An electric bike is a bicycle that has a battery-powered motor located somewhere on the bike that provides the rider with optional assistance. All the other components of electric bikes — the pedals, the drive-train, the brakes — are just like a traditional bicycle.
A common misconception about electric bikes is that you don’t get any exercise while riding — that it’s like a moped or motorcycle. The truth is that on an electric bike you get as much exercise as you want. Another way to put it is that you get as much help as you want. In fact on all electric bikes you can turn the motor off and ride it just like a traditional bike.
Most electric bikes are equipped with pedal-assist technology, which means that the bike gives you assistance as your legs turn the pedals. You, as the rider, tell the bike how much help you want with a mode selector. Some electric bikes also come equipped with a throttle, which means you can have the motor propel the bike without an pedaling.
It’s also important to know that you don’t need any special license or registration to ride an electric bike. Most states have specifically designated electric bikes as electrically assisted bicycles, and, unless a local government prohibits them, they’re allowed everywhere traditional bicycles are allowed.