5 reasons why your e-bike motor should have 500W or less
If you are in the market for a new e-bike or a conversion kit for your regular bicycle - the first question you will have is: "how much power I can I get, and how much power do I need to get maximum out of each ride on my e-bike?"
Once you start researching more about getting a motorized bicycle, you will see many different motor options with varying power metrics, from 250W and higher - 500W, 700W, 750W, 1000W and even more. Interesting fact - the most powerful motor for the e-bike currently on the market is 7500W.
First, if you are in Canada and need an electric bike that you can legally use on the bike path - don't look at anything with a power output higher than 500W. There are a lot of discussions regarding this fact, as some of the e-bikers are sure that the bigger the motor - the better. It does not always work this way.
Are there advantages to having more power on your wheels, and how much control do you need? Let's figure it out together.
In Canada, all e-bikes are classified into three categories based on their motor power and speed capability:
- Class 1 e-bikes have a maximum power output of 500W and can assist the rider up to a speed of 32 km/h. In this category are primarily bikes with mid-drive motors. These bikes are equipped with a torque sensor; to activate the engine, you need to start pedalling. It requires more effort, and these types of bikes would be perfect for regular cyclists. Mid-drive motors can provide more torque and a more natural pedalling experience because they are integrated with the bike's gears and can take advantage of the rider's shifting.
- Class 2 e-bikes also have a maximum power output of 500W but come with a throttle and can reach a speed of 32 km/h without even pedalling. They can be equipped with both torque and cadence sensors. Class 1 and 2 differ because the second one has a throttle that allows the rider to engage the motor without pedalling. These e-bikes are a good option for riders who may have mobility or balance issues or are just looking for a more relaxed ride.
- Class 3 e-bikes have a maximum power output of 750W and can assist the rider up to a speed of 45 km/h. Class 3 e-bikes are popular among commuters and riders who are looking for a faster and more efficient way to travel longer distances (considering that the battery needs to be bigger than in Class 1 and 2). However, they are not allowed on bike paths or other designated cycling infrastructure in Canada and require a license or registration in some provinces or municipalities.
The distance an e-bike can travel using a 500W or 750W motor depends on factors such as battery capacity, terrain, rider weight, riding style, and weather conditions. If you have a more powerful engine, it doesn't mean that you will go for a longer distance. Battery capacity plays a huge role in this. The bigger motor you have - the bigger battery you need, also it all depends on the conditions you are riding in.
Bigger motors usually weigh more. Heavier bikes are usually more challenging to maneuver, and they will use more power.
In Canada, e-bike batteries range from 400Wh to 1000Wh, with some models having even larger batteries. An e-bike with a 500W motor normally requires a battery capacity of at least 400Wh to provide adequate power and range. The 700W motor is a 500Wh battery.
A 250w e-bike motor is sufficient for general commutes while upgrading to a 350W or 500W benefits those doing many uphill rides. Also, as powerful as 6000W engines are appropriate for motorbike racing and are not designed to be contained to city roads.
Generally speaking, an efficiently designed e-bike provides more than enough power at 500W or less for the average person.
Why your e-bike motor in Canada should be 500w or less:
- It is the law.
In Canadian provinces, most electric bikes are limited to 500W output and cannot travel faster than 32 km/h (20 mph) on motor power alone. However, restricting the wattage of e-bike motors doesn't necessarily limit how powerful they can be. Even though an engine is marked as 250 watts, anyone could connect it to a 48V battery and run 20 amps through the motor to achieve 1,000 watts of power.
- Usually, the bigger motor needs a bigger battery.
Choosing an e-bike with an appropriate battery capacity for your riding needs is essential to ensure you can travel the distance you need without running out of power. Using a bigger motor means using a bigger battery to travel the same length. The battery being the most cost-heavy part of an e-bike translates into additional savings.
- Overheating issues.
This issue can arise when the motor exceeds 1000W, especially on long uphill rides. It might be dangerous. The excess power of motors exceeding 1000W is way more immense than a regular city bile flaw. It might be hazardous to "race" on the bike path in the city with this powerful motor.
- Too heavy for regular bikes
750W, 1000W, 3000W, and 6000W motors are too heavy for the average street bike if you want a conversion kit. It can cause downstream problems yielding unnecessary repairs. At the same time, more powerful motors need bigger batteries, and their weight of them will also depend on their capacity—the more significant - the heavier.
- Lower maintenance costs
E-bikes with l motors typically have fewer components and require less maintenance than h motors. This can help reduce your overall maintenance costs over the lifespan of your e-bike.
E-bikes with lower-power motors usually have fewer components and require less maintenance than higher-power motors. It can reduce your overall maintenance costs over the lifespan of your e-bike.
When it comes to choosing the right motor, ultimately depends on the intentions of the rider. Lower motors are more affordable, comply with street legal standards in Canada, are efficient, and are less heavy.
If you are looking for a motorized mountain bike to use on steep hills outside the city - consider looking for a bigger motor. In this case, make sure that you are aware of all risks of having a more powerful motor and will follow legal regulations which might require getting a license plate for your e-bike, e-scooter or trike.