How Much Power Do Electric Bicycles Actually Need?

As the Greek philosopher Epictetus once noted, “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” The concept of power is something not easily definable in today’s society. You can find dozens of definitions listed in the English dictionary, yet not a single one that triumphs over them all. Interesting, isn’t it? Many people have an intuitive grasp or notion of what “power” means, yet the concept depends entirely on the context.

The idea that individuals or groups of people hold a certain power over others is a fact of human existence. You find that such a concept of power holds true in the consumer market, too. Certain brands and products have the edge over the competition because of the power they grasp. This is because power is a distinct relation between different things.

In this blog, we’ll discuss power in terms of acceleration, strength, and energy. In the automotive world, performance capacity is the ultimate measure of power. The same idea applies to electric bicycles. E-bikes store energy in the battery to feed the motor and create power. You might wonder: How much power do electric bicycles actually need? How much power do I need? Let’s look at the details to uncover the answers to these questions.

Motorized Powel Ratings: What To Know About Wattage

If you’re shopping around to invest in an electric bike, you need to determine the best power rating for your needs and preferences. Essentially, the higher the wattage of the bike—the unit of power comparable to horsepower—the higher the electrical power will be.

To all intents and purposes, bigger isn’t always better in the context of e-bike motors. Unlike performance automobiles, sometimes less is more. The key is to figure out which type of electric bike works well for your all-around goals.

Higher Watt Level: Advantages and Disadvantages

Why is less power perhaps better than more? Keep in mind that higher wattage means higher conceptual power—and doesn’t translate directly to the desired speed, range, or intention. Be mindful of these two fundamental factors when choosing a motorized bike: weight and riding terrain.

A general 250w motor remains sufficient for regular commutes around town—aka suburban or city roads. 250w is the standard power class for flatland cruising. Choosing to upgrade depends mainly on your choice of alternative terrain. A 350w, 500w, or even 750w holds benefits for those who enjoy uphill climbs, mountain biking, or off-roading. Heavier riders also typically require a bit more torque than a 250w system to smoothly power up hills and maintain a reasonable, steady speed.

Most of all, it pays to consider the relationship between the motor and the battery. The combination must work together like clockwork to achieve desired performance. A higher wattage holds a disadvantage in terms of cost savings. The battery’s size tends to match the power level of the motor’s greater wattage rating. And that battery—and its voltage—are customarily the more expensive item on the bike.

Need for Speed: The Buzz About Voltage

The majority of electric bikes on the modern market contain lithium-ion batteries to power up the system. The volt capacity of this battery is where range calculation and top speed come into play. Are you curious how far you can go with the power that’s onboard?

Generally speaking, a bigger battery will give you far more power in terms of energy. Ergo, the bike will take your farther with a full charge because of the heightened electrical potential. Again, energy is a power that is about range. Think of battery power as potential speed and distance power. This is diverse from motor power that depends on how efficiently an apparatus can pull weight, like the power of a farmer’s tractor, for example.

Battery Output

Each battery of an electric bike has several cells with fixed output voltage. However, the output volts vary during discharge. Higher capacity batteries typically provide less voltage sag and enhance the bike’s performance. Most 250w bikes have a 36v battery capacity, while 500w and higher have a greater capacity of 48v.

All the while, bikes with the same wattage or battery power are not 100 percent identical under their hood. You may find that electric bicycles have different power levels than what their labels tell. If you look at the manufacturer of a specific model, you can reveal the actual power rating with a calculation using two numbers.

The idea is to measure the energy capacity of an e-bike through the peak wattage of the bicycle setup. This calculation can aid your final decision. The calculation calls for multiplying the battery voltage times the current limit—in amps—of the motor controller. Then, you can know the ultimate peak power that a model is capable of when in full operation. You may end up sacrificing on something more lightweight to gain the power you ultimately desire.

Top Speed

Speed is relatively a product of numerous factors, including the above-listed types of power. The speed of an electric bike with a motor and battery is mainly voltage-dependent. 36v usually reaches 20 mph, while 38v reaches 28mph. Regardless of these generalizations, the particular configuration of an electric bicycle’s setup may influence the top speed.

E-Bike Configuration: Diverse Brands and Models

So how much power do electric bicycles actually need? That’s entirely a personal decision. At the end of the day, the end-result power of an e-bike depends mainly on its configuration—and its intentional use. Take watt ratings and voltage capacities with a grain of salt when selecting your bike.

Remember, a single number doesn’t single-handedly capture the concept of power in a chosen model. Consider other customer reviews or give a bike a test ride yourself. A specialty store or retailer will provide top-of-the-line models to choose from, including leading brand names in the electric bicycle movement.

Here at Voltaire Cycles, we carry a selection of top-rated electric bikes from some of the best manufacturers in the industry, including Yamaha, Bintelli, and BESV. BESV’s smart e-bikes offer sleek style and crafted innovation in varying models, colors, and configurations. A range of users may benefit from BESV’s advanced proprietary algorithm power drive system for mountain biking, touring town, or urban riding. Browse our collection of BESV electric bikes on our site today.

How Much Power Do Electric Bicycles Actually Need?