FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions About Electric Bikes

Below are a selection of commonly asked questions about our electric bikes, we hope they help!

Electric bikes (or eBikes as they are known in Europe) are standard bicycles that have been fitted with or designed to incorporate electrical assistance in the form of a battery and motor. They are not the same as a motorbike or moped and they do not require tax, insurance or MOT. They can still be ridden on cycle paths and towpaths, and are classed as a cycle.

It depends on a few factors and conditions which are:

(1) How much effort you put in yourself! (2) The chosen assistance level (3) The capacity of the battery (measured in Amp Hours [Ah]) (4) How ‘hilly’ it is where you’re riding (5) Rider weight (6) Weather conditions

As a rule of thumb, you realistically get about 50 miles out of a single full battery with a capacity of 400Wh, depending on the above factors. If your battery has a 300Wh capacity you will get slightly less, and if it has 500Wh about 25% more range.

NOTE – just be aware that some manufacturers’ websites quote mileages based on ‘ideal conditions’ that are taken from a flat test track and a very capable rider using minimal power to achieve high mileages. Here at OnBike we prefer to be open, honest and realistic about what the average person is capable of achieving in the real world!

Ah (Amp Hours) basically denotes the capacity (fuel tank) of a battery. The higher the Ah rating, the longer the battery will last and therefore the greater the range, e.g. a 14Ah battery will last 40% longer than a 10Ah battery. The higher the Ah rating the better, although higher Ah batteries cost and weigh more. More commonly used today is the term Watt-hour (Wh) when comparing battery capacity. This again denotes the range of a battery, but instead uses a calculation based on the operating voltage of an electric bike. Most bikes now run on a 36v circuit, so if a bike has a battery capacity of 11Ah, the resulting calculation would be 11Ah x 36v giving a value of 400Wh (or thereabouts).

Anyone over the age of 14 can legally ride an electric bicycle on the public highway.

Currently, most electric bikes do not have regeneration due to the extra cost and weight of the technology. Furthermore, regeneration will only give you about 10% charge back into the battery at best. All of our bikes get their power from a mounted battery which is recharged using a standard UK 13amp socket.

It only costs around 5p to 10p worth of electricity to fully recharge a battery, although we recommend you ‘top-up’ the battery after use, in which case it will cost a matter of pence to do this!

It takes about 5 hours from a completely flat 500Wh battery using a 4A charger to become fully charged. The good news is that thanks to major advances in technology, batteries can be charged to 80% capacity in less than 3 hours. We recommend keeping Lithium Ion batteries topped up regularly after use and never left for long periods of time without a top-up charge. Also, batteries don’t like being left empty for long periods of time in very cold conditions.

UK law states that an electric bike can only assist you up to 15.5mph, although you can pedal or freewheel faster than this if you wish, just like a normal bike.

Yes, all the electric bikes OnBike supply are UK road legal and are both built and tested to British safety standards.

Economy: Electric bicycles are incredibly frugal compared with motorbikes and cars and only cost around 5 to 10p worth of electricity to fully recharge a flat battery! They are treated just like ordinary bicycles for legislative purposes so there’s no need to worry about Log Books, MOT, Road Tax, Insurance etc. Most of the working non-electrical parts are standard cycle parts so day to day servicing like tyre or brake replacement will seem very cheap for people used to paying for car repairs.

Health and Hills: It is said that a conventional bike will keep you fitter. That, of course, depends how much, if at all, it is being used. Because riding an electric bike is such a pleasure even in hilly country, or into the wind, their owners tend to ride them much more often than conventional bikes. The motor provides up to half the effort, but regular use means more exercise for the rider. If you want some strenuous exercise you can always switch the motor to a lower assistance ratio or turn it off completely.

Fun: They are incredibly good fun. If you have never ridden one before you will find you get all the pleasure and fresh air of a bicycle, without the hard work, and all the excitement of a moped or a scooter, without the fumes, mechanical complexity, noise and cost. First time riders invariably come back with a big smile on their face and many have commented “It’s like riding a normal bike only with a big friendly hand giving you a push on the difficult bits”.

Perspiration may not be a serious issue when out for a leisurely ride, but it’s more important when cycling to work. An electric bike eliminates the problem and allows riders to wear their normal clothing and really enjoy the journey. If you are or have been a regular cyclist but are beginning to find it a bit too much like hard work then you really must try an electric bike. Suddenly those trips that seemed a bit too long will have halved in distance and those hills that were a bit too steep will have miraculously flattened.

Green: Using an electric bike is the best way there is to break the car habit. The average car journey in Britain is 5 to 8 miles and every day people in Britain make millions of small journeys to work or the shops and back that could easily be non-polluting bike rides – during rush-hour, a bike is twice as fast as a car – great if you hate jams! An electric bike is completely emission free can be made genuinely sustainable by purchasing electricity from a ‘green’ supplier, or generating it via a roof-mounted windmill or solar panel. This will enable the vehicles’ fossil fuel consumption to be zero.