, and advanced electronics, but also upgraded brakes, suspension and other mechanical components built to the requirements of the heavier ebike. Generally, ebikes are far more intricate than conventional bikes, requiring state-of-the-art engineering, additional manufacturing processes, and specialised equipment. The result is a cutting-edge, environmentally friendly way to commute to work, visit friends, take the kids to school and even shop.
– Battery And Range
How Long Does It Typically Take To Charge An Ebike?
The time an ebike takes to charge depends on the size and capacity of the battery and the charger. However, a full charge takes around 3-8 hours. Most chargers are designed for indoor use only. It’s recommended you charge the bike where you can keep an eye on it and not leave it plugged in overnight or when you leave the house.
Do Electric Bikes Use A Lot Of Electricity?
Ebikes are an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient means of transportation.
The electricity consumption of an ebike depends on the same variables that affect your range, including battery capacity, the level of motor assistance used, and the distance of your daily usage. However, their energy usage is very low compared to other electric vehicles. An electric car battery is 100-200x larger in capacity than an ebike battery. We found most customers average between 5-12Wh/km energy consumption from the ebike system. By comparison, the consumption of electric cars is estimated to be 100-250Wh/km.
How Long Does An eBike Last On One Charge?
The duration an ebike lasts on a single charge depends on many factors, including:
- The battery capacity
- The battery’s age
- The bike and battery make and model
- The drivetrain brand and type
- The support setting and the terrain you’re riding on
- The strength and direction of the wind
- The weight of the rider, passengers and cargo
- How many times you stop and start the ebike
- The temperature outside
On average, a standard ebike can travel between 30-150 km on a single charge under normal conditions.
Ebikes using a Bosch system with a 500Wh/625Wh battery have been shown to provide around 60-80 km in Melbourne when set to level 2 or 3 (4 being the highest level of support).
A cargo ebike may provide less battery life because of the added weight and less favourable aerodynamics. It has been found that the Butchers & Bicycles tricycles gave around 30-50 km per charge.
The Bosch range indicator is a great tool to get an idea of the range possible on your ebike.
How Far Will An Ebike Go Without Pedalling?
Pedelecs or pedal-assisted electric bikes require some level of pedalling to engage the motor. However, the electric system on an ebike offers different levels of support, so the amount of pedalling you do depends on what setting you have your bike on. For a more relaxed ride, choose a higher setting, and to work up a sweat, choose a low setting or switch off the support entirely.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace An Ebike Battery?
You can expect to pay between $700 – $1,700 to replace an eBike battery. But this depends on the battery brand and capacity. Battery capacity takes the form of watt-hours (Wh), and a battery with a higher Wh will cost more than a battery with a lower Wh.
More expensive ebike systems with better quality components tend to have batteries that are constructed with better soldering, internal wiring, thermal insulation and a more sophisticated battery management system (BMS) to control the operation of the battery. These batteries are more expensive to buy/replace but also safer to use.
How Often Will I Need To Replace An Ebike Battery?
The lifespan of an electric bike’s battery depends on factors such as battery quality, usage, biking terrain, and maintenance and upkeep. Based on data from Europe and other mature ebike markets, the average user replaces their ebike battery after 4-6 years and completes about 250-500 charging cycles in that time. After reaching this point, the battery will still function, but its capacity may begin to decrease slightly. If you only ride short distances, this might not be an issue, and your battery may continue to function as intended for more time.
In ideal circumstances, ebike batteries can last more than 1,000 charging cycles before the capacity significantly decreases. A charging cycle is defined as charging a battery from 0% to 100% in one session. For example, charging from 50% to 80% is equivalent to 0.3 charging cycles.
Over time, the battery’s capacity will decrease. This may result in a reduced range compared to when you first purchased your bike, which could signal that it’s time to replace the battery.
Should I Remove My Ebike Battery When Not In Use?
You don’t need to remove your ebike battery when not in use. However, you may do so if that is your preference or for security reasons. Your battery is rechargeable and can be disconnected from the bike when charging, providing convenience when connecting to a power point.
There are other instances when you may want to consider removing your battery, for example, during intense weather conditions. This might include if your ebike will be left sitting in direct sunlight or if you plan to leave your bike outdoors during particularly cold, wintery days or when it’s raining.
If possible, you should also remove your battery when transporting your ebike on a car carrier. This is because it reduces the chances of the battery overheating from exposure to direct sunlight, and it removes 3-4kgs of weight from the bike, putting less strain on your car’s bike rack. Always consult your car manufacturer’s manual and the manual of the bike carrier to confirm their compatibility with the weight and specifications of your ebike.
Lithium-ion batteries operate best in moderate temperature conditions (15-25 degrees Celsius) and perform less effectively in very hot or very cold temperatures. In cold conditions, you may notice that the range of your ebike is shorter, and if the battery overheats, it may enter thermal protection mode to prevent damage from overheating. During this state, the battery may not power the ebike, so you’ll need to wait for it to cool down before using it again. Charging the battery is best done indoors at room temperature.
– Maintenance And Care
Should I Charge My Ebike Every Night?
How often you charge your ebike depends on your usage and the battery level after each use. On average, a full charge will take 3-8 hours, depending on battery and charger capacity. Most chargers are designed for indoor use only, and it’s recommended you charge the bike where you can keep an eye on it. It’s not recommended to leave the charger plugged in overnight or when you leave the house.
Can I Leave My Ebike In The Sun?
While you shouldn’t try to leave your electric bike in the sun, short periods of sun exposure should be fine and not cause any significant harm. That being said, prolonged exposure to particularly intense sunlight and high temperatures will affect the lifespan and performance of any battery. It will also affect the aesthetics and performance of other components like the saddle, handlebar grips, controllers and frame paint. If an ebike battery gets too hot, it may go into thermal protection to protect the cells. At that point, it will stop providing power to the motor, and you will have to let the battery cool down before using it again.
Remember that an ebike is not a traditional bike and has electrical components that shouldn’t be exposed to intense heat or cold. Where possible, keep your electric bike covered or in a shaded area. Doing so can ensure that your bike will have a longer lifespan.
What Can You Do To Maintain An Electric Bike?
It’s advisable to give thoughtful consideration to the following measures to guarantee the longevity and upkeep of your electric bike:
Keep your ebike clean by wiping it down with a damp cloth or water and soap. Avoid using high-pressure water or directly spraying liquid onto the battery, motor or controls. Thoroughly dry the bike to prevent rusting.
Check Tyre Pressure
Check the tyre pressure regularly and keep it within the recommended range. Inspect the tyres for signs of excessive tread wear, cracks or foreign objects, and replace them if necessary. Also, always check for punctures before you ride.
Maintain Your Chain/Belt Drive
Keep the chain or belt clean and lubricated for smooth and efficient functioning. For a chain: wipe off any dirt or debris and apply a suitable bicycle chain lubricant. Regularly inspect the chain, gears, and derailleurs for wear and damage and make any necessary adjustments or replacements.
A belt, like the Gates CDX/CDN carbon belt, combined with internal hub gears like Enviolo, Shimano or Rohloff can be a low-maintenance and durable alternative to a standard chain and derailleur set-up. The belt does not need greasing, but you should still keep it clean by rinsing and wiping it if it gets dusty/muddy.
Check Brake Pads Regularly
Check the brake pads regularly to ensure they are in good condition and have sufficient thickness. If you notice any issues with braking effectiveness or unusual noises, have them inspected and serviced by a professional.
Maintain Your Battery
Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for charging and storing your ebike’s battery. Use the charger provided and avoid using incompatible ones. Keep the battery clean and dry, and protect it from extreme temperatures. If the battery requires replacement, consult the manufacturer or a qualified dealer.
Get Your Bike Serviced
Manufacturer-recommended service intervals for ebikes are generally around 2,000km or six months, whichever comes earlier (shorter for eMTBs that get used off-road). Getting your bike serviced regularly by a qualified bike mechanic ensures it remains in good condition and allows you to catch developing issues early before they escalate and lead to a bigger repair bill. Rental and leasing contracts for ebikes often include regular servicing and maintenance in the rental fee for convenience and peace of mind.
– Legal And Tax Considerations
Does An Electric Bike Need A Licence In Australia?
No, there is no requirement for a licence to ride a street-legal ebike in Australia. You are permitted to ride it in any location where conventional bicycles are allowed.
Are 750W Ebikes Legal In Australia?
No, 750W ebikes cannot be ridden on public roads as pedelecs in Australia are regulated in line with European safety standard EN15194 and must have a motor that doesn’t exceed 250W. Also, the assistance provided while pedalling must not exceed 25kph.
Are There Any Incentives For Leasing An Ebike?
Similar to a novated lease agreement for a car, an increasing number of employers are collaborating with ebike brands to offer employees the option to salary package ebikes. Ebike leasing companies, such as Sparque – which pioneered ebike leasing in Australia – will purchase the ebike on your behalf. Your employer will then deduct the lease payments from your pre-tax salary, provided you use the bike in accordance with the relevant ATO regulations (CR2020/068). This involves using the ebike mainly for commuting and business purposes, with a limited allowance for infrequent, irregular, and minor personal use.
With this arrangement, not only can you enjoy a high-quality ebike, but it also covers costs related to insurance against theft and damage, servicing and maintenance, all while helping you save on taxes. In some cases, the lease may even include roadside assistance. Your employer will automatically deduct your ebike rental payment from your pre-tax earnings during each pay cycle.
About the author
Thijs van der Heijden is a Dutch-born financial economist and bicycle enthusiast. He has ridden bicycles since the age of three and rides everyday for transport, exercise and fun. Thijs is a certified bike skills instructor and bicycle mechanic and has been working with ebikes since 2015. Thijs founded Sparque with the aim to get more Australians riding for everyday transport and improve access to high-quality ebikes.