E-bikes – ‘EAPC’s (Electrically Assisted Pedal Cycles) or ‘Pedelecs’ come in as many variations as ordinary bikes, and you will find different types described as you read. The type we use for utility and leisure duties around town are essentially just sturdy everyday upright sitting position bicycles built around an electric motor, a battery and a controller.
You still need to pedal before the power cuts in, so it feels just like a ‘normal’ bike. On an e-bike inbuilt sensors detect when and how much you push on the pedal, and then the level of electrical motor power you have pre-selected is automatically added to your efforts.
Note: You have full control over the amount of assistance you want as you pedal. You can choose from low or even none, if you want a good workout, through various levels right up to the top level, which will provide a very welcome ‘ just get me home it’s been a long day’ setting!
Most systems give you 3 or 4 levels of assistance to choose from, or indeed no assistance at all if you prefer, e.g. if you are running low on battery, or just want a good workout on the pedals.
Under UK law that assistance has to be electronically cut out above 15.5mph, but you can then pedal faster than that under your own power, just as on a normal unassisted bike.
On Utility focussed bikes the 30% or so extra weight of the motor, battery, accessories etc means you mostly find yourself happily bowling along at a nicely assisted 10-15mph, making e-bikes ideal for local/urban transport and commuting.