From battery range to how they work, what the benefits are and what problems to expect, we answer all your e-bike questions in this article!
Before you jump in and buy yourself an e-bike, you're well within your rights to want to understand how they work, how long the battery will last, what the benefits are, what problems you might encounter, and all those other little details that could influence your purchase. So, to help you make an informed decision, we've tried to answer all of the questions you could possibly have about e-bikes!
A hub motor is located inside the hub of your bike's front or rear wheel. Hub motors turn the wheel, giving cyclists a feeling of "being propelled along".
Mid-drive motors sit inside the bottom bracket and pull on the chain itself to turn the chainset, which gives you the sensation that you've got a slight helping hand pushing you forward.
The battery range of an electric bike depends on a number of factors:
- the weight of the bike, the cyclist and the equipment you're carrying (bags, child seat, etc.).
- the type of route you're riding. For example, the battery will drain more quickly if you're going up a lot of hills. How rough the terrain is can also affect battery range.
- the weather conditions: wind (a headwind will drain the battery faster), rain and temperature (if it's too warm or too cold, the battery will have less power).
- the state of your bike: tyre pressure and state of the drivetrain. Keeping your tyres pumped up and your chain clean will help you to get more range out of your battery.
- how you ride: your pedalling cadence, how often you stop and start again, how hard you brake, etc.
- the assistance level you choose
- what electronics are attached to your bike (lights, GPS device, etc.).
It doesn't matter. The battery automatically goes into standby mode when the bike isn't being used and hardly uses up any power. However, we recommend that you charge the battery every 4 months (certainly don't go more than 6 months without charging it), otherwise it will fully discharge and you'll need to bring it into a workshop to have it fixed. Charge it between 30 and 60% when you're not using it.
You can charge the battery either on or off the bike.
Yes, you can buy an additional battery that you can use to ride further or for longer.
No, e-bikes aren't designed to charge as you ride. To recoup any kinetic energy from riding or braking, the bike would need to be fairly heavy, which it isn't. The extra battery range that would be gained from such a system wouldn't be worth the cost or effort of installing the system in the first place.
Yes, the battery is IPX6 rated for waterproofing. This means that it can withstand high-pressure, heavy sprays of water (specifically, 3 minutes of being sprayed with water from a distance of 3 metres at a pressure of 100 kilopascals).
At Decathlon, we've partnered with Corepile to recycle bike batteries. The scheme is financed by an "eco-contribution" included in the cost of the product. 75 to 80% of the inside of the battery gets recycled.
The maximum speed is 25 km/h. This is a legal limit, above which the bike would be classed as a moped and would require a number plate, insurance, etc.
You can of course find yourself going faster than 25 km/h, such as when riding downhill, but the assistance will cut out at this speed.
No. To ride your e-bike, you have to pedal it. This is what makes it different from a moped, which has a throttle handle so that you can ride it without pedalling.
You can ride without the assistance by not turning it on when you set off, or by setting it to 'zero assistance'. However, due to the weight of e-bikes, you'll find it much harder to pedal without the assistance.
- your reliance on the battery: you always have to remember to charge it before setting off and to think about how far you're going to ride.
- the 25 km/h speed limit could put off some cyclists who have enough power in their legs to ride faster on the flat but who can't because the weight of the bike becomes too much when the assistance cuts out.
- the weight: e-bikes can weigh around 25 kg compared to 10 kg for a normal bike, meaning that they're much harder to steer without the assistance.
- they cost much more than traditional bikes, although they're becoming more affordable and you can get government support to buy one through your country's cycle-to-work scheme.
- maintenance: because they have a motor, e-bikes require regular maintenance, and you need the right knowledge to be able to repair them.
The accessories are no different on an e-bike.
There's no such thing as an e-bike-specific pannier rack. You just need to make sure that the one you get is compatible with your bike.
Where you need to be more careful is with bike carriers because they often have a weight limit and, since e-bikes are heavier than traditional bikes, your bike might exceed the carrier's weight limit. Tailgate and towbar bike carriers are a good choice, with the best option being a towbar model equipped with a rail to make it easier for you to get the bike onto the carrier.
Before cleaning your e-bike, remove the battery and cover the screens.
- You can then hose your bike down or wipe it over with a wet sponge.
- Never use a pressure washer as this could damage the electronic and mechanical parts of your bike.
- Dunk a sponge in some washing-up liquid or soap, and rub it over every part of your bike: frame, saddle, handlebar, wheels, pedals, etc.
- A clever way to clean the drivetrain is to use a toothbrush to really get into the chainrings, cranks, derailleurs and sprockets.You should also clean the chain with degreaser.
- Last but not least, rinse your bike and wipe it dry before lubing the chain.
Find out more about servicing and looking after your e-bike
You can get your e-bike repaired at the shop where you bought it, at a workshop or at a specialist store.
E-bikes and their batteries should be stored in a dry place.
The battery can go 6 months without being charged, without this affecting its capacity.
E-bikes are subject to European standard NF EN 15194, which stipulates that they must comply with the following rules:
- The nominal power of the electric motor must not exceed 250 Watts
- The assistance must be limited to 25 km/h and must cut out when the cyclist stops pedalling
If you derestrict the e-bike so that it no longer complies with these rules, you'll run the following risks:
- in France, you'll be breaking the law and risk up to a year's imprisonment and a €30,000 fine, since it is illegal to remove a speed limiter.
- you'll void the warranty. Essentially, the law prohibits you from derestricting an e-bike and the manufacturer prohibits you from making any modifications.
- your bike will wear out faster because it isn't designed to go at speeds above 25 km/h.
E-bikes are stable bikes and are limited to 25 km/h, so they aren't dangerous to ride. As mentioned above, the assistance is only triggered if you pedal.
Plus, e-bikes come with built-in lights and front and rear brakes. In the interests of safety, you should always wear a helmet and hi-viz clothing, especially if you're riding at night.
E-bikes are designed to be ridden in the rain thanks to their watertight components.
E-bikes are certainly more expensive than traditional bikes, but because they have a battery, you need a key to start them. This makes it harder for thieves to steal them, plus your bike will be much harder to sell on without the key!
You also have the option of insuring your bike, either with your usual insurer or with the policy that Decathlon offers when you buy your bike.
In France, it has been compulsory to mark bikes since the start of 2021. A label is stuck onto the frame and the bike is registered in a national database when you buy it, with a unique ID number matched to your details. The database, called the FNUCI, can be consulted by the public and used to mark the bike as "for sale", "stolen, lost" or "no longer in use". The police, lost-and-found companies and impounding companies have access to this data.
There are 6 government-approved identification operators, and Decathlon is one of them. There are different methods for marking bikes, but at Decathlon we use a permanent label that usually costs €10 but is free when you buy a bike from Decathlon.
Which type of bike, motor and battery should you get? How much power do you need? There are so many important questions to answer that we've put together a handy guide on how to choose the right electric bike.
I'm a keen dancer and triathlete. When I discovered gravel riding, I instantly fell in love! It's so much more than a sport; it's a state of mind that fits me to a T. Every ride is an adventure, exploring new horizons and sharing the experience with other like-minded people.