Is riding an ebike like a regular bike a lot harder with ebikes being heavier?

TheChosenOne

New Member
I haven't ridden a bike in over 20 years and never rode an ebike but just curious ss riding an ebike like a regular bike a lot harder with ebikes since they're heavier? Sometimes I just feel like doing all the work myself and get a little workout
 
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Berry78

Active Member
It actually depends on the bike. Some would be almost impossible to pedal any significant distance, others feel just like a normal bike, just a smidge heavy.

Another option are the bikes with regeneration. Pedaling becomes harder than normal because you are choosing to put energy back into the battery. (For example the Bionx system).

Most ebikes that I have tried would be fine to pedal unassisted at least part of the time. (I have tried about 20). It also depends on your topography. Much easier on the flat (just like regular bikes).
 
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Nirmala

Active Member
Another option on most ebikes is to set the electric assist level to the lowest setting. If I put my bike's assist in level one (out of six levels with six being the strongest), it is just enough to overcome the added weight of the bicycle compared to a non-electric bike. At that lowest level, you can still get a good workout equivalent to a regular bike.

Also, if the lowest level of assist is still too much and your ebike has a throttle only mode, then you can judiciously use the throttle for a little assist when the added weight is more than your legs can handle, say on a long uphill or if you encounter a strong headwind. But then you can ride with no assist the rest of the time.

That is one of the great things about an ebike is that you can have as little or as much electric boost as you want. Some days I set my bike lower and work harder and then other days I just want to cruise with less effort. And I can switch at any time, so if I am on a long ride and I start getting tired, I can crank up the assist on the way home.
 

Dunbar

Well-Known Member
Yes, on an e-bike you won't want to ride with the motor turned off. Most e-bikes have an eco mode which provides minimal assistance. I generally ride mine on assist 3/5 when I want a workout. I end up going about as fast as I would on my road bike but the e-bike means I don't have to worry about fighting a headwind for half of my ride.
 

Douglas Ruby

Well-Known Member
I haven't ridden a bike in over 20 years and never rode an ebike but just curious ss riding an ebike like a regular bike a lot harder with ebikes since they're heavier? Sometimes I just feel like doing all the work myself and get a little workout
The short answer in my experience is yes. I ride a Specialized Turbo. The direct drive rear hub has some "clocking" drag due to the interaction of the heavy permanent magnets with the coils as the motor spins when not under power. When combined with larger tires and a bike weight of 60+ lbs with my gear on it, this bike is much harder to ride unassisted than a regular road bike. If I want to approximate riding an unassisted bike, I would ride this one at ECO 20 or ECO 30, using 20-30% of the motors maximum power.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
The first ebike we bought, I was concerned about the ability to pedal it w/o power, but it is a geared hub motor, which has minimal drag, so it pedals as well as any other 55 pound bike. It takes little power to keep a bike cruising at 12-14 mph on flat land with no wind, and I often turn off or turn down power assist when cruising. When riding with my wife on her e-bike, we go slow enough that I often never turn on my power. Yes, you feel the extra weight accelerating quickly or going uphill.

I have converted several regular bikes to electric, adding motor/battery combinations that weigh between 9 and 15 pounds. These bikes weigh between 44 and 56 pounds now. They ride much like they did before conversion, After 18 months of e-bike riding and using power conservatively, my own weight is down over 20 pounds, which makes up for the battery/motor weight. When I get onto my regular GT Transeo, it feels a lot lighter than its 35 pounds.

My experience comes from either mid drive motors, or geared hubs, which have clutches to disengage the motors when it's not running. A direct drive hub motor has no clutch, so more force is needed to overcome magnet drag when not powered. How much, I don't know. (Edit: per Dunbar and Douglas, it's a lot. I thought so.)

I would expect most e-bike riders never want to be without power anyway, but it happens to me occasionally, mainly because I went out with a low battery. Once I had to go 18 mile when a connector broke.
 

Berry78

Active Member
The turbo is a sweet ride, but it is a very heavy bike. The cogging drag isn't something that can really be felt specifically. Probably only would make a difference in cumulative effect over a long ride (especially when combined with the bike's own weight).

Just clarifying, because a reader might think it feels like dragging a 30 pound trailer or the like. Maybe a 5-10 pound trailer?
 

Dunbar

Well-Known Member
All I know is that when the controller failed on my Cross Current and I had no assistance the bike rode like a total pig. And the Cross Current has a geared hub motor. I think I'd probably Uber it home rather than ride it like that for more than a couple of miles. I'm very fit too having averaged 8-10k miles per year on regular bikes for the last five years. You might be right that it rides like any other 50lb bike but I would never buy a regular bike that weighed 50-60lbs.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
The Juiced Cross Current is a pig w/o any juice? Say it ain't so. That's a good looking bike.
 

Cnugget

Active Member
Running out your battery is a great way to get an extra workout in. :D Hills are fun until you need to go up them and gravity kicks in on a 50+lb bike has been my experience so far. Not terrible on flats, you just don't go as fast. I have a Volt Mariner.
 

SuperGoop

Active Member
Flats and declines are no problem to pedal without power since there is only the additional (heavier) inertia to overcome. Inclines are exponentially more difficult because gravity is added to the equation, and the extra weight begins to resist exponentially.

For example, I can push a bowling ball on level ground with no effort once I overcome the initial inertia. However, as soon as there is an incline, the force (Force = Mass x Accelaration) required to push the bowling ball would exponentially increase since gravity is exponential (9.8 m/second squared at 100% incline).
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
The wife and I like to ride together and we can keep the same pace of around 12-14 mph on level ground with my power wattage sometimes at or near zero on my RadRover. It feels like I'm expending the same energy level with my GT Transeo 3.0 commuter bike; but, traveling 2-4 mph faster. ANY type of headwind or incline, I drop speed fast and have to up the PAS or bump the throttle to keep up with her (she 130lbs and I'm 270lbs, both have Radrovers).

I think riding an ebike without PAS might depend on bike gearing and motor design. My Radrover only has 7 gears for the 750w rear hub motor. The gearing seems to be designed to take stress off the hub motor to get you up to PAS 1-5 speed faster. I don't know how much "drag" there is from the hub motor when wattage is a zero (no battery regen features). Any type of motor drag and/or regen battery features might feel like adding weight to the bike on top of the 45-60lbs.
 
My answer is no. My Scott e-bike is more efficient on the road than either my Giant or Cannondale mountain bikes. Off-road is different but I use the e-bike as an on-road tourer, it's easy to pedal without assistance and in the whole scheme of things the extra weight is insignificant.