Electric bikes used to have a specific market - people who needed assistance in order to ride. But the market is quickly changing to everyone. Photo Credit: Specialized Bicycles.

What is an electric bike?

As electric motor technology progresses, so does the diversity of how it can be applied in two-wheeled machines. The “electric bike” umbrella encompasses a vast array of battery-powered cycles, but they are certainly not all created equal.

The term e-bike in the cycling world refers to pedal-assist bikes. This type of bike requires you to at least do some of the work. As you pedal, the motor will engage and add power to the rear wheel. The bike can achieve this in a few different ways that I’ll discuss shortly, but more sophisticated systems will actually work in harmony with the rider, basing the amount of power the motor puts out on how hard the rider is pushing the pedals. The way I like to think about a pedal-assist electric bike is that it’s just like I’m riding a regular bicycle, but with the fantastic illusion that I’ve magically gained the superhuman fitness of a Tour De France rider overnight. This feeling can be shared by anyone, including Grandma Joan.

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