How do e-bikes work and do you have to pedal them?

The basics of how an electric bike works

Two cyclists riding Bosch e-bikes
(Image credit: Bosch)

Electric bikes are becoming more and more common on our roads and cycle paths principally because they’re the perfect option if you’re looking for some extra help to enjoy cycling.

But what are the rules about what constitutes an e-bike? And do you have to pedal an electric bike?

You can trust Cycling Weekly. Our team of experts put in hard miles testing cycling tech and will always share honest, unbiased advice to help you choose. Find out more about how we test.

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Paul Norman

Paul started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2015, covering cycling tech, new bikes and product testing. Since then, he’s reviewed hundreds of bikes and thousands of other pieces of cycling equipment for the magazine and the Cycling Weekly website.

He’s been cycling for a lot longer than that though and his travels by bike have taken him all around Europe and to California. He’s been riding gravel since before gravel bikes existed too, riding a cyclocross bike through the Chilterns and along the South Downs.