The concept of e-biking in SA is relatively new – compared to the rest of the world. It is only recently that people caught onto the idea of how much fun an e-bike is. It is estimated that 32 million e-bikes are manufactured a year, mostly from China. The SA market is touching on 9 000 bikes a year.

No wonder South Africans have very limited knowledge on the topic of e-bikes. I trust this will help to have a better understanding.

Powering systems

The e-bike has two ways of activating power. The first is the Pedal Assist System (PAS) whereby movement on the crank is sensor and this sends the message to the controller and then to the motor to give power based on the setting selected by the rider. So, if you set the PAS level on 5 it will give the equivalent of say, 5 out of a maximum of say 6 levels, of power.

The other system is the use of a throttle. When the throttle is activated, based on how much throttle power is requested, the motor responds to this. Some bikes you need to pedal to use the throttle and others not.

Major components of an e-bike

Here we will focus on the electrical part of the e-bike, as an e-bike is a bicycle that was designed to facilitate a power system.

  • Control unit and LCD display

This is where you control the bike. To switch the system on and off, change the PAS and other power settings, where statistical information is given (from the ambient temperature, current speed, distance, etc.)

  • The controller.

This is the brain or computer of the e-bike. Information is sent to the controller and it will in return do something you requested such as increasing the PAS level.

  • The motor.

The motor fitting either at the bottom bracket (BB) also called a mid-drive system or the motor fitted on the axel of a wheel also call a hub drive system. The motor output is expressed in Wattage which can vary from 220W to 1000W or more. The default is 250W

  • The battery is the power source and consist of a battery pack. In such a battery you will find many small batteries connected to offer the output in Volts. Common voltage ranges from 36V to 48V. The number of cells will then determine the Amp hours (Ah) of the battery. This means how long you get usage before recharging. This ranges from 9Ah to 20Ah. The default is around 10Ah – 14Ah. This is also the most expensive item to replace which should last you about 700 charges or more.

Maintaining your e-bike

Unless something is faulty, the electrical components require no maintenance. The component either works or not, but no maintenance is required. This means an e-bike can be serviced by a good cycles shop and no need for an e-bike specialist. When a part needs to be replaced it can be obtained from the distributor and most good bikes use a plug-in system. So, if the LCD is broken you plug it out get a new one and plug it in.


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