Electric Bike Basics


Oct 25, 2006
What, if any, is the difference between a pedelec and an ebike. Or is it just 2 terms for the same thing.
A pedelec doesn't deliver power unless you are pedalling, and e-bike is a throttle controlled bike, strictly speaking, though the term is often used for all electric assist bikes.

Is it possible to get a bike that will go up a hill of its own accord or do they all require user input.
These are electric assist, so not intended for use moped fashion. The more powerful ones with a 70 kilo rider will climb 1 in 12 without pedalling, and the best climbing one a 1 in 8, but in general, 1 in 12 on a throttle bike is about it.

Can I use gears with a electric bike - what I mean by this is they seem to come with a small number of gears. Not to say more is necessarily best but why not just put a electric motor on 18 gear bikes, is there a reason they don't ?
Because they maintain higher speeds even when climbing, they don't need lots of gears, and in fact having lots can be inefficient due to drive down time during changes. There's the odd silly design like the Powabyke 24 speed, but someone who commutes with one of those in one of our hilliest areas reports he only uses the top four gears!

Which is best/most durable -: spindle powered, front hub powered or rear hub powered best. I think I'd prefer rear or spindled powered.
Rear hub motor has some advantages over front hub in terms of handling and comfort, but how much depending on the weight and size of the motor. However, rear hub motors mean only multi-sprocket freewheels can be used, not the stronger cassettes with their greater choice. I take it by spindle you mean Crank Drive motors. They are the best from the point of view of weight being central and low, and they also drive through the gears like a motor vehicle so can handle just about any hill, though most are pedelec so still must be pedalled. They have the disadvantage that the bike hub gears have to take both the rider and motor power which they weren't designed to do, so more care must be taken with gear changing and failures do occur occasionally.

Batteries, seem to be lots of different types, is the lithium the best bet weight vs power wise. I want distance and power (to get up those hills when required) with respectable speed.
There's not much choice now, lithium having almost completely taken over. Only one or two now use NiMh, and SLA (lead acid) is very heavy and mostly only found on the odd cheap bike. Everybody wants power, distance and speed, but you have to compromise and choose what's most important. All three can only be bought to some extent at the cost of very large batteries and increased weight.

What is the best type of bike to get?, a mountain bike I have heard requires more effort so best going for a town bike, I guess the tyres make the difference.
Town bikes are more efficient by far, usually because of better tyres as you say, often less weight, and no poor suspension.

Suspension, dual, single or none (fixed) - does this affect bike performance.
Suspension does affect bike performance. The position varies by electric bike type, and my article here explains that.

Has anyone had experience with the conversion kits available?
If you search through the last ten pages or so of the threads in the forum, you'll find postings about the various kits available now, with everything you need to know about them from people who've fitted them and overcome the problems.


Finding my (electric) wheels
Apr 24, 2016
You have to bear in mind that it's from 2008. Quite a lot has changed since then, though much of it is still true.
Sorry about the enigmatic "M". It was finger trouble, I was just reading the posts and my fingers must have strayed. Please ignore.

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