Electric bicycles have two main methods of operation: pedal-assist and/or throttle-control. As the name implies, pedal-assist “assists” your pedaling and requires some input. With this method, a torque sensor picks up movement or stress to determine the power requirements of the rider. Everything is automated so there’s nothing to think about, just jump on and start riding. Some bikes have multiple settings, while others have just one setting with the addition of a throttle control. Depending on the setting, pedal-assistance can help a little – or a lot. At lower settings, pedal-assist is barely noticeable but helps extend your range. At higher settings, the power is quite obvious and feels like a strong wind at your back with the motor doing most of the work while you pedal along.
Gearless (Direct-Drive) Hub Motors – Some conversion kits (and bikes) use gearless, direct-drive motors. On this type of motor, the axle that passes through the center of the motor is actually the axle of the motor itself, with the copper windings fixed to the axle. The magnets are mounted to the outer shell of the hub motor. When electricity is applied to the stator a magnetic field is induced that causes the magnets to move. This in turn makes the whole shell of the motor turn and propels the e-bike forward. Even though corrosion will eventually have an impact, this type of motor should last for years since there’s no gearing and no contact between moving parts. They’re also capable of higher top speeds. But since there’s no gears, they have less torque and it requires more power to get the motor up to speed. Most direct-drive hub motors are 350w-500w and reach speeds of 18-25 mph. But more powerful motors can reach speeds of 35+ mph.
Most European bike rules are tight and restrictive. Right now the California state ebike rules in AB 1096 provide the clearest and cleanest format, and they support ebike riding. No other U.S. regulations come close. The big brand ebikes (Giant, Specialized, Trek) are selling bikes that fit within European rules (250w-300w motors). This gives them economies of scale.
The drivetrain begins with pedals which rotate the cranks, which are held in axis by the bottom bracket. Most bicycles use a chain to transmit power to the rear wheel. A very small number of bicycles use a shaft drive to transmit power, or special belts. Hydraulic bicycle transmissions have been built, but they are currently inefficient and complex.
In Norway, e-bikes are classified as ordinary bicycles, according to the Vehicle Regulation (kjøretøyforskriften) § 4-1, 5g. Hence, e-bikes are not registered in the Vehicle Registry, and there is no demand for a license to drive them. Still, there are constraints on the bicycle construction. The maximum nominal motor power output can be no more than 250 watts and the maximum performance speed of the vehicle when the engine is running is 25 km per hour (15 mph). A function that reduces motor power when vehicle speed exceeds 25 km per hour is mandatory. However, if the motor is not running, the e-bike, or any other bike, answer only to the constraints of the ordinary speed limits.
I would add that the point of the article seems to encourage ebikers to “know the state laws” and be confident within those boundaries. To D McCarthy’s question, if your state has a definition for ebikes and classifies them as bicycles and affords access as bicycles, AND, your particular ebike is built within those specifications, then you should be able to ride that section of road with confidence. Just my 2C.
The great majority of modern bicycles have a frame with upright seating that looks much like the first chain-driven bike. These upright bicycles almost always feature the diamond frame, a truss consisting of two triangles: the front triangle and the rear triangle. The front triangle consists of the head tube, top tube, down tube, and seat tube. The head tube contains the headset, the set of bearings that allows the fork to turn smoothly for steering and balance. The top tube connects the head tube to the seat tube at the top, and the down tube connects the head tube to the bottom bracket. The rear triangle consists of the seat tube and paired chain stays and seat stays. The chain stays run parallel to the chain, connecting the bottom bracket to the rear dropout, where the axle for the rear wheel is held. The seat stays connect the top of the seat tube (at or near the same point as the top tube) to the rear fork ends.
DIY Kit ebikes – Ebikes that are home built with a DIY kit, and exceed the 750W/20mph definition, are also allowed to be bought, build, and ridden. DIY kits are throttle activated. Some of the newer systems have PAS options. Ebike kits are not unilaterally prohibited or assigned motor vehicle status, but again, legal classification and road use falls under state law.
In Nova Scotia power-assisted bicycles are classified similarly to standard pedal bicycles. The Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act defines a power-assisted bicycle as a bicycle with an electric motor of 500 watts or less, with two wheels (one of which is at least 350 mm) or four wheels (two of which are at least 350mm). PABs are permitted on the road in the province of Nova Scotia as long as you wear an approved bicycle helmet with the chinstrap engaged. They do not have to meet the conditions defined within the Canadian Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations for a motorcycle(they are not classed as "motor vehicles"), but they do have to comply with federal regulations that define Power Assisted Bicycles.
Geared Hub Motors – Most pre-built e-bikes use brushless geared hub motors. These motors have internal planetary gears that help transfer power from the motor to the wheel. Because of the internal gearing, these motors provide excellent torque but are limited in top speed. On the plus side, the improved torque means better take-off power and hill climbing ability. Plus, less wattage is required to get the motor turning and they’re typically small and lightweight. On pre-built e-bikes, these motors range from 200w-500w and go up to 20mph. But some aftermarket kits can be as powerful as 1000w, with increased top speeds and huge amounts of torque (ideal for extremely hilly terrain). Besides lower top speeds, these motors tend to be expensive and it’s possible the gears will eventually wear out and need to be replaced (this is highly unlikely, they las quite a long time). Good examples are Ancheer bikes.
Riding position: You also may wish to check out an e-bike’s riding position before investing in it. For short trips, the riding position might not make much difference, but for long journeys, the upright "Dutch" style with pulled-back handlebars is very comfortable – particularly for tall riders. The same goes for mountain bike styles, though these bikes are not often designed to actually go off-road.
This article did a good job of trying to justify the assist speed limits but fell short of detailing how that can ever be effectively enforced. In reality the only enforcement that is going to work is applied speed limits to use of bikes and ebikes. For example, it makes sense that a bike lane on a street that the speed limit of vehicles is the speed limit of the bikes/ebikes. On sidewalks and shared pedestrian paths the speed limit probably does need to be in the 15-20mph range to match traditional bikes speeds on those paths.
The Class 3 Aventon Pace 500 urban e-bike has five levels of pedal assist and tops out at 28 mph. But the Pace has something not found on a lot of modern e-bikes. In addition to pedal power, it also has a throttle—in the case of the Pace, a small thumb paddle on the left side of the handlebar next to the control unit that holds at a steady 20 mph, no pedaling required. The bike itself has an aluminum frame, a swept-back handlebar, ergo grips, a sturdy kickstand, hydraulic disc brakes, 8-speed Shimano Altus shifting and gearing, 27.5x2.2-inch Kenda e-bike-rated tires, a saddle the size of Texas, and good ol’ classic city/commuter-bike geometry. It doesn’t come equipped with fenders or a rear rack, but you can add them. Power comes in the form of a 500-watt rear-hub motor, a semi-integrated battery on the down tube (with a range of up to 50 miles), and a backlit display unit mounted on the stem.