You've found the right spot for anything and everything you'd want to know about electric bikes. Bikes themselves have been around for over 200 years. They were originally called swiftwalkers and had no pedals, debuting in 1817. You then start to see the slow progression of a more modern frame after several attempts. One of the most famous of these attempts was the penny farthing, a much larger front wheel compared to the rear wheel. Anyway, electric bikes can be traced back to as early as the 1880s in patent offices based in France and the United States. Today we'll break down the journey electric bikes have been on since their humble origins, what kinds there are, and what makes them go. This is the definitive guide to electric bikes.
The First Modern Electric Bikes
Pedelec or pedal electric cycle motors for ebikes were created in 1989, what we now know as pedal assist where the motor is activated when pedaling is registered by the ebike. This offered a relatively similar ride to normal bikes making electric bikes a bit more adaptable to hesitant riders. Additionally, an important innovation in the world of electric bikes was the lithium-ion battery. Before, electric bike batteries commonly consisted of lead-acid or NiCad (Nickel-cadmium) batteries. These were a bit heavier and less efficient than the batteries of today.
Nevertheless, with the varying types of pedal assist and battery being used allowed for an incredible amount of innovation which is still in effect to this day. Modern electric bikes and the companies that build them (such as GOTRAX) are constantly looking for new ways to invent, improve, and innovate new ways to provide power on two wheels.
Types of Electric Bikes
Electric bikes have become so popular in recent memory that in 2022 they outsold electric cars by a healthy margin, showing everyone why micromobility is the future. However, with this influx in popularity, the varieties of electric bikes grew exponentially. Below are the main options GOTRAX currently offers for our 2023 line-up. There is a large variety available but they will all fall under the 3 classes of ebikes. They are sorted typically by speed and whether or not they have a throttle feature or not. We plan to add a few more categories for next year but here is how we sort our electric bikes and why a particular model may suit you more than another.
Built to go where other electric bikes can't follow. All Terrain ebikes are ideal for weekend adventures and camping trips. Their durable, pneumatic tires can handle the rougher parts and paths especially when you pair it with a front wheel suspension system. Removable batteries, digital displays, and dual braking are just a few of the awesome features you will find in this category.
For that ride to work and around the park. Our City electric bikes are the perfect transition ebike for people who have been riding the non-electric counterpart their whole lives. The step over and step thru frames offer a familiar look and feel when riding. Their updated LCD digital displays offer crisp, clear visuals of battery life, speed, mileage, headlight control, and more.
Foldable, fast, and fun. GOTRAX's Foldable electric bikes are the ideal choice for college students, young adults, and space savers. The ability to fold down the entire frame and handlebars make it incredibly easy to store when you're transporting it or not riding. The F-Series is currently available with three different models, each with their own unique features so take time to find the right one for you if you're interested in a foldable ebike.
While we've already talked about saving space, the ultimate space savers should look no further. The Compact line up features our smallest ebikes ever. Although the Compact electric bikes may be small, they still hold a lot of power in their batteries. It also allows younger riders to be introduced to electric bikes with an ebike in their size so that they can join in on the ride. The perfect choice for teens looking to ride and young adults looking to not empty their wallet on an ebike.
How Electric Bikes Work
People often just assume an electric bike is a regular bike with a motor attached but there is so much more that goes into making ebikes work and work well. There are few tips & tricks below that can help you take care of your ebike so it can continue to take care of you for the hundreds of rides to come.
This is what makes an ebike, an ebike. The battery powers everything from the motor to the digital display. GOTRAX's electric bikes are made with lithium-ion cells for a lighter, more efficient ride. Batteries can be measured in volts (V) and amp hours (aH). Typically, the larger the voltage means it can handle more pressure or strain that a larger ebike/motor may put on it. The amp hours indicate the capacity of the battery. Higher voltage and amps usually means a higher range but this can vary from rider to rider. It is best to store your battery inside in a cool, dry place. Avoid moisture and temperature extremes whenever possible. Finally, your average battery charge should be between 25-85% to maximize battery life, avoid overcharging, and a full discharge (Getting to 0% Charge).
Motors are measured with Watts in electric bikes. This essentially describes the amount of energy the motor can tolerate on a continuous basis. Motors also have peak ratings, which they will spike to for a short time such as when you are climbing a steep hill. Furthermore, the higher wattage usually means it will have a much better hill climbing ability and acceleration than a lower wattage model.
Pedal Assist & Throttle Only
One of the main reasons for purchasing an electric bike is to take on larger hills, go faster, and go further than you normally could thanks to pedal assist technology. Ebikes come with different sensors, most common are torque and cadence, to detect when you begin pedaling. Once you begin to pedal the motor will engage to propel you forward as you pedal along. Your speed can be adjusted by choosing a different pedal assist level via your ebikes digital display. Utilize the lower levels for flat ground and the higher levels for the steeper parts of your ride. GOTRAX's electric bike line-up all also feature a throttle option, this way you can let the ebike do all the work so you can sit back and ride.
If the battery is the heart, the motor the muscle, then the controller is the brain of your electric bike. It will receive info in real time to relay signals to the different components of an ebike. It also helps relay input from your digital display and throttle ensuring your electric bike continues to function properly.
This is the main way you will interact with your electric bike other than pedaling of course. Through your LED or LCD digital display you can control the pedal assist level, swap from mph to kph, and your headlight. You will also get readouts on your top speed, battery life, and distance traveled on your electric bike. Take time to read your ebikes manual and fully understand what all you can do with your electric bike. This will save you a lot of hassle and headaches when you want to adjust something on your display.
GOTRAX and most electric bike companies will opt for an aluminum alloy based frame since it is a light yet durable metal. We feature several different types of frames that usually are associated with the line up they are a part of. We currently feature several step thru frames, classic A frames, foldable frames, and compact frames. This larger variety will ensure you find the right frame for you. If you have to leave your electric bike outside, we recommend getting a protective cover for it so your frame doesn't deteriorate from being exposed to the elements.
The motor and pedal assist aren't the only things controlling your speed. The derailleur on select electric bikes will allow you to shift speeds and resistance. On most GOTRAX models you will see a Shimano 7 speed shifter on the handlebars. You will want to use the lower gears for hill climbing and the high gears for speed on flat or downhill. The cassette and derailleur will need to be maintained properly since they are exposed to contaminants while you ride. A large build up of dirt/grime can cause the chain to fall off. Proper, preventative maintenance should be built in as muscle memory before you ride and after.
We hope this guide helps you find the right electric bike for you. There are a lot of choices out there and we hope you choose GOTRAX to be your next ride. Just remember, whatever you end up riding, to be safe and always wear your helmet.
Ride Together. Ride GOTRAX!