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What is an e-bike? Answering this and all of your e-bike questions

Posted in: Blog

What is an e-bike? Answering this and all of your e-bike questions

Are you new to e-bikes? So are we! With the e9 Series of Bosch-powered e-mountain bikes introduced recently, we are diving into the world of e-bikes. Want to know more about these types of electric bicycles and the basics around them? This is your electric mountain bike guide!

 Nate Adams shredding on the Niner RIP e9

What is an e-bike?

Many people seem to have the wrong idea when they think “e-bike”. Most imagine a motorcycle with an electric motor, but this is far from the truth. In reality, an e-bike is almost exactly the same as a normal bicycle. However it's got a motor and a battery that kick in to supplement the rider's pedaling effort.

An e-bike functions in the same sense as a normal bicycle. That is, you have to pedal in order to get it to go anywhere. The rider can activate different power assist levels via a handlebar control, but the power assist only kicks in when the rider is physically pedaling. And if the battery dies, the rider can pedal an e-bike just like a normal bike.

This pedal assist system helps a rider go farther and faster with less effort. Climbing uphill is significantly easier. So is riding with heavier loads. Pedaling an e-bike still requires effort, but the rider is rewarded with a power boost up to 350% more than that delivered by their own legs. 

E-bike riders will enjoy going uphill more and riding further with less effort. In addition to fun recreation, many practical uses are also being discovered for e-bikes, such as trail maintenance, search and rescue operations, commuting to work and around town, and more!

Niner's WFO e9


How are e-bikes powered?

E-bikes are powered by pedal assist motors that usually range from 500-600 watts. That many watts is typically associated with about four times your own power. This is a huge benefit when a rider is going uphill or across flat ground for long distances.

However, there is also normally a power cut-off point around 20mph. This ensures that riders won’t be screaming down roads or trails any faster than they would on their normal bikes; traveling at this speed simply requires less effort from the rider.

Bosch's Amazing eBike Motor

Do you have to pedal?

E-bikes have pedal assisted motors which still require a rider to pedal the bike. It’s best to think of e-bikes as providing a “boost” to your normal, muscle-powered self. Studies have shown that you can still get the same amount of exercise on an e-bike, you’ll just be traveling farther and having much more fun on the way up. 

Where can you use an e-bike?

Currently, the use of e-bikes varies by region. Some places in the United States (or other countries around the world) have embraced e-bikes and their usefulness while others are still skeptical and don’t allow them yet. Make sure to research your local trail networks to find out which ones allow e-bikes. 


Who should get an e-bike?

It's a common misconception that the only riders who will benefit from e-bikes are out of shape, elderly, injured, or otherwise impaired and unable to enjoy riding a regular bike. An e-bike is by no means a replacement for your normal bike - it's heavier, usually has a bulky appearance, and rides differently. But an e-bike can be an insanely fun addition to your stable, just like any other type of bicycle.

An e-bike can keep someone riding more often, inspire a rider to go out even when time or energy are lacking, and improve access to more challenging terrain.  An e-bike can also make riding to work or to the store more approachable, as it's easier to arrive on time or carry a heavier load with less effort.

Kyle Warner plans to race on his Niner WFO e9

People say that “e-bikes are cheating . . . ”

Many traditional riders including some of us at Niner have made this statement before actually riding one. But by simply trying and riding one, and by listening to other people that ride them and why, it's been easy to dismiss this notion.

The question is, "cheating at what, exactly?" Because riding for fun and enjoyment or transportation or work is cheating at .. nothing!

With the growing popularity of eBikes around the globe, more riders are enjoying the outdoors and learning to embrace the cycling culture. More families are getting exercise together and therefore boosting happiness. Bike riders are replacing cars in cities. People are even using e-bikes for amazing purposes like trail work and missing-person operations, and so much more!

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