Electric Bicycles Explained – Volts, Watts, and Amp Hours

Have you ever wondered what all those numbers and letters mean when looking at an E-bike? The ones you read on a spec sheet or the ones printed on a itty-bitty font on a battery or electric motor. If you’ve ever wondered what all this information mean, don’t worry you’re not alone in this confusion.


Let’s start by explaining what these letters mean. These letters are symbols used to represent a specific measurement of electrical energy. The three most common symbols when looking at a bikes are “V” for Volts, “Ah” for Amp Hours, and “W” for Watts. Volt, or voltage, also referred as electric pressure, is the measured strength of electricity flowing through a circuit. To understand amp hours let’s first learn a little bit about amps. Amp, or ampere, is a measurement of how many electrons are flowing past a given point in one second. Amp houris a unit of electric charge measured over a period of time, or in simpler terms the potential charge capacity. Watt is the overall measurement of potential power that can be generated or used.Image result for amps hours volts watts


Understanding these definitions leads us to the question, “how do these numbers relate to my bikes performance?” One analogy for understanding is with cars or any other gas-powered vehicle. Think of volts as horsepower, affecting speed and acceleration; amp hour as the gas tank, affecting the writing range of each full charge; and Watts as the engine size, affecting the engine’s maximum power output. In general the bigger the number the better the performance. The higher volts increased torque and acceleration, helpful for easily reaching higher speeds. The higher watts increase the overall power of the engine, ideal for heavy loads and climbing hills.


With this newfound understanding let’s look at some of the common options. there are three common volts when looking at batteries and engines. 24, 36, and 48 volts can easily be found, 36 volts being the most popular. If looking for a nice casual cruise around the neighborhood or at the beach, 24 volts is the perfect cruiser. If higher performance is more to your liking, 48 volts will have you speeding down the street in no time.

Moving on to the engine size, if you’re a bicycle purist looking for a little pedal assist, 250 watts is a great compact choice to give a boost to your biking experience. if you’re really looking at climb hills or carry a large haul,  larger engines like a 500 or even a 1,000 watt have all the power you need.

In general the larger the amp hours the longer you’ll be able to ride. Though, this usually means a bigger and heavier battery.

For more visual learners, check out our video explaining volts, watts, and amp hours.

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