Electric Bikes vs Regular Bikes: What's the Difference?

JAN 22, 2023


Quick question. How do you boost your fitness by reducing your transportation costs?

Here's my answer. The best way to boost fitness and reduce transport fare is biking. Biking can improve cardiovascular health, eliminate transportation costs, and strengthen lung muscles.

But potential bikers always ask these questions: What is the best type of bicycle for commuting? eBikes or regular bikes? What's the difference between e-bikes and regular bikes?

In this blog post, I'll compare e-bikes and regular bikes and give you a framework for choosing the best option.

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santa monica e bike

What Are Electric Bikes

In America, electric bicycles are vehicles with at most three wheels, pedals, and an electric motor that is less than or equal to one horsepower (750 watts).

Across the Atlantic, the EU defines e-bikes as bicycles with pedals, a maximum speed of 25 km/h, and an electric motor with a power rating of at most 250W. Now, here's a simple answer.

Electric bicycles are bikes that use electrical energy to boost bicycle speed. They reduce the effort you need to ride a bike. Suppose, for example, you can ride at 12 MPH with a regular bike; an e-bike will help you attain speeds of up to 20 - 25 MPH without extra training.

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nakto elegance electric bike

What Are Regular Bikes?

"Regular Bikes" refers to traditional bicycles commonly used for commuting, exercise, or recreational purposes.

These bikes are manually powered by pedaling and are not equipped with electric motors. Regular bikes come in various styles, such as road, mountain, hybrid, and cruiser, each designed for specific activities or terrains.

They usually have a frame, wheels, pedals, handlebars, and other essential components that allow the rider to pedal and control the bike's movement.

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city stroller ebike

EBikes vs Regular Bikes: Understanding Speed, Maintenance, and Regulations 

1. Speed

I'll be honest here. Electric bicycles are not faster than regular bicycles. Like regular bikes, the speed of an eBike depends on its rider.

But here's the difference. E-bikes allow you to attain and maintain high speeds easily. You don't have to be sweaty and tired to ride at 15km/h.

Another advantage of using an electric bike is the fast start-up time. Their start-up time makes them more suitable during stop-and-go traffic.

With that said, eBikes only provide pedal assistance for up to 25 Km/h and 20 MPH in the UK and the US, respectively. But you can continue manual pedaling after the cut-off speed.

2. Maintenance

Exempting those above five electrical/electronic parts of bikes, you'll find other parts of an electric bicycle on a regular cycle. In other words, you can perform preventive and corrective e-bike maintenance in a standard bike repair shop.

But you must visit a certified electric bike repair shop to fix your bike's electrical/electronic components. Nakto offers a 1-year warranty for all their bikes. So you don't have to worry about repairing or replacing a component in your eBike for one year if you buy Nakto's electric bicycles.

3. Regulations

Here's the truth. There needs to be a universal cookbook for understanding eBike regulations. It changes from country to country, and even within a country, different states have different laws.

That said, most countries have similar regulations. For instance, countries like Russia, Israel, and India have eBike rules identical to the UK. An eBike must have an electric motor with a maximum output power of 250W and a pedal-assisted top speed of 25 Km/h.

The US, Canada, and New Zealand have unique rules. In the US, electric bicycles can have electric motors with a maximum output power of one horsepower (750 watts). Canada allows riders to use bikes with a maximum output power of 500W and a 32 Km/h top speed. New Zealand permits using eBikes with a maximum output power of 300W.

Although Australia accepts eBikes with an output power of at most 250W, individual states can choose the maximum speed and legal age limits.

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What are the Differences Between eBikes and Road Bikes: 5 Distinct Parts

It's nearly impossible to differentiate between electric bicycles and regular bikes. They have similar frames, handlebars, tires, chains, pedals, and seat posts. But they do have differences. I have outlined five parts of eBikes you won't find in regular bikes.

1. Electric Motors

The main difference between eBikes and regular bikes is the electric motor. An electric motor converts electrical energy to mechanical energy. eBike manufacturers use electric motors to convert the electrical power from a battery to torque (rotational force) in electric bicycles. This torque (rotational force) helps the rider move faster with minimal effort.

Look at how it works. When you apply pressure on your bicycle's pedals, the electric current from the battery flows into the motor. And it starts to rotate. Manufacturers fit the motor with a chain ring and connect it to the bicycle's chain during production.

The chainring meshes with the bicycle chain. So when you pedal, the rotational force from the chain ring combines with your initial effort and boosts the bicycle's speed. Experts call this method of connection the mid-drive system.

However, the mid-drive system is one of many ways of connecting electric motors to bicycles. eBike Manufacturers also use the hub-drive system. They connect the engine to one of the bicycle wheels.

So when you pedal, the motor directly spins the wheel they connected it to and provides extra power to your initial efforts. Think of the electric motor in an electric bike as a friend who shares the labor of riding your bike with you.

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2. Sensors

Sensors in electric bicycles are similar to the five human senses. They help eBikes interact with you and understand your intentions. Most eBike manufacturers incorporate at least three types of sensors into their products. These include:

Pedal sensors

Torque sensors

Cadence sensors

Each sensor is crucial to the effective operation of the electric motor. Pedal sensors help the eBike detect your pedaling effort. EBikes can perceive when to send electric current to the electric motor.

Similarly, torque sensors calculate the pressure you apply to the pedals, then tell the eBike algorithm to provide power proportional to your effort.

Cadence sensors detect the RPM (revolution per minute) of the bicycle's pedals, which helps the eBike algorithm know the assistance level it should offer the rider.

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3. Batteries

Electric bikes use electrical energy, and they source this energy from batteries. Batteries also determine the distance (range)your bicycle can cover after a full charge. Most eBikes use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries or Nickel-metal hydride batteries. Manufacturers usually mount batteries on the downtube of bicycles.

Expert tip: Buy bicycles with high voltage and Amperage hours. More voltage means more power, and more amp hours mean a higher range. Nakto's Santa Monica is a good option for a bike with a top-quality battery.

Everglades National Park

4. Pedal-Assist Control

Pedal-assist controls in eBikes help you regulate the amount of help the electric motor provides. eBike manufacturers place it on the left-hand side of the handlebar. Here's a look at how most manufacturers structure their pedal-assist systems:

Zero Assistance mode: The bicycle operates like a regular bike; however, pedaling is more challenging than on regular bikes.

Eco Mode: This mode provides a slight speed boost, preserves battery, and increases range.

Standard Mode: the bicycle provides a considerable boost to your pedaling effort. Most riders use this mode for commuting and cruising.

Sports Mode: This mode represents the highest amount of assistance the electric motor can provide. This mode can scale hills and inclined terrains with minimal effort.

Smart Mode: The bicycle automatically adjusts its assistance level based on speed, terrain, and cadence.

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5. Display

Although not compulsory, most eBike manufacturers incorporate displays into their products. They use OLEDs and LCDs to show you information about speed, pedal-assist level, battery level, distance covered, range estimations, and more.

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Electric Bikes vs Regular Bikes: Which Is the Best Option for You?

Electric bicycles and regular bicycles have their pros and cons. Regular bikes are a good bet if you reside in an area with unstable electricity or can effortlessly ride bicycles at up to 30 MPH. However, consider buying an eBike if you:

Want to appear presentable (not sweaty) at work

Cover long distances

Have a disability

carry heavy cargo

I live in a hilly area

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nakto folding ox

Final Thoughts

Electric bicycles use electrical energy from batteries to boost the speed of a bike. They can help you attain high rates easily and with little effort.

The main difference between electric and regular bikes is the electrical drive system, which comprises five components: an electric motor, a sensor circuit, a pedal-assist system, a battery, and a display.

Most countries only allow electric bikes with a maximum output power of 250 Watts and a top speed of 25 Km/h. But America and Canada are different. They allow eBikes with full force above 400W.

If you exempt the electrical drive system, eBike maintenance is similar to regular bikes. They use the same chain, frame, handles, and more. So you can repair your eBike in traditional bicycle maintenance shops.

Fortunately, you don't have to worry about repairing or replacing a part in your eBike if you buy from Nakto. The company offers a 1-year warranty for all its eBike products. Plus, it accepts installment payments for all its products.

Related reading: Buying electric bikes guide

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