Electric Bikes versus Regular Bikes: What’s the Difference?

Man on regular bike

Bicycling has seen a resurgence with the nation recording a huge ridership increase. Demand for bikes has also skyrocketed with regular bike sales causing dealers to be sold out, and electric bike sales to multiply by 240%. Reports even show that some excited bikers are signing up for 12-month waiting lists for their preferred electric bike model. But what makes these electric bikes so special and how are they different from regular bikes? Read on to find out.

Main differences between regular and electric bikes:

Legalities and regulations

Unlike bicycles that have no strict age requirement, electric bike riders must be at least 14 years old. Plus, considering that electric bikes have a motor, there is some debate on whether they must be more regulated. Most government officials worry that electric bikes are faster and more powerful. Some electric bikes can hit speeds of almost 40 miles per hour which could pose a safety threat to other bikers and pedestrians. While electric bikes are legal, it has prompted different regional regulations. In most cities, there are bike lane speed limits. In national parks, bicycling is allowed. But park superintendents may exercise the right to designate specific areas solely for electric bikes for human and ecological safety. This means electric bike riders need to do state-specific regulatory checks before they travel.

Make and components

Both regular bikes and electric bikes have the same basic chassis. They have the same handlebars, wheels, crossbars, and seats. The big difference here is that an electric bike has an electric drive system. This is comprised of a motor, display, and battery. The batteries will power the motor and, more or less, determine how much juice your bike has. The motor is found either mounted on the front, center, or rear. This controls the torque which will power your pedaling. The display is like a dashboard. Because it shows important information like battery power, speed, and even GPS, they must be reliable and clear. Therefore, most e-bike displays use LCD screens which are fabricated with a flex or rigid-flex PCB. This allows them to be streamlined and adept at thermal management and shock resistance so your display won’t break due to overheating or being used for a long time.

Repair and maintenance

Because the foundations of both bikes are the same, most bike repair shops can easily address concerns on either one. In many cases, most bike merchants themselves will also offer maintenance and services on their products. So, it shouldn’t be hard to find a professional who can help. That said, electric bikes may be a bit hard to repair on your own, whereas a regular bike’s repairs can be easily learned online. It takes more skill to manage an electric bike, given its electrical components. Thus, electric bike owners need to familiarize themselves with basic knowledge to prevent any issues. For instance, to protect your new battery’s life, you’ll want to let it charge for 24 hours, and then let it reach its maximum life after about 15 charges. Not many people know to do this, but it’s a simple way to maintain your electric bike.

User experience

The primary mechanics behind riding both bikes is the same. You pedal forward to move and brake when you want to slow down. The exception here is that electric bikes make it easier for riders. Once your bike’s sensor recognizes your pedal’s movement, the motor will kick in to provide torque. This is a gradual transition that is barely noticeable, especially on higher-end models. The only learning curve here is that you may have to get used to adjusting the motor speed accordingly and checking your display. On the other hand, a regular bike differs in that you really will need to put more effort into it. Though you won’t have to worry about electrical components, the trade-off is manual labor. Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing. It may just be more tiring for others.

Regular bike

Which is better?

Both electric and regular bikes have their strengths. What will determine what’s better for you depends on your lifestyle. If you need more physical help and don’t mind paying a bit more, an electric bike is a good choice. But if you don’t mind physical exertion and want a more affordable option, a regular bike is just as good. Either way, biking is a fun form of exercise and provides great eco-friendly transportation.