Electric Bike Basics

Everything you need to know about E-bikes

What is an Electric Bike?

Simply put, an electric bike or e-bike is a push-bike with an integrated electric motor. The electric motor is typically powered by a high capacity battery that assists the rider while they are pedalling. In this way, an ebike enhances the cycling experience by allowing you to comfortably ride further and faster than on a standard bike. The motor can be set to provide constant extra push whenever your pedalling, but it really comes into its own when powering you up a hill or battling a strong breeze.

How do you Adjust the Power?

All ebikes connect the power of your pedalling to the power of the electric motor. But how they go about that can vary. The most common method is via a ‘pedal assistance system’ or PAS for short. Pedal assistance does just that, it uses the electric motor to assist you while your pedalling. The level of assistance provided is usually adjustable. This typically works either through a sensor automatically measuring how hard you're pedalling or by the rider selecting the manually level of power they want from the motor. Some electric bikes, such as Old Blue’s Adventuri e-bike, have the addition of a throttle. This small unit is usefully located next to your thumb on the handlebar and can be used to control the motor’s full range of power independent of whether you're pedalling or the selected level of assistance.

Where is the Motor on an E-Bike?

There are two main types of motors found in electric bikes: hub-drive motors and mid-drive motors. Hub-drives are located in the centre of either the front or rear wheel (typically the rear wheel), while mid-drive motors are located in the middle of the bike, usually between the pedals.

The question of which is better, the hub-drive or mid-drive, really depends on what you’re looking for from an ebike – there are pros and cons to each.

Hub-drive motors

  • Have been around forever and tend to be cheaper to buy
  • They require little-to-no maintenance
  • Hub-drives are mechanically independent from the rest of the bike – meaning they don’t place any extra stress, wear and tear on your bike’s chain and gears
  • Because they are mechanically independent, if you break your chain you can still ride home on electric power and visa vera

Mid-drive motors

  • Newer and more mechanically complex than hub-drives
  • Tend to be smaller and lighter
  • The motor can run at a more efficient speed and provides more torque
  • Provides a more integrated riding experience because the motor is built into the crank between the pedals and transmits power via the chain and gears.  

How To Compare Ebike Batteries?

As a rule of thumb, the bigger the battery size (capacity) the further you’ll be able to travel with it. The capacity of a battery is typically measured in amp hours (Ah) – although some manufacturers describe battery capacity in watt-hours (Wh). But don’t worry, both numbers are easy to convert and compare. First of all, it’s important to note that majority of electric bikes run on 36 volts (36v) – so that means the battery and the motor will be designed for a charge of around 36v. To work out the amp hours of any battery capacity stated in watt hours, you simply divide the watt hours by the voltage of the battery (i.e., 36v). For example, a 36v/432Wh battery has a capacity of 12Ah.

What Capacity Battery Do I Need For my Ebike?

Old Blue Bikes sells a range of interchangeable batteries with varying capacities for our ebikes to make sure you get one that best suits your needs. That’s important, because you don’t want to be carrying around the extra weight of higher capacity battery you don’t use – or want to pay for! So how much capacity do you need? Well, that depends. Our standard battery has a capacity of 10Ah (so that’s 360Wh). Combine this with our 350 watts (350w) motor and you’ll see that our standard Adventuri ebike has been designed to allow about one hour at full power. However, you’re unlikely to be using your motor 100% for a whole hour. Instead, while pedalling with a moderate level of assistance you’re likely to be using around 150w of power (that’s still the power of three regular bike riders helping you along!), which means you can expect to achieve two hours of motor assistance. Travelling at a normal 20-25kph that’s still up to 50kms. However, for those extra-adventurous riders looking for some additional range and performance, we also sell a 17ah extended range battery. That’s 612Wh of usable energy, almost doubling your range. Our customers who take this option are looking to go for a full day of riding or are heading to places where a top up charge might not be possible.

How Do I Look after my Ebike Battery?

  1. Keep your battery charged – Lithium batteries are best kept charged. Our batteries include an onboard Battery Management System (BMS) to prevent it from over-discharging. However, fully depleting batteries regularly will shorten their life. But the most important thing to remember, is don’t leave your battery flat for an extended period of time. Get it charged up as soon as practical, otherwise its charge may become unrecoverable, otherwise known as ‘bricked’.
  2. Keep your battery clean – Our Adventuri e-bike batteries are safely hidden away inside the frame of the bike. This design helps to keep the battery clean and dry, even if riding in the rain. However, if your bike battery does get wet or dirty, it is advised to fully clean and dry the battery before attempting to use it again.
  3. Keep your battery cool – The chemical properties of lithium batteries mean they discharge more quickly the hotter they get (due to decreasing electrical resistance of the cells). For that reason, it’s best to store ebike batteries in cool places where their electrical resistance will be high and they will lose their charge slowly. Yes, we’ve heard of some people even storing lithium batteries in fridges, but that’s both impractical and potentially dangerous if they’re not correctly brought up to temperature first. 
  4. Plan for long-term storage of your battery – It’s best to prepare your battery for long-term storage if you know you won’t be using your battery for an extended period of time – in the order of months. Rather than leaving the battery fully charged, it’s actually best to store your battery around 60% charged, which places less strain on the battery long-term than it trying to maintain 100% charge. The best thing to do, is to fully charge your battery, then go for a ride to bring the charge down to around 60%.
  5. Never open a battery pack – Lithium batteries hold a lot of power and if incorrectly handled can be very dangerous. Opening a battery pack disconnects it from the battery management system (BMS) and exposes the cells to damage. Lithium powder is extremely flammable and will explosively combust on exposure to oxygen. So, if you have any issues with your battery, please just get in touch with us or a battery servicing specialist.