Electric Bicycles have been quickly becoming a common sight in cities across the world. The more people see electric bicycles zooming around their communities, the more they want to know about them. Here is a collection of many common questions about ebikes to help you get a better general understanding of this awesome form of clean, green and fun transportation. Don’t see your question answered here? Ask a question in the comments at the bottom of the page!
Q: Does an electric bicycle charge when you pedal it?
A: No. It doesn’t. That wouldn’t make much sense. You see, the goal of an electric bicycle is to assist you, not for you to assist it. Most ebikes are capable of putting out at least three to five times the power of an average leisure rider. That means to charge an ebike by pedaling enough to go one mile, you’d have to pedal the equivalent of three to five miles – not very efficient. I
t’s much more efficient to charge an electric bicycle with any wall outlet, just like a cell phone. Some ebikes DO have regenerative braking though – which charges the battery by capturing some of the energy normally lost during braking. This will usually only return about 5% of the energy you’ve used back to the battery, i.e. you’ll can travel about 5% further with added ebike regenerative braking.
Q: Can I get shocked by using an electric bicycle?
A: Probably not. The chances are about the same as being shocked by a blender. Sure, it can happen due to a freak accident, but short of that, you don’t really have to worry. In the hundreds of ebikes I’ve built and thousands of ebike riders I’ve interacted with, I’ve never met anyone who was shocked while riding an ebike.
Sure, electric bicycles have powerful batteries that can be dangerous if you go poking around in them with a knife or screwdriver, but left to their own devices electric bicycle batteries are generally quite safe.
The one exception to this answer might be during a DIY electric bicycle conversion. The chances of receiving an electric shock are still incredibly low, but anytime you are messing around with a big battery and plugging wires into things, accidents can happen if you don’t know what you are doing.
If you make sure you have the proper guidance during an electric bike conversion, and don’t try touching bare wires together for fun, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
And as a rule of thumb, the “lick it to see if it’s still good” rule for 9V batteries doesn’t apply to ebike batteries, in case that needed to be said.
Q: How do I charge an electric bicycle?
A: To charge an electric bicycle, you simply plug it into any wall outlet, just like you would charge a cell phone or laptop computer. The charger is about the size of a laptop’s charger, making it easy to store in a backpack. Some people even mount their chargers on their ebike so they always have their charger with them. All they have to bring is an extension cord and they can charge their electric bicycle anywhere they can find an outlet, such as a gas station, library, public electric car charging station, friend’s house, etc. With outlets all over the place, an electric bicycle charging infrastructure already exists all over the world!
Q: I see a lot of places to buy electric bicycles but I also know there are DIY electric bicycle conversion kits available. Which is better?
A: This answer depends on what you are looking for. If you can afford to buy a retail electric bicycle and want to start riding immediately, that’s probably your best option. If you’d rather customize your ebike to fit your exact requirements, save money, and have some time to plan it out, not to mention some simple handyman skills, the DIY route can be much more appropriate for you. Both options have their merits. I personally much prefer building my own electric bicycles, mostly for the cost savings and ability to get exactly what I want in an ebike instead of compromising for the specs of retail ebikes. I actually wrote a how-to book all about DIY ebike conversions.