Probably the most common question we get asked is what is an eBike. Then that follows quickly with questions such as how does an eBike work, do I need to pedal, is it different from a scooter, and who can ride one? In this blog post, we are going to answer some of these most frequently asked questions on eBikes.
For a more in depth FAQ about the Tiller Rides Roadster eBike, please see our main FAQ page.
So, what is an eBike?
At the most basic level, an eBike is a regular bike with an electric motor to give it some extra oomph. It has two wheels, a frame, handlebars, and you need to pedal to operate. With an eBike though, you can pedal like crazy and do all the work, or let the pedal-assist motor help (a very nice feature if you live somewhere hilly or don’t want to arrive sweaty!).
Where the confusion starts is that there are two types of eBikes - Pedelec (what we use) and throttle-assist. Other than a quick sidebar below, when we say eBike, we refer to Pedelec eBikes.
Ok, can you quickly tell me what the difference is between Pedelec and throttle-assist eBikes?
Pedelec eBikes are similar to standard bikes; you need to pedal to move and the motor will augment your output, not replace it. Riding will feel similar to riding a normal push bike.
With a throttle-assist eBike, you can either pedal and use the throttle to provide assistance, or you can cruise along with just the motor powering you. Power assist starts with pressure on the throttle, making it more similar to a moped or scooter in some respects. This similarity has drawn the attention of regulators, making throttle-assist eBikes subjected to more stringent laws on age of riders, licensing, and maximum speeds.
It's actually these legal regulations that encouraged the development of Pedelec eBikes as a more accessible bridge between regular push bikes and scooters. A Pedelec eBike requires pedalling to activate the motor. It features an advanced pedal torque sensor that measures the amount of rider output and sends that pedalling data to the motor to determine the level of assistance required.
Our Roadster eBike is a Pedelec eBike. We utilise the Pedelec system as the need to do some pedalling aligned with our goals of fostering greater health and wellbeing. Pedelec is also what is used by most eBike companies globally.
Who can ride an eBike?
Men, women, uni students, retirees… in Australia, as long as you are over age 16 you can ride an eBike!
We designed our Roadster eBike to be a smooth and accessible ride for everyone, no matter if you are a first-time rider looking for a more eco-friendly way to get to the shops or a life-long cyclist after a sweat-free commute.
We’ve snuck in a few novel features to make the Roadster really versatile, such as an adjustable seat post that slides up and down to suit a height range from about 1.55 -2.10m. We also added in a seat post topper that allows the seat to move 80mm forward and backward to adjust your riding position. These innovations allow riders of different heights to find a comfortable riding position.
How fast can I go?
Legally, the maximum motor power of an eBike is 250watts and the maximum assisted speed is 25km/hr.
To put that in Aussie terms, the average hopping speed of Eastern Grey Kangaroos is 13km/ph and the average hopping speed for Red Kangaroos is 20-25km/ph. Both ‘roos can sprint a lot faster, so we do not recommend getting into a road race with them.
How much care do they need?
Like any bike, eBikes require some regular care such as checking your tyres and keeping the pressure up. Some eBikes on the market may also require greasing the chain belt, cleaning the drivetrain, and other tasks to keep your eBike tip-top.
The Tiller Rides Roadster eBike is designed for minimal maintenance and comes standard with high-quality puncture-resistant tyres, a grease-free belt drive and hub gears, and hydraulic disc brakes. Your Roadster may require interval maintenance on the tyres, disc brakes, gearbox, motor after many thousands of kilometres (10,000+km)..
In over 10,000km worth of test riding, we’ve never had a flat on our puncture-resistant tyres!
Our goal at Tiller is to make bike riding easy and accessible for everyone and we know that concerns about ongoing care can be a barrier to eBike riding. While we can’t remove all care, we designed the Roadster to require substantially less maintenance (and money) than a car and most other eBikes.
Can I still get a workout riding an eBike?
Yes! In addition to providing a quicker commute an eBike can also contribute to your fitness.
As reported by the New York Times, a 2021 US study (Metabolic and Cardiovascular Responses to a Simulated Commute on an E-Bike) compared cardiometabolic responses (e.g., heart rate and oxygen consumption) between a regular bike and eBike at two different assist levels during a 3-mile ride. While the eBike riders felt like they weren’t working as hard, the results showed that they were still working at a “moderate intensity”.
Similar studies have reached the same conclusion: riding an eBike is perceived as less effort by riders, but it still boosts your heart rate and provides “genuine health and fitness benefits.”
Ultimately, the Roadster’s eBike provides pedal-assist, but it won’t pedal for you. Rather, it is designed to make riding less taxing and enable you to get from A to B more swiftly and with less sweat.
Why should I buy an eBike?
We are a bit biassed, but there are countless other reasons to buy an eBike besides us saying so. A few big ones:
- Health & Wellbeing: Whether you want an alternative to the sedentary car commute, are new to cardio, or recovering from an injury, the pedal-assist of an eBike lowers the fitness barriers to entry and makes it easier for you to start moving.
- Financial: eBikes are a vastly more affordable option for urban commutes compared to cars. From the cost of petrol, loan repayments, rego and insurance fees or parking fees, driving a car is expensive. In fact, according to reporting from BudgetDirect, car running costs in 2020 were $18,596 in metro areas of Australia!
- Environmental: eBikes produce zero emissions and they do not release the toxic gases and smog that result in respiratory and other health problems.