How Does an Electric Bike Work?


When people hear the term “electric bike,” they assume it’s an electric scooter or motorcycle. However, if you tell them it’s a different machine, they will immediately question, “how does an electric bike work?” Their confusion is understandable because many components in an e-bike make it a bit difficult for beginners.

For starters, an e-bike is similar to how a regular bike looks; it even functions similarly. The main differences are that an electric bike has a motor, battery, and controller. Without these components, you won’t notice any other differences between the regular and electrical bike.

What Is an Electric Bike?

To understand how an electric bike works, you first need to understand what an electric bike is. Some designs often confuse people on whether it’s an electric bike or a motorcycle. For example, a motorcycle has a gasoline engine and lasts significantly longer than an electric battery.

At the same time, you won’t have the maneuverability that only an electric bike can offer. Not to mention how eco-friendly the electric bikes are, seeing as they don’t release emissions or generate exhaust that will pollute the environment.

So, to avoid mixing different devices, you should remember the difference between an electric bike and a motorcycle. You would be surprised by how many people mistake an electric bike for a motorcycle or a regular cycle.

Electric bikes are usually made with electronic components with tight seals and secure coverings to prevent any water damage from moisture in the air or light rain. They can withstand various climates. However, you should know that you can’t overexpose an electric bike to heavy rain or any water.

How Does an Electric Bike Work: The Workings of an Electric Bike Explained


It is okay to feel confused about how an electric bike work. Many assume that electric bikes are complicated and their inner workings are complex. While there are a few technical components that may make it seem like it, once you break down the entire operation of the bike, you will see how straightforward it is.

As a matter of fact, once you break it down, it comes to a few key components that make an electric bike operable; battery, motor, and controller.

Besides, deciphering the workings of an electric bike is crucial if you’re a beginner and looking to invest because you need to recognize how an e-bike works to be able to operate it. And, who knows, you may end up purchasing the wrong thing.



Typically, an electric bike has a motor housed on the bike centrally (usually referred to as the mid-drive motor, which is powered through different cranks). Or maybe the motor will be on the rear or front hub of the bike.

The placement of the motor is often easy to understand. Usually, people are already familiar with where the motor is because of its visibility, meaning when you look at an e-bike, you will immediately spot the motor.

E-bikes use motors to boost their speed and ability to ride efficiently. If you feel fatigued while riding an electric bike, you can accelerate your bike by using the throttle. Bikes have a motor to help the rider pedal to make cycling less tiring.

Additionally, pedal-assist kicks in whenever you pedal; this reduces any physical strain on the person. However, just as you stop peddling or push past the current speed limit of the bike, the pedal assist will stop.

The motor takes the electrical power and changes it into mechanical power. The mechanical power is to assist in turning the cycle’s wheels. Usually, manufacturers opt for one of the three positions to place the motors:

             Center of the bike

             Rear hub

             Front hub

Front hub

However, front hub motor placement has gotten less popular compared to others. Typically, you will find these front hub motors on cheap e-bikes. They are usually less favored among the people too.

Rear hub

Rear hub motor placements are comparatively popular. They drive the e-bike from the back wheel and combine it with the other cycle gears. This motor placement increases transaction and improves handling. This is thanks to its connectivity to the gears. Because of its better control, read hub motor placement is often seen in mid-class electric bikes.

Center of the bike

The most expensive and premium electric bikes have motors in the center and attached to the bike’s frame. This is because it’s in the center and has a better balance. By far, it’s the most favored position because of its excellent balance.


The battery is an essential component of any electrical device. Some people don’t realize the significance of good battery life. Without determining the health and longevity of your battery, you won’t be able to have a quality experience riding an electric bike.

Nevertheless, the battery in an e-bike determines the device’s capability and capacity for generating power. It also decides for how long you can go on a single charge. This is where the numbers for voltage, wattage, and amp-hours matter. They have a centered and low position on the cycle to keep the weight of various components from upsetting the balance of your electrical bike.

Furthermore, the bike’s battery will likely shrink in size and increase in power after it’s converted to lithium cores (the first form being lead-acid). However, they will still contribute considerable weight to your electric bike.

It’s said that a battery adds the most weight to a bike or any electrical device, for that matter.


To stop an electric bike from going over the speed limit, they come with sensors that will monitor your speed. Then these sensors will determine when to tell the motor to switch the pedal assist on and off or when to accelerate the throttle.

The sensors will also likely measure the torque or speed; considering how they both act similarly, it isn’t surprising.

Furthermore, the speed sensor keeps track of how fast you travel on your bike. At the same time, a torque sensor watches how much you press on the pedals, as harder pedaling means faster speed.


Controllers come in various styles; the controller allows you to operate the electric assistance on an electric bike.

A controller is an essential component that determines how a bike works. It’s situated on the handlebar for easy access. There are two main types of controllers: throttle-based and pedal-activated controllers.

Throttle-based controller

A throttle-based controller works as a simple throttle mechanism. The throttle can be either a thumb press or a twist grip mechanism. When you have a throttle-based system, you can press the throttle or pull it back to get electric assistance.

Some of the electric bikes on the market don’t require you to peddle because you have the throttle-based controller, which allows you to ride without pedaling.

Pedal-based controller

The pedal-based system offers electric assistance when you press the pedals. This controller makes it possible to avoid using the throttle; you can simply pedal. Electric bikes with pedal-based controllers on their handlebars let you change the level of pedal assistance too.

How to Operate an Electric Bike

The trick to learning how to operate an electric bike is simple. It is similar to how you ride your regular bicycle; the only prominent difference is that it has a motor. A regular bicycle and an electric bike have a handlebar, a chain, a seat, pedals, and two wheels. And the only way to get a regular bicycle moving is to pedal. However, this isn’t always the case with an electric bike.

You can use a throttle-based controller and use it to move your car forward without tiring yourself out in the process. You can map out long distances and travel further than normal because you won’t have to pedal.

An electric bike is easy to handle, and when you have a controller (there are two, as previously mentioned) that fits your requirements, you will manage the bike without any problem.

Many people think operating an e-bike is difficult; it’s a common misconception. While it is a separate device from a regular bike, it works similarly. You can press down on the throttle or use paddle assistance, and you can go on a safe journey on an e-bike in no time.

How Are Electric Bikes The Future?

Electric bikes are like an upgraded version of bicycles, an evolution from the conventional version. Electric bikes are powered by a motor and a battery which makes them power forward with ease. Since the early 19 hundreds, they have been developing, and now they are fast and easy. 

Electric bikes make hurdles like traveling on hills and steep roads easy without the rider feeling fatigued. E-bikes are the future because they fit in this ever-changing, technologically advanced world.

Final Thoughts

How does an electric bike work? The answer is simple: it’s no different than how you operate a conventional cycle, albeit with a few adjustments. However, those adjustments aren’t meant to complicate things; they are supposed to make matters easier for people. Once you understand the individual components, you can operate an electric bike in no time.

Ricky White

I had to struggle to solve different problems back when I got my first ebike. As I pursued my career in it, as a pro ebike technician, now I'm dedicated to help others avoid their struggle with their rides. And that's why I created this blog. Hope it helps you get the right ebike and maintain it well. Happy riding!

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