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An electric bicycle, also known as an e-bike or booster bike, is a bicycle with an integrated electric motor which can be used for propulsion. There are a great variety of e-bikes available worldwide, from e-bikes that only have a small motor to assist the rider’s pedal-power to somewhat more powerful e-bikes which tend closer to moped-style functionality: all, however, retain the ability to be pedalled by the rider and are therefore not electric motorcycles. E-bikes use rechargeable batteries and the lighter varieties can travel up to 16 to 20 mph, depending on the laws of the country in which they are sold, while the more high-powered varieties can often do in excess of 28 mph. In some markets, such as Europe, they are gaining in popularity and taking some market share away from conventional bicycles, while in others, such as China, they are replacing fossil fuel-powered mopeds and small motorcycles.
Depending on local laws, many e-bikes are legally classified as bicycles rather than mopeds or motorcycles, so they are not subject to the more stringent laws regarding their certification and operation, unlike the more powerful two-wheelers which are often classed as electric motorcycles. E-bikes can also be defined separately and treated as a specific vehicle type in many areas of legal jurisdiction.
E-bikes are the electric motor-powered versions of motorized bicycles, which have been around since the late 19th century.
E-bikes use rechargeable batteries, electric motors and some form of control. Battery systems in use include sealed lead-acid (SLA), nickel-cadmium (NiCad), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion polymer (Li-ion). Batteries vary according to the voltage, total charge capacity (amp hours), weight, the number of charging cycles before performance degrades, and ability to handle over-voltage charging conditions. The energy costs of operating e-bikes are small, but there can be considerable battery replacement costs. The lifespan of a battery pack varies depends on the type of usage. Shallow discharge/recharge cycles will help extend the overall battery life.
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