What are electric bikes?

A cyclist on an ebike using pedal assist

An e-bike, electric bike, or pedal-assisted bike is a bicycle with an electric motor that gives pedal assistance to the rider. It has the same basic features as a regular pushbike, with the added bonus of some electric assistance when the rider chooses to use it. 

Despite electric bikes being the fastest category of bikes sold in Europe - RACV research shows that only a small percentage of Victorians have ever ridden an

e-bike and more generally, many people may not know what they are or how they work

In Victoria, there are two types of e-bikes that can be legally ridden on the roads.

Pedal assistance or ‘pedelec’

These e-bikes have a motor that only works while you pedal. The motor assists up to a maximum of 25km/h (you can travel at speeds faster than this, but only using human pedal power). By adjusting the display panel, the level of assistance can be altered to suit the riding conditions. For example, you may choose to have maximum assistance when riding up a hill and then turn off assistance altogether when riding on a flat road. To cut the power, you just stop pedalling or start braking.

Throttle

E-bikes with a throttle mean that you can use the electric motor to travel without the need to pedal. The throttle sits on the handlebars and has a maximum power of 200 watts.

Battery

Modern e-bikes are powered by a lithium long-life battery. Batteries can be charged from a regular household power outlet. The distance you can travel on a fully charged battery depends on the bike, level of assistance and riding conditions.

E-bike riders must follow the same road rules as those riding traditional bicycles.  However as the electric motor provides assistance when the rider needs it there you can ride longer and in more comfort.

Watch our animation below on the benefits of e-bikes, and read our article on why an e-bike might be for you.