Do Electric Bikes Charge While Pedaling (Solved!)

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I’ve always wondered, do electric bikes charge while pedaling? It would make sense that all your hard work be converted back into energy for your battery.

Do Electric Bikes Charge While Pedaling

Unfortunately…

Most electric bikes won’t charge your battery while you pedal. Some of them do but for you to get this feature you will have to pay a premium price for it. 

To recharge your entire battery it would take an entire day of pedaling. Yup, so basically impossible! 

In this article you will learn:

  • How electric bikes charge while you pedal
  • A better way to charge your bike while you ride
  • And much more
What's In This Guide?

      How Does Charging Your Electric Bike Work While You Pedal

      For you to charge an electric bike while you pedal you need to create friction. the friction will create energy that is put back into the battery.

      How do we create friction? 

      Somewhere on the bike, there would need to be metal pads to create friction. The faster you pedal the more friction you create. and the more friction you create the faster you’ll charge your battery. 

      Is Charging Your Electric Bike Battery While Pedalling A Good Idea

      NO!

      The problem with this is that pedaling will be way harder.  It would feel like you’re using an exercise bike in the gym with the resistance. 

      How much energy would you get back from pedaling?

      You can get back anywhere between 10-20%!

      So, you would get back double the amount from the other method we are going to talk about later. But you lose a ton of energy that you’re creating because of heat. 

      You would also save your brake pads. Especially if you use your ebike as your daily rider. The whole point of the ebike is that you don’t have to pedal.

      Maybe in the future, somebody will create a system where you can turn it on and off. so it won’t be impossible to pedal your bike long distances when your battery is dead. But for now, this technology doesn’t exist. 

      Ok…

      So we now know that pedaling isn’t a great way to recharge your electric bike while you ride it. Keep reading and I’ll tell you a better way.

      What’s Regenerative Braking For Electric Bikes?

      You probably heard of regenerative braking in electric cars like Tesla. That same technology can be used in electric bikes. Regenerative braking is recovering kinetic energy from a bike moving when you slow it down.

      You can recover anywhere from 5 to 10% of the energy you produce while braking.

      Sometimes you can get even more energy back when you’re riding your electric bike on hills. On average, in the city, you can expect to get back about 5% of the energy you used!

      What Components Do You Need For Regenerative Braking

      There are three components you need for regenerative braking. Like I said earlier, the first is a hub drive motor. 

      The second is electronic brake levers. The electronic brake levers will make the brakes work. They look just like regular brakes on a bike. And they are used the exact same way. 

      When you press them down they start to brake your bike. 

      But…

      There’s a microchip in the brakes that lets the rest of the system know that you are breaking so it can start to capture the energy. There are also buttons that go on your bike that will tell the system to start capturing the energy while you break.

      The final component you need is a controller that has a regenerative braking option. Most cheap controllers won’t be able to do regenerative braking. Make sure you check the specs and the option is there before you buy it. 

      How Does Regenerative Braking Work?

      When you pedal your bike or when your motor is going you are putting in energy to get the bike up to speed. When you brake the energy has to go somewhere to slow down.

      When you brake you create heat because of the friction that’s created when you brake. There are three problems that come with friction that your brakes create. 

      1. All the energy that’s being created by your brakes just gets wasted. 
      2. It wears down your breaking pads.
      3. You have to cool off all the heat that’s being created by the friction.

      Ok, so how does it all work?

      When you brake the microchip turns on the controller letting the controller know it’s time to capture the energy. The energy is captured and put back into the motor to be used again. 

      Can All Electric Bikes Use Regenerative Braking

      No!

      Only certain types of bikes can use regenerative braking. To be able to use regenerative braking you must have a hub motor. If you have a mid drive motor then you won’t be able to use regenerative braking. 

      The hub drive motor is a bigger motor and is normally all black. You can’t use little gear motors because of the clutch. They are designed to coast and won’t make any resistance that lets regenerative braking work. 

      Big motors that don’t have any gears are what’s used. Because you are driving the motor forward.

      Is Regenerative Braking Worth It

      As cool as the feature is, personally, I don’t think it’s really worth it for most people. It’s not going to charge your battery enough to where it’s going to truly make a big difference.

      If your ebike is your daily driver then maybe it could save you from having to pedal when your battery is empty. But most of us won’t find ourselves in this situation. 

      The Bottom Line

      Electric bikes are more than capable of charging while you pedal. But in all honesty, it’s really just not worth it. All the extra effort you put in won’t result in that big of a return. Electric bikes are meant to get you where you need to go quickly and with little effort on your part. 

      Regenerative braking is a much better option. It takes no effort to brake your ebike and when you’re in the city you’re going to be doing a lot of braking anyway. The little energy that you get back won’t make that much of a difference.

      Photo of author
      AUTHOR
      Bryan Ray is the Co-Founder of The Biking Apex. He's a cyclist and a trainer who loves fitness and loves to teach people how to ride and maintain their bikes and bike accessories.

      The Biking Apex
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