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Types of Electric Bike Explained

Electric bicycles are constantly developing and getting better. More dependable technology, lighter, smaller, more discrete batteries with enhanced range, and more economical costs have allowed E-bikes to be a viable choice for a growing number of riders. There are a variety of electric bicycle designs, motor systems and battery configurations in the industry. At PowerRide we’re here to explain every type of electric bike on offer! Scroll down to learn more.

E-bike Classes: Pedal Assist vs. Throttle

Class 1 - Pedal Assist

The most popular type of e-bike is the pedal-assist or ‘pedelec’. A pedal-assist e-bike requires the rider to manually pedal and a motor can provide assistance, powering the rear wheel and the bike will go faster. In this class, the rider will require far less effort when pedalling and in high gears, the bike will allow for higher speeds.

Class 2 - Throttle

Similar to a scooter or motorcycle, a throttle operated electric bike propels the bike forward without the need for the rider to pedal. These kinds of E-bikes are much less common than the pedal-assist versions, as many countries across Europe prohibit them entirely. In the EU, an eclectic bike can only provide power when the pedals are moving.

Class 3 - Speed Pedelec

The Speed Pedelec has a similar design to a standard pedelec, but as “speed” implies, it allows for a higher top speed of approximately 28mph. In many countries, this class of electric bike is considered a motor vehicle and in the UK these bikes are classed as L1e category road vehicles and they require registration with DVLA for use on a public highway.

Hub Motors vs. Mid-Drive

The electric motor is at the heart of any E-bike. It can be found in one of two places, attached to the frame or one of the hubs. The location of the motor determines how the e-bike operates and what it is capable of.

Front Hub Motor

This is the most simple e-bike design and for that reason is the most limited in capability. Front Hub motors are only really used with Class 2, Throttle systems as it is more difficult to assist based on biker input when the hub is not part of the drivetrain. The Front Hub motor is found on inexpensive conversion kits as they can be attached easily to almost any bike but they can have problems with traction since the bulk of the weight on a bike is over the rear wheel.

Rear Hub Motor

A rear hub motor can be found on both throttle and pedelec classes of electric bike and any systems offer both. They’re fairly inexpensive to manufacture and can be overlooked since they resemble an oversized traditional bike hub. Despite this, a Rear Hub Motor creates an uneven distribution of weight on some models.

Mid-Drive Motor

This is where the motor is placed in the centre of the bike frame and is integrated into the bottom bracket and cranks. The Mid-Drive Motor is activated by pedalling, a bike with this system will always be a pedelec. It is the most common motor for pedal-assist production bikes and offers many benefits. It delivers more torque than a similarly powered hub motor and by being midway located, distributes weight more evenly across the bike.


Every E-bike requires a power source, mostly in the form of a rechargeable battery. Lithium-ion batteries, composed of multiple battery cells, can be found on modern e-bikes. As technology advances, electric bicycle batteries are getting lighter, smaller, and more powerful. Here are some of the most popular battery configurations you will find on an Electric Bike today.

Rack Mount Battery

A battery can sometimes be mounted to a rack on the rear of the electric bicycle. These racks are usually designed like a conventional bike cargo carrier and they can double up as additional storage. A Rack Mount battery is usually located above the rear wheel, and in this design, it places the weight quite high off the ground.

Down Tube Battery

The most common mounting location for a battery on an E-bike is on the down tube. This is the frame tube that goes from the front of the bike down to the crank area. This placement puts the weight low on the bicycle, improving handling and makes the wiring easier with a mid-drive system as the motor is positioned directly behind the battery.

Which is the Best Electric Bike for you?

There is truly an E-Bike for every occasion as almost every category of standard bicycle now has an electric version available. We hope you learned something in this blog, about each type of electric bike available and its advantages and disadvantages. Keep an eye out for new Electric Bikes coming soon to the PowerRide website! Click here to shop now...

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