It's 2020 and ebikes are here to stay.

I'm trying to retrain my initial urge to consider electronics questions as off topic (which may be because I don't have strong electronics knowledge); if they relate to bicycles even quite loosely, then bicycles.se is a legitimate place to ask them.

We are going to have to accept as on topic, questions about electronics for ebikes, questions about fault finding on ebikes, questions about software for gadgets and power meters, questions about wiring a home-built ebike, questions about charging ebikes at home and on the move, etc etc.

This meta question is prompted by the question Is it possible to charge an ebike from a 12V solar powered battery? which has been warmly received already, gaining upvotes and two good answers so far. Whilst it is about wiring up a camper van, the target is charging up the ebike for cycling's sake and is therefore a long way from programming on a boat. I propose that we become/remain quite permissive about this kind of question, and answers here could discuss what is and isn't on topic for bicycles.se going forwards.

Have at it!

  • I don't have strong knowledge of suspension or disk brakes or MTB technique, just means I don't answer the harder questions in those areas.
    – Criggie Mod
    Jun 16 '20 at 5:00
  • Yeah, I think Criggie gets at the point I wanted to make: it's not that e-bikes are necessarily off-topic, but there will be less expertise on the subject, at least for the time being. Perhaps in a parallel universe a similar debate is taking place about whether to allow questions about bikes with derailleurs.
    – Adam Rice
    Aug 20 '20 at 16:23

Ebikes have been here to stay for a while. I see them as a gateway into cycling, lowering the entry bar for effort, while raising the cost. That would lead to two broad distinctions of question:

How to Use vs How to Make

I suspect the distinction line is somewhere about building/modifying circuits. Here's a rough spectrum as I see it:

  • Grey-area
    How do I build an ebike from misc parts like drills/window wipers/starter motor? (diy maybe, perhaps electronics)
    My battery doesn't work any more - what do I do ?
    I had an accident on an ebike - who is at fault (law)
    I had an accident on an ebike - what are my legal obligations (law)
    Is it cheating to race on an ebike with a hidden motor ?

NEW How to modify an ebike to exceed speed/assist restrictions Any tuned E-bike with good support at high cadence high speed?

  • Off topic
    How do I use a bike battery in something other than a bike? (electronics)
    How do I build a battery from components - to be used on a bike. (electronics)
    I did xx km/h on my ebike - how fast can you go? (poll)
    I was hit by an ebike and they're dangerous. (rant)
    Where can I buy a hidden motor for cheating (shopping)

So Using/Riding is on topic, Building/modifying the electronic parts is better on Electronics.


To answer this, we need to clearly know what an Bike is, and what it is not.

In my mind, an E-Bike is:

Likely it looks like a bicycle - traditional and non traditional, but has the characteristics like pedals and handle bars, probably two wheels (although one and three could be the topic of valid question). Would we include electric recumbent tricycles? Probably.

A small motor - i.e. the motor does not define the vehicle. Legal definitions in many jurisdictions limit an E-Bike to something like 250-350W. While 500 W probably is an EBike, 5000 is an electric motorbike.

Primarily its motor assisted - if the motor does all the work, its a motor vehicle - i.e. moped or motorbike. If the design is not primarily that of assistance, it should be off topic.

For on topic questions - the kinds of things that a cycle specific - e.g. motor types used on E-Bikes with pros and cons, but finer details of how a brush-less electric motor works probably belong elsewhere. There is going to be a lot of overlap with other web pages, but just like fitness, health and legal questions, if we are careful we can manage those boundary questions.

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