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Do Electric Bikes Charge Downhill?

do electric bikes charge downhill

There is a lot of speculation surrounding the conversation around electric bikes and how they charge. While different kinds of technologies have been tested on electric cars, the domain of electric bikes is less explored.

And within this domain, a question that has been asked far too many times is whether electric bikes charge downhill and/or when you pedal.  Yes, there is a technology that allows for most electric bike to charge downhill and even when pedaling.

It entirely depends on what kind of bike it is, the version, the model, and the brand. It matters what kind of technology the manufacturer is using. It also depends on what kind of motor is attached to the bike.

How Do Electric Bikes Work?

To understand how electric bikes charge, we first need to understand what their primary function is. Electric bikes are just like normal bicycles that need to be peddled in order for them to move further. The only difference is that an electric bike, as the name suggests, has an electrical component to it. 

The electric bike has a motor attached to the back end of the bike to assist you when you are pedaling along steep hills or rough surfaces. You must be thinking that if a motor is attached to the bike, why would you have to pedal the bike. Well, to simply put it, the manufacturers wanted to retain the one main function of a regular bike in an e-bike. 

So, even with the motor attached, you will have to pedal, but the pedaling will become significantly smoother and easier.

While in a normal bike, it would be very difficult for you to pedal up a hill, in an electric bike, the climb will be much smoother and will not strain your legs. This function is mostly appealing to older people or for people who live in hilly areas or for mountain bikers. 

The bike can be very helpful, and the motor can really assist you in many ways. However, you should remember that the motor will turn off once your pedaling and the bike’s speed exceeds that of the motor’s contribution. At that point, the motor will turn off, and you will be able to pedal the bike like any other bike. 

Alternatively, the motor will also stop if the bike runs out of batteries. And at this point, if you are not running at optimal speed, then the pedaling can be very difficult because of the strain put on the chains by the motor, which is now not working. Thus, you will have to keep the bike charged. 

Did you know? Electric commuter bikes like this one are becoming increasingly popular in today’s means of transportation. They are lightweight, foldable, and have a max speed of about 20 mph. The battery will last about 18-20 miles between charges which is perfect for small commutes.

How to Charge an Electric Bike

Charging an electric bike can be very simple, and it can be exciting too. The simple part of charging a bike is that you plug it into a wall like any other device. It will automatically charge given that it receives an adequate amount of voltage from the sockets. On the other hand, the bikes also use something called regenerative charging. 

This form of charging is rather slow, but it does not come out of electrical wires or by plugging it in. If you look at the word “regenerative,” it suggests that something is being generated again or is self-sustaining. Thus, regenerative charging is the kind of charging that allows the batteries to charge independently, without using an external power source. 

This technology operates through conserving kinetic energy. So, the motor on the bike uses a mechanism that reverses engineers an electrical current that can allow your batteries to charge. For example, one mechanism works through applying brakes after riding the bike at a lot of speed. 

As the bike bolts forth in momentum and you push the brakes, the kinetic energy that the bike had that was propelling it forward will get transferred to the brakes. This will allow the motor to start the process of regenerative charging. Although this method will depend on how many times you stomp on the bike’s brakes, it is a method that works. 

Charging a Bike Going Downhill

When riding a bike downhill, it becomes the optimal moment for applying the brakes as many times as you want. It often happens that people start pedaling the bike when coming downhill.

That will only cause your bike to consume more charge. Instead, what you should do is to apply the brakes as many times as possible so that the bike gets enough electric shocks for it to charge by a little bit. 

Usually, this is how the ratio of charging a bike downhill works. If you pedal and come downhill with a battery of 40%, by applying brakes, you may come back with a remainder of 45%. This means the brakes will give your bike a slight push into getting charged up.

However, it should be made clear at the outset that only certain brands and certain specific versions of electric bikes will have this function, not all. 

Do Electric Bikes Charge When You Pedal?

Just as we talked about the regenerative charging system through brakes, there is also a kind of charging that happens through pedaling the bike. To understand this, you must understand the mechanics of a regular motor. When a turbine spins the motor’s propellers, and the propellers start spinning the copper coils inside a generator, electricity is produced. 

This happens because of the placements of the magnets inside the copper coil that generate the AC current. However, this is a generic model for a propelling motor. A similar mechanism is used when the pedals on an electric bike start revolving. Since these pedals and the motor attached is so small, the current generated is also not too much. 

Thus, the battery’s charging is not going to be very high in either of the two ways, the brake system or the pedaling system. Generally, suppose you pedal a bike for 10 kilometers.

In that case, it will give you an added charge to keep the bike running for another kilometer. This is not a very good bargain for any kind of charging if you have to put in so much effort. 

A better and easier way would be to simply plug it into your wall and charge it fully before taking the bike out on a ride. Nonetheless, we can not discount the fact that this form of charging may actually be very helpful for campers and for mountain bikers, or for emergency cases. 

Final Thoughts

As seen above, there are different kinds of charging mechanisms that different bikes can apply. It is true that electric bikes can, in fact, charge downhill if the rider applies frequent brakes and if the bike supports a regenerative charging system.

However, it is also true that the bike will not get as significant a recharge as when it is plugged into a wall.

Different bikes and different brands and different models have variously different ways of manufacturing the bikes. So, you should always check the specifications of the particular bike and do some research on it before making a purchase. 

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