We brought you a list of seven e-bikes that you can get for under $1,000 last week. A few days later it dawned on me that we never bothered to define what exactly an e-bike is. How rude of us! Let’s take a look at what an e-bike is and how they work.

E-bike Defined

An e-bike is defined as a bicycle that gives the rider the option of using an integrated electric motor to assist with propulsion. In order to meet the strict definition, an e-bike must have pedals. Bikes without pedals are more correctly classified as motorcycles or mopeds. E-bikes utilize rechargeable lithium-ion batteries to provide assistance to the operator. Smaller batteries typically allow the rider to reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. Larger and more high-powered batteries allow for speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.


Usage of e-bikes has exploded in the past few decades. China is by far the world’s largest producer of e-bikes, and has by far the largest share of e-bike riders. It is estimated that there are approximately 220 million electric bikes that are used daily in the PRC. E-bikes are also wildly popular in Europe, and have been catching on in various U.S. markets. several U.S. municipalities have recently passed laws aimed at encouraging e-bike and e-scooter usage, as we mentioned here.

Like non-electric bicycles, e-bikes come in various styles and sizes. There are all-electric mountain bikes, beach cruisers, and street bikes for sale today. Mountain e-bikes are the most popular style, mostly due to their ability to assist riders when traveling uphill.

How They Work

E-bikes are driven exactly like traditional bicycles. The rider will pedal to make the bike go and use a hand brake to stop. E-bikes depend on three components working in tandem for operation: the electric motor, the battery, and the drivetrain.

The electric motor provides propulsion by spinning either the front or rear tire or by sending power to the bike’s drivetrain. The battery of an e-bike powers the electric motor when the pedals are in motion, giving the rider an added boost to his or her efforts. The drivetrain provides the necessary power to turn the wheels of the bike.  Most e-bikes will allow the rider to switch gears depending on terrain and incline or decline.

World Record

In 2018, a Ukrainian based e-bike company by the name of Delfast Bikes set the world record for farthest distance traveled on a single charge. Mostly due to its much larger than average battery pack, the Delfast Prime e-bike was able to travel roughly 228 miles before needing to plug in. Now that’s impressive!

Final Thoughts

As e-bikes become more and more popular, technology is certain to improve. Increased battery power and range may allow e-bikes of the future to travel longer distances at higher speeds. It will be interesting to see if e-bikes overtake traditional bicycles one day as the most popular method of transportation on two wheels.

What do our readers think about e-bikes? Any e-bike owners out there who swear by them? What does the future of e-bike technology look like? Please leave us a comment below and let us know.

Source | Image: Wikimedia Commons